Quality of life in urban environments is central to our everyday concerns – and the future of the planet.
Aqualta_TimesSq-Night_NYC, 2009 by Ostap Rudakevych
With Imagined Cities now being open for several days, it’s been fantastic to witness people exploring the themes of the exhibition and intellectually interacting with the works. It’s true to say that the exhibition has been rather well received by both our customers and visitors to the festival – as well as the media:
- Londonist called it ‘intriguing’
- The Cultural Expose pointed out that it was ‘fresh evidence that some of the most exciting creative work right now is happening on the border between fine art and design’
- Wallpaper* shortlisted our short film on Catrina Stewart for their LDF film section
- It’s Nice That were nice enough to point people our way on their LDF guide
- And Espacio Blanco from Mexico City took time out of their busy schedule to call by
So what’s happening here? We’re a small event with limited resources, a tiny budget, and we’ve had to pull the event together while holding down our day jobs. I won’t lie, it’s been hard work.
I think the common dominator is our concern for quality of life in urban environments. As a passionate urbanist, I, by definition, believe in the quality of life that contemporary cities can offer: it’s why I moved to London in the first place; it’s one of the key drivers behind Coffeesmiths; and it’s one of the reasons why we chose this theme for our LDF exhibition. There is no doubt that if you have a good job, a nice roof over your head, and a network of friends and family, London is one of the best places to live in the world.
And if you don’t, it can be awful.
I feel the message around sustainable living is getting through. We are all making more effort to live in sustainable ways. And cities are one of the most sustainable ways to house people and limit their impact on the natural environment. While these issues are far from resolved, I think it’s time to add a new issue to the urban agenda.
The facts are that people move to cities for the hope of a better life; not because it necessarily offers a better life. This seems to be true as much in a city such as London as it does in the developing world.
Many of the projects that form the backdrop to the works in Imagined Cities deal with the quality of life of the money-limited, the opportunity-poor and even the isolated. And they courageously and optimistically proffer solutions to benefit the entire urban population. It could be said that the works, at times, border on the naïve, but I’ve watched people time and again being won over by the generosity of the ideas on display. These might be Imagined Cities and fantastical solutions, but I, for one, hope that they increasingly become real and integral parts of our London urban life.