The goal of Cityware is to develop theory, principles, tools and techniques for the design, implementation and evaluation of city-scale pervasive systems as integral facets of the urban landscape.
While architecture has shaped the built environment to satisfy urban dwellers aesthetically and to accommodate their functional needs such as face-to-face interactions and travel, pervasive systems shape electronically mediated interactions in urban space, including use of both fixed and mobile displays and wireless communication.
A major issue is space and its relationship with behaviour: how do we design the space created by fusing electronically created interaction space with architecturally created physical space?
Another major issue is infrastructure: how do we provide interaction and interoperability that scales up to city-scale pervasive systems, while ensuring that they function appropriately and merge aesthetically with urban spaces, materials, forms and uses?
Cityware is a multidisciplinary research project, integrating the disciplines of architecture and urban design, human-computer interaction and distributed systems. Cityware is funded through the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Councils WINES programme, with support from the Cityware industrial partners. Cityware ran from October 2005 until July 2009.
Danaë Stanton Fraser
The Cityware project has helped integrate two previously discrete fields of study: those of computer science and architectural and urban design.
By studying a single common object - the City of Bath - and innovating in the design of pervasive urban technologies, we have developed a new level of theoretical integration covering the nature of real 'architectural' space, and those 'virtual' spaces created by new technologies. For example, as people move through the streets of a city carrying a Bluetooth enabled mobile phone with them they are in effect transmitting and potentially open to receiving information on their location and that of others who are spatially co-present with them.
This pattern of co-presence is able to be captured and stored, and creates a vast repository of information on the statistical probabilities involved in human occupancy of urban space.
New technologies allow us as researchers to begin to understand the ways that the real physical environment affects transient patterns of encounter through time. This is of direct relevance to urban designers wishing to structure the built environment to provide a sense of place and community, but it is also of interest to designers of new technologies wishing to develop new services.
Finally, it is of direct application in the field of human computer interaction where we need to understand the ways that our interactions with each other are mediated by both the affordances of the devices and the context within which they are used. The Cityware project proved that an appropriate theoretical framework could be developed to enable this kind of integration across previously discrete disciplinary boundaries.