The eyes of the city / Festival della tecnologia


Saturday, November 9th 2019 -h.12:30

Politecnico di Torino Headquarters – Room 1

Antoine Picon (Harvard University)
Carlo Ratti (MIT)
Zhang Li (Tsinghua University of Beijing)


Moderated by:
Michele Bonino (Politecnico di Torino)


Promoted by:
“China Center “of Politecnico di Torino


The relationship between city and technology typically experiences a contrast between the speed of technological innovation and the slowness of the physical transformation of the city, stratified over the centuries. These different speeds bring with them the risk of rapid obsolescence of urban technologies, hence Richard Sennett’s famous phrase: “the smart cities of the past are our nightmare today”. But today, what is expressed in the motto of the Festival, “Technology and Humanity” can help: the “engagement” of citizens in technologies can reconcile these two speeds, guaranteeing a daily update and their impact on a more human level?
The session “The eyes of the city” addresses this question and investigates the theme from a particular point of view.
Thanks to the latest advances in technology, urban space is acquiring the full capacity to “see”. We imagine that any room, street or shop in the city can recognize us and respond autonomously to our presence: not only people, but also buildings are acquiring the ability to observe and react, while urban life takes place in front of them.
“Eyes of the City” is also the title of the Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Architecture exhibition 2019, opening in December and dedicated to the relationship between city and technology, in which the participants of this session are involved.


Carlo Ratti is Chief Curator of the event, with Politecnico di Torino (Michele Bonino and the research team of architecture department) as Academic Curators. The curatorial statement has been elaborated with the South China University of Technology.

Antoine Picon, director of doctoral programs at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, was invited by the curators to select “Foundational Contributors”, internationally renowned experts who reacted to the statement, feeding it and enriching its meanings. Here his contribution.

Zhang Li, chief architect of the 2022 Beijing Olympics, is instead one of the 65 architects and creatives invited from all over the world to exhibit in the “Eyes of the City” exhibition at the Biennale, with an installation entitled “Urban Skin”.

The Shenzhen Architecture / Urban Biennial was born in 2005 to collect, in the largest urban area of ​​the planet (the Greater Bay Area, where Shenzhen forms a continuous city with Hong Kong, Canton and Macao), the best ideas from all over the world on city design.
It has become the most visited Biennale in the world, with over half a million visitors in the 2017 edition.
The 2019 edition is the first one curated by an Italian group (the art curator, Fabio Cavallucci, is also involved). Moreover, it is the first time that the curators include universities, as in the case of the Politecnico di Torino.

See “La Stampa” 11th Nov