HE DESIGNS ‘SMART CITIES’

Carlo Ratti, founder of ‘Senseable City’ laboratory at MIT sets up a project to change individual lifestyle and the infrastructure of the cities.

Famous Italian architect, activist and also founder of (Smart City) laboratory that shapes the future of smart cities at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT ), Carlo Ratti is named by American Wired Magazine one of 50 most influential designers who will change the world. We talked to Ratti about the innovative projects and he says, “Smart cities can communicate with the intended audience and transfer data and information. With an increase in initiatives of smart cities, people living in those cities will be an agent of this change. ”

When and for what purpose have you set up Senseable City lab at MIT? What kind of projects did you sign in 2013?
I founded this lab in 2004. I’m sure that cities can also sense and respond just like living creatures. I’m doing research in the laboratory to figure out how new technologies affect city life, design and urbanism. With sensors, I’m studying the relationship between electronics and environment architecture. Back to 10 years ago, we had observed that technologies in that period promised various opportunities in the field of transportation, communication and production. Within this concept, we analyze, through laboratory Senseable City, how most recent developments affect the city life. We started the research work with two people and today, continue with 40 researchers in Singapore and Boston. For 9 years, we have received support from more than 200 researchers throughout the world. In 2013, we worked on several projects. Our local heating project was aiming to reduce energy consumption which is used in heating systems. We discovered an alternative method to reduce energy consumption in dynamically controlled local heating systems. We communicated with the networks at different points of the world within the scope of ‘Signature of Humanity ‘ project. We have played an active role in the projects aimed at development of concrete technologies.

By American Wired Magazine, you have been selected one of 50 most influential designers who will change the world. How would you comment on this topic? What are your goals in 2014?
I do not really know whether I will manage to change the world or not. But we do our best in order to improve the quality of society and citizens’ life. Smart cities can communicate with its intended audience and transfer data and information. Sensors and digital technologies can transform our cities into computers that can run outdoors. We are not developing technology, but people-oriented projects. With an increase in initiatives of smart cities, people living in those cities will be an agent of this change. To investigate new technologies that will change city life is thrilling us pretty much. We put new perspective into ‘city’ concept with new sensors and electronic means. In the current digital age, besides digital society, architectural process and the cities also went into profound change. In our studies, we are reflecting any kind of information and data traffic that can be regarded as ‘Communication technology’. Within this context, in 2014, we will examine the digital environment in depth. We will continue to set up revolutionary projects in the field of urban and architecture.

Could you give a few examples from your most noticeable projects throughout the world?
Our research projects are based on the idea of development of the individual’s life style and infrastructure of cities with the help of advanced technology… In 2008, we developed Digital Water Pavilion (DWP) project for Zaragoza Expo. DWP should be perceived as a machine rather than a traditional structure. In this framework, we have designed an interactive structure living and detecting its environment. Considered as a sensing and responsive architecture, DWP was designed on the basis of question of ‘how can it be literally fluid structure?’. Aiming to use ‘Water’ as an architectural element, DWP is an interactive structure with a simple rectangular form and its walls formed by water. The walls which are formed by digitally controlled water drips through sensors provide various patterns, text and gaps that people can pass. The elements used in construction are two boxes and a roof capable of moving vertically. The roof is brought down and can be optionally converted to a water pool at any time. Another important project that we are performing in Seattle is ‘Trash I Track’ which measures energy consumption by keeping track of trashes thrown away.

The Smart is developing innovative projects
Carlo Ratti says that there is another research center in Singapore called ‘Singapore – MIT Alliance for Research and Technologies’ (Smart) and “Smart is the first research center belonging to MIT outside the United States. Here are 10 investigators conducting the researches. Singapore is conveniently located in terms of analyzing the connection between technology and urban planning. He says that we, here, set up a project as regards the data setup. We concentrated on intuitive and accessible software tools in order to reach the city’s big data.”