The Global Cities exhibition at the Tate Modern proves that the public can be engaged in thorny questions of future planning strategy. It poses really big questions about the future of cities – diversity, community cohesion, density, coping with growth. Although it doesn’t suggest many answers, that doesn’t appear to be its objective. Just getting to people to think about these issues, and how we as a society can respond to them, encourages people to make the connection that town planning is about more than house extensions… that it is fundamental to our future.
And from what I saw, people were thinking and engaging. The exhibition was a fascinating lesson in encouraging people to engage on big issues using purely visual tools. Not only was it busy (you would expect that in a prime exhibition space like the Tate Modern), but people were spending a lot of time looking, thinking and discussing.
So, for all those cynics out there who believe that the public aren’t interested in big strategic planning questions.. go along to the Tate Modern if you’re in London over the summer, and see how much interest there is.