Materializing Urban Infrastructures

Alan Wiig and I hosted two paper sessions today at the AAG Annual Meeting on ‘Materialising Urban Infrastructures.’ Many thanks to the contributions from the following speakers:

  1. Si Jie Ivin Yeo, National University Of Singapore, ‘Engaging with infrastructures of the future: convenience, cashlessness and connection’
  2. Ignacio Perez, University of Oxford, ‘Assembling oligoptic visions of the Smart City: following the transport data dispositif in Santiago de Chile’
  3. Paolo Cardullo and Ramon Ribera Fumaz, UOC, ‘Digital democracy in the making: the Decidim platform ecosystem
  4. Mohammed Rafi Arefin, University of British Columbia, ‘Political ecologies of surveillance: the history and contemporary politics of wastewater epidemiology’
  5. Discussant: Alan Wiig, University of Massachussets – Boston
  6. Pauline McGuirk and Chantel Carr, University of Wollongong, ‘Orchestrating energy transitions: from ‘eco-bling’ to tuning the building’ 
  7. Philip Ashton, University of Illinois-Chicago, ‘How many bankers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Chicago’s public building retrofits and the political geographies of assetization’
  8. Charlotte Johnson, UCL, ‘Rainwater tanks & the material politics of community-led greening’
  9. Demetra Kourri, University of Manchester, ‘A city of many worlds: tunneling between nature and technology’
  10. Discussant: Dillon Mahmoudi, University of Maryland – Baltimore County

Roundtable Discussion – Splintering Urbanism @ 20

We had a lively discussion today at the AAG annual meeting on ‘Splintering Urbanism @ 20’. Big thanks to the stellar group of panellists for their insights: Richard Hanley, I-Chun Catherine Chang, AbdouMaliq Simone, Kathryn Furlong, Mimi Sheller, Jean-Paul Addie, Theresa Enright, and Donald McNeill. Stay tuned for a special issue of the Journal of Urban Technology edited by Alan Wiig, Colin McFarlane, Jon Rutherford, and me.

New article – Experimental Governance and Urban Planning Futures

My colleague, Erica Eneqvist, and I published an article in a special issue of Urban Planning on the theme of Urban Planning by Experiment. Thanks to the editors, Christian Scholl and Joop de Kraker, for curating a compelling group of papers. The table of contents is as follows:

Urban Planning by Experiment: Practices, Outcomes, and Impacts
By Christian Scholl and Joop de Kraker

The Practice of Urban Experimentation in Dutch City Labs
By Christian Scholl and Joop de Kraker

How Cities Learn: From Experimentation to Transformation
By James Evans, Tomáš Vácha, Henk Kok and Kelly Watson

Experimental Governance and Urban Planning Futures: Five Strategic Functions for Municipalities in Local Innovation
By Erica Eneqvist and Andrew Karvonen

Urban Planning by Experiment at Precinct Scale: Embracing Complexity, Ambiguity, and Multiplicity
By Darren Sharp and Rob Raven

Social Encounter by Experiment? Potentials and Pitfalls of Real-World Labs for Urban Planning
By Charlotte Räuchle

Planning from Failure: Transforming a Waterfront through Experimentation in a Placemaking Living Lab
By Ramon Marrades, Philippa Collin, Michelle Catanzaro and Eveline Mussi

Contextualising Urban Experimentation: Analysing the Utopiastadt Campus Case with the Theory of Strategic Action Fields
By Matthias Wanner, Boris Bachmann and Timo von Wirth

Planning for 1000 Years: The Råängen Experiment
By Peter Pelzer, Roger Hildingsson, Alice Herrström and Johannes Stripple

New Book on Smart and Sustainable Cities

I co-edited a new compendium titled Smart and Sustainable Cities? Pipedreams, Practicalities and Possibilities with James Evans, Chris Martin, Andrés Luque-Ayala, Kes McCormick, Rob Raven, and Yuliya Voytenko Palgan. The contributing authors use case studies from the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, India and China to examine how social and environmental issues are interpreted and integrated into smart city initiatives and actions. The collection was previously published as a 2019 special issue of Local Environment.

New Project! TRANS-PED / Transforming Cities through Positive Energy Districts

I am very pleased to announce that JPI Urban Europe has funded a new project titled TRANS-PED: Transforming Cities through Positive Energy Districts. I will be leading a transdisciplinary learning network of positive energy district stakeholders and researchers in Sweden, Belgium and Austria. I look forward to collaborating with the team to develop new approaches to frame, embed, assess and upscale urban innovations.

Call for Papers – Techno-Politics of the Sustainable-Smart City

Techno-Politics of the Sustainable-Smart City
Frontiers in Sustainable Cities: Governance and Cities
Edited by Andrew Karvonen, Matthew Cook and Mark Lemon

Contemporary sustainable urban development discourses and practices are increasingly being influenced by and conflated with a wide range of smart and digitalization agendas. The integration of ICT into urban systems promises enticing new ways of knowing and acting upon cities to enhance their economic, environmental, and social performance. The emergent smart urban operating systems are often presented as neutral analytical devices and an inevitable consequence of technological development. However, the move to digitalize cities is having profound and long-lasting impacts on the knowledge politics of sustainable urban development.

This Research Topic focuses on the techno-politics of the sustainable-smart city and how urban knowledge is being assembled and institutionalized through processes of digitalization. We invite theoretical and empirical contributions from scholars in planning, geography, political science, anthropology, sociology, science & technology studies, and aligned disciplines to contribute new insights on how practices of monitoring, sensoring, analyzing, modelling, simulating, and automating are influencing the political rationalities of sustainable urban development. 

We welcome contributions on issues related but not limited to:
• The ‘new urban science’ and emergent approaches to knowing cities
• Sensored landscapes, surveillance and social control
• City information modelling, digital twins and the politics of abstraction 
• Urban operating systems as new centers of calculation
• The disruptive potential of platforms to reorganize collective services
• Algorithms, machine learning, artificial intelligence and calculative rationalities
• Digital exclusion and the right to the city

For further information, see

Governing through Experiments: Local Authorities, Innovation and the Public Good

I participated in a doctoral seminar today by Erica Eneqvist where she summarised her on-going research on ‘Governing through Experiments: Local Authorities, Innovation and the Public Good’. Erica is developing novel empirical and theoretical insights on how the City of Stockholm is involved in innovation activities. Thanks to Sara Brorström from Gothenburg University for serving as an opponent and critical friend in the seminar. Looking forward to further development of this research!

Workshop on Regional Infrastructures

I contributed to the Regional Studies Association Research Network on Infrastructural Regionalism (NOIR) Workshops on Water Infrastructure and Regional Governance in Pittburgh with a keynote on ‘Thinking Regionally, Acting Strategically: New Approaches to Governing Regional Water Infrastructures.’ Thanks to Michael Glass, JP Addie and Jen Nelles for organising the workshops. The full line-up of presentations is here.