The agency of smart urban things

As part of the Cities of Things Lab010 project we look at so-called “urban smart-things”: a plausible, autonomously operating agent envisioned to roam the public spaces of the near-future Rotterdam.

The participants in this workshop will confront the prototype with the citizens of Rotterdam in the public areas of the city, and jointly reflect on the necessary forms and shapes of the public debate around the role of AI in cities.

The prototype will use a pre-made “wizard-of-oz” platform, allowing a human operator to remotely simulate an AI algorithm, and control the movement of the prototype. In the workshop, a couple of archetypical prototypes will be provided, like a mobile garbage bin, interactive street signage, or a mobile plant.

In the second part we will discuss the concept of agency for these urban smart things in relation to the humans on the street.

Tomasz Jaskiewicz

Tomasz Jaskiewicz has a background in architecture and urban design, and practical experience with developing experimental architectural projects, interactive installations, and digital design tools. He holds architecture and urban planning MSc degrees from TU Delft and TU Gdansk. In his PhD research at the TU Delft he investigated tools and methods for designing interactive and adaptable architectural systems. He collaborated with the architecture firm Oosterhuis_Lénárd ( and the Hyperbody group (, and co-founded a startup Hive Systems developing software for programming distributed networks of interactive agents. He joined the IDE Faculty in 2014 as assistant professor to pursue methods-level research on Explorative Prototyping as a strategy for dealing with complexity inherent in designing of interactive environments. He has also been carrying out content-level research into social practices within flexible office ecosystems and smart city contexts, with a specific focus on sustainability, behaviour change, participatory design, IoT, AI and big data. In 2021 Tomasz has been appointed as professor (lector) of Civic Prototyping at the Creating 010 Research Centre at the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, and has been awarded a Design Fellow position at the IDE faculty.

Ross Atkin

Ross is a product designer, engineer and researcher with extensive experience designing and building connected products for major manufacturing companies. His work focuses mainly on assistive technology and physical accessibility and, along with Akram, he is a member of BBC’s ‘The Big Life Fix’ ‘Fix Team’.