Abstract: While traditional forms of urban planning are oriented towards the future, the recent turn towards experimental and challenge-led urban developments is characterized by an overarching presentism. We explore in this article how an experimental approach to urban planning can consider the long-term through setting-up ‘conversations with a future situation.’ In doing so, we draw on a unique experiment: Råängen, a piece of farmland in Lund (Sweden) owned by the Cathedral. The plot is part of Brunnshög, a large urban development program envisioned to accommodate homes, workspaces, and world-class research centers in the coming decades. We trace how Lund Cathedral became an unusual developer involved in ‘planning for thousand years,’ deployed a set of art commissions to allow reflections about values, belief, time, faith, and became committed to play a central role in the development process. The art interventions staged conversations with involved actors as well as publics geographically and temporally far away. The Råängen case illustrates how long-term futures can be fruitfully brought to the present through multiple means of imagination. A key insight for urban planning is how techniques of financial discounting and municipal zoning plans could be complemented with trust in reflective conversations in which questions are prioritized over answers.
Keywords: art; deep-time organizations; experimentation; long-term; planning; Sweden