UCL Urban Laboratory


Urban Salon: Smart Cities and Speculative Urbanisms

21 May 2013, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm


Event Information

Open to



UCL Pearson Building, Exhibition Room G07, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

The Urban Salon is a London based seminar series aimed at scholars, artists, practitioners and others who are exploring urban experiences within an international and comparative frame.

The seminars are informal and open, with relatively short presentations supporting circulated or visual material and plenty of time for discussion.

All are welcome. 

Smart Cities and Speculative Urbanisms

Nerea Calvillo, Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid

Test Bed Urbanism. Data, Machines and Conduits as the Inhabitants of Songdo

The city of Songdo (South Korea) has been promoted as the first smart city built from scratch. By looking at how the implementation of digital technologies has conditioned (or not) its urban design and built environment, this paper tries to identify some properties of this new territory. By defining this city as a test-bed, it is possible to question a broader logic of testing and big data that emerge as new forms of governmentality. What types of knowing and acting are facilitated by way of test-beds, and what makes them specific to our contemporary condition?

Jennifer Gabrys, Goldsmiths, University of London

Programming Environments: Environmentality and Citizen Sensing in the Smart City

A new wave of smart cities projects is underway that proposes and deploys sensor-based ubiquitous computing across infrastructures and mobile devices to achieve greater sustainability. But in what ways do these digital programs of sustainability give rise to distinct material-political arrangements and practices within cities? And what are the implications of these distributions of governance for urban citizens and ways of life? This presentation will consider the ways in which speculative smart city project proposals might be understood through processes of environmentality, or the distribution of governance within and through environments and environmental technologies. Revisiting and reworking Foucault's notion of environmentality not as the production of environmental subjects, but as a spatial-material distribution and relationality of power through environments, technologies and ways of life, this paper further considers which practices of citizenship emerge through computational sensing and monitoring that are a critical part of the operations and imaginings of smart and sustainable cities.