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Curators of 2019 Shenzhen’s Biennale Announced

The Shenzhen’s Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB), one of the leading architectural exhibitions in the world, has announced the curators of its 2019 edition. One of the two winning teams will be led by Chief Curator Carlo Ratti, founding partner of CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and director of the Senseable City Lab. Acting as Academic Curator of the team will be the South China-Torino Lab, a joint center established by Politecnico di Torino and South China University of Technology and directed by Michele Bonino and Sun Yimin. Politecnico di Milano, with Vice-Dean of the School of Architecture Adalberto del Bo, will serve as co-curator of the team. The team’s proposal aims to critically explore the impact of digital technologies on communities and urban space.

“Sensors and networks have been blanketing our cities for a few decades now. However, thanks to advances in deep learning and imaging, we are now reaching an unprecedented scenario, whereby architectural space is acquiring the ability to ‘see’: it can potentially recognize us and autonomously react to our presence,” said Ratti. “What can the consequences of this new scenario be on urban life? We believe it will dramatically change our relationship with architecture and physical space – and we would like to propose this question for exploration at the 2019 UABB.”

Around the world, the last two decades have witnessed an increasing convergence between digital technologies and physical space - a phenomenon often described as the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT). This blending of technology and space has driven a series of radical changes in how we conceive, design, and live urban environments. More recently - and with a particular prominence in China - technological advancements in fields such as artificial intelligence (AI) and facial recognition are accelerating a process by which the built environment is becoming increasingly able to sense, measure, and react to people in real time. The Ratti/South China-Torino Lab team will investigate how our relationship with the city might evolve, as buildings continue to become better able to respond to our presence and needs.

To further reinforce the cross-disciplinary spirit of the exhibition, the Organizing Committee of UABB also nominated two other chief curators, Chinese academician Meng Jianmin and Italian art curator Fabio Cavallucci, who will operate in parallel to Ratti/South China-Torino Lab team.

The UABB is “the only biennial exhibition that is based exclusively on the set themes of urbanism and urbanization”. It is co-organized by the neighboring cities of Shenzhen and Hong Kong, within the regional context of the rapidly urbanizing Pearl River Delta, and provides the space to build a debate on globally common urban issues. The UABB will be informed by Shenzhen’s unique features - its geopolitical status between Hong Kong and the rest of the Pearl River Delta region, its rapid urbanization process, its central position as an innovation hub - as starting points to reimagine the relationship between new technologies and urban futures. The UABB will open in Shenzhen, China, in late 2019 and will run until Spring 2020.

“Our team’s objective is to foster a discussion on this new urban condition, so that through examples, visions and irony we can reflect on what kind of city we really want to build tomorrow,” said Ratti. “We are planning to develop an open platform for human recognition and to invite practitioners and scholars from all over the world to experiment with it. Starting today, we would like to collect contributions on the topic of the ‘eyes of the city’. Beyond invited participants, we are looking for unsolicited proposals, which can be addressed to uabb2019@carloratti.com