The perception of the city

The image and mental map of the city changes in the times of platforms, data and computation

buildings disappear, you don’t see them anymore, and only the sign remains (image from HERE)


Today is the age of Ubiquity.

  • We can gain understandings of places through interactive digital maps; explore them through Streetview; read multiple reviews about places and interpret them; access how other people and organizations interpreted places through images they took; how they performed the place through image of themselves and their activities there.
  • We can see the geographical positions of our contacts and understand what they’re doing, and when.
  • We can use services such as Instagram to see parts of the city and landmarks as they are reinterpreted and performed by people through their bodies, actions and creativity.
  • We can perform the city ourselves through digital services, for example through delivery services, and also from their limits (from what parts of the city can they deliver to your home?)
  • We can see the city through wi-fi hotspots, and we perceive it differently where wi-fi is not available.
  • We may decide to go to certain parts of the city based on data coming from sensors (for example judging through weather or through traffic indications).
  • We gain understandings about the city through the data produced by sensors, their visualisations, the notifications generated through them, the ways in which they influence the city and its spaces (domotics, automation, data-driven and AI-driven decisions, actions, operations).
  • We perceive the city through satellites, digital cartography, assisted navigation and also through their glitches, errors, bugs, misdirections.
  • We can understand the city through our bubbles, echo chambers, from the digital information and knowledge about the city which we will never know because some algorithm keeps us from it.


Software, algorithms, artificial intelligences and other computational agents are constantly in a dialogue with us, and the result of this relationship is the transformation and personalization of spaces through data, information and their computation.

the city Matera discovers new ways in which a piazza can be used (from HERE)

There, but not quite

Different authors have moved from analogue to digital in their study of the city.

What’s missing?

All of these — and many others — authors and initiatives have started to lay out the research of this new scenario.

Ecosystemic Design

In this sense, we can embrace actions in a form of ecosystemic design: design which is not “human centered”, but which sees human beings in networked relationships with systems, devices, sensors, organizations, new computational subjectivities, and to discover what these new sensibilities, these aesthetics mean in this context.

Human Architecture in Venice

Human Architecture

At our research center, we see this as a very practical, pragmatic approach.

Human Architecture in Venice



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