Prototyping Next Generation Urban Interfaces

Workshop held in conjunction with the Media Architecture Biennale 2020 (MAB'20). June 2021. Online.


Urban interfaces play an important role in the field of media architecture and smart cities. They enable citizens to access the digital layer of the city, to interact with urban applications, and to make more informed decisions about how they utilise the urban infrastructure. As the field of media architecture is diversifying, urban interfaces can also take on new forms, from advanced projections, robotic installations to bio-hybrid materials. These interfaces are complex to develop and in many cases difficult to test in real-life situations with users. This workshop invites people working in this field to submit new approaches for prototyping next generation interfaces in urban environments. The aim of the workshop is to take stock of the status quo and to inspire new approaches that have the potential to accelerate and support future work on designing and evaluating emerging urban interfaces.

Important Dates

  • Submission: May 28th, 2021 (extended!)May 15th, 2021
  • Notification: June 4th, 2021
  • Workshop date: June 28th, 2021 (morning session - 11am CEST)

Call for Participation

Through this workshop, we are calling for submissions and participants that propose or document new approaches for prototyping and designing urban interfaces. This may include approaches that have been trialled and tested, concrete demonstrations of approaches, as well as conceptual proposals for what future prototyping approaches may look like. Contributors are invited to give a 10-minutes presentation about their work.

Contributors are asked to submit a 500 words motivation for their talk, outlining their work in this area and a description of their proposed prototyping approach. Further, we ask to submit a short self-introduction along your motivation. The workshop offers an opportunity to receive feedback from others working in this field, to exchange ideas, to share challenges, and to get new perspectives. Motivations can be sent through in any format to After the workshop, selected contributors will be invited to submit an further version of their work to a magazine article on prototyping urban interfaces, convened by the workshop organisers.

We are interested in submissions that address one or more of the following topics:

  • Urban prototyping and interfaces
  • Case and field studies prototyping in the urban domain
  • Challenges with studies "in the wild"
  • Lessons learned in the trenches
  • New horizons in media architecture


All times are in Central European Time (CET).

  • Introduction - 11:00am-11:05am
  • Lightning Talks - 11:05am-11:50am
  • Participant Presentations - 12:00pm-12:50pm
  • Interactive Activity - 1:00pm-1:45pm
  • Wrap-up - 1:50pm-2:10pm

Lightning Talks

We will have expert speakers giving short talks about their work in or at the intersection of architecture, urban planning, automation and human-computer interaction. Full list of speakers will be announced shortly.

  • Simon Marvin

    Simon Marvin is a Professor at the Urban Institute at the University of Sheffield. He has contributed extensively to debates on the interrelationships between socio-technical change and the urban condition. He has published 7 books and over 100 journal papers and book chapters and is extensively cited in urban studies (over 16000 Google scholar citations and h-index 50). His current interests focus on the emergence of urban climate engineering, robotics and autonomous systems and their interweaving with controlled environments in urban contexts.

  • Sara Nabil

    Dr. Sara Nabil is an Assistant Professor of HCI at Queen’s University (Canada), and an alumna of the University of Newcastle (UK). Her research integrates interior design with interaction design, using soft sensors, fabric circuits, e-textiles and smart materials that are malleable, shape-changing and colour-changing. Her innovative techniques and digital fabrication methods facilitate the design of everyday computational objects, wearables, surfaces and spaces in calm and ubiquitous technology. Her work aims to support the living quality of marginalized groups such as refugees, people with dual-identities, and people with physical disabilities. She has carried out in-the-wild fieldwork in public spaces, design studios, galleries, museums and refugee camps, and has written on Human-Building Interaction (HBI), Interactive Architecture, and Interactive Interior Design, or what she coined as ‘Interioraction’. Her current work explores the interface between physical computing, wearables, interiors, art, and architecture. In 2016, Sara was awarded the ‘Best Design Award’ by the Great North Museum, and in 2021, she was shortlisted for the international Interactions Design Award. Sara’s interactive prototypes have been displayed at a number of exhibitions including the Carleton Community Art Exhibition (CUAG, Canada 2020), ‘Living with Adaptive Architecture’ (Lakeside Arts Gallery, UK 2018), the ‘Immersive Hive’ (Great North Museum, UK 2018), and the annual London Design Festival (2018).


  • Dr Alexander Wiethoff is a senior lecturer at LMU Munich, long term member of the Media Architecture Institute and the Design Director of IMAGO Design GmbH in Munich, Germany. His research goal and effort is to provide humans with easier ways to interact with computers.

  • Dr Martin Tomitsch is a Professor of Interaction Design and Director of Innovation at the University of Sydney, Visiting Professor at the CAFA Beijing Visual Art Innovation Institute, and founding member of the Media Architecture Institute. His research and teaching areas include interaction design, user experience design and urban interfaces.

  • Marius Hoggenmueller is a Ph.D. candidate in the Design Lab at The University of Sydney. His work focuses on prototyping and probing urban interactions with robots and autonomous systems, thereby applying Research through Design methods and Media Architecture principles.

  • Dr Luke Hespanhol is an interaction designer, lecturer, researcher, and media artist. His research ranges from creative technologies, digital storytelling, digital placemaking, and technology-mediated social interactions, to urban robotics, media architecture and smart cities. Luke is the Program Director for the Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Arts at The University of Sydney.

  • Linda Hirsch is a 2nd year PhD student at LMU Munich. In her research, she focuses on Urban Interaction Design. Her work includes the exploration of urban materials and the development of design strategies to enrich and revive city history and art.

  • Beat Rossmy is a researcher at LMU Munich, his research focuses on tangible user interfaces and new interaction concepts and materials. His design explorations take place in various domains, such as musical interfaces or human-robot interaction, and focus on integrating reality-based design and interaction patterns into technology.

  • Dr Stewart Worrall is a robotics researcher and engineer in the Australian Centre for Field Robotics at the University of Sydney. He leads the development of several operating connected and autonomous vehicles which are licenced to drive autonomously around the university campus. His research focus is on the interactions between connected autonomous vehicles and other road users such as human driven vehicles and pedestrians in an urban environment.

Get in touch

Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about the workshop.