UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Cities, and the battle for the infrastructure of everyday life

13 September 2018, 6:30 pm–8:00 pm

Dan Hill

Dan Hill considers how the future of our cities will be shaped by advancing technologies, as part of our public lecture series Rethinking Public Value and Public Purpose in 21st-Century Capitalism.

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UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP)


UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose
55-56 Russell Square
United Kingdom

Our cities are paused in front of several different alternative futures. One we might describe as ‘business as usual’, which is actually a slow, unthinking drift from 20th century systems into those of shaped by 21st century ‘big tech', in which we are unprepared, ill-advised and increasingly subjugated by individualising technologies applied at urban scale. The other city we might describe as full of the possibilities of similar-looking but actually quite different 'networked urbanism', engaged with consciously, deliberately and working with the dynamics of contemporary systems for civic and public outcomes.

It implies quite a different form of city-making, enabled by a convergence of contemporary approaches such as building fabrication, robotics for maintenance and construction, autonomous mobility and logistics systems, shared super-local energy systems, advanced manufacturing and AI, super-green safe streets and truly shared living spaces, all calibrated by carefully redesigned decision-making cultures.

This is where the real invention is required, the true design agenda:
How do we re-appropriate these technologies in a way that reinforces the idea of the city as a public good, not a mere collision of private ones? This richly illustrated talk will describe a diverse array of projects, techniques and approaches from projects and practices all over the world.

Dan Hill is a Visiting Professor at IIPP, as well as an Associate Director at Arup, and Head of Arup Digital Studio, a multidisciplinary design team based in London.

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