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. 


A.ZINExARCAM: (Feministische) spelbrekers verenigt u!


De feministische spelbreker weigert de andere kant op te kijken en dat is ook niet bang om op te...

The Feminist Spatial Practice Book Club

10 dec 2020 - 18 mrt 2021 : Agenda : Event : Nieuws

Join Afaina’s Book Club about feminism and architecture. ARCAM’s Architect in Residence Afaina de Jong will explore the subject...

‘Mijn doel is verandering teweeg te brengen’ – Interview Afaina de Jong in NRC


"Haar denken en doen passen bij de tijdgeest". Lees het interview van Tracy Metz met Architect in Residence Afaina...

‘De oudere, witte man bouwde de stad’ – Interview met Afaina de Jong in Het Parool


Interview met Architect in Residence Afaina de Jong

Op zoek naar inclusie – Mini documentaire met Lyongo Juliana


Bekijk nu de mini-documentaire van Lyongo Juliana met daarin een samenvatting van en lessen uit zijn AiR-schap bij ARCAM.

A.ZINExARCAM: De niet-seksistische stad: een haalbare utopie?!


Afaina de Jong, oprichter van Amsterdams architectenburo AFARAI, is sinds 4 november 2020 de nieuwe Architect in Residence bij...

10 Must-Reads on feminism in architecture


Read-It-Yourself by checking this list of 10 must-reads on feminism in architecture, curated by Afaina de Jong.

De laatste Q&A aan Architect in Residence Lyongo Juliana


Nog een keertje in de spotlights...

On AiR: Lyongo Juliana en Afaina de Jong over inclusiviteit in architectuur

04 nov 2020 : Archief : Nieuws

Op woensdag 4 november 2020 draagt ARCAM Architect in Residence Lyongo Juliana het residentschap over aan Afaina de Jong...

A Feminist Spatial Practice | Afaina de Jong tweede Architect in Residence van 2020


Wat is feminist practice en welke waarden liggen daaraan ten grondslag?

AiR Online: Lyongo Juliana over de openbare ruimte in relatie tot diversiteit en inclusiviteit in coronatijden.


Hoe staat het met de diversiteit en inclusiviteit van de openbare ruimte tijdens de coronacrisis?

Terugkijken | From now on… according to Lyongo Juliana


From now on... We will value public space differently in terms of freedom and responsibility.


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