Call for Papers: Deep City – Climate crisis, democracy and the digital. Lausanne, 4-7 Nov 2020

Big data, smart systems, machine learning – it is inevitable that these new technologies will change the way we study, build and manage our cities. At the same time, resurgent interest in consensus and contributive action seems to oppose an exclusively data-driven urbanism. Is the opposition of machine intelligence and democracy inevitable, or are shared trajectories possible?

Politicians, social scientists, urbanists, and architects find their working methods and disciplinary knowledge challenged by insights derived from big data, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (A.I.). As both citizens and experts in the many respective fields, our mission must be to bring in our disciplinary knowledge and civic engagement to support the appropriate development and discussion of data-driven tools, to consider both their biases and potentials, and to promote broader social literacy and criticality. Ultimately, it is a question of both decanting the technical quality of these new instruments of design, management and decision making, as well as enhancing democratic control over them. How do we do this? Do our disciplines currently lack adequate strategies to understand, let alone critique or exploit the knowledge-products of machine learning, artificial intelligence and big data?

Deep City Latsis Symposium will be a scientific conference staged as a social and cultural event, a dialogical field capable of moving beyond disciplinary boundaries. It will host keynotes and paper presentations, as well as a range of crossing formats such as workshops, political debates, table dinner, an exhibition and guided tours. Deep City will take place on the EPFL Campus in Lausanne, from November 4th to 7th 2020. To ground this dialogical field and foster meaningful exchange, the conference organizers invite proposals, ranging from operational practices to speculative and theoretical questionings. These can be presented in written, built, coded, drawn, figured, imagined, filmed, modelled or in any other way conveyed format.

The deadline for submissions is 15 March 2020. All submissions are to be sent to

Conference themes:

  • Data, democracy and sovereignty: towards new urban and political imaginaries.
  • New digital tools for urban governance.
  • New material agencies.
  • Making ground for new negotiations between the technological, the ecological and the social.
  • Resilient cities in the post-Anthropocene
  • Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence as new forms of design rationality

The full call for papers with the extended descriptions of the themes and instructions for proposal submissions is available here.

More information can be found on the Deep City conference website.

Deep City is organized by EPFL Institute of Architecture’s laboratories ALICE (Atelier de la conception de l’espace) and LDM (Media and Design Laboratory).


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