Yesterday (Sat 23 Jan 10), the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore (URA) launched a public consultation to revise its 2011 masterplan for the whole island-nation of Singapore (about 700 sq km) for the next 40-50 years; see URA Press Release. The new masterplan will define Singapore’s idea of “quality of life”. Specifically, it will deal with with economics, demographics and the environment. This is often referred to as the “triple bottom-line” by planners and economists.
But how is the public to participate in this humongous task? Will the usual “focus groups” (read: market survey) deliver on an issue that even futurists have trouble?
Perhaps everyone should take a leaf from the recent “Design2050” exercise by the DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) who commissioned nine teams of of top designers and architects in Europe, US, South Africa and Singapore to each make propositions on an aspect of life in the year 2050. The Foster & Partners team led by Head of Design David Nelson and Stephan Behling looked at “the Sustainable City 2050“; the Philips team led by CEO Stephano Marzano looked at “Healthcare 2050“; Chris Bangle (former director of design at BMW) looked at “Personal Emotional Mobility 2050“; Prof Bill Mitchell and his team at the MIT Media Lab looked at “Reinventing the Automobile 2050“; Ravi Naidoo and the Design Indaba team looked at “Protofarm 2050“; Toshiko Mori and her team in NY looked at “Design Blindspots 2050“; Feng Zhu and his FZD team in Singapore looked at “Entertainment 2050“; Chris Leubkeman and this Arups Foresight and Innovation team looked at “Life @ 1 Planet in 2050…or Naught: drivers of change 2050“; and WOHA Architects Singapore looked at the impact of rising sealevel on Singapore in “Architects Save the World and Bring Joy to Millions 2050: Singapore 2050“.
Design2050 begins with the premise that it not possible to predict 40-50 years into the future. Futurists — such as Ged Davis, Chris Leubkeman and William Halal, who spoke at the presentation of Design2050 Studios — agree. But design is generally about propositions for a better future, and less interesting as problem solving, although it can do that too. So, why not get design to make propositions of normative futures which are beyond the reach of technological and other forecasting? The 9 propositions presented in November 2009 by the Design2050 Studios were awe-inspiring. Take a look, below for WOHA’s presentation. Watch out for a DVD/TV series later this year. Most importantly, be a part of this growing Design2050 community who subscribe to PARC Alan Kay’s dictum, “the best way to predict the future is to invent it”.