In March 2019, dRMM were invited to contribute to the London Exhibition at the 2019 Seoul Biennale. The exhibition looks at London’s multifarious identities, inviting entrants to consider the city’s role as a backdrop for how its inhabitants work, play, grow and thrive. dRMM’s contribution focused on the capital as ‘a city to live in‘, illustrating our imaginative extrapolation for how London could remain a leading global capital in terms of quality of life over the next 30 years.
In anticipation of the Biennale’s official opening this weekend, we’re looking back at dRMM’s design process for our ‘London is…a city to live in’ speculative drawing. Here’s where it all began back in March 2019:
London Living – How to Visualise a Future City
Knowing that the exhibition would consider London’s existing strengths as well as how it must develop to remain a paradigm of 21st Century urban living, we instinctively thought of an image that would capture a ‘present-future’ duality. We began our process through research, looking through archival imagery – from illustrations to maps, to old transport advertisement posters – creating a catalogue of historic representations of the capital. We eventually chose to capture the present and future of dRMM’s own home in London – a section of the Borough of Southwark from Old Kent Road up to the City of London.
Key Themes – Collecting Ideas
Our next step was to hold a studio forum, discussing the signifiers that identify our own definition of living in London. The tension between how we want to live versus the limitations of the city invariably connected to space and levels of access to it. Breaking down limits of accessibility and agency became the underpinning framework for our drawing. We wanted to visualise a London where political and planning systems did not constrict people’s ability to participate in and access space, but rather facilitated it.
Through the Looking Glass – Concept Development
‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ became the theme that drove our visual concept. We set out to imagine London as a healthier, more prosperous and live-able city, one which could create a sense of ownership, belonging and togetherness for everyone. The idea of a mirror-vision of London appealed to us for its ability to explore an almost reality, where as in Lewis Carroll’s book, the rules as we know them can bend.
Building on Good – Imagining Better
We believe that the way we design, plan and build in London needs to change, so we created a set of rules that formed the basis for our speculative drawing:
- -Housing is infrastructure
- -Everyone has a space to cultivate & grow things
- -Streets are for people, not cars; space currently used by vehicles is seized by locals
- -All buildings are flexible and predictive
- -Like the countryside, urban spaces should encourage activity and -sport
- -Districts, neighbourhoods and buildings are truly ‘mixed-use’, creating local communities and nurturing small-scale economies
- -The river is re-imagined as place to live and work
- -Industrial land is reimagined, intensified, opened-up, and celebrated
- -Cyclists are safe everywhere they go
- -Everyone has a place to play & to gather, through connected green spaces
‘London is… a city for living‘ launches this weekend at the 2019 Seoul Biennale. We will also be expanding on our entry ideas at the UK Seoul Biennale party in London in early October, presenting our work and ideas in Pecha Kucha format. dRMM is thrilled to be part of the conversation on how this exciting, creative and ever-evolving city can and should grow.