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In-Formed Spaces

Conceptualising ‘Smart Cities’ as Assemblages of Anticipation

F. N. van der Vlist

In this paper I develop, one the one hand, a critical and philosophical understanding of the anticipation of the ‘smart city’, and on the other hand, an understanding of the role of computer simulation in the imagination and enactment of technology-focused futures and the new (topological) spaces they render actionable. Even though the smart city is a highly interdisciplinary concept and technology-oriented future orientation, the ontological status and epistemological a priori of its methods, techniques and practices, and the implications or repercussions these may have, remain unclear. To investigate this, I first trace a genealogy, or rather pre-history, of the city as machine. This will situate the subsequent analyses in which I consider the dominant conception of the city as a complex system, which, I argue, constitutes the ontological basis upon which the smart city is conceived. The concept of ‘assemblages of anticipation’ is deployed as a methodology to explore the case of computer simulation within the imagination as well as enactment of particular possible futures that are either encouraged or discouraged. Furthermore, I problematise the ontological status as well as epistemological a priori presumed by simulation. Finally, I discuss some recent developments in the emerging field of interactive architecture to argue that the meaning of spatial design has fundamentally shifted to the design of topological space, as a result of which new problems and social and economic inequalities may arise.

smart city; assemblage of anticipation anticipatory logics; computer modelling; simulation; topology; anticipatory knowledges


Kind Assignment; Working Paper
Author F. N. van der Vlist
Instructor M. J. Dieter; N. A. J. M. van Doorn
Publication Date 2014, January 10
Institution University of Amsterdam