Kai Reaver - Prototyping the Nordic Digital City - Augmented Urbanism: Prototyping the digitization of city planning through the use of augmented reality in user participation

 
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As a consequence of both digital technologies becoming more spatial, and physical spaces increasingly relying upon digital operating systems, many experts claim that the city, and software, have merged, creating form a city known as the «smart cty». Additionally, advancements in wearable computing and augmented reality technology demonstrate the possibility for this merging of physical and digital space to be applied to a mass public audience as a continuous, lived experience. While this technological advancement offers a vast range of new services and improvements to urban life, recent scholarship has highlighted the simultaneous risk that this ‘digital city’ poses in subverting existing democratic principles. This argument suggests that technology alone will not solve our problems, and that the careful insertion of technology within the city needs to be rigorously evaluated and tested within the structure of existing governmental frameworks before the technologies are implemented into policy.

Within the Nordic regions, the context of smart city development presents a range of issues worth consideration. The modernization of the Nordic welfare state through digitization has been a political objective for decades and has become increasingly important during recent years. Norway recently appointed its first digitization minister, signaling the procedure of digitization as a politically backed initiative across a range of sectors.

While the current speed of technological development would suggest the existence of coherent strategies for the evaluation and implementation of AR to urban planning, an extensive inquiry into methodologies for testing the application of AR within current urban planning governance has revealed few coherent strategies and few successful cases. This lack suggests the need for new research into the methods and outcomes of applying AR within urban governance. Furthermore, this highlights the greater need for technology research to be integrated within both its operative context within government as well as with its intended user base.

As a response to this context, the PhD thesis will research the application of augmented reality (AR) to the urban planning process, within the current structure of governance as it functions today. As current studies reveal that this research is yet to be done in a structured manner, the PhD will be executed as a research-by-design thesis involving the design, execution, and evaluation of prototypical case studies within existing urban planning scenarios. As the context of the PhD highlights the potential for the Nordic welfare model to successful digitize its urban services, the research will be conducted within Norway.


Institute of Design / Einar Sneve Martinussen and Jonny Aspen (supervisors)

PhD started in 2018