UCL Urban Laboratory


Rodrigo Firmino - Situating Architecture Lecture Series

07 December 2015, 6:00 pm–7:00 pm

Splintering Surveillance as a New Territorial Layer

Event Information

Open to



Room G02, The Bartlett School of Architecture, 140 Hampstead Road, London, NW1 2BX

Splintering Surveillance as a New Territorial Layer?

Besides the hype and enthusiasm surrounding the possibilities of an increasing capacity for central control of the urban environment justified by the dream of smart urbanism, the city is also made up of a series of scattered networks of technologies and practices. These form a fluid network of devices and systems that participate in the formation of an intangible territorial layer made of ephemeral appropriations of space with various levels of interconnection, systematization and complexity. I believe there is an informal and unnegotiated form of territorialization―part of what David Lyon and Zygmunt Bauman call "liquid surveillance"―that is fundamentally supported by the possibilities for smarter control over actions in the urban space offered by ever smaller and more invisible technologies.

The making of geographical territories in the city is a sociotechnical process that involves an overlapping of different physical, legal, cultural and technological interconnected layers. A constellation of private security companies―and in many cases, individuals―are "in charge" of monitoring spaces that were supposed to be public, free from any kind of private control. In the logic of the territorial layers, this private management of public spaces can be seen as yet another coating in the making of urban territories.

Dr Rodrigo José Firmino is currently working as UCL Urban Laboratory Honorary Senior Research Associate, following a research agenda titled "Connected Spaces, Controlled Movements: Technology, Surveillance, Security, and Cities", funded by the Brazilian government. Dr Firmino is an Associate Professor in Urban Management at the Pontifical Catholic University (PUCPR) in Curitiba, Brazil, and a CNPq (Brazil's National Council for Scientific and Technological Development) Research Fellow. He has published articles and essays in major journals about surveillance & space, augmented technologies & cities, digital urbanisation, cyberculture, smart urbanism, among other themes.

Situating Architecture is a new architectural history lecture series on Monday's at The Bartlett School of Architecture. Lectures are free and open to members of the public on a first come, first seated basis. Places are limited so early arrival is recommended.