Designing the Future

Innovative collaboration with Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust

Designing The Future was an initiative concerned with the way people, technology, society and the environment will change over the next few decades. The aims were: to encourage and inspire young people to think intelligently, imaginatively and creatively about the challenges of the world they will inherit in their future lives; to help them embody their ideas about the future in a wide variety of creative work; to give them opportunities to work as individuals and in teams in creative workshops led by talented young artists, designers, engineers and other specialists; and to provide opportunities for them to show their work with a high level of professionalism in a public exhibition. Designing the Futurewas led by Alan Cummings, Emeritus Professor at the RCA, and delivered in partnership with ReachOutRCA.

Designing The Future invited young people to participate in a series of workshops and a public exhibition at the Historic Dockyard Chatham in Kent. 140 students ranging in age from 12–17 and representing nine schools in Kent and Medway took part in workshops over three days. The workshops were led by ReachOutRCA design and architecture students in the Dockyard’s amazing Slip 3 building.

The groups explored three different themes: Survi-Ville; Silver Linings in Hackatopia; and Being Human. The ‘Designing The Future’ exhibition was open to the public and included hundreds of drawings and 3D objects representing the students’ ideas, hopes and concerns about the future.

Survi-ville: Led by PUG (James Crawford and Will Fisher)

In this workshop, the starting point for students was a vision of the future in which the Medway has burst its banks and local areas are partly submerged. Each day, the workshop focused on different aspects of everyday life in this new scenario: Eat & Sleep; Work & Play; and Live & Learn. Students worked in small groups to produce inventive and exciting solutions, and to turn these ideas into drawings and models for a new kind of architecture to suit a new environment. After three days all the work was organised onto a map of the area to create an imaginary master plan.

Silver Linings in Hackatopia: Led by Thor ter Kulve, Cherng-Min Teong, Friederike Glaser and Namuun Zimmermann

In this workshop students explored how emerging technologies will affect our everyday lives, with a focus on the objects and infrastructure that will become obsolete as a result of these technologies. What can be done with these potentially useless things and places? How can they be made valuable and meaningful again through re-appropriation? Students were given examples of the potentially obsolete, ranging from small products to urban infrastructure and asked to re-imagine them for the future.

Being Human: Led by Agi Haines

This workshop encouraged students to think about the future potential of the human body and how physical changes may alter how we live. This engaged students in a range of topics including medical futures, technology, electronics and aesthetics. Students made images and sculptures of new designs for the body, resulting in an exciting range of potential body alterations and a peek into what a future society might look like.