Research project presented at the UABB- Shenzhen Hong Kong Biennale 2019 “Eyes of the City”, curated by Carlo Ratti


Location: Shenzhen, China

Year: 2019

Project team: Gabriele Corbo, Jacopo Costanzo, Valeria Guerrisi

Collaborators: Dor Cohen, Paula Chung, William Hackl, Anna Papageorgiou, Angela Tanzola, Claudia Tersigni


Paolo Santi
Istituto di Informatica e Telematica  CNR – Centro Nazionale di Ricerca Pisa
Senseable City Lab. MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston

and the support of

Shenzhen University
Department of Urban Informatics
School of Architecture and Urban Planning
Guangdong Key Laboratory of Urban Informatics

Prof. Wei Tu
Prof. Qi Yao
Dr. Jinzhou Cao
Mr. Dongsheng Chen

What role does the citizen play in shaping a city’s identity today?

Living Shenzhen’s purpose is to provide an innovative tool for urbanscape planning, a method that uses local observation in order to conceive the authentic identity of a place for the benefit of its community. The aim of the project is to overlay multiple personal perspectives on the planning process to ensure a fitted, well-thought urban environment.

The city will be a social petri dish where life’s ritual will diffuse into an innovative representation of the city itself. In this parallel map, the urban reality and the individual/autobiographical perceptive experience dwell in parataxis as in the disjointed dual-vision of Aldo Rossi’s La città analoga (1976).

The main component of our proposal is the experimental use of advanced existing technology of eye-tracking.

The research involves multiple participants that will share their daily use of the city and its architecture through wearing a pair of smart-glasses that will allow to record and capture the user’s vision.

Relying on the footage, from locals and visitors alike, while exploring the city, our system will provide a new method of reading the city. In addition to quantifying attention, interest, and attunement, we assume that the analysis of this collected data can also provide information regarding the safety and comfort of the growing city’s inhabitants. This approach will permit a top-bottom-top mechanism, which enables a professional initial foundation, following a personal perspective input manifesting into an educated planning output.

Due to the rapid development of the city, there are several open questions concerning the management of Shenzhen, particularly with regard to the urban planning policies of the urban villages. The research aims to explore how the perception of the city changes for an individual that walks in the edges between two morphologically different parts of the city, to explore the transition areas between urban villages and the rest of the city.

Living Shenzhen is a proposal for two outcomes: a method and a map, a dual-faced platform that will represent Shenzhen, which will be the first city to be analyzed in this way. With the help of this device, we will be able to identify what matters to the city’s users leading to a potential breakthrough in the urban planning process.

Living the city is now transformed into tangible information.



Official Website: