Four Questions

How should arts and culture being recognized, in the discourse on cities of the future (smart or otherwise)? Why is it necessary to have a cultural perspective in the global smart city discourse?

Modernism taught us to get rid of ornament and bourgeois values. Postmodernism stands for everything, goes with its scepticism, irony and philosophical critique of the concepts of universal truths and objective reality. What’s next, the new world order of the global age, the internet of things, machine-learning, the smart city?
Everything returns to the main question – what makes a city a city, or to be even more precise, a city a great city?
A city is the place, as the writer Richard Sennett put it, where strangers meet; where new ideas are formed in a public space. As common ground. Smart cities should reinforce the idea of the city as a public good and design a system that puts all that technology truly at the service of the inhabitants — and not the other way around.
Great cities are great because they are melting pots of culture, art, music, food, architecture and people. Culture makes cities attractive and are the centre of urban development, evidenced through cultural landmarks, heritage and innovation. Without culture, cities as vibrant places will not exist in the future. It is culture that makes the difference and it is art and culture that makes a city's success possible, because it ensures the exchange of ideas. The creative outcome is a permanent challenge and a manifestation of the city's identity. With this in mind, it is not such a smart idea to develop a city without making use of its great cultural potential.

How should/can we talk about smart city and urban transformation beyond technology and infrastructure?

Technology stands for the standardization of cities. This may be positive from a functional perspective, but from a cultural point of view it is not. Why visit Rome when you can have quite the same experience in Singapore and completed with a virtual reality trip to the Pantheon and through time? As cities standardize, they have to insist on their individual differences in order to remain attractive to their residents and visitors. Every cities has its story and the arts play an essential role in helping a city re/tell its hi/story.

What is the connection of arts and cultural practice and technology in (future) urban societies?

The reality of the city is more complex and incalculable than any description of it and so is the connection of arts and cultural practice and technology. Where does culture start and technology end? Since the beginning of the ‘global connectivity’ and the innovation of new digital devices the cultural practice changed essentially – like a stimulating and constantly evolving partnership – spread faster, wider and with greater impact for the whole world.

Please share your expert prediction or utopian view of the city of the future.

Belonging to a certain country will be less meaningful than belonging to a city and sometimes to a district. Even if we can be anywhere at any time, a certain relationship to a place will remain.
When you travel by plane, it will become increasingly difficult to know which city you have landed in. As a direct consequence of ongoing globalization cities are becoming more and more similar, with the same architectural styles, forms of transport and cultural and social networks. The cities of the future must blur these borders and at the same time stay themselves. It is the transition, the space between two opposites, areas or places – where most things happen, for example along the coast, the space between land and water. It is up to us how we maintain and further develop these local-global connections within the cities and between them. How can we smarten up the global city without creating more and more fly over land? As a utopian expert, I have been working for a long time on a visionary project that takes up all these thoughts and at the same time does not take away our desire to travel:
Eurasian Gondolas connects Europe and Asia, the East and the West through the world’s longest aerial tramway. In a time of permanent global exchange the transnational network links more than 34 cities and new developing areas. The gondolas cover the distance from London to Tokyo in 14 days. A unique tour, with countless breathtaking views at the highest level. The journey, combining ancient routes with today’s megacities, takes you back to the future!