London: Postcards from the Future

Stephanie Ostroff, an intern with National Geographic Digital Media’s Travel team, ponders London’s future. 

Photo: London Futures Piccadilly Circus ¬© Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones@ Museum of London.jpgThe din that once defined Piccadilly Circus has been replaced by an eerie silence. In lieu of bustling Londoners are water lilies, fish, and wind turbines. Climate refugees flee the waterlogged city center and set up camp behind Buckingham Palace. Camels are the new stars of the Horse Guards Parade. These are just a sampling of the startling images that make up the “London Futures” exhibit at the Museum of London, a photo display that envisions the drastic impact of climate change.

See more images after the jump.

Photo: London Futures Buckingham Palace Shanty Town © Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones.jpg

Photo: London Futures Parliament Square © Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones@ Museum of London.jpg

Photo: London Futures Camel Guards Parade © Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones.jpg
Photo: London Futures Aerial Flood ¬© Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones.jpgThe exhibit, which opened October 1 and will run until March 6, is a collection of 14 familiar London scenes that have been digitally transformed by illustrators Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones of London-based digital illustration company GMJ. The photos paint a haunting portrait of a city ravaged by rising sea levels, food scarcity, and global warming. In the face of these challenges, Graves and Madoc-Jones imagine a London that’s learned to adapt.

This means rice paddy fields in Parliament Square to aid London’s food production effort, empty buildings huddled around a flooded Piccadilly Circus to support the infrastructure of power generation, and shanty towns surrounding Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace. Camels can hold up better in the scalding heat of the Horse Guards Parade, so they become the standard participants in this London tradition. The banks of the Thames well up and render the city into a metropolitan Venice, and winter skating at Tower Bridge becomes a popular London pastime as a slowing Gulf Stream creates a mini ice age.

“London Futures” is part of the Mayor’s Story of London Festival, which celebrates the city as a center of innovation and looks at how it will develop and change going forward. And as part of the exhibit, the artists are encouraging people to create their own “Postcard from the Future” by creating a Flickr group to showcase other eerie images. They’ll select a favorite by the end of this month; the winner will be presented at one of the series of gallery talks scheduled to coincide with the exhibit.  

[London Futures]
[Postcards from the Future]
[Flickr Group: Postcards from the Future]


  1. Adam S
    October 17, 2010, 9:53 am

    There’s no doubt these are interesting and high-quality images but I can’t help feel a little bit of scaremongering going on here. I think it’ll be a very long time before anyone is sailing across Piccadilly Circus or turning Parliament Square into a rice paddy.

  2. Chrise
    October 9, 2010, 12:50 pm

    Sounds humorous but we all need to realize that climate change is real. And the underground would be flooded too so, all the Londoners would be rowing their way to work! Only it would take forever.

  3. Laptops Sales UK
    October 9, 2010, 5:59 am

    This is interesting, like what you do, keep updating here…

  4. Matt Westergard
    October 7, 2010, 8:45 pm

    High Art.
    Low Intelligence.