Expanded Urban Planning as a Vehicle for Understanding and Shaping Smart, Liveable Cities

  • Aija Staffans Aalto University
  • Liisa Horelli Aalto University
Keywords: expanded urban planning, smart cities, everyday life, self-organization, community informatics


Smart city is currently a trendy concept that has been promoted by many international companies, universities and cities, such as IBM, CISCO, MIT, Shanghai, as well as the European Union.  This top down, technocratic approach has been severely criticized in many academic publications. Concurrently there is an increasing buzz emerging from citizens – women and men, who are involved in the application of community informatics for self-organization in urban settings. Consequently, the smart city as a contested concept and an initiative is under social and political construction. We argue that the smart city can be better understood and implemented, when framed from a holistic and integrative perspective as a multi-scalar and multi-dimensional endeavor that is approached through “expanded urban planning”. The aim of the article is to present and discuss the expanded urban planning approach as an alternative story to smart cities. The relevance of this approach is assessed in the light of a case study of Designing for the Smart City, a course for future architects and planners, at the Politecnico di Milano, Italy.