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VoiceOver Finsbury Park: an Idea for a Future London

What would you want to see in a better, future London? What local projects could citizens build to overcome the challenges of urban living and bring us all closer together? The Museum of London is trying to find out, in partnership with Umbrellium and Furtherfield.

Lauren Parker

Lead curator,City Now CityFuture season

6 December 2017

In May 2017, we issued an open call for proposals for An Idea for a Future London - projects that would make a positive change in the city. We want to create prototypes of how citizens can live richer, more connected lives. It’s all part of City Now City Future, our year-long season exploring the rewards and challenges of urban life, and the future of cities globally. We’ve already partnered with 25 initiatives across London, all working to improve our experience of living in the city. Now, we wanted to help create one ourselves.

Projects to improve London.

Projects from the London Initatives

From left, GoodGym, Repowering London, and GrowUp.

We received ideas from more than seventy groups and individuals, including artists, designers, architects, social entrepreneurs and planners. Among the shortlisted proposals were a celebration of citizen-led projects in Lambeth by Virginia Nimarkoh and Fan Sissoko; a reimagining of London’s sewer system by Julia King; a community musical by Janette Parris; and an open school celebrating our common resources, new economies and resourcefulness in the city, by artist Ruth Beale.

The winners of the open call are Umbrellium and Furtherfield, who submitted VoiceOver Finsbury Park. It’s a hyper-local social radio project, allowing instant, open conversation between people who live in the same building, a tower block overlooking Finsbury Park.

A series of light antennae, LED nodes and radio boxes, operated by residents, are being installed in homes and public spaces. They’ve created a network of light and sound that can be heard and seen by the whole community. The aim of the project is to give neighbours who may never have spoken to each other a reason to chat and share ideas.

We’re inviting local residents to have an unusual conversation about life in London and their sense of the future of the city, on an open network where anyone in the building can hear and build on those discussions. We are inviting residents to suggest and discuss their ideas, speculations and imaginings about the future of London, guided and supported by writer Christine Entwisle. The project asks what it means to live so close to others you never meet, and how you might connect with them instead through electromagnetic waves.

A project run by Umbrellium.

Images from Voice Over East Durham

Voice Over Finsbury Park is a a development on this earlier Umbrellium project.

VoiceOver Finsbury Park broadcasts will be presented in an exhibition at the Museum of London from 16 February to 15 April 2018. There visitors will be able to listen to the voices, thoughts and interactions created by Finsbury Park residents, and connect with the neighbours they’ve never met.

The project is produced by Umbrellium, in partnership with Furtherfield.

The winner of the City Now City Future Open Call was chosen by a judging panel comprising Lauren Parker, City Now City Future Curator at the Museum of London, Clare Cumberlidge (co-founder of Thirteen Ways), Asif Khan (architect), Beatrice Pembroke (Director of Creative Economies, British Council), Heather Phillipson (artist) and Finn Williams (architect and planner).

VoiceOver Finsbury Park is a development on the Umbrellium project VoiceOver East Durham, commissioned by East Durham Creates and produced by Forma. An Idea for a Future London is co-commissioned by the Museum of London and Thirteen Ways for City Now City Future, and supported using public funding by Arts Council England.