Call for Papers: Machine Learning and Place-Making

Space and Culture Special Issue

The design, use and perception of urban spaces have traditionally been the result of the continuous negotiation between two groups: those who analyse, design and manage spaces (architects, planners, regulators and the like) and those who inhabit spaces, namely the users. Although the balance of each part in this relationship has varied along the entire urban history, this has always been the product of two distinct parties.

With the progress of digital technologies that characterized the last decades and, in particular, with the advent of ubiquitous computing (ubicomp) this relationship has significantly changed. Urban spaces are now increasingly the result of designers, users and a third new agency which is represented by software. Defined to some extent as urban assemblage, this notion has been recently used to define the urban environment as the indivisible combination of people (individuals who produce and consume data and information), the built environment (the physical extent of the city and its architecture) and software (the ubiquitous presence of computers).

Moreover, the omnipresence of software is underpinned by a growing capacity for autonomy and learning that characterise algorithms today. Systems based on Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are increasingly given an active role in place and space-making processes. They are gradually progressing from being analytical and monitoring techniques (e.g. those employed in city dashboards) to automated evaluation and decision-making tools that designers, planners and regulators use to generate and manage urban spaces. ML and AI systems greatly benefit from the informational infrastructure of which we are all part, with the growing availability of the quantity of data (big data) and their quality (granularity).

This Special Issue aims at exploring in particular the last element of this tripartite system: computing intended as a ubiquitous, pervasive and ramified presence in urban life. Specifically, we are interested in the role of software as an increasingly autonomous actor able to learn, improve itself and continuously perfect the relationship human-machine.

This Special Issue calls for ground-breaking ideas and provocative thoughts, projects, demos and reflections to explore how software, more specifically ML/AI will change cities and the spaces in which we live in the near future.

Deadline for submission of articles: 30 April 2021
For any enquiry about the Special Issue, please contact Silvio Carta – University of Hertfordshire. Email:
For submission guidelines and requirement, please see: