Liam Young: Planet City and the Return of Global Wilderness


Liam Young

For the 2021 combined FORART lecture and film screening, architect and filmmaker Liam Young (Los Angeles) takes us on a science fiction safari through an imaginary city for the entire population of the earth.

Planet City and the Return of Global Wilderness Following centuries of colonization, globalization and never-ending economic extraction we have remade the world from the scale of the cell to the tectonic plate. In the storytelling film performance Planet City we go on a science fiction safari through an imaginary city for the entire population of the earth, where 10 billion people surrender the rest of the world to a global scaled wilderness and the return of stolen lands. Set against the consistent failure of nation states to act in any meaningful way against climate change, Planet City emerges from a global citizen consensus, a voluntary and multi-generational retreat from our vast network of cities and entangled supply chains into one hyper-dense metropolis.

Liam Young is a speculative architect and director who operates in the spaces between design, fiction and futures. He is co-founder of Tomorrows Thoughts Today, an urban futures think tank, exploring the local and global implications of new technologies and Unknown Fields, a nomadic research studio that travels on expeditions to chronicle these emerging conditions as they occur on the ground. Described by the BBC as ‘the man designing our futures’, his visionary films and speculative worlds are both extraordinary images of tomorrow and urgent examinations of the environmental questions facing us today. As a concept designer he visualizes the cities, spaces and props of our imaginary futures including work on the forthcoming features Swan Song, starring Mahershala Ali and Awkwafina for Apple TV and Folding City for Chinese Production company Wanda in addition to production designing an unannounced new sci fi series for eOne. With his own films he is a BAFTA nominated producer and has premiered with platforms ranging from Channel 4, SxSW, the New York Metropolitan Museum, The Royal Academy, the BBC and the Guardian. His work has been collected internationally by museums such as MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Gallery of Victoria and M Plus Hong Kong and has been acclaimed in both mainstream and design media including features with Wired, New Scientist, Arte, Canal+, Time magazine and many more. His fictional work is informed by his academic research and has held guest professorships at Princeton University, MIT, and Cambridge and now runs the ground breaking Masters in Fiction and Entertainment at SCI Arc in Los Angeles. He has published several books including the recent Machine Landscapes: Architectures of the Post Anthropocene and Planet City, a story of a fictional city for the entire population of the earth.