Smart cities, design fiction

At the RGS-IBG annual conference at the end of August I presented a paper in the session ‘Smart Cities: discourses, policies, and technologies in the making’, convened by Ola Söderström and Francisco Klauser. It was an interesting a energetic session of critical discussion and analysis of the ways in which the idea of the ‘smart city’ is being freighted into marketing, policy, corporate strategy and, of course, into building projects.

My own contribution was a little divergent from the main thrust of the discussion, still focussing on the discursive regimes of the smart cities agenda(s) but looking at the kinds of spatial imaginary enacted in research and development that attempt to lend some materiality to the not-yet (potentially never) built. The presentation stems from some of my PhD work, which resulted in a paper called ‘Representing things to come‘. On the back of that work and a critical engagement with ideas around ‘design fiction’ I was invited to participate in a project for the ‘Open City’ strand of the European Capital of Culture Guimarães 2012 programme. Working with folks from the Pervasive Media Studio and filmmaker Geoff Taylor, we held a workshop with the citizens of Guimarães to think about ways of imagining alternative future ‘smart cities’. The result was a ‘design fiction’ film based on scenarios imagined during the workshop. You can find the film on the Open City website.

I have put a PDF of the conference paper up here.

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