In March 2017, the Urban Futures Studio hosted Imagining Urban Futures: a two-day academic festival during which academics and practitioners from a range of fields and disciplines discussed the future of our urban environments.

The festival aimed to investigate an urgent question:

            “Why is it so difficult to imagine new, positive urban futures?”

We are convinced that this is now a crucial question. To arrive at non-linear transitions that will create radically different — read: more sustainable, liveable, equitable, innovative — urban environments, we need to overcome our crisis of the imagination.

But where are these new imaginaries to come from? What are they about? Which language, which images, which calculations do we have at our disposal with which to make such new Future Worlds conceivable and attractive? And how does imagination work in the first place?

To begin working towards answering these complex questions, Imagining Urban Futures involved a broad range of activities, including keynote lectures by international guest speakers, four workshop sessions, the presentation of the Post-Fossil City Contest finalists, an excursion to Overvecht, and the inaugural lecture of Maarten Hajer.

De Vrije Wolf, the former prison in Utrecht’s historic centre, served as a fitting backdrop for this festival of the imagination, challenging us to break out of our disciplinary silos into new spaces of possibility. 

Below you will find images, videos, and summaries of each of the events. You can also download the full Imagining Urban Futures report and check out the complete photo gallery.