The Cities of Our Past Reimagined in a Modern Light

The transformation of the UK's landscape is undeniable, with cities and towns evolving dramatically. Recognisable landmarks and buildings have disappeared, leaving memories of a different era. What if we could resurrect these bygone landmarks?

Chums recent campaign employs artificial intelligence (AI) to do that precisely. Leveraging this innovative technology, they’ve reenvisioned five prominent UK landmarks, showing how they might appear today in our modern society.

Embark on a journey to rediscover the forgotten...

Liverpool Overhead Railway, Liverpool

Opened in 1893, the Liverpool Overhead Railway was initially a transportation lifeline for dock and waterfront workers. As the world's first electrically powered elevated railway, it gained recognition for its efficiency. Stretching from Herculaneum Dock (now a housing estate) to Seaforth Carriage Shed, the railway provided breathtaking views of Liverpool's landmarks. Despite its popularity, wear and tear, coupled with bomb damage during the 1940s, led to its closure in 1956.

One question stands out when thinking about this historic railway line: what if the overhead railway had remained? Imagine a revamped version with a sleek platform and a modern commuter train akin to the style of Merseyrail. Would locations like the Herculaneum Dock have remained open, or would the railway serve as an easy commute for the residents of Herculaneum Quay?

Dome of Discovery and Skylon, London


Constructed for the Festival of Britain in 1951, by Ralph Tubbs, the Dome of Discovery and the Skylon symbolised post-war optimism. Sadly due to the temporary nature of these inspiring constructions, both were dismantled within a year and were sold for scrap. Now fast-forward to today’s waterline and envision a modern, curved building replacing the Dome, offering stunning views of the River Thames. The iconic London Eye now occupies Skylon's spot.

Trams on Queen Street, Cardiff


Cardiff's transition from horse-drawn trams to electrical tramways in 1902 marked a successful shift to a modern era. Despite World War I setbacks, the tram system thrived until the 1930s. With the rise of the free-moving buses, it led to tram closures both in 1930 and 1936. With plans to reintroduce trams in 2024, AI-generated a potential picture of a contemporary tram system featuring a streamlined design, large glass windows, and a digital LED sign.

Portobello Pool, Edinburgh


For over 40 years, Portobello Pool has captivated visitors with its Art Deco charm. Being able to host 1,300 bathers and 6,000 spectators and featuring the UK’s first outdoor wave-making machine, the pool was considered one of the city's crowning jewels. However, despite hosting countless galas and diving shows, its popularity waned in the 1970s and finally closed its doors for the final time in 1978, being demolished the following year. Chum’s visualisation shows what the pool could look like today. They envision a reimagined pool, preserving its Art Deco allure with clean lines and geometric design.

Margate Jetty, Kent


Built in 1824, Margate Jetty underwent numerous repairs and changes over the years. The jetty was frequently damaged by storms and even a shipwreck which marooned several people, but the jetty stood strong. During World War II, Margate Jetty served a vital role in aiding the Dunkirk evacuation. Despite being demolished in 1998, it is not hard to envision a still-standing jetty with a preserved pier head and a modern building offering panoramic views.

Our journey through the reimagined landscapes of these once-forgotten landmarks invites contemplation on the dynamic intersection of history and modernity. Infusing artificial intelligence into this visionary endeavour allows us to appreciate the past while envisaging a future that seamlessly integrates contemporary aesthetics and functionality.

The Liverpool Overhead Railway, a testament to innovation in the late 19th century, could have seamlessly transitioned into the 21st century with a sleek platform and a modernised commuter train. In London, the Dome of Discovery and Skylon's legacy lives on in a futuristic building offering panoramic views, and the iconic London Eye stands tall, capturing the essence of a bygone era.

Cardiff's trams, once a beloved mode of transport, might have evolved into a modern tram system, meeting the needs of today's commuters with style and efficiency. With its art deco charm, Edinburgh's Portobello Pool could still be a beacon of recreation, evoking nostalgia while catering to contemporary tastes.

Margate Jetty, the first iron seaside pier, might have stood resilient against time, featuring a preserved pier head and a modern building offering a vantage point over the surrounding waters.

After looking at some of these amazing results, it is clear that AI has the power to bridge the gap between historical preservation and futuristic aspirations. Whilst we can never bring back what has been lost, these innovative creations might inspire us to reflect on our past and incorporate it into future endeavours. In addition, looking back prompts us to reflect on the value of retaining our heritage while embracing innovation helping us to preserve the iconic landmarks that we still have, without losing them to progress and development. The reimagined landmarks of tomorrow are not just digital renderings; they are windows into the possibilities of a harmonious coexistence of the past and the future.

We can use AI to help us visualise what our present and future might look like if elements of our past were still around. Is there a particular lost landmark you’d like to be reimagined? Maybe try your hat at recreating a lost landmark using AI.

Share your thoughts and creations using #VisionsOfTomorrowUK.

*Collaborative post

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