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UnBox-ing Future Cities

Date: 15/01/2014

Eight UK researchers have been awarded the opportunity to work with a team made up of creative practitioners, artists alongside mentors to explore the theme of 'Future Cities'. This unique opportunity is a partnership between the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the British Council, UnBox festival and the UK’s Science and Innovation Network. The eight successful researchers will work on research relevant challenges during a 10 day UnBox lab leading up to a presentation of their work at the UnBox festival.

During the 10-day lab, the group will work together in small teams, along with local mentors and advisors on the topic of ‘Future Cities’. The focus of the lab is of major importance to many countries around the world, from 1991 to 2011; the urban population in India has increased from 100 million to 200 million. By 2041, 50-percent of India’s population is expected to live in cities. The issue is not only limited to India; UN estimates say that by 2050, 70 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities. The UK faces its own challenges of delivering effective and sustainable services within the context of rapid growth in urban centres, along with an explosion of personal digital technologies.

Pam Mason Head of Creative and Performing Arts; “These fellowships present an exciting opportunity for open-minded creative-thinking researchers. The opportunity will give the researchers the experience of working within a non-academic environment and within a cross-cultural setting. They will apply their research skills and knowledge to new types of non-academic challenges.”
While an increase in urban populations puts increasing pressure on the infrastructure that makes them work, it can also be an opportunity to reimagine what future cities can be like. The labs will explore how design, research and digital technologies can build communities of engaged responsible citizens.

The successful researchers  investigating this challenge include:

  • Claire McAndrew, University College London
  • Dilys Williams, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London
  • Jo Briggs, Northumbria University
  • Lorraine Gamman, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London
  • Michael Edwards, University of Edinburgh
  • Paul Sermon, University of Brighton
  • Tatjana Schneider, University of Sheffield
  • Tom Corby, University of Westminster


The project is a collaboration between UnBox, British Council, the AHRC, Science & Innovation Network, supported by the REACT Creative Economy Hub and the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India. It is a continuation and adaptation of the fellowship program associated with UnBox, a multi-disciplinary festival in India. All of the researchers will have the opportunity to attend the festival itself; where the successful collaborations will showcase their work.


Notes to editors

  • For further information, please contact: Danielle Moore-Chick, AHRC: 01793 416021 d.moore-chick@ahrc.ac.uk
  • For full details of the lab, please go to the UnBox Festival website (opens in new window)
  • The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. For further information on the AHRC, please go to: www.ahrc.ac.uk 
  • The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. We are a Royal Charter charity, established as the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. Our 7000 staff in over 100 countries work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year through English, arts, education and society programmes. We earn over 75% of our annual turnover of £739 million from services which customers pay for, education and development contracts we bid for and from partnerships. A UK Government grant provides the remaining 25%.  We match every £1 of core public funding with over £3 earned in pursuit of our charitable purpose. For more information, please visit: www.britishcouncil.org. You can also keep in touch with the British Council through http://twitter.com/britishcouncil and http://blog.britishcouncil.org/.
  • The UnBox Festival takes place in October- November 2014- celebrates interdisciplinary processes and experiences that shape contemporary thought and action across a range of domains, through keynotes, discussions and workshops anchored by leading and emerging practitioners. http://unboxfestival.com/
  • The UK Science and Innovation Network has bases in 25 countries with around 100 staff in total. The Network’s purpose is wide-ranging, and involves science diplomacy and fostering collaboration in science and innovation. We work with academia, research establishments and businesses in the UK and its international partners. Our work includes gathering information, providing analysis, producing reports and running briefing sessions. We use interactive platforms such as seminars, workshops, conferences, sponsored visits and researcher exchanges to engage the UK and its international partners directly. Further information is available on their website.


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