This paper is concerned with how future cities have been visualised between 1900 and 2014, what these projections sought to communicate and why.
The paper is organised into eight sections. Each of the first seven sections is highly illustrated by relevant visualisations to capture the main ways in which the thematic content is evident within future cities. We present a brief summary at the end of each section to understand the key issues.
• First, we describe the relevance and power of imagined cities and urban visions throughout popular culture, a multi-disciplinary discourse, along with an explanation of the methods used.
• Second, we examine the role of different media and its influence upon the way in which ideas are communicated and also translated, including, but not limited to: diagrams, drawings, films, graphic novels, literature, paintings, and photomontages.
• Third, we interrogate the ‘groundedness’ of visualisations of future cities and whether they relate to a specific context or a more general set of conditions.
• Fourth, we identify the role of technological speculation in future city scenarios including: infrastructure, mobility, sustainability, built form, density and scale.
• Fifth, we examine the variations in socio-spatial relationships that occur across different visualisations of cities, identifying the lived experience and inhabitation of the projected environments.
• Sixth, we consider the relationship of data, ubiquitous computing and digital technologies in contemporary visualisations of cities.
• Seventh, we establish the overarching themes that appear derived from visualisations of British cities and their legacy.
In conclusion, we establish a synthesis of the prevalent patterns within and across legacies, and the diversity of visualisations, to draw together our findings in relation to overarching narratives and themes for how urban life has been envisaged and projected for the period under scrutiny.
Ms. Mouly started Toon Books, which publishes comics for children as young as 3, in 2008. Its books are listed on several prominent recommended reading lists (including the American Library Association’s) and are included in state and national school programs and initiatives, which is where the teachers who take them into the classrooms often hear about them in the first place. The books are taught across the country, with the help of 200-page illustrated lesson plans that cover topics from literary interpretation and story arcs to “comics as a genre.” Their use in classrooms made immediate sense, given their similarities to the picture books that children that age were already reading in school.
With Toon Graphics, Ms. Mouly said she hoped to extend this learning process to older children. Though the books also have accompanying lesson plans and follow national Common Core standards, the battle for acceptance, Ms. Mouly admits, may be uphill. Plenty of fourth and fifth graders love comics, of course, but that’s also the time when many teachers and parents are trying to wean children off them.
“To develop as readers, kids need a lot of experience processing words,” said Timothy Shanahan, distinguished professor emeritus of urban education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “If a youngster spends an hour reading a comic and an hour reading a book, they’re probably processing a lot more words when they’re reading a book. It’s not that comics are bad, it’s what they might replace.”
With so many different forms of media competing for the attention of children, however, teachers and librarians are increasingly eager to embrace comics in the schools.