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Press release: Interactive e-book offers children a choice of four possible futures

A visually captivating interactive e-book for children, offering them a choice of four possible futures, launches this Friday, 26 March as part of the inaugural Cambridge Festival, which is coordinated by the University of Cambridge.

Created by The Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) the game-like e-book, Four Futures, One Choice invites children to explore what the future might be for Britain’s buildings, infrastructure, places and spaces. It is aimed at 8-12-year-olds and can be read by anyone, anywhere in the world.

Through a series of charming illustrations, beautifully simple storylines, and accompanying narration from a 12-year-old girl, the e-book explores four compelling visions and how the choices we make today are vital for a fairer, greener, inclusive and sustainable future – their future.  

A mixed-specialist group of seven researchers and co-authors developed the e-book during the early months of COVID-19, framed by the global climate crisis. The researchers use future studies and scenario planning as a lens to view, with compelling clarity and detail, what Britain’s built and natural world might look like in 2040, depending on the decisions we make now as we rally to recover from the pandemic.

The book’s four future scenarios are:

  • Britain may become a country where only a privileged minority can afford to insulate themselves against the climate changes – moving to areas that are less impacted by air pollution, flooding and frequent wildfires, for example – while the rest of the population would become increasingly vulnerable to these and other dangers. (Resigned to our fate)
  • The people and businesses of the UK have placed greater value on lower-carbon activities, such as creative pursuits, sharing and repairing economies, careers in caring and spending time in nature with the people we love. For now, we can feel proud that we have left natural resources in a slightly better state than we found them for future generations, as well as a blueprint for a more sustainable way of life. (A legacy of hope)
  • The climate crisis has brought many refugees of working age to the UK, but unfortunately there is a great deal of animosity toward these communities as they have become scapegoats for the economic troubles of the last 20 years and climate-related resource scarcity in the eyes of xenophobes and ethno-nationalists. (Too little, too late)
  • Or, instead, we can have a country where the stable workforce has enabled an increase in green building and infrastructure projects, such as the change to resilient micro-grids running on 100% renewable sources. This generation is comfortable working alongside AI as partners in decision-making and, thanks to the undergraduate curriculum, continuing professional development and lifelong learning, is highly literate in using data securely for the public good. (Generation Zero)

During a follow up event, children are invited to join an interactive talk on Saturday 27 March 2021 from 2-3pm to explore the future of work where digital data and technology is used in new and different ways and share their views about what the future world might be like to live and work in. Children joining the session should be supervised by a parent or guardian throughout the session. Sign up for the event free here: Four Futures, One Choice - interactive session for children Tickets, Sat 27 Mar 2021 at 14:00 | Eventbrite

Speaking ahead of the e-book launch, one of the co-authors, Kirsten Lamb, Knowledge Communication Manager at Centre for Digital Built Britain, said: “As researchers, we often talk amongst ourselves in academic language, but the work we do is really about creating a better world for everyone. My co-authors and I created four scenarios about the year 2040 to explore what the built environment and digital technology might be like but, more importantly, we wanted to understand what life would be like in those futures.

“We’re so grateful for the chance to share this work with an audience of children, who will really benefit from us making good choices about the world we are building right now. We hope that children reading this book will have a sense that their future isn’t set in stone, and they can make choices that will prepare them for whatever happens.”

For further information about the book and the event:

To view the full Cambridge Festival programme: Many events require pre-booking, please check the events listings on the Festival website. 

Keep up to date with the Festival on social media:

Instagram @Camunifestivals | Facebook: @CambridgeFestival | Twitter: @Cambridge_Fest

The Festival sponsors and partners are AstraZeneca and RAND Europe. The Festival media partners are BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and Cambridge Independent.

If you are interested in viewing an event after the published time and date, please check the event page on the Festival website, as many are on demand, or get in touch with the Festival team via

Notes for editors:

The Cambridge Festival, which brings together the hugely popular Cambridge Science Festival and the Cambridge Festival of Ideas, launches on Friday 26th March and runs until Sunday 4th April. An extensive programme of over 350 events tackle many of the critical global challenges affecting us all, including pandemics, climate change, human rights, democracy, artificial intelligence, extremism, and much more. Coordinated by the University of Cambridge, it features hundreds of prominent figures and experts in the world of science, current affairs and the arts, and focusses on four key themes:  health, society, environment, and explore.

CDBB (Centre for Digital Built Britain) is a partnership between the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the University of Cambridge.  CDBB seeks to understand how the construction and infrastructure sectors could use a digital approach to better design, build, operate, integrate the built environment. A digital built Britain will: understand what information is needed to enable better through life economic, social and environmental value from our built environment; champion human-centric design of infrastructure and the services they deliver; exploit new and emerging digital construction and manufacturing skills and technology to reduce costs and increase productivity; and grow new career, business and export opportunities for the UK.

Four Futures, One Choice was written by: Didem Gürdür Broo; Kirsten Lamb; Richmond Juvenile Ehwi; Erika Pärn; Antiopi Koronaki; Chara Makri; Thayla Zomer