Critical Modeling 2.0: Inventive Infrastructures

Projekt im Sommersemester 2022

Urban data platforms, sensor networks, and simulations should not be considered as abstract and disconnected representations of urban worlds. Instead, they are an integral part of the city, and influence how we conceive, anticipate and remake urban environments. While Smart City initiatives often present digital technology as an „objective“ method to „optimize“ urban planning and management, we must understand these tools as contextual, political, and contingent.

Practically digital infrastructure is coupled with urban planning processes which address diverse urban issues – from social problems to regimes dealing with environmental crises. Hence we must recognize urban digitization as an architectural and urbanistic design brief. At the example of the ongoing replanning and transformation of the late modernist grand-projet Neuperlach (cf. Stadtsanierung, Handlungsraum Neuperlach), we will explore digital technologies as architectural objects and media. Concretely, we will explore the potential of digital tools to…

…explore spaces and problematize urban issues.
…design and narrate architectural and urbanistic imaginations.
…concretize and enact these visions.


Exploring (through) Data

Initially, we will conduct research with and on digital tools. Through the lens of databases and self-built sensors, we will explore and experience different sites in Neuperlach. We will use these tools to problematize urban issues in the observed spaces – like social conflicts,vvv environmental crises, or questions of co-habitation. Which critical perspectives do digital tools open? What invisible conflicts and frictions can we explore through these lenses? For this purpose, we will combine methods from critical mapping, sensor prototyping, and on-site ethnography. We will successively shape multiple and situated perspectives on urban environments. Ultimately, these engagements will result in a shared collection of datasets, mappings, and critical practices around local urban problems and spaces.


Data Fiction

Whereas data platforms are usually considered quantitative tables and abstract text, we could also approach them as imaginaries that constitute and remake urban worlds. Hence, they are profoundly architectural as well as political. Following our initial research, we will discuss how to articulate datasets and data-making practices as part of an emancipatory planning vision for Neuperlach. This process will be supported by an experimental workshop on writing and drawing contextual Science-Fiction. Thus, we will discuss the potential of digital tools to co-constitute and narrate architectural and urbanist imaginaries.


Prototyping Urban Imaginaries

Lastly, we will concretely en-vision and enact these planning approaches. We will prototype our concepts by designing playful applications, interfaces, and visualizations. Thus, we will materialize and perform emancipatory perspectives through digital tools.



The design project will be accompanied by technology workshops, enabling you to generate, organize, and visualize data. These activities will be complemented by conceptual workshops and engagement with theoretical literature.

Technology Workshops:

  • Arduino and processing (sensors and basic programming
  • Grasshopper and geodata (organizing, analysing and modifying spatial data)
  • Unity (Game Engine for Visualization and Interaction)

Concept Workshops:

  • Digital Ethnography and Critical Mapping
  • Drawing + writing Science Fiction
  • Playing a Metadatacatalogue