Institute of Sustainable Urbanism Talks #05: Future Cities

ISU International Conference, 14.11.2017 | Architekturpavillon at TU Braunschweig.

Last month Dr Gareth Young attended and presented at the ISU international conference “ISU Talks #05: Future Cities”. The Future Cities conference took place at TU Braunschweig, Germany, on November 14th, and was hosted by the Institute for Sustainable Urbanism. The conference was created to explore the potential challenges that exist for contemporary urbanism in a world that seeks to digitise and quantify everyday life and urban routine, and discuss how this effect will shape future cities. For more information click on the link here:

At the conference, the use of digital technology in sustainable urbanism and how this affects daily life around the world was explored via several presentation and discussion sessions held throughout the day. The conference began with a welcome from Dr. Maycon Sedrez and Olaf Mumm from the ISU at TU Braunschweig. This was then followed by a presentation session; for abstracts submitted by various visiting scholars, including BCD’s Dr Gareth Young.


Figure 1: Gareth Young presenting a 3D virtual model of Dublin City. © ISU


First, Maya Przybylski, of University of Waterloo, presented her work “Soft Materials: confronting the socio-cultural effects of software-embedded design in shaping an ethical built environment”. In this paper, Przybylski argued for an expanded notion of agency in the digitalization of analysis, planning, and design process; as was proposed for the Future Cities conference theme. Following this, Dr Gareth Young, of Maynooth University, presented the Building City Dashboard’s Visualisation and Multimodal Interaction proposal for the application of multimodal technologies in the engagement of smart-citizens using city dashboards. In this paper, “Future Cities and Multimodalities: how multimodal technologies can improve smart-citizen engagement with city dashboards”, we explore how emergent Virtual Reality technologies can potentially be used for multimodal data visualisation. The next paper was presented by Dimitris Giouzepas et al., titled “Analyzing Urban Open Spaces with the Use of Pattern Analysis Software”. Giouzepas proposed that ecological spatial pattern analysis software could potentially be used to extract valuable information about the quantity, quality, and connectivity of urban open-spaces; with an example given for the city of Thessaloniki, in Northern Greece. The next presentation was given by Naksha Satish, of the Centre for Environment Planning and Technology University, Ahmedabad, India. In Satish’s paper, a proposal was made for the textual analysis and mapping of networks in the city of Bangalore through interviews and other data collection methodologies. An example was given for the “Faasos” network of public engagement with consumers across Bangalore. Pascal Abel et. al, from TU Braunschweig, Germany, then presented the Institute of Business Information Systems work on citizen participation with electronic engagement platforms. In the paper “A Staircase Model for E-Participation in DIY Urbanism Platforms,” Abel proposed a staircase-model that could be used to create a structured design framework for IT-based, citizen engagement platforms. Finally, Joshua M. Nason, of University of Texas Arlington, USA, presented his work with interactive technologies and public spaces; in “Interactive Even Urbanism: digitally mapping public space usage as artful reflection”. This work posed multiple questions around use, with regards to the use of temporary pavilions in public spaces. In the poster sessions, a variety of technological mechanisms for public engagement were explored for researchers to better understand urban spaces. Multiple technologies were explored and discussed, such as sensor technologies, GIS, participation platforms, as well as the more academic theories behind digital technology in use.


Figure 2: Posters displayed in the Architekturpavillon at TU Braunschweig.

A symposium on urbanism in a digitalizing world then followed, presented as an open-table discussion, framed by three keynote lectures on specific Future Cities themes. To begin, Sven Schneider (Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, DeCodingSpaces) gave an introductory lecture on his work with Parametric Design. Schneider expressed the necessity for architects and urban designers to think algorithmically and to consider the application of computational tools early in their design process. Following this, Pablo Martínez and Mar Santamaria Varas (IAAC) talked about their company’s strategies for collecting and mining data. Martínez and Varas presented the work of 300.000km/s on projects undertaken for the city of Barcelona; specifically, they expressed the need to understand a city from the perspective of both city authorities and citizens. Martínez and Varas discussed issues with access to data and how creative data visualization can be used to supplement citizen engagement with city planning and to inform decisions in urban development by city management. Finally, Dana Behrman (UNStudio) then presented several approaches to the application of technology in the context of energy use and the development of other environmentally themed projects. This was delivered through the exploration of various UNStudio projects. Furethermore, Behrman highlighted the use of knowledge driven design and an openness towards new technologies in the design of future cities and urban spaces. The day’s events concluded with a special ISU public lecture from Caroline Bos (UNStudio). Bos presented UNStudio’s design approaches to several of their projects. This introduced us to a portfolio of design; including, pavilions, individual buildings, and whole neighbourhoods. Bos also outlined the company’s strategical architectural methods.

Figure 3: Delta table discussions. © ISU