Lively imaginations: Penang and its consultants look out to 2066

for pemamg - whale bus - Franc ein the year 2000

There are few things as fascinating as seeing what people in the past have dreamed about the future.

While the lively imaginations of a fair slice of Penang’s politicians, engineers, publicists, developers, lobbies, accountants and salivating eventual suppliers and partners are dreaming up images of a future fifty long years from today, 2066 to be exact according to the latest unvetted SRS proposals, it is perhaps a good moment to consider past failures to conjure up meaningful image of how things are going to look such a long time into the future.


Here is one proposal which I suggest that they add to their list of project hopefuls, along with their three monorails, LRTs, Sky Cabs, ring roads, tunnels and islands, new road construction and widening, and a basically undisturbed even larger number of cars marked and moving in Penang’s scarce public space.

To this end I specifically propose they add to their 2066 list, the Whale Bus as yet one more option to connect the island with the mainland.

These images have been taken from a collection of such imaginations, “France in the Year 2000”, a series of paintings, made by Jean-Marc Côté and other French artists in 1899, 1900, 1901 and 1910, shows artist depictions of what life might look like in the year 2000. * Source Open Knowledge Foundation

Sky Cab

Penang - Future Skycab station - France 2000

And here from the same collection is a visualization of what one of your SkyCab stations might look like.

Le Corbusier-Free Cities

To be quite frank, to the point and a bit rude, the famed 20th century Swiss architect, designer, artist and general polymath Le Corbusier when he donned his urbanist hat provided us with several striking examples of how to build a city for cars.  We are extremely fortunate that most of them never got off the drawing board.

future city le Corbusier

And his post-Haussmannian vision for Paris:

Le Corbusier plan for Paris

Another day in school in the 21st century

Penang future visions - school in 2000


Since (a) the several documents furnished by the government and their chosen consultants have thus far failed entirely to provide a clear vision for Penang’s future beyond a patchwork of wild and unsupported guesses, (b) we will do well to concentrate attention and resources on the very large number of challenges that are troubling Penang today, and in particular the four years directly ahead: 2016-2010.

And if we do this well, we will have learned a lot more about the future we wish to and can build, as opposed to our scarce knowledge about the next fifty years as is the case today.

* Also have a look at

Futurism: A style of art, literature, music, architecture, urbanism, politics, etc., — and theory of art and life in which speed, impersonalization, violence, power,  mechanization or machines, and hostility to the past or to traditional forms of expression were advocated or portrayed.


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About the editor:

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Educated as an international development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at and @ericbritton

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