Introducing Metropolis: our third theme at the Imagination Lab, in partnership with Lambeth Council and Vauxhall One.
The UN predicts that by 2050, 65% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. As cities across the world continue to grow, Imagination Lab is focusing its latest theme on Metropolis and in particular the role children can play in the development of cities.
We interact with sand at the seaside but we rarely appreciate its application across the city. From the giant panes of glass in skyscrapers to fibre optic broadband that connects us to the Internet, sand is at the heart of Metropolises across the world. It is also a starting point for our programme of workshops at the Lab.
Throughout May and June, we are looking at cities and their evolution through three areas: material, shape and function. Against the backdrop of the massive Thames Tideway new super sewer, whose mega tunnel runs just metres from the Lab, we are giving children the opportunity to create large water walls to learn about the flow of water and its scarcity. Kinetic sand, which holds its shape when sculpted, is enabling children to explore the shape of buildings and cityscapes.
Using a number of tools, we are bringing the sounds of cities alive through circuits and touch. We continue to use the brilliant CoSpaces app that empowers children to create their own virtual reality content and see it through cardboard headsets. There are huge changes underway to the landscape along Albert Embankment through to Battersea Power Station; by 2019, two new Underground stations will arrive just down the road from the Lab. We are using two apps, Skyscraper and Mini Metro, which allow children to explore the workings of tall buildings through play as well as take on the role of designing global metro systems.
Metropolis is an opportunity for children and their families to rethink the city through their own eyes and to understand how its fabric can be manipulated. With population growth and pressures on how we live, interact, grow and move, the theme is an invitation to reimagine the cities of the future.