The Dao of Being Smart: Beijing Design Week 2013

Preface to exhibtiion, Smart Cities 2013

On my recent trip to China I visited the Smart City 2013 exhibition in Beijing and the International Design exhibition held as the main attraction of Beijing Design Week at the China Millennium Monument Museum of Digital Arts (CMoDA). Smart City 2013 was the warm-up of the China’s National Smart City Innovation Center which will be established at CMoDa in 2014.

The theme of ‘The Smart City 2013′ is “Design + Information + Technology = The Dao of Being Smart’

The theme of ‘The Smart City 2013′ is “Design + Information + Technology = The Dao of Being Smart’

The theme of the Smart City 2013 is Design + Information + Technology = The Dao of Being Smart (Dao meaning way or method in Chinese). Just like Sydney Design 2013, the exhibition looked at how design can contribute to a cleaner, secure, and more sustainable world but with a stronger emphasis on digital media. The Smart City 2013 exhibition website outlined its aim to lead the critical discussion on global and a local smart city movement by investigating digital design’s role and contribution potential.

View of Smart Cities 2013

View of Smart Cities 2013

Smart City development has become the latest hype in China in response to serious urban issues like air pollution, traffic congestion and resource deficiencies that are facing many towns and cities in China today – Beijing in particular. During my short one week in Beijing I had the pleasure of experiencing first-hand the seriousness of Beijing’s air pollution.

Creating an intereated urban environment, Smart Cities 2013

Creating an intereated urban environment, Smart Cities 2013

Curated as an integrated urban development and management model based on information technology and orchestrated application systems Smart City 2013 was to explore ‘synchronized curation’ of digital design in the urban context.  The exhibition had three sections: Smart City Public Platform, Smart Living and Smart City that displayed fifty eight works from forty international design studios and labs representing ten countries including the University of NSW (UNSW) in Sydney. Most of the exhibits were models and pilots of innovative digital design products and systems applied to smart city theory covering the areas of urban planning, city management, urban living, mobility, health, safety and security. The exhibition intended to illustrate to the audience a management eco-system through cross sharing of information resources.

Sky Color of 10 Chinese Cities 2000-2012

Sky Color of 10 Chinese Cities 2000-2012

Sky Color of 10 Chinese  Cities 2000-2012 was a work by Xiaoji Chen a young graduate from Tsinghua (China) and MIT (USA) who had both an architecture and computer science background. In this infographic Chen converted massive amounts of data on the environment including the daily Air Pollution Index (API) between the years 2000-2012 into colour tiles that paint the ‘sky’ of ten Chinese cities.  The work aimed to raise public awareness on air pollution of China’s big cities and motivate changes in policy-making and public behaviour patterns. Similarly Zuchao Wang a PhD student from Peking University created a Beijing Traffic Congestion Map to look at another one of the serious problems facing our modern cities.

Exhibition view, Smart Cities 2013

Exhibition view, Smart Cities 2013

Besides Smart City 2013 there were other programs that were a part of Beijing Design Week such as Smart City 2013 International Symposium, 2013 Beijing International Jewellery Art Exhibition, Beijing Design Faire, and the Finalists of 2013 Beijing Design Awards. It was interesting to note that multiple events were also held at Amsterdam of Northland, Beijing Design Week’s guest City with their Design Goes Dutch program.

Smart City 2013 as the warm-up to China’s National Smart City Innovation Center that will be established at CMoDa in 2014 is a prelude for more innovative works and creative solutions to come next year.

Photographs of the exhibition by Tracey Liu, 2013.