In praise of messy cities

Friday 25th April, 2014 | 8am

4 Stable Street
NIC 4AB London
United Kingdom

While the growth of the Internet of Things opens up huge potential benefits for society,  it could also destroy the very thing that makes cites special, argues Usman Haque.

Architect-trained Haque presents a range of extraordinary projects that show how technology can be used to enrich people’s experience of the city, rather than diminishing it. They include a 15-storey tower of ballons, desk lights that harness the carbon-sinking capabilities of plants, and a reconfigurable house built from interactive bricks.

Haque said “My chief concern is to contribute to the discipline and practice of architecture  … but my approach is how do you program space so that the experience of architecture is not just about the physical fabric but light, sound and smell. These are just as important as the physical structure”.





Usman Haque is founding partner of Umbrellium, and the founder of, (acquired by LogMeIn Inc in 2011, at that time the world’s largest Internet of Things open data repository and community). Trained as an architect, he has created responsive environments, interactive installations, digital interface devices and dozens of mass- participation initiatives. His skills include the design and engineering of both physical spaces and the software and systems that bring them to life.

Until 2005 he was a teacher in the Interactive Architecture Workshop at the Bartlett School of Architecture, London. He received the 2008 Design of the Year Award (interactive) from the Design Museum, UK, a 2009 World Technology Award (art), a Wellcome Trust Sciart Award, a grant from the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science & Technology, the Swiss Creation Prize, Belluard Bollwerk International, the Japan Media Arts Festival Excellence prize and the Asia Digital Art Award Grand Prize.