ArgumentNo. 9/2017

Tech-Smart Smart & Socio-Smart - Prerequisites for a Critique of Ideology Concerning Smart Cities and Architecture

  • / “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest, Romania


Given that, in early February 2016, the news spread in the media that Oradea will be the first smart city in our country develops a pressing need for inter- and transdisciplinary professional debates on a new type of modernization, interpreted simplistically as a simple technological update in architecture and urbanism. In this communication I start from five theoretical observations in the wider context of international experiments on smart cities and architecture:

1) A fatigue concerning all debates in the last decades solely based on aesthetic issues in terms of architecture and town (traditionalism vs. futurism);

2) Invoking the relevant ethical issues and the concept of urban satisfaction based on social observations on urban space appropriation and identification through technology (the case of Superkilen Park in Copenhagen);

3) The difference between the powerful models of smart cities, created ex nihilo (such as Masdar City in Abu Dhabi and the Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation (CITE) in New Mexico, United States), and alternative models of modernization on a smaller scale, more realistic and sensitive to local conditions.

4) The essential role that the appearance of a dictionary of urban trends such as “Participatory City: 100 Urban Trends BMW Guggenheim Lab” has on the architectural education.

5) A focus of criticism on several recent projects from Romania, split into two categories:

a) Projects “top to bottom”, implemented by corporations and / or governments: Vodafone Global Machine-to-Machine (M2M) involvement in the project Siemens Smart City Sibiu and Cluj Technology Park Liberty project, conducted by Arhimar;

b) Projects “bottom-up”, socially activated by small creative groups: idz architecture (developing surprising connections among architectural design, construction and industrial robots, and exploring a potential artistic hidden beyond technology for production spaces and connecting people), Symbiomorphogenesis project by Modulab (exemplifying open source methodologies and people collaborations in the city), the multidisciplinary intervention groups like Calup, Node makerspace and Make a Point, the educational project “De-a arhitectura / Playing with Architecture” and even the phenomenon of protests linked by Rosia Montana case.


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