Do Janne’s Weekly Post | Dialoog met Antonio Gomez-Palacio

Dit is de derde dialoog in een serie waarin Architect in Residence Do Janne Vermeulen per email een tweegesprek voert met mensen uit een ander vakgebied. Zo ontstaan er steeds gedachtewisselingen tussen twee vakgebieden, ieder vanuit zijn of haar eigen standpunt. 

In deze derde dialoog e-mailt Do Janne met architect en stedenbouwkundige Antonio Gomez-Palacio van DIALOG, een multidisciplinair ontwerpbureau uit Canada bestaande uit architecten, stedenbouwkundigen, interieurontwerpers, ingenieurs en landschapsarchitecten.

Deze dialoog vond plaats in het Engels.

Do Janne:
Dear Antonio, we met in Toronto. Dialog and Team V are often in contact, sharing ideas about building in timber, creating neighborhoods and smarter ways to design. When it comes to Smart Cities, the discourse focuses mostly on arguments like efficiency and sustainability. After all, an efficient city with fluid infrastructure and clean air improves the quality of life. Yet, it seems to me that designing cities is about more than that; social factors such as facilitating interaction between people, generating social networks and creating space to live, to stand still and contemplate are equally as important. What do you think? And do you believe it is possible to design a smart city that is not (necessarily) efficient (or sustainable)?

Antonio Gomez-Palacio:
You are absolutely right Do Janne. The promise of “smart cities” has been the ability for better planning and better designs. The logic being that better information results in better decisions. In many regards, this is true. I do believe that we will be able to make better decisions if we have the benefit of evidence. But in some regards, it is also a hyped-up promise. Numbers are only numbers if there is no sense of purpose, or if they are politicized for ulterior motives. We have experienced this with the robustness of traffic engineering, where the depth of knowledge and computing has led to a self-aggrandizing of traffic as a priority to solve over many other social issues.

I made a short video in which I address the issues regarding the use of data technology in decision making and city planning:

What should we do then? Two things, I would suggest. One, let us continue to develop the tools and techniques for collecting data at a city-wide scale, fully considering the privacy, social, and political conflagrations. Two, let us continue to refine the sense of purpose that drives the formation and implementation of smart-city know-how. On both these accounts, we have been working with a cross-sectoral network of organizations to develop a Community Wellbeing Framework. The idea is to focus specifically on a series of indicators (collecting data) targeted at “meaningfully improving the wellbeing of communities”. In the same way that data has allowed the global community to develop strategies around global warming, we believe that wellbeing is the next generation of knowledge-based purpose-driven city-building.

Do Janne:
Thank you Antonio! So if I understand correctly, you suggest the gathering of data helps to assess the wellbeing of communities and can help outline ways to improve it. Can you give a practical example? If I remember our dinner-conversation you spend a lot of time physically in various communities, gathering or communicating non digital information as well as working with a broad scope of digital data: how do you believe the two worlds work together? Does the direction come from the data analysis or more out of community gatherings?

Antonio Gomez-Palacio:
One thing we discovered, curiously, is that the answer to your last question is context specific. Some places and problems are best engaged through extensive conversations, this is especially true when trust needs to develop between parties or when creative solutions are required. In other instances, informing the conversation with hard evidence is what is most helpful. Most projects will ebb and flow between both. Ultimately we always need to keep in mind that good data is not intended to ‘make’ the decision for you, rather to ‘inform’ the decision. You asked for an example. I’m reminded of when we worked in a small town in Ontario that was struggling to redefine their relationship with the local hospital. It was only when folks were confronted with data on the actual nature of the state of health of the community, that they were able to rethink how the town could respond, trying to be more proactive on health initiatives. As a result, both town and hospital developed joint master plans, and developed a new model for a continuum of care. Extremely inspiring – it would not have been possible without both the evidence, and the robust conversations that unfolded. You might enjoy this video of the conversation I had there:

Do Janne Vermeulen:
Thank you Antonio! A good explanation of the benefits of both analogue dialogue and digital evidence. It seems apt that you write that, if we use data, it should be to inform us instead of to make decisions for us: it highlights that we should not sit back as designers in a time of digital information, but utilise the data-output to spark meaningful action.

It will be interesting to see how hospital and city will collaborate and find each other in the next ten to twenty years, and whether data-exchange will play an even larger role. We will follow up and find out.

Antonio Gomez-Palacio, architect and urban planner focusing on the intersection of architecture, planning and urban design, Principal of Dialog Canada.

Over de Architect in Residence
De Architect in Residence (AiR) is een onafhankelijke ontwerper die in een vrije rol binnen Architectuurcentrum Amsterdam met bijvoorbeeld debatten, moderaties en columns de discussie aanjaagt over stedelijke ontwikkelingen. De AiR geeft gevraagd en ongevraagd advies aan de stad en haar bewoners. In 2019 heeft Architectuurcentrum Amsterdam maar liefst vier nieuwe Architects in Residence die ieder drie maanden voor hun rekening nemen en onderwerpen agenderen die zij belangrijk vinden. 

© Architect Dialogues

Marc Koehler Kiest: Podcast Open Bouwen

Architect in Residence : Nieuws

Luistertip! Podcasts van onze vierde Architect in Residence!

Marc Koehler Kiest: maak kennis met Open Building


Onze vierde AiR gaat zich buigen over het fenomeen Open Building. 

Mini-Expo | De Amsterdamse Woningplattegrond, een selectie: 2013 – 2019

10 sep 2019 - 27 okt 2019 : Agenda : Nieuws

Ontdek het verhaal van Amsterdam van de afgelopen vijf jaar aan de hand van maar liefst 120 woningplattegronden.

UITVERKOCHT! Discussieavond Open Building

15 okt 2019 : Archief : Nieuws

Discussieavond over het nut en de financiële haalbaarheid van Open Building, met Architect in Residence #4 Marc Koehler

Observatie #4 Leuke types!


Voor de echte plattegrondliefhebber!

Observatie #3 Compact wonen, klein maar fijn?


Onze derde Architect in Residence van 2019, Marc Reniers – architect en medeoprichter van M3H – doet in de...

Observatie #2: Maatpak of confectie?


Welke vragen moeten ontwerpers en opdrachtgevers zich stellen bij het ontwerpen van een plattegrond?

UITVERKOCHT Debat De Amsterdamse Woningplattegrond

11 sep 2019 : Archief : Nieuws

We steken de thermometer in de Amsterdamse woningbouw aan de hand van de woningplattegrond.

Observatie #1: De wurggreep van de installaties


Deze zomer staat in het teken van onderzoek naar de woningplattegrond door AiR #3 Marc Reniers

Maak kennis met Marc Reniers | AiR #3 2019


Als Architect in Residence in de zomermaanden van 2019 wil Marc Reniers van het Amsterdamse architectenbureau M3H onderzoek doen...

Do Janne’s Weekly Post (slot) | Smart Cities en Privacy


Onze tweede Architect in Residence van 2019, Do Janne Vermeulen – architect en medeoprichter van Team V Architectuur – deelt wekelijks van april t/m...

Do Janne’s Weekly Post | Dialoog II met Philip Ross


De vijfde dialoog in een serie waarin Architect in Residence Do Janne Vermeulen per email een tweegesprek voert met...


Do Janne’s Weekly Post | Dialoog met Giovanni de Niederhausern

Dit is alweer de vierde dialoog in een serie waarin Architect in Residence Do Janne Vermeulen per email een...

Do Janne’s Weekly Post | Smart Mobility

Onze tweede Architect in Residence van 2019, Do Janne Vermeulen – architect en medeoprichter van Team V Architectuur – deelt wekelijks van april t/m...

Do Janne’s Weekly Post | Dialoog met Jasper Nijveldt

Dit is de tweede dialoog in een serie waarin Architect in Residence Do Janne Vermeulen per email een tweegesprek voert...

Do Janne’s Weekly Post | The Quantified-self

Architect in Residence Do Janne Vermeulen vraagt zich af wat zinvolle toepassingen van data-verzameling en analyse zijn die de...

UITVERKOCHT Debat Smart Cities of Domme Steden

Over het gebruik van data in Amsterdam, de ontwikkelingen in proeftuin Toronto en over de rol van de architect...

Do Janne’s Weekly Post | Dialoog met Philip Ross

De eerste uit een reeks van drie dialogen met mensen buiten het vakgebied van Do Janne Vermeulen

Do Janne’s Weekly Post | Smart Cities: Wat is de vraag?

Do Janne's Weekly Post over Sidewak Labs in Toronto, Canada

Maak kennis met Do Janne Vermeulen | AiR #2 2019

Do Janne Vermeulen doet onderzoek naar Smart Cities in het tweede kwartaal van 2019