The challenges for the city of the future

From the ecological transition to access to digital infrastructures, from the impact of technology on work to peer production systems: these are the challenges launched by the companies and research centres that are partners of the open call ‘City of the future’.

‘City of the future’ is our open call for artist within  S+T+ARTS, the initiative launched in 2015 by the European Commission to foster collaborations between artists, scientists, engineers, developers and other professionals from the science and tech fields.

S+T+ART relies on a series of fundamentals programmes, the so-called “Pillars”: among them are the Residencies, which involve tech companies and research centres on the one hand; artists and creatives on the other.

By launching this open call at Nesta Italia we aim, among other goals of this project, at developing a S+T+ARTS ecosystem in the Piedmont region: that’s why we have involved local companies and research centres to launch the social, technology based challenges at the core of the open call.

The challenges

Access to digital infrastructures and digital divide, transition to renewable energy sources, economic production and distribution of value, impact of work on health and awareness of some pathologies related to the psychic sphere: these are some of the challenges to which the Open Call refer.

These are related to as many technologies at the center of more or less accessible debates that directly and significantly affect the life of communities in the urban context.

Data and Algorithms

The Internet pervades everyday life on many levels, from work to leisure. But is it really accessible for everyone, as we believe? Starting from this question, TOP-IX proposes in “Living Connections” a rethinking of the representation standards that we obtain from the data on network traffic, asking which mapping can really consider the “digital divided”.

The theme of access returns in the challenge proposed by ISI Foundation, based on an equally topical theme: the career of artists. What factors determine its success? In fact, it is not just quantitative data (the number of exhibitions, the presence in museum collections or at auctions), this is also affected by intangible phenomena, linked to reputation and the networks to which one belongs. Starting from Roberta Sinatra’s studies, the proposed challenge is: can art reclaim its algorithm?

Robot and Artificial Intelligence

In the collective imagination Robot and Artificial Intelligence are still regarded with suspicion, most of the concern being related to a fera of the machines taking over human jobs. Yet these same technologies are already present in our lives and have potential that can bring benefits to the quality of work and research.

How can artistic practice contribute to new applications? COMAU, for example, asks artists to experiment with the use of the MATE device outside automotive manufacturing plants and test any benefits of the exoskeleton in the creation of sustainable urban works.

The Politecnico di Torino, on the other hand, proposes the intervention of artistic languages ​​(from visual to musical ones) to integrate a model of representation of the human brain – more accessible both to neuroscience operators and to the general public – starting from collected data through devices based on Artificial Intelligence.

Decentralised systems

Technologies capable of enabling decentralised processes based on peer exchange represent one of the most interesting frontiers in the path towards a more sustainable and democratic urban future.

The blockchain is, for example, one of the technologies that enables the use of decentralised cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, have been in circulation since 2009 but are not actually applied in production systems and in society due to limits of a different nature, from the technological to the legal one. However, combined with some tools, cryptocurrencies applied locally could actually stimulate new economic models: starting from this scenario, Nexa Center is addressing artists to expand the methods of experimentation and representation of exchanges between peers.

Local production could also have a significant impact on the transition to renewable energy sources. In fact, European regulations on Energy Communities are recent: groups of individuals and other citizens who, by associating themselves, can control the production, distribution and consumption of energy. How could these communities be configured? IREN Group turns to artistic practice to explore scenarios and generate awareness on this issue.

Interested in applying to the Open Call?

For further information on the challenges described above you can speak directly to the referents of the company and research centres: you can find their contacts in this document.

For any information about the application and terms of the Open Call, check our website here.

Deadline for applications is 30 November 2020.

For any doubts, write us at