Professor Carlo Ratti is the sort of guy you would want to have a dinner party conversation with – he is not just a visionary who is far ahead of his peers, he also acts on his visions, making him an innovator and a man of action. Trained in both architecture and engineering at some of the best universities on both sides of the Atlantic, Carlo has a talent for making the impossible possible.
Carlo doesn’t just dream and theorize, he builds and innovates. He holds several patents and has co-authored over 250 publications, including “The City of Tomorrow” (Yale University Press, June 2016, with Matthew Claudel).
Two of his projects – the Digital Water Pavilion and the Copenhagen Wheel – have been included by TIME Magazine in the list of the ‘Best Inventions of the Year’.
In addition, he has earned accolades from several reputable publications as one of the ’50 Most Influential Designers in America’, ‘50 people who will change the world’ and as one of the ‘Names You Need To Know’.
Carlo currently teaches at MIT and also serves as co-chair of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization, and as special adviser on Urban Innovation to the President and Commissioners of the European Commission. He is also a founding partner of the international design and innovation office Carlo Ratti Associati.
Chief Editor Jan Yong had a scintillating conversation with him recently.
APR: As co-chair of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization, what is your vision of the perfect future city? Which areas / countries in the world do you think have the greatest potential to put into effect this ‘perfect city’?
CR: I don’t think there is – or there ever will be – a “perfect city”. What I see is many cities experimenting in different ways all around the world. For instance, in Asia, Singapore is carrying out very interesting experiments with smart mobility; in Europe, Copenhagen is working very actively
on sustainability; in America, Boston is focusing on citizens’ participation – to mention just a few.
APR: As special adviser on Urban Innovation to the President and Commissioners of the European Commission, what are some of the feasible and doable urban innovations that are being proposed? Can these innovations be applied worldwide?
CR: Actually, here I would like to refer to the list of top-10 Urban Innovations that we have prepared at the World Economic Forum Global Future Council: http:// www3.weforum.org/docs/Top_10_Emerging_Urban_ Innovations_report_2010_20.10.pdf
The list includes services and technologies such as digitally re-programmable infrastructure, sensor-laden transportation solutions, new sharing platforms, mobility on demand, intelligent street poles, and urban farming with hydroponic systems.
All of these can actually be applied worldwide.