WIKITOPIA — VISION

DIY-Style Urban Design

Support spontaneous, DIY-style urban design by citizens (e.g., tactical urbanism) through new design tools and fabrication technologies

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Dynamic, Adaptive Environments

Make urban environments dynamically adapt and respond to citizens' needs using new interactive technologies and intelligent robotics

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Sharing Visions of Future Cities

Allow citizens to easily visualize and share their visions of future cities through augmented/virtual reality and other new media technologies

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Collective Decision-Making

Assist collective decision-making by citizens using intelligent planning tools and online platforms that facilitate consensus building

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Can Cities be Built Like Wikipedia?

Wikitopia Project is an ambitious, cross-disciplinary research project, whose goal is to realize technologically-enhanced future cities that are continuously edited and improved by citizens like the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. The project, launched in 2017 under the leadership of computer scientist Yuichiro Takeuchi with financial support from the Japanese government, is an international collaboration involving multiple organizations spread across Japan and the US, including Sony Computer Science Laboratories and the nonprofit Wikitopia Institute. Our research is characterized by an eclectic approach informed by a range of academic and professional disciplines, such as computer science, electrical engineering, architecture, urban planning, political activism, etc.

Who are in charge of building our cities? Municipal governments, private industries, professionals such as architects and urban planners — while the question may elicit an array of possible responses, in any case the power to create cities does not appear to be equally distributed among citizens (the actual "users" of cities), but instead seems consolidated within the hands of select institutions and individuals. This is in contrast to the digital world, where we can find many examples — Linux and Wikipedia, to name two — of large, complex, and reliable systems being created by "everyone", i.e., groups of distributed, willing volunteers. And such democratically-created systems possess a number of advantageous attributes, such as the capacity for quick adaptation to societal changes, and the ability to reflect the needs of diverse populations.

Our project aims to bring such democratic modes of production to urban design, giving rise to a new form of urbanism where cities are designed and created through active, spontaneous participations of citizens themselves.

The vision of Wikitopia may strike some as an unrealistic fantasy. However, urban design practices based on similar ideals already exist around the world. For example, take a stroll around San Francisco and you may bump into "parklets" — small roadside parks built by local citizens and businesses, under the sanction of (but with no financial support from) the municipal government. New forms of such officially-sanctioned DIY urbanism continue to emerge, allowing citizens to take up the task of improving their neighborhoods into their own hands, in increasingly diverse ways. Building on such existing practices, and incorporating cutting-edge technologies such as digital fabrication, IoT, augmented reality, and robotics, we aim to massively scale-up citizen-led urbanism, radically transforming how cities are built and maintained worldwide.

We are always looking for new sponsors and collaborators. If you are interested in working with us, or would like to get in touch for any reason, please feel free to contact us via email at any time.


For more details about the project's background and goals, please take a look at our (periodically updated) Wikitopia Manifesto.

Please also check out the website of the WIKITOPIA INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION (a design competition held in 2018 as part of our research), and its gallery of submitted entries.