Symposium & Workshop | Critical city-making: exploring design approaches for imagining smart urban futures

JULY 4-5th, 2023  | Utrecht University & Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences


During this two-day event – consisting of a one-day symposium and one-day workshop – we explore the potential of design approaches for smart urban governance questions, with a non-exclusive emphasis on critical making. We wish to connect various research strands. The first concerns the issue of citizen engagement. Critical research on smart cities has addressed the lack of citizen engagement, ownership and agency in shaping the future of smart urbanism. The second is about city-making practices. A variety of hands-on ‘smart city’ maker practices and conditions for experimentation exist. A key challenge is how to institutionalize them in terms of scale and durability. The third is about controversial smart tech. The pervasive presence of ‘smart’ digital media technologies, interfaces, and the relentless datafication of urban spaces, are rife with frictions and controversies.

How can critical creative approaches inform research and become a praxis for democratic civic imagination of urban futures? How can we move from bottom-up makership to durable and institutionalized critique and systemic change? How can we tease out the implicit norms that come along with so-called smart tech and the value clashes they engender?

This event is a collaboration between CivicIxD and Michiel de Lange, Nanna Verhoeff, Sigrid Merx: [urban interfaces] research group, SIG “Inclusion in the Datafied City” focus area Governing the Digital Society, Open Cities Platform at Utrecht University