The Urban Improvise

Sloth-bots ( feature in Kristian Kloeckl’s new book The Urban Improvise
Improvisation-Based Design for Hybrid Cities.



The Urban Improvise
Improvisation-Based Design for Hybrid Cities

Published by Yale University Press. A book for architects, designers, planners, and urbanites that explores how cities can embrace improvisation to enhance urban life.

The built environment in today’s hybrid cities is changing radically. The pervasiveness of networked mobile and embedded devices has transformed a predominantly stable background for human activity into spaces that have a more fluid behavior. Based on their capability to sense, compute, and act in real time, urban spaces have the potential to go beyond planned behaviors and, instead, change and adapt dynamically.

These interactions resemble improvisation in the performing arts, and this book offers a new improvisation-based framework for thinking about future cities. Kristian Kloeckl moves beyond the smart city concept by unlocking performativity, and specifically improvisation, as a new design approach and explores how city lights, buses, plazas, and other urban environments are capable of behavior beyond scripts.

Drawing on research of digital cities and design theory, he makes improvisation useful and applicable to the condition of today’s technology-imbued cities and proposes a new future for responsive urban design.



“In the headlong rush towards a digital world, we are in danger of losing the emotions of living in cities. In this essential book, Kristian Kloeckl suggests that the way we improvise has an even more significant role in the cities of the future.”
Michael Batty, author of Inventing Future Cities, The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Faculty of the Built Environment, University College London, UK
“If your city seems overscripted lately, take time for Kristian Kloeckl on open systems for agile citizens. Concise, enjoyable, and deeply researched, The Urban Improvise could be the best urban technology book to read this year.”
Malcolm McCullough, author of Downtime on the Microgrid Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan, USA
“Kloeckl’s insights are original, credible, and eminently useful. This innovative book unlocks performativity as a design approach, making it applicable to the smart hybrid city. This is an important and novel twist to the rapidly fossilising rhetoric around the smart city. It offers a new fresh lens for understanding the implications of technologies that are seeping into the normal everyday.”
Mike Phillips, School of Art, Design and Architecture, i-DAT Research Group, University of Plymouth, UK
“Kloeckl’s thoughtful application of concepts from improvisation in the performing arts to the design of urban interactions in the hybrid city offers a vital alternative to the techno-centric approach of the smart city evangelist.”
Mark Shepard, editor of Sentient City: Ubiquitous Computing, Architecture, and the Future of Urban Space, Department of Architecture, University at Buffalo, USA


The Author

Kristian Kloeckl is a designer and associate professor at Northeastern University’s School of Architecture and Department of Art + Design where he heads the graduate program in Experience Design. Prior to that, he was a faculty member at the University IUAV of Venice and a research scientist at MIT, leading the Real Time City Group at Senseable City Lab, and establishing the lab’s research unit in Singapore. Kloeckl’s work probes the boundaries of interaction design in the context of today’s hybrid cities and investigates the role of improvisational frameworks for design. His work has been exhibited at venues such as Venice Biennale, MoMA, Vienna MAK, Singapore Art Museum. He is a frequent speaker at international conferences such as Montreal World Design Summit, Hybrid City Conference, MIT Platform Strategy Executive Symposium, World Bank SDN Forum, Red Dot Design Museum Singapore, Austrian Innovation Forum, ICA Conference Taipei, eGov Global Exchange Singapore.