Biennale cover

Politecnico di Torino curator of the 2019 Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

FEBRUARY 26, 2019

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 the design practice CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and by Academic Curator South China-Torino Lab, a joint research center established by the Politecnico di Torino and South China University of Technology and directed by Michele Bonino and Sun Yimin. The Politecnico di Milano, in the person of the Vice-Dean of the School of Architecture Adalberto del Bo, is also part of the team as Co-Curator.

The team’s proposal aims to critically explore the impact of digital technologies on communities and urban space. The 8th edition of the Urbanism\Architecture Bi-City Biennale will open in Shenzhen, China, in late 2019 and will run until Spring 2020. All around the world, the last two decades have witnessed an increasing penetration of digital technologies in physical space – a phenomenon often described as the emergence of the Internet-of-Things. This has ushered in a series of radical changes in how we conceive, design and live the city. More recently, with a particular prominence in China, technological advancements such as AI and facial recognition have been accelerating a process by which the built environment is becoming more and more able to sense people’s needs in real time.

“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,” says 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. 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.”

In 2019, the Bi-City Biennale will consider 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 2019 UABB will explore the new phenomena brought about by digital revolution that unfolded in parallel with Shenzhen’s growth, reflecting on urbanism and architecture in ways beyond physical boundaries, discussing how people can be empowered to become the true subject of our digital-physical cities.

“Shenzhen keeps evolving at an astonishing pace. While a decade ago it was known almost exclusively as a manufacturing center, today it is one of the world’s leading cities when it comes to setting the innovation agenda. This surely is the best place to gauge the impact of the digital on architecture and urbanism,” says Yimin Sun, Dean of the School of Architecture at the South China University of Technology.

“Shenzhen and the Pearl River Delta region have been under the radar of the world’s architects and planners since almost three decades. At the 2019 UABB, we want to propose a different perspective: one in which we interpret present and future urban developments through the spectacle of new technology, raising questions that will be relevant internationally,” says Michele Bonino, Rector’s Delegate for Chinese affairs at Politecnico di Torino.