HYBRID URBANISM
2015/16

In the near future, technology will allow for large-scale and sophisticated interventions into many more areas of urban life: from analysing traffic patterns and effective zoning of the urban areas to building communities. At the same time, ubiquitous connectivity is forging ahead the so-called ‘digital’ thinking: real-time data analysis creates on-demand (at its best – instant) adaptive urban systems. Well-known examples of this are Uber providing traffic mobility, or Pavegen, a promising start-up that develops a new type of streetlight powered by solar energy and generating light by the footsteps of people walking by.

‘Smart city’ is the ultimate dream of this digital age: the technology-driven megapolis where urban problems are fixed through real-time feedback and algorithm-based solutions. In this city, engineer becomes the new urban profession, alongside with architects and urban planners. The complexity of the ’smart’ urban systems calls for interdisciplinary research and collaborative integrated design based on the understanding of the physical space and materials as well as the potential of the emerging technologies.

The theme of this year – what Strelka has called ‘Hybrid Urbanism’ – sets out to explore the ways digital technologies are manifested in the space of the city and speculate on their potential applications and transgressions. If personal data becomes the new economic resource, how can we claim ownership of it? When Google inevitably moves into the urban space, what new regulations will accompany this expansion? How can something small, such as ad blockers, contribute to a positive change in food industry? When the city is no longer brick and mortar but a responsive sensor-powered environment, what new behaviours will it bring? These and other questions were the core of the 7 final design projects by the students.