The Open Call starts on April 1st and will last until May 31st, 2019. For details please visit:


“沟通纽约”图解纽约与全球电话、IP交流项目© MIT Senseable City Lab.jpg

The curators of the Carlo Ratti/South China-Torino Lab (Politecnico di Torino-SCUT) team is pleased to announce the Open Call for proposals to participate in the “Eyes of the City” section in the framework of the 2019 Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB). We invite international architects, planners, designers, philosophers, thinkers, scientists, companies, educational institutions, research laboratories, think-tanks and students to submit their proposals from April 1st to May 31st, 2019.


The Open Call will accept proposals for design projects, research projects and critical essays that will form the core of the “Eyes of the City” section, that will be hosted in UABB's main venue. After selecting the proposals for the exhibition, the curatorial team will further discuss and develop them along with the candidates in light of the main exhibition as a whole.


■ About UABB


Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB) is currently the only biennial exhibition in the world that is based exclusively on the set themes of URBANISM AND URBANIZATION. Co-organized by the two neighboring and closely interacting cities of Shenzhen and Hong Kong, UABB situates itself within the regional context of the rapidly urbanizing Pearl River Delta, concerns itself with globally common urban issues, extensively communicates and interacts with the wider public, is presented using expressions of contemporary visual culture, and engages in international and avant-garde dimensions as well as discourses of public interest .


■ About 2019 UABB

The overarching theme of 2019 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (Shenzhen) is Urban Interactions. 

新的设计维度在物理层和数字层之间诞生 © MIT Senseable City Lab.JPG

▲A new design dimension is born, at the crossroads between physical and digital layers © MIT Senseable City Lab

In the deepening process of global spatial connectivity and regional integration, Urban Interactions have become a universal topic featuring both philosophical significance and valuable innovative application. Urban interactions involve interactions between cities, between city and people, and between people in cities. In a sense, the city itself is a giant and complicated outcome of “system interactions”. With the emergence of more and more new interaction technologies (such as high-speed inter-city railway, big data and cloud computing, IoT, and AI recognition technology), from virtual space to daily life, physical urban interface to human society organization, and global production-consumption system to large urban clusters across regions, more and more unprecedented phenomena like “super city”, “super species” and “super society” will emerge. New relations including urban interactions, human-computer interactions, social interactions are gradually shaping and forming a new domain that humanity is about to face in the near future.


Shenzhen and Hong Kong are a typical pair of the most interesting interactive cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. What new relations will the two develop and iterate? This may be a question this UABB will probe into. The selection of Futian underground high-speed railway station, the most important transport hub connecting Shenzhen and Hong Kong, as Main Venue of this UABB may suggest an intriguing clue: what would happen when the distance between the two giant super urban centers is reduced to less than 15 minutes. Moreover, from the context of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area to the networked global space, it can be foreseen that S&T innovation will be intricately integrated with urban spaces, and new urban interactions will also bring about many unexpected and amazing scenes of future life.


福田高铁站2 © UABB.jpg

▲Futian railway station  © UABB

The team of Chief Curators includes Architect and Director of MIT Senseable City Lab Carlo Ratti, CAE Academician Meng Jianmin and famous curator and art critic Fabio Cavallucci. The exhibition consists of two sections, namely "Eyes of the City" and "Ascending City", which will explore the evolving relationship between urban space and technological innovation from different perspectives.  The "Eyes of the City" section is jointly curated by Carlo Ratti and the South China - Torino Lab (formed by South China University of Technology and Politecnico di Torino), and the “Ascending City” section is curated by the team headed by Meng Jianmin and Fabio Cavallucci.


2019 UABB主题及两大板块 © UABB.jpg

▲Theme and Sections of 2019 UABB © UABB

The following Open Call is issued by the Eyes of the City team.


“Eyes of the City” Open Call - Curatorial Statement

by Carlo Ratti, Michele Bonino, Sun Yimin


Observing people’s presence in physical space and deciphering their movements and flows have always been critical actions to designers, planners and anyone else who has an interest in exploring how cities work. It was in 1961 that Jane Jacobs, in her seminal book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, coined a famous expression to encapsulate a characteristically relational aspect of this observational activity. According to Jacobs, “the natural proprietors” of a certain part of the metropolis – these may be the people who live or work or just spend a substantial amount of time there – become the “eyes on the street.” Their collective, distributed, decentralized gaze becomes the prerequisite to establishing “a marvelous order for maintaining the safety of the streets and the freedom of the city.”


Almost half a century later, we find ourselves at the inception of a new chapter in the relationship between the city and digital technologies, which calls for a reexamination of the old idea of the “eyes on the street.” In the next few years, thanks to the most recent advances in Artificial Intelligence, deep learning and imaging, we are about to reach an unprecedented scenario, the most radical development in the evolution of the Internet-of-Things: architectural space is acquiring the full ability to “see.” Imagine that any room, street or shop in our city can recognize you, and autonomously respond to your presence. With the “eyes on the street,” it was people who looked at other people or the city and interpreted its mechanisms. In this new scenario, it will not be just people but also buildings and streets themselves that acquire the ability to observe and react as urban life unfolds in front of them. After the “eyes on the street,” we are now entering the era of the “Eyes of the City.”


机械船:由麻省理工学院及阿姆斯特丹高等大都市预案研究院主导的阿姆斯特丹运河内自动机械船项目 © MIT Senseable City Lab.png

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

In her original conceptualization, Jacobs used the “eyes of the street” as a tool to dissect a series of key spatial concepts – from the distinction between private and public space, to the limits of urban anonymity, to how borders are expressed and constructed, to the value of safety and the sense of belonging. Tomorrow’s “Eyes of the City,” fueled by historical breakthroughs in AI, from facial recognition to natural language processing, compels us to challenge all of these concepts, while also addressing novel issues – factors like the ethics of technological agency, the meaning of urban observation and design by proxy, the power of data ownership, and the ways in which technology can be re-appropriated by individuals and communities.


What can the consequences of the “Eyes of the City” scenario be on the built environment and on the way people live it? The “Eyes of the City” exhibition at UABB will ask exhibitors to tackle these themes, while focusing on two parallel relationships: the one between space and users and the one between space and design practices, as the latter change under the pressure of technological advancement.


利用大数据,从人们的行为和社会动态理解城市现象© MIT Senseable City Lab - 副本.jpg

▲Using big data to understand urban phenomena - from people’s movements to social dynamics © MIT Senseable City Lab

With the “Eyes of the City” Open Call, our objective is to gather proposals that can help frame the discussion around one or more of these issues:


·  How will the new technological scenario change people’s behavior in the city? How will this articulate the relation between human body and urban space?

·  How can communities interact with and re-appropriate new technology?

·  How do design practices evolve in this context? What is the relation between creativity and increasing automation?

·  What are the most relevant spatial, social and ethical consequences of innovation processes driven by AI?

·  How can designers and citizens harness the power of real-time data in novel ways – especially to foster architecture’s ability to respond to people’s needs?


At the “Eyes of the City”section in UABB 2019, we aim to collect hypotheses and suggestions – imaginative, ironic, practical, visionary – so as to reflect on what kind of city we want to build tomorrow.




The main venue of the exhibition, Futian railway station in the city of Shenzhen, acts as a clear counterpart to the wider implications of the curatorial approach – the exhibition design and the location itself will be symbolically connected to the curatorial theme of the section, “Eyes of the City.”


Railway stations are historically associated with the ultimate anonymity of the urban experience, places in which people experience a characteristic set of feelings: isolation and loss of identity, but also freedom that stems from indifference, and even a degree of moral freedom. In other words, railway stations have a long-time association with the archetypes of the flâneur, the urban wanderer, the mercurial stranger. With new technologies and AI in particular, this might change. Railway stations, as urban gateways, at national borders, might soon become places where the ability of the built environment to respond to one’s presence is showcased in the most powerful way.


The exhibition will reflect on this concept, setting the stage for a series of experiences that explore some scenarios of the digitally-augmented city. The area within and around the main venue will be redesigned so as to foster new relations between people and urban space. The general aim of the exhibition is to improve connections with the city while at the same time allowing new interactions to flourish in this logistic non-lieu. The positive effect of such a broader web of synergy and connectivity will start with the Biennale but ideally last even after its conclusion.



■ Structure of the Call

The Open Call has a triple structure, as applicants can choose between three different types of contribution proposals:


1. Call for Design Projects

2. Call for Research Projects

3. Call for Papers


Applicants can submit material for one or more types of contributions (Call for Design Projects, Call for Research Projects, Call for Papers), though they are strongly encouraged to choose only one of the three.


1. Call for Design Projects


We call on independent designers, architects, architectural offices and practitioners to propose a design project for exhibition at the 2019 UABB in Shenzhen. The proposal should be closely related to the UABB’s main theme, ideally answering one or more of the main questions posed in the “Eyes of the City” curatorial statement, and focusing on user experience. All design projects must have a clear visual and spatial impact while also fostering interactions with visitors and passer-by.

We challenge participants to conceive performative design projects that demonstrate an experimental approach in tackling the “Eyes of the City” topic while promoting a highly interactive relationship with the visitors of the Biennale, who will actively experience and take part in the spatial environment.


We welcome installations specifically designed for the UABB 2019 and capable of dealing with the main venue. Since its earliest editions, the UABB has aimed at leaving behind a significant cultural and tangible message to the city of Shenzhen: contributors are thus strongly encouraged to think of their proposals as lasting longer than the duration of the Biennale itself, considering them rather as part of a future Biennale legacy. 


In the framework of a highly collaborative and cross-disciplinary exhibition, we invite contributors to create multidisciplinary teams, involving researchers as well as innovative companies open to responding to and further exploring the exhibition’s main topics.



2. Call for Research Projects


We call on independent researchers, research clusters, research-based practices, universities, research centres and the like, operating in and around the design disciplines, to tackle one or more of the five main questions in the “Eyes of the City” curatorial statement, with a special focus relationship between space and design practices.


We are looking for innovative research projects that aim at exploring the potential of the design practice as a mediating tool at the intersection between the digital and physical spaces of the city. We strongly encourage proposals that envision the UABB as a laboratory for the development of cutting-edge research, using the biennale format not just as a display space but rather as a testing ground for new methods of research and practice that can be potentially applied to broader contexts worldwide; as well as proposals that focus on the specific case study of the city of Shenzhen and the Greater Bay Area as instances of the global urban condition described by the concept “Eyes of the City.”


The core purpose of the Call for Research Projects is to open new perspectives on the future of the design practice, focusing on the legacy that the UABB 2019 will leave on the international scientific and professional communities in terms of research methods and outcomes for understanding and transforming future urban spaces.


3. Call for Papers


We call on independent researchers, scholars, critics, professionals, philosophers, historians, thinkers and the like, operating in and around the design disciplines, to explore one or more of the five main questions in the “Eyes of the City” curatorial statement, with a focus both on the relationship between space and users and between space and design practices.


We are looking for ground-breaking, critical stances that can unfold and stimulate new perspectives on the suggested topics. We aim at gathering insightful thoughts that ambitiously foster debate around the theme proposed by the curatorial statement, delving into the issues with the goal of creating a critical mass of cross-disciplinary contributions that can ignite further modes of theoretical exploration of the relationship between cities and technologies.






Exhibition theme: Urban Interactions


Chief Curators: Carlo Ratti, Meng Jianmin, Fabio Cavallucci


Main Venue: Futian Railway Station and surrounding area


Exhibition time: December, 2019 to March, 2020 (TBD)


Sub-venues: Sha Tau Kok Bonded Zone of Yantian District, Longwangmiao Industrial Zone of Bao’an District, Bao’an International Art Design Center, Software Town of Shenzhen Universiade of Longgang District, the historical Guanlan Market of Longhua District, Shangwei Art Village of Longhua District, Guangming Cloud Valley, Dapeng Fortress and Qianhai free trade zone


Organiser: Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government


Executive Organiser: Shenzhen Public Art Center





■ The team of Chief Curators of 2019 UABB (Shenzhen)


Theme: Urban Interactions


Chief Curators: Carlo Ratti, Meng Jianmin, Fabio Cavallucci

Academic Curator: South China-Torino Lab (SCUT - Sun Yimin, Politecnico di Torino - Michele Bonino) 

Co-Curator: Science and Human Imagination Center of Southern University of Science and Technology (Wu Yan)

Executive Curators: Daniele Belleri [CRA], Edoardo Bruno, Chen Qiufan, Manuela Lietti, Wang Kuan, Xu Haohao, Zhang Li


Curator of GBA Academy: Politecnico di Milano (Adalberto Del Bo)



·Eyes of The City Section


Chief Curator: Carlo Ratti

Academic Curator: South China - Torino Lab (SCUT - Sun Yimin, Politecnico di Torino - Michele Bonino)

Executive Curators: Daniele Belleri [CRA], Edoardo Bruno, Xu Haohao


Curator of GBA Academy: Politecnico di Milano (Adalberto Del Bo)


·Ascending City Section


Chief Curators: Meng Jianmin, Fabio Cavallucci

Co-Curator: Science and Human Imagination Center of Southern University of Science and Technology (Wu Yan)

Executive Curators: Chen Qiufan, Manuela Lietti, Wang Kuan, Zhang Li