The Future of Home
Futopia 2096 was my final thesis project. It was presented and submitted 20 years ago at the end of my 4th year at architecture school which was the first year of my post-graduate diploma in architecture at The Bartlett, University College London.
The project set by my tutors was to explore the concept of ‘HOME’. I decided to look to the future and envision how technology might marry with a more traditional model of luxury villa or mansion style suburban home ownership complete with separation, security and privacy while still establishing and maintaining a level of meaningful connection with family, friends, neighbours and colleagues.
At the time students would display drawings and models for their final presentation. However, having taken out a relatively huge student loan to buy an Apple Power Macintosh 8500 (the first Mac to have built-in video capture and export capabilities) I created a computer-generated (CG) animated film. I did not produce any drawings or physical models which were the norm to communicate architecture at that time. Presenting an architectural thesis project in this way was a first in the country and dare I say it probably the world.
Producing the film involved weeks of running in and out of Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners' (now GRIMSHAW) office (Eden Project, Waterloo International Eurostar Terminal), where I did my year out and was working part time during my diploma. I had to manually set up rendering animation sequences moving from workstation to workstation day in and day out on their 50 strong network of Mac II’s and the odd Power PC.
A few days before the final year crit presentation I had enough frames to edit together a film and tell the story I wanted to tell. After a few all-nighters on the bounce, I arrived at Wates House and put the VHS video cassette in the machine and pressed play.
The graphic style and packaging of the film were inspired by both the marketing of the residential development that gave birth to the landmark sign in the Hollywood Hills, and a recent blockbuster film at that time. Can you guess which?
I also designed a video box cover and blurb to go with it which you can read below before or after checking out the short film. Keep in mind the animation was created over 20 years ago in 1996 when only 1 in 50 people had a mobile phone (if they did they didn’t have screens), floppy discs were the preferred method of transferring data and the internet was only dial-up.
Oh, if you're wondering, I'm pretty sure that I imagined Yellow Car and Blue Car as semi-autonomous self-driving electric solar powered vehicles ;-)
Why did I decide to dig this piece of Real Work out of my archive and re-publish? Because my Work Life Wide Open series of books has focussed on understanding the context and content of the High Definition Life we have all been busy co-creating along with its inevitable impact, good or bad, on our internal as well as external worlds. Appreciation of these inescapable components of the High Definition Life is an essential pre-cursor to Conscious Change.
Can we be better prepared for the future but still enjoy our life and work now, in the moment? If so then how? I think Futopia 2096 was beginning to address these questions, but 20 years ago. It's only now I've started joining the dots scattered by my seemingly disparate periods of Real Work over the years that I can see more clearly what's important and why.
So as part nostalgia, part fun and partly to highlight how quickly things change and how on or off point we can be with our global as well as personal predictions I'm posting this now to trigger a dialogue. With everything going on in the world we can and do struggle to remember what technology really ought to be intended for. Isn't it to help us enjoy the simple and often necessary things in life like Conscious Change, Creativity, Communication and Connection?
On reflection, knowing what I know now and remembering the prevailing context that triggered the creation of Futopia 2096 it's clear that we were already taking baby steps, and in some cases giant leaps toward the High Definition Life we’re all part of now. Ok, I accept that it's happening 80 years earlier than I anticipated and envisioned but as a 23-year-old student n 1996 with his eyes firmly on the future Futopia 2016 didn't sound half as interesting as Futopia 2096!
Unexpected Future Benefits
There has been another unexpected benefit of reviewing my Real Work archive and specifically Futopia 2096. It has given me some fresh ideas and insights about what I might call my next Real Work adventure of Science Fiction novel and screenwriting.
Watch this space, before long my Futopia will receive a complete overhaul and reboot.
Futopia. Future or Fantasy?
The slightly tongue-in-cheek back cover blurb.
Futopia 2096 assembles an all-star cast for a tale of everyday life in the newest housing estate in town (out of town actually). The Looking Glass (Virtual Home VH Magazine December 2095), and Blue Mug (Essence of Home) provide an interesting insight into the possible life Futopia might bring us.
Yellow Car and Blue Car deliver career performances as Futopian vehicles navigating the many private driveways which divide the riverside site. The Fish swims in wonderful style while presenting the concept of the Horizontal Looking Glass. Fishing when you’re bathing? You’ll have to be up early to net The Fish out of his virtual lake.
Lasting nearly 4 minutes and covering your own Looking Glass with full motion and full screen action FUTOPIA 2096 is not to be missed.
Cut Scene Copy
As the video is captured from analogue VHS cassette the text on the cut scenes can be a little hard to read so I’ve included it below so you get the full story.
The Looking Glass from Virtual Home
Hold meetings with your colleagues in the comfort of your own home.
Dine with remote family and friends without leaving the house.
Enjoy many sports with the expandable space offered by the Looking Glass.
Small Dwellings in Futopia
The small family house with Looking Glass.
Large Dwellings in Futopia
The large family house with Looking Glass and private roof garden.
Watch out for horizontal and vertical Looking Glass starring The Fish!
Shared Work Space
A Shared Virtual or Real work space used on a pre-programmed timetable.
The space also serves as a physical connection link between two dwellings.
Physical links between dwellings which don’t communicate by the usual Virtual links.
A walkway links the vehicle turntable to the dwelling entrance point.
Note the grocery shopping being delivered to the home.