The curators of the ‘Eyes of the City’ exhibition being organised as part of the 2019 Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture, have launched an international open call for proposals.

The 8th edition of the event opens on 15th December in Shenzhen, China.

The 2019 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB) is based on the Urban Interactions theme and will explore the evolving relationship between urban space and technological innovation from different perspectives through two parallel programmes – the ‘Eyes of the City’ and ‘Ascending City’.

The ‘Eyes of the City’ programme references Jane Jacobs’ phrase ‘Eyes on the Street’, which she introduced in her seminal ‘The Death and Life of American Cities (1961)’, reinterpreting the concept for the digitally-augmented city.

The ‘Eyes of the City’ exhibition will investigate how Artificial Intelligence is going to impact architecture as well as the daily lives of people in urban environments.

Advances in digital technologies, deep learning and imaging today allow architectural spaces to ‘see’ autonomously, with any room, street or shop in the city potentially able to respond to a person’s presence.

The open call for proposals aims to collate design hypotheses relating to this scenario in order to question what kind of digitally-augmented city should be built for tomorrow.

The curatorial team led by MIT professor and architect Carlo Ratti and South China – Torino Lab (Politecnico di Torino: Michele Bonino; South China University of Technology: Sun Yimin), invites architects, planners, designers, philosophers, thinkers, scientists, educational institutions, research laboratories, think-tanks and students to submit proposals that will form the core of the exhibition in Shenzhen.

Ratti comments: “Shenzhen is one of the world’s exemplar cities moulded by digital innovation. Looking at Shenzhen’s case and how it resonates internationally at UABB 2019, we will explore what kind of city we want to build for tomorrow. How can we leverage the possibilities of new technology and Artificial Intelligence in a more participatory, inclusive way?”

Ratti and the South China – Torino Lab team have already gathered a group of contributors to prompt wider public discussion on the future of the digitally-augmented city, resulting in a series of published essays. Confirmed Foundational Contributors include international architects, designers and thinkers such as Yung-Ho Chang, Vicente Guallart, Ying Long, Geoff Manaugh, Antoine Picon, Richard Sennett, Meejin Yoon, Liam Young and Philip F. Yuan.

The Open Call

Applicants can submit in one of three categories:

Design projects

Designers, architects, architectural offices and practitioners are challenged to conceive installations that demonstrate an experimental approach to the Biennale theme and specific context while engaging visitors in a highly interactive participatory relationship with their spatial environment. Participants are encouraged to form multi-disciplinary teams combining expertise from research and industry that will open up new perspectives on the relation between users and urban space, and which will create a legacy for the city of Shenzhen.

Research projects

Research-based practices, universities and research centres operating in and around the design disciplines are invited to propose innovative research projects that explore the potential of design practice as a mediating tool between digital and physical spaces in the future city. Proposals should aim to use the Biennale locale as a testing ground for new methods of research and practice that can be applied by scientific and professional communities worldwide.

Critical essays

Scholars, critics, philosophers, historians, thinkers and researchers operating in and around the design disciplines are encouraged to propose contributions to ignite further modes of theoretical exploration into the relationship between cities and technologies. Proposals should open up new perspectives on relationships between design practice, user experience and urban space and should aim to contribute to outlining new theoretical ways of conceiving the city.

Submissions for the open call must be completed by 31st May 2019. Visit for more information on the event.

Image credit: Roboat, a project by MIT and AMS prototyping a use of self-driving boats in the canals of Amsterdam © MIT and AMS