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Presented by Architecture Centre: What are the risks and rewards of integrating digital technology into our built environment?

Around the globe, digital technology is an integral part of city life. It has the power to bring people together, connecting us in new and more exciting ways. However, it also has the potential to alienate and disconnect us from our surroundings.

For many, the idea of the ‘Smart City’ is problematic – it paints a picture of a dystopian future where sensors, big data and artificial intelligence dominate our environment and interactions. On one hand, we risk creating culturally void spaces dominated by intrusive marketing and ‘surveillance capitalism’. On the other, citizens are provided highly efficient, safe buildings and well-planned city systems.

Can the Smart Digital City be reclaimed for the people?

Join leading French-Brazilian architect and urbanist Elizabeth de Portzamparc to explore her plan for a visionary high-rise tower in Taiwan, alongside Jeff Risom, (Partner, Chief Innovation Officer, Gehl) for a fascinating insight into his work in people-centred design. Chaired by Stephen Hilton (Bristol+Bath Digital Placemaking Fellow).

In partnership with Bristol+Bath Creative R+D Programme

Supported by the Institut français du Royaume Uni


Elizabeth de Portzamparc

Leading Paris based architect and urbanist, Elizabeth de Portzamparc designs buildings to serve as architectural symbols supporting new values and as powerful urban landmarks that skilfully structure and inhabit the places where they are built.

For 30 years, de Portzamparc has been conducting research on the identity of places, local life and territorial links, fundamental contributions to the reflections on the construction of the metropolis. In this context, she led pioneering proposals for sustainable, flexible, mixed-use or prefabricated housing.

Recent and forthcoming high-profile projects include, Musée de la Romanité de Nîmes, Nîmes France (2018), Railway Station of Le Bourget, Le Bourget, France (2014-2022), Taichung Intelligence Operation Center, Taiching, Taiwan (2017-2021), Campus Condorcet’s Library, Aubervilliers, France (2014-2020), and Zhangjiang Science City in Shanghai (2023) to name but a few.


Jeff Risom 

Jeff Risom joined Gehl in 2004. An American, with degrees in Architectural Engineering from the US and City Design and Social Science from London School of Economics, his multi-disciplinary background has shaped his cross-cutting holistic approach to all projects.

He has worked with both public and private clients as well as non-governmental organizations in Europe, the USA, Latin America, India and China. As an international consultant, he strives toward processes that catalyse local engagement and design solutions that remove barriers to diverse and equitable urban environments.

He regularly speaks on the topics of design, health, active mobility, and sustainable development. Jeff is an active teacher and lecturer, speaking at conferences around the world, and is guest lecturer at Harvard GSD, U. Penn, London School of Economics, the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art and DIS.


Stephen Hilton (Chair)

Stephen Hilton is Founding Director of Bristol Futures Global, a creative, smart cities consultancy; a Digital Placemaking Fellow on the Bristol + Bath Creative R+D Programme and is the first University of Bristol Fellow of the new Bristol Digital Futures Institute.

More than a decade ago, Stephen set out to explore what it means for cities like Bristol to be liveable, smart places. As Director of Futures at Bristol City Council, he created and delivered an internationally acclaimed Smart City programme and helped to secure Bristol’s title of European Green Capital 2015.

Stephen has a passion for Digital Placemaking. As a Fellow on the Bristol+Bath Creative R+D programme he is exploring how digital technology can help make buildings and cities welcoming to everyone, and how smart technologies can improve and enhance our experience of places.

Stephen is currently Smart Region Advisor to the West of England Combined Authority and is a Trustee of the Architecture Centre. He has a severe, genetic visual impairment, which gives him a unique and valuable outlook on the world.

Our Café Bar will be open till late serving food and drinks. Come along before the show for our Pre-Theatre Menu, serving 5-6.30pm.