What about smartness?

Sergio M. Figueiredo (Corresponding author), Sukanya Krishnamurthy, Torsten W.A. Schröder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


While increasingly the world around us is becoming “smart” – from smart phones to smart meters – in no other field of human endeavor has the allure of the “smart” paradigm been as forcefully experienced as in the built environment. From smart city initiatives to the brave new world of the Internet of Things (IoT) that increasingly colonize our cities and buildings, visions of smartness in architecture and urbanism have been mostly associated with networked information technologies and digitally enabled devices. The term “smart” has become the catch-all phrase to indicate the advent of a charged technological shift that has been propelled by the promises of a safer, healthier, more convenient, and more efficient form of living. But behind this apparent consensus many contradictions and open questions emerge.

What is the “smart city”? And what is “smart architecture”? While the answer to these questions remains elusive, this editorial argues for a broad understanding of “smartness” in architecture and urbanism, one that includes both technology and context, data and expertise. Specifically, this editorial reflects on the widening chasm between discourse and practice, or the conventional and the technological idea of the built environment, as espoused by humanists and technologists. Ultimately, it is argued that, far from being mutually exclusive, these positions are in fact complementary and that technologists and humanists should develop the necessary common ground to engage and develop a broader and fuller view of our cities and buildings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-349
Number of pages15
JournalArchitecture and Culture
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2019


  • architecture
  • humanism
  • smart systems
  • technology
  • urbanism


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