Harold Wilson invoked a nation "forged in the white heat" of the scientific revolution; children cowered behind the sofa as Dr Who battled cyborgs; cities were reconstructed from concrete and encircled, connected and sliced through with huge new motorways.
But there are few things as dated as yesterday's futures – many of the utopian and dystopian fantasy futures of the 20th century now seem somewhere between quaint and absurd. The naïve belief in technological fixes to deep social and economic problems has left many lasting scars in the urban landscape of the UK. Over the past 50 years, we – and the cities that more and more of us inhabit – have changed beyond recognition.
Now, the Economic and Social Research Council's (ESRC) new multi-million pound Urban Transformations initiative will bring together some of Britain's most distinguished academics. Their goal: to help us understand and address the challenges and changes our cities will face over the next half-century.