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Daniels Faculty - Urban IQ Test Symposium

18 January 2019 - 19 January 2019

Time: Friday, January 18, 2019 (6:30 pm - 8 pm) - Keynote Panel 
Saturday, January 19 (9:30 am - 4 pm) - Symposium Panels

Location: Main Hall, 1 Spadina Crescent, Daniels Faculty, Toronto



This event is part of the Home and Away lecture series at the Daniels Faculty. 

The concept of the smart city has become ubiquitous in contemporary agendas related to urban planning, governance and design, and within technological industries wishing to plan, build and manage cities on a global scale. Yet despite its widespread use, the concept remains fuzzy in definition, changing depending on the disciplinary, ideological and geopolitical context in which it is being used. In both the theories and emerging practices that are propelling the development of a smart urbanism, there is a particular gulf between the newer, digital, data-driven, and faster, “soft” economies and technologies transforming communication and social life, and the more established, and slower, hardware that characterizes the construction of the built environment. Against this background, and with a specific focus on the implications of “intelligent” technologies for architecture and urban design, Urban IQ Test will take a deep dive into some of the contemporary rhetorics, histories and politics of the smart city phenomenon. 

Participants will include
Sara Stevens 
David Smiley
Orit Halpern
John Harwood
Anthony Acciavatti
Gökçe Günel 
Shannon Mattern
Marshall Brown
David Benjamin
Michael Piper
John Harwood
Jesse Lecavalier
Jesse Shapins 
Michael Sorkin
Richard Sommer

Read more about the participants here.


The programs and projects that occur at the intersection between architecture and smart technologies are diffuse and diverse in genre, scale and sophistication. This panel will present a series of snapshots of contemporary case studies that will help establish a context and material basis for the more historical and politically oriented discussions that will follow.  


This panel will explore some the historical origins of the smart city.  Perhaps because the smart city is positioned as being inextricably tied to digital technology and data collection protocols that are less than a generation old, and is the manifestation of a planning and commercial ethos that is future-focused, the historical phenomena that anticipate the smart city are not well enough understood. Definitions of the smart city change depending on the disciplinary, ideological, commercial and geopolitical context in which they are being used. Terms such as “intelligent,” “digital,” “green,” “sustainable,” or even “sentient” are sometimes appended to “city” in analogous ways to “smart” to qualify the kind of city being sought by various actors. These terms and are not only an indication of the competing, and overlapping goals of the smart city movement, but also provide a window into the differing historical trajectories that converge therein.


This panel will explore the politics of the smart city concept and movement. The smart city is typically presented as a highly integrated hardware and software platform of technological tools meant to facilitate faster, more responsive and efficient forms of urban communication, provision of human services, and resource management, i.e., a universally adaptable,  politically-neutral solution with the potential to improve quality-of-life across all social sectors in an increasingly urbanizing globe. Yet there is a difference in the political structures and economies of production that govern the “hardware” of the city – constructed landscapes and resources, including, water, energy, transit infrastructure, buildings (and the logistics of delivering them) – and the “software” of the city ¬¬– social policies/engagement/inclusion, commerce, education, health services, etc. Not only do the rates of innovation in, and integration of smart technology differ across “hard” and “soft” realms, but there are radical differences in the way individuals and groups might gain access to a smarter city within “hard” and “soft” aspects of the world’s regions, nations, and cities. The political agency of citizens and citizenry in conceptualizing and harnessing the benefits of the smart city, and correspondingly, who builds, controls and profits from it,  raises the thorny question of whose lives the smart city promises to improve, and in what ways.