How will Artificial Intelligence change architecture and urban life

Following the announcement of the Urban Interactions theme of the 2019 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB) in Shenzhen, China, the curators of one section of the event, the ‘Eyes of the City’ exhibition, are launching an international open call for proposals.   

Opening on 15th December, the 2019 UABB Biennale will be in its 8th edition and will explore two parallel programmes – the ‘Eyes of the City’ and ‘Ascending City’ – the evolving relationship between urban space and technological innovation from different perspectives.    

The ‘Eyes of the City’ section quotes Jane Jacobs’ phrase ‘Eyes on the Street’, which she introduced in her seminal The Death and Life of American Cities (1961)reinterpreting the concept for the digitally-augmented city. The ‘Eyes of the City’  exhibition aims to investigate how Artificial Intelligence is going to impact architecture as well as people’s daily life in the city. Thanks to recent advances in digital technologies, deep learning and imaging, architectural space is acquiring the ability to ‘see’ autonomously, with any room, street or shop in the city potentially able to respond to a person’s presence.   

The ‘Eyes of the City’ programme will collate design hypotheses relating to this scenario – whether imaginative, practical or visionary – in order to question what kind of digitally-augmented city we want to build for tomorrow.   

The exhibition’s curatorial team, led by MIT professor and architect Carlo Ratti and South China­ – Torino Lab (Politecnico di Torino: Michele Bonino; South China University of Technology: Sun Yimin), is inviting architects, planners, designers, philosophers, thinkers, scientists, educational institutions, research laboratories, think-tanks and students to submit proposals that will form the core of the exhibition at the event’s main venue in the locale of Shenzhen’s recently-inaugurated high-speed railway in Futian.    

MIT professor and architect, Carlo Ratti comments: “Shenzhen is one of the world’s exemplar cities moulded by digital innovation. Looking at Shenzhen’s case and how it resonates internationally, at UABB 2019 we will explore what kind of city we want to build for tomorrow. How can we leverage the possibilities of new technology and Artificial Intelligence in a more participatory, inclusive way?”

Using an open-source curating model, Carlo Ratti and the South China – Torino Lab team have already gathered a group of contributors to prompt wider public discussion on the future of the digitally-augmented city, resulting in a series of published essays. Confirmed Foundational Contributors include international architects, designers and thinkers Yung-Ho Chang, Vicente Guallart, Ying Long, Geoff Manaugh, Antoine Picon, Richard Sennett, Meejin Yoon, Liam Young and Philip F. Yuan.  

The Open Call 

The open call asks what kind of digitally-augmented city we want to build for tomorrow and seeks responses to a series of specific questions set out in a curatorial statement that relate to the interrelationships of people, technology and the city.   

Applicants can submit in one of three categories:   

  • Design projects: Designers, architects, architectural offices and practitioners are challenged to conceive installations that demonstrate an experimental approach to the Biennale theme and specific context while engaging visitors in a highly interactive participatory relationship with their spatial environment. Participants are encouraged to form multi-disciplinary teams combining expertise from research and industry that will open up new perspectives on the relation between users and urban space, and which will create a legacy for the city of Shenzhen.   
  • Research projects: Research-based practices, universities and research centres operating in and around the design disciplines are invited to propose innovative research projects that explore the potential of design practice as a mediating tool between digital and physical spaces in the future city. Proposals should aim to use the Biennale locale as a testing ground for new methods of research and practice that can be applied by scientific and professional communities worldwide.   
  • Critical essays: Scholars, critics, philosophers, historians, thinkers and researchers operating in and around the design disciplines are encouraged to propose contributions to ignite further modes of theoretical exploration into the relationship between cities and technologies. Proposals should open up new perspectives on relationships between design practice, user experience and urban space and should aim to contribute to outlining new theoretical ways of conceiving the city.   

The deadline for submissions for the open call is 31st  May 2019. To find out more and submit proposals, please visit