Teaching for Urban Complexity in Smart Cities

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Recent trends in the direction of Smart City development had been spearheaded by the IT companies like Siemens and IBM in order to meet the challenges of Climate Change and seek solutions for low carbon economies. On the other hand, the domain of Smart City has been already claimed by developers and civil engineers. And where is the role of architects and urbanists? The city is more than computers and digital infrastructure, and more than economic figures and land capitalisation. Understanding urban environment and building a smart energy efficient city requires varied expertise and does not only depend upon installing a state of the art database and linking all the computers together through algorithms. The conceptual and digital level of smartness needs to be complimented with its spatial implementation. Classical disciplines dealing with urban space like urban design, architecture, landscape architecture, have the ability to explain and organize complexity of the city through drawings, diagrams and visual material. However, in order to accommodate this new information-driven understanding of the city, the teaching practice has to change. Instead of morphological and spatial plans, the topic of investigation and teaching has to be reoriented towards processes and management of city complexity where different constituencies interact. The qualities of urbanists and architects in the discourse of smartness are in their ability to represent complexity visually and drive the management of this complexity through their spatial knowledge. TO do that, a strong management methodology is needed.