Catriona Campbell

Dec 31, 2021

5 min read

Tomorrow’s Home — How We Might Live in 2050

Tomorrow’s Home, an immersive, multi-sensory installation at London’s Museum of the Home, envisages the quirky dwelling of the future — and it’s nothing like you’d imagine

omorrow marks the first day of a brand spanking new year, and we’re certainly hoping for a better one than the last — and the one before that, too, right? No doubt a lot of people will spend the day at home with a somewhat fuzzy head, but the words ‘tomorrow’ and ‘home’ make me think of so much more than a hangover-tainted New Year’s Day. For obvious reasons, they bring to mind Tomorrow’s Home.

Tomorrow’s Home is a hugely original installation at East London’s Museum of the Home (formerly the Geffrye Museum), which playfully imagines the dwelling of the future — and it’s absolutely nothing like the shiny, automated smart-pad aesthetic commonly presented in sci-fi. The exhibition goes beyond exploring how tech might impact the way we live, also considering the relationship between humans (and their digs) and climate change, healthcare, community, and environmental responsibility.

Set 30 years from now, “these interiors are no show home of the future, and nothing is fixed”, prompting the question:

What would our future living environment need to look like to help us live independently, to make ageing easier, and to protect the planet?

I loved Tomorrow’s Home, even if it felt a little rough around the edges in parts — like a high-school art project. The Liminal Space (the creative design studio behind the installation) has clearly put a great deal of thought into the concept, basing its ideas on research from UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering, where scientists are getting ahead of the game to prepare for our future needs.

Art + evidence + tech = a happy Catriona!

The household

Mo, one of the residents, who likes talking to dead relatives virtually in the metaverse

The installation first introduces the members of a hypothetical 2050 household:

  • Kai (17), an apprentice at a 3D printing firm who likes to host gigs in digitally enabled sensory spaces.
  • Kai’s grandma Mo (76), a retired teacher with early-onset dementia who enjoys reminiscing with deceased relatives virtually in the metaverse or through gaming.
  • Their lodger Charlie (34), a carbon manager at a protein manufacturer with cerebral palsy who is part of a local acting and performance group.

But it’s not always just the three of them. We also discover that this multi-generational trio is enrolled in a national scheme, which sees them take in people who need a temporary place to stay. ‘Warm Welcome’ is aimed at reducing homelessness caused by the boom in AI and automation leaving lower-skilled workers without jobs and the rising number of climate refugees putting pressure on services.

After the intros are out of the way, visitors are then led through a number of spaces in this futuristic home, all tied together by a few key themes:

  • Global warming
  • Our ageing population
  • The role of tech
  • Data and its effect on privacy, security, and equality.

Furniture

A therapeutic bed that offers customised, automated physiotherapy

In these unusual spaces, we find various items of furniture, much of it makeshift, upcycled, or repaired. Some of it is unlike anything we’ve ever witnessed before — like a therapeutic bed that offers customised, automated physiotherapy.

“The reality is that we will not be able (or want?) to replace all of today’s houses and their contents. Instead, our homes will be a mix of the old and startlingly new.”

Devices

A loo that recognises the bum signature of each user and analyses poo and pee to monitor health and wellbeing

We also come across sundry devices, but they’re not all about touchscreens, neon lighting and futuristic beeps and bongs as you’d imagine. Think utensils that provide haptic feedback to help people with mobility issues prepare their own food. Or a kitchen bin that records the volume of food waste and packaging thrown away each year to encourage more sustainable consumption. Or even a loo that recognises the bum signature of each user and analyses poo and pee to monitor health and wellbeing.

“The tech of the future will be highly integrated into the home so that it is discreet, familiar, friendly, and even comforting. Researchers are working on blending digital tech and bio-receptive materials with more familiar household items.”

Services and innovations

A solar-powered growing pod that allow the residents to harvest crops year-round

Then there’s a vast array of services and innovations, just one of which is digital forest bathing, which replaces physical trips to popular nature spots now prohibited for the sake of rewilding and protection.

“Mo, Charlie, and Kai subscribe to three natural environments, which are streamed live by a network of non-profit organisations that acts as custodians for the wilderness.”

Another that I’d anticipated is “smart” food (lab-grown meals containing artificial meat and based on personal health and flavour profiles). These are supplemented by fresh produce, grown in solar-powered growing pods that allow the residents to harvest crops year-round.

“A revolution in farming has fundamentally altered food production and supply. Smaller urban micro-farms like this one supplement produce from large factory farms with fresh, locally-grown produce.”

A smart mirror

And there we have it: tomorrow’s home. From a toilet that can provide an early warning of health problems to AI capable of facilitating a catch-up with dead pals and relatives, this place has it all. The exhibition gives an intriguing (if occasionally fanciful) glimpse of the digs of the future and prompts visitors to reflect on the way they want to live in 30 years and beyond.

To join the wider conversation on how tech and climate change will affect our future lives, I definitely recommend a trip here. But get your skates on — this free exhibition is only around until the 9th of January!

Robot model