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Explore the highs and lows of urban living at the Museum of London

Written by
Katie McCabe

More than 50 percent of the world’s population now reside in cities. What does that mean for the future of urban living? The City Is Ours, a new interactive exhibition at the Museum of London, looks at the harsh realities of urbanisation, and how we can improve it.

London has its issues. Affordable housing feels like a pipe dream for most, the disparity of wealth is palpable and our air-quality levels are decidedly iffy. City life – and how to make it better – is at the centre of the Museum of London’s new exhibition, ‘The City Is Ours’, part of its City Now City Future season. The show investigates modern urbanisation and how it functions from one country to the next, exploring the complex problems cities have solved and the ones that have left urban planners scratching their heads.

Prepare for urbanite envy as you watch a film on Chile’s scheme to roll out cheap, self-build housing units, and another on San Francisco’s goal to recycle all waste by 2020. An audio installation morphs the mobile communications of the 2015 ‘Je Suis Charlie’ rally in Paris into a bittersweet melody, and there’s a virtual-reality view from the rooftop of a Hong Kong skyscraper. Or you can see how London and other metropolises are doing on issues like CO2 emissions, green spaces and childcare using the nine-metre-wide data visualisation film ‘Urban Earth’.

But this isn’t one giant ‘Burn Book’; it’s a rigorous, compelling study of London’s potential, and what can be done to improve life within it, from tackling food waste to promoting social cohesion. Want to get involved? The capital-centric masterclasses and workshops running as part of City Now, City Future are a good place to start. 
Museum of London. St Paul’s tube. Fri Jul 14-Jan 2 2018. Free entry.


Five of the best Museum of London workshops

Lunchtime Sessions: Repowering LondonConstruct your own solar panels with Repowering London, a Brixton-based, not-for-profit organisation that works with the community to support sustainable energy projects across south London. As well as fighting the good fight to reduce CO2 emissions, it tackles fuel poverty and educates residents about energy efficiencies.
Jul 20, 1pm. Free.

Lunchtime Sessions: Guerrilla Gardening
Make your city a little greener with a lesson in guerrilla gardening from the punk of the plant world, Richard Reynolds.
Jul 27, 1pm. Free.

Lunchtime Sessions: FoodCycle
National charity FoodCycle promotes the straightforward idea that food poverty should not exist while there is food waste. Find out how to make the most of surplus food – and have a pedal on the ‘smoothie bike’ at this drop-in sesh.
Aug 10, 1pm. Free.

Hack It: How to Build a Bee Hotel
Ask not what bees can do for you but what you can do for them at this hands-on workshop where you’ll build them their own bloody hotel. (They deserve more than a Travelodge, okay?) In addition, you’ll learn how to support these bumbling drones and their queens with pollinator-friendly planting.
Jul 22, 1.30pm. £25.

Hack It: Grow Your Own Food
Start cultivating your own veggies in teeny-tiny city spaces with a little help from this DIY workshop led by Julie Riehl of Capital Growth. You’ll be picking lettuce on your patio in no time.
Aug 26, 1.30pm. £25.

Want to do your bit? Here are 28 simple ways to make London better.

Do you have a great idea that could help improve your city? Submit it here for the chance to secure £5,000

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