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214 × 161 × 21 mm
272 pages
70 illustrations
11 Feb 2019

Future Cities Architecture and the Imagination Paul Dobraszczyk

Today, cities are overshadowed by multiple threats: climate change, overpopulation, social division, and urban warfare all endanger our way of life in urban areas. The fundamental way in which we make sense of these uncertain futures is through the imagination. Architects, artists, filmmakers and fiction writers have long been inspired to imagine cities of the future, but their work tends to be based on scientific predictions that separate hard evidence from flights of fancy. In a digital age when the real and the virtual exist together, it is important to know how the two are entangled, and how together they may help us to think of the future.

Exploring a breathtaking range of imagined cities – submerged, floating, flying, vertical, underground, ruined and salvaged – the book teases out the links between speculation and reality, arguing that there is no clear separation between the two. In the Netherlands, floating cities are already being built; Dubai’s recent skyscrapers resemble those of science-fiction cities of the past; while makeshift settlements built by the urban poor in the developing world are already like the dystopian cities of cyberpunk. Bringing together architecture, fiction, film and art, the book re-connects the imaginary city with the real – proposing a future for humanity that is already grounded in the present and in the creative practices of many kinds.

‘Dobraszczyk looks at how the cityscapes once dreamed up by artists and architects are slowly becoming a reality as climate change and overpopulation take hold.’ — National Geographic Traveller

‘Dobraszczyk’s eloquent redefinition of ecology, of the imagination and of architecture is breathtaking in its audacity and indisputably brilliant. Future Cities is much more than a book about buildings or Blade Runner, dealing as it does with the critical importance of multiplicity and integration in an increasingly disordered world.’ — The Australian

Future Cities is a philosophically and culturally wide-ranging look at the usefulness of imagined cities. Appropriately for this examination of creativity, its classification of cities into three types is itself rather imaginative: unmoored (in the water or air), vertical (skyscrapers and subterranean structures) and unmade (ruins). The text is accompanied by a number of images that usefully show how visual artists have imagined future cities.’ — Environment and Urbanization

‘A compendious, dizzying collection of the cities of the future, and their analogues in the present. Future Cities holds out the important hope that our cities could be better – fairer, more equal, more open – rather than just taller and weirder.’ — Owen Hatherley, author of Militant Modernism and Trans-Europe Express

‘A fascinating, erudite survey of visionary cities, from the ocean depths to the skies above. At once fantastical and meticulous, Dobraszczyk's book is anchored like Robida's soaring airships to iron structures. An engaging and revealing text that demonstrates when we create speculative cities, whether utopian or dystopian, we are always writing about our present; our dreams, our fears and our memories. Delving into fictional places, we are delving into ourselves.’ — Darran Anderson, author of Imaginary Cities

‘When we dream of the future, Paul Dobraszczyk suggests in this rich and impeccably timed new book, we often dream of buildings. Dobraszczyk makes the case that visions of future worlds, from ancient myths to science fiction, are resolutely urban because of a deep imaginative pull that only cities can satisfy.’ — Geoff Manaugh, author of A Burglar’s Guide to the City

‘an impressively in-depth inquiry . . . Especially noteworthy is the book’s accessibility. Dobraszczyk recognizes that the art he’s discussing often comes from mass media, that fantasy world-building has a special pull on the public imagination, and that it’s best to discuss its implications in easy-to-grasp terms. That he does this while still providing insightful analysis is laudable. Future Cities is impressively nerdy . . . and will add a lot of titles to your to-read and to-watch lists, in addition to making you think about the futures we project for ourselves.’ — Hyperallergic

‘By linking architecture, fiction, film and art, the book reconnects the imaginary city with the real – proposing future best practices for humanity.’ — Topscape Paysage

‘Perhaps Dobraszczyk’s largest contribution is to develop the intermingling of the future urban imaginary as shared cultural resonance between imagined and real practices. In collapsing these disciplinary distinctions, Dobraszczyk begins to validate the experience of both imaginary and real spaces as vehicles for thinking about futures that exceed the disciplinary conceits of the architect, thus opening the discussion of architecture and urban futures to a general audience.’ — Science Fiction Studies

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Paul Dobraszczyk is a researcher and writer and a teaching fellow at the Bartlett School of Architecture, London. He is the author of The Dead City: Urban Ruins and the Spectacle of Decay (2017) and Iron, Ornament and Architecture in Victorian Britain (2014), and co-editor of Global Undergrounds: Exploring Cities Within (Reaktion, 2016).

Introduction: Real and Imagined Future Cities

I Unmoored Cities
1 Drowned: Postcards from the Future
2 Floating: Water and Urban Utopias
3 Airborne: Architecture and the Dream of Flight
II Vertical Cities
4 Skyscraper: From Icons to Experience
5 Underground: Security and Revolution
III Unmade Cities
6 Ruined: Sprawl, Disaster, Entropy
7 Remade: Salvaging What Remains

Photo Acknowledgements