smart car on the south bank

London’s South Bank is accustomed to staging all manner of head-turning events, but smart car’s pop-up showcase for city-shaping ideas fired the imagination and featured the most unusual test drive Londoners are ever likely to experience.

As well as viewing a display of concept and futuristic smart vehicles, visitors were invited to get behind the wheel of different smart models, including the latest smart fortwo electric drive, which goes on sale late next year. The ability of the electric smart in busy city traffic wasn’t the only surprise for drivers. The test route included a drive-through art gallery complete with coffee shop, a neat shortcut underneath the recently refurbished Savoy Hotel and a mirrored warehouse.

At the urban stage HQ, even twitter fans were getting in on the urban stage fun, tweeting ideas to illustrator Johanna Basford as she used the panels of a smart fortwo electric drive as a rather unusual canvas for her distinctive art. You can find out more about this fascinating art project elsewhere in this issue of Park & Read.

As in other European capitals already visited by smart urban stage, a team of celebrity ‘curators’ were on-hand to present worthy futuristic projects aimed at improving the lives of city dwellers, in the Future Minds Exhibition. The team, which also had to find a winner to represent the UK in the international final, included DJs Jo Whiley and Lauren Laverne, The Gadget Show’s Ortis Deley, architecture and design critic Tom Dyckhoff and fashion designer William Tempest.

“I love discovering new talent and innovative ideas,” said Jo Whiley during the judging. “There’s nothing more exciting than stumbling across an artist or project that makes your skin tingle with anticipation.”

In the end it was one of Jo’s selected projects, The People’s Supermarket – a co-operative providing healthy and affordable local food – which took first prize, winning €10,000 and a place in the grand international final.

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