E-cars, communication hubs and floating gardens. No, I haven’t found a time machine to take me to the future, but I may have found the next best thing.
My journey began at Greenwich Peninsula, or more specifically, the Emirates Air Docks. Cable cars are normally associated with ski resorts so it was a surprise to see them in the middle of London. My family and I had a cosy cable car all to ourselves and there were stunning views of the River Thames and an ariel view of the O2 arena. About halfway into our journey we saw a futuristic-looking building located by the docks. An asymmetrical building covered in glass – this is the Crystal.
The Crystal is home to the largest exhibition dedicated to urban sustainability and allows visitors to explore what city life may be like in 2050. From what I’ve seen it’s not going to be so different from now, but it’ll obviously be more efficient, faster and greener. In order to make the most of the exhibition, be sure to collect your swipe cards at reception, you’ll need to swipe these whenever you come to an interactive exhibit.
Before you come to these, the exhibition actually starts at the ‘Forces of Change theatre’, which features presentations exploring the challenges of ever-growing cities from over population to security threats. When you leave the theatre, you go on to discover the emerging and future initiatives that will tackle such problems. Some ideas of urban sustainability are already familiar to us, such as energy efficient buildings and electric cars, but they’re certainly going to be more advanced in the future.
Highlights of the exhibition include ‘Smart Buildings’ where you can create your own virtual energy efficient building and ‘Go Electric’ where you get the chance to create electricity just by moving your arms…Another highlight is ‘Going Underground’ which is outside the main building. It takes a look at how the tube may look and operate like in the future and there’s a full scale model of two metro train carriages to wander around in. This is only a temporary exhibit and closes on the 8th January.
My favourite part of the exhibition was the ‘Future Life’ zone, where a short film takes a closer look at what city life may look and work like in 2050 – exploring designs of buildings, ways to communicate and renewable energy. It will also seem to involve a lot of plants in an effort to create a cleaner air. Floating gardens sailing along rivers, gardens on the top floors of skyscrapers and of course, lots of trees. The film also explored how communication will be a lot easier and faster and that people will have more control over the running of the city. For example, they will be able to choose what to do with certain parts of land – whether it should be used for something like recreation or a wind farm.
It was deeply fascinating to watch and it goes without saying that cities will look like something out of a sci-fi movie. (Particularly the city which had a row of skyscrapers in the background and in the foreground was a huge dome-shaped structure encasing nothing but vegetation.)There were mixed reactions in my group on the assumed look of future cities. Some liked it while others thought it looked ugly. If it turns out to look that way, London may resemble an over grown garden with pointy hedges covered in huge spider webs… Let’s hope it won’t actually look that.
Interestingly there was no mention of cable cars in cities of the future. My guess is they’re probably a little too slow for a fast paced environment, but if you go to this exhibition you should definitely go by cable car.