Call for Participation

Many early adopters of sustainable smart city technology employed a technocratic approach. The dominant visions of these future cities, such as in the “eco smart city” [19], address environmental sustainability through the optimisation and rationalisation of urban processes, making them more efficient and therefore more sustainable. However, critics claim that such approaches are too simplistic, are unable to deal with the complexities of real, messy cities [19] and perform sustainability in specific ways that leave little room for participation and citizen agency [7,11,19]. Furthermore, the technocratic approach limited the actual social benefit people could expect from their urban habitat, and this has led to a participatory turn in smart cities [e.g. [1,12]. For example, many local governments have started using human-centred and participatory design for the integration of technology in urban environments to address issues of sustainability.

However, the turn to participation within smart cities fails to address a human-exceptionalist notion of cities, in which urban space is designed for, and inhabited by, humans only. Within the age of the Anthropocene – a term used to refer to a new geological era in which human activity is transforming earth systems [16], accelerating climate change and causing mass extinctions [18] – a human-centred perspective is increasingly seen as untenable. In fields such as STS [10,13], environmental humanities [15,17], geography [2,21], planning [16], design [5,8,25] and HCI [24], scholars are expanding and challenging traditional binaries of Western thought such as City/Nature, Human/Non-human, to consider the entanglements between human and nonhuman worlds including in urban contexts, and the ways in which we can conduct participatory research in morethan- human worlds, in order to overcome problematic narratives of human privilege and exceptionalism.

The aim of this interdisciplinary workshop is to move the field of participatory design for sustainable smart cities forward by bringing together designers, practitioners, and researchers to explore what it means to co-design genuinely sustainable cities that take into account the ways in which cities and nature, and humans and non-humans are interrelated and interdependent, for the co-creation of environmentally and socially just postanthropocentric cities. We aim to develop new conceptions that move away from traditional binaries and open up new possibilities for thinking about participatory design for urban environments in hybrid digital-physical space. We also aim to explore practical ideas about how more-than-human perspectives can shape actual participatory design practices and policies related to cities. For example, we might explore design responses to new legal rights of non-humans such as trees and rivers [20] and how their participation is negotiated in urban processes in hybrid digitalphysical space [4].

Workshop Topics of Interests

The topics of interest for the workshop include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Participatory design and use of smart cities, urban informatics and IoT technologies that explore human/morethan- human relations;
  • Methodological approaches, including opportunities and challenges for designing in more-than-human worlds;
  • Speculative designs, design fictions, and art projects;
  • Ethical and legal considerations, e.g. design responses to a new legal status of nature; • Designs that decentre the human or privilege other species;
  • Cultural aspects of sustainable smart cities in this space;
  • Theoretical perspectives from the literature e.g. Anthropocene, Capitalocene [18], Chthulucene [13], and;
  • “World-making”, what could a more-than-human city be?


We welcome researchers and practitioners working on design cases, prototype development and artistic installations, as well as those working on theoretical, critical, legal, or ethical perspectives, including those from STS, environmental humanities, and other disciplines. We welcome methodological contributions, such as object-oriented ontology [3], non-human ethnographies [22], speculative design, and actor-network and assemblage theories related to decentring the human in design.

Submission Instructions

Participants are asked to contribute to the workshop with a position paper or research note, which introduces aspects of the participant’s prior research, future plans, insights, or interests in the area, as well as a short biography (200 words). The max. length of workshop position papers is 2,000 words (excluding references). Please only submit DOC, DOCX, or PDF files ensuring the file size is below 5MB. Please submit your paper by email to Marcus Foth at m.foth [AT]

Submission deadline: 02 May 2018 – extended until 14 May 2018

The submissions will be reviewed by the workshop organisers for relevance. Our workshop venue capacity is 40. If participants exceed places, we will choose a balance of different perspectives on the workshop topic.


[1] Mara Balestrini, Yvonne Rogers, Carolyn Hassan, Javi Creus, Martha King, Paul Marshall, Knowle West, and Media Centre. 2017. A City in Common : A Framework to Orchestrate Large – scale Citizen Engagement around Urban Issues. (2017), 2282–2294.

[2] Michelle Bastian. 2016. Towards a more-than-human participatory research. Particip. Res. more-than-human worlds (2016), 19–37. DOI:

[3] Ian Bogost. 2012. Alien phenomenology, or, what it’s like to be a thing. U of Minnesota Press.

[4] Tristan Cork. 2017. Street lights on Bristol to Bath cycle path switched off so glow worms can find love. Retrieved September 18, 2017 from 182389

[5] Carl DiSalvo and Jonathan Lukens. 2011. Nonanthropocentrism and the nonhuman in design: possibilities for designing new forms of engagement with and through technology. In From social butterfly to engaged citizen: urban informatics, social media, ubiquitous computing, and mobile technology to support citizen engagement. 440–460.

[6] Carl DiSalvo, Phoebe Sengers, and Hrönn Brynjarsdóttir. 2010. Mapping the landscape of sustainable HCI. In Proceedings of the 28th international conference on Human factors in computing systems – CHI ’10, 1975–1984. DOI:

[7] Paul Dourish. 2010. HCI and environmental sustainability: the politics of design and the design of politics. Proc. 8th ACM Conf. Des. Interact. Syst. . ACM. (2010), 1–10. DOI:

[8] Laura Forlano. 2016. Decentering the Human in the Design of Collaborative Cities. 32, 3 (2016). DOI:

[9] Marcus Foth, Eric Paulos, Christine Satchell, and Paul Dourish. 2009. Pervasive Computing and Environmental Sustainability: Two Conference Workshops. (2009), 78–81.

[10] Adrian Franklin. 2017. The more-than-human city. Sociol. Rev. 65, 2 (2017), 202–217. DOI:

[11] Jennifer Gabrys. 2014. Programming environments : environmentality and citizen sensing in the smart city. 32, (2014), 30–48. DOI:

[12] Daniel Gooch, Matthew Barker, Lorraine Hudson, Ryan Kelly, Gerd Kortuem, Janet V A N D E R Linden, and Marian Petre. 2016. Amplifying Quiet Voices : Challenges and Opportunities for Participatory Design at an Urban Scale. xx, x (2016).

[13] Donna J Haraway. 2016. Staying with the trouble: Making kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press.

[14] Sara Heitlinger, Nick Bryan-Kinns, and Janis Jefferies. 2013. Sustainable HCI for grassroots urban food-growing communities. In Proceedings of the 25th Australian Computer-Human Interaction Conference: Augmentation, Application, Innovation, Collaboration, 255–264.

[15] Steve Hinchliffe, Matthew B Kearnes, Monica Degen, and Sarah Whatmore. 2005. Urban wild things: a cosmopolitical experiment. Environ. Plan. D Soc. Sp. 23, 5 (2005), 643–658.

[16] Donna Houston, Diana Maccallum, Wendy Steele, and Jason Byrne. 2017. Make kin , not cities ! Multispecies entanglements and “ becoming-world ” in planning theory. (2017). DOI:

[17] Eduardo Kohn. 2013. How forests think: Toward an anthropology beyond the human. Univ of California Press.

[18] Jason W Moore. 2017. The Capitalocene, Part I: on the nature and origins of our ecological crisis. J. Peasant Stud. 44, 3 (2017), 594–630. DOI:

[19] Paul D Mullins. 2017. The Ubiquitous-Eco-City of Songdo : An Urban Systems Perspective on South Korea ’ s Green City Approach. 2, 2 (2017), 4–12. DOI:

[20] Erin O’Donnell and Julia Talbot-Jones. 2017. Three rivers are now legally people – but that’s just the start of looking after them. The Conversation. Retrieved October 12, 2017 from legally-people-but-thats-just-the-start-of-looking-after-them-74983

[21] Chris Philol. 1995. Animals, geography, and the city: Notes on inclusions and exclusions. Environ. Plan. D Soc. Sp. 13, 6 (1995), 655–681.

[22] Hannah Pitt. 2015. On showing and being shown plants – a guide to methods for more-than-human geography. (2015), 48–55. DOI:

[23] Claire Rowland, Elizabeth Goodman, Martin Charlier, Ann Light, and Alfred Lui. 2015. Designing Connected Products: UX for the Consumer Internet of Things (1st ed.). O’Reilly Media, Inc.

[24] Nancy Smith, Shaowen Bardzell, and Jeffrey Bardzell. 2017. Designing for Cohabitation: Naturecultures, Hybrids, and Decentering the Human in Design. In Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’17), 1714–1725. DOI:

[25] Alex S Taylor. 2017. What Lines, Rats, and Sheep Can Tell Us. Des. Issues (2017).