Smartness? Between Discourse and Practice

Conference Sessions


Fun Palace, Cedric Price (1964)

Price, Cedric [1964] Fun Palace 03.jpg

AHRA 2018 aims to be a platform for discussion and debate on the processes of innovation within the built environment in both content and format. As such, beyond the conventional 20-minute paper presentations organised in themed sessions, other formats of presentations such as, artistic performances, pecha-kucha style quick presentations, or film showings are equally welcomed. To establish meaningful connections between the various forms of presentation, a few themes have been defined. These themes and sub-themes are meant to challenge and question the prevailing ideas and notions regarding smart buildings and cities.

The conference book of abstracts can be found here



The historical precedents for both the use of technology and the blind belief in data (example, High Modern period) can be contrasted with today’s challenges on the smart appropriations. These are not only determined by the past, but increasingly by the risky activity of projecting into the future (e.g. climate change, population dynamics, weather forecast, etc.).



Tomorrow's City Today: Palimpsest of the Future

Nick Dunn: ImaginationLancaster, Lancaster University, United Kingdom

Paul Cureton: ImaginationLancaster, Lancaster University, United Kingdom


Smart forms of architecture and urbanism are increasingly promoted in connection to efficiency and sustainability. Since there is much contestation given to meaning within sustainability in design practices, this theme encourages a critical reflection of sustainability as enacted in specific contexts. Important questions posed are, which set of challenges are addressed, by which means, and for whom?



Smarter and Sustainable Urban Conservation: Myth or Reality?

Ana Roders: Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands

Youfang Peng: Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands


Sustainable Technologies and Creativity: The Alternative(less) Imaginaries of Smartness?

Vesa Vihanninjoki: University of Helsinki, Finland

Sanna Lehtinen: University of Helsinki, Finland


Smart ideas, technologies, spaces and cities crucially do have a material dimension. This theme shifts attention to these often neglected materialities (switches, cables, data centres, etc.) that do have specific logics, spaces, appearances, and designs.



Augmented Smartness: Harnessing Tacit Urban Intelligence

Gretchen Wilkins: RMIT University, Vietnam

Andrew Stiff: RMIT University, Vietnam


Quantifying Urban Experiences through 'Smart' Methods and Technologies

Stefano Andreani: Harvard University Graduate School of Design, USA


Tectonics of the Immaterial: The Material Footprint of the Immaterial

Cristina Nan: University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Giorgio Ponzo: University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom


Questions the emerging power structures and ensuing exclusion and inclusion enabled by smart systems and explores new forms of agency enabled by those same structures. How can smart systems foster new ways to engage with buildings and cities?



Catalysing Cross-scales: Emergent Urbanism and Smart Nodes

Annuska Rantanen: Tampere University of Technology, Finland

Ari Hynynen: Tampere University of Technology, Finland


Smartness as Ideological Practice: Is Smartness an Empty Signifier in the Discourse of the Future Built Environment?

Chuan Wang: University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom


Explores the paradox of prevalent smart systems in which networks of instruments and data are organized towards top-down systematization of processes, but in which the dispersed condition of those networks allows centers, nodes and terminals to be connected in alternative ways, thus also establishing ahierarchical structures that empowers its different actors. The work of Jan van Dijk and Manuel Castells provides particular inspiration for this discussion.



Accessing Data Analytics: Urban Commons as City Smartness

Carlos Smaniotto Costa: Universidade Lusófona, Portugal

George Artopoulos: The Cyprus Institute, Cyprus


Searches for a renewed understanding of the discursive spaces for discussion and political engagement in the context of smart systems, specifically how these complement or displace the very physical space that they seek to augment. The work of Jürgen Habermas lays the foundation for this exploration.



Smart Vagueness: Alternative Urbanities of the Global South

Anubha Kakroo: Indian Institute of Art and Design, India

Anuradha Chatterjee: Cracknell and Lonergan Architects, Australia


Sound and the Smart City: Mapping Sound and Noise

Sarah Lappin: Queen's University Belfast, United Kingdom

Gascia Ouzounian: University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Conor McCafferty: Queen's University Belfast, United Kingdom


Takes on the notion of control espoused by Gilles Deleuze to describe contemporary societies and challenges the promises of smart systems to achieve total control. With the all-seeing eye, the all-knowing brain, smart systems promise to be all knowable and controllable in new, dynamic, reactive ways, but at what cost?



Utopia through Smart Technologies

Angel Callander: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany


Collects every other significant positions and conversations that should inform the current debate on smart systems in architecture and urbanism.



'Smart' Urban Heritage Management

Linda Shetabi: University of Glasgow, United Kingdom

Lucille Tetley-Brown: University of Glasgow, United Kingdom


Making the City Smart Together

Jonas Breuer: imec-SMIT/Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium

Shenja Van der Graaf: imec-SMIT/Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium


Dome over Manhattan, Richard Buckminster Fuller and Shoji Sadao (1961)

Fuller, Richard Buckminster and Sadao, Shoji [1961] Dome over Manhattan 01.jpg