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AI & Cities 2024. Digital Double
Organizing Institutions


Doubles permeate literature, poetry, art and everyday language, conveying complexity, irony or profound symbolism by presenting contrasting or harmonious elements within a single idea. They provoke paradox, reflection and a multiplicity of perspectives, inviting us to unravel different layers of meaning.

A double, in the figurative sense, refers to a situation, concept or expression that has two possible interpretations. It often involves duality or ambiguity, allowing for multiple perceptions. What happens when we transpose this notion of the double into the digital realm, precisely in the context of a digital transition that affects the way we build, govern, imagine and conceptualize cities and urban systems? Rather than aiming for an intricate and precise virtual representation of a given system, as digital twins or replicas do, we will use the concept of doubling – that is, the duplication of meanings and virtual representations of physical objects or systems – to disrupt conventional thinking in engineering, manufacturing, fabrication, urban development, policy-making and education.

This workshop seeks to situate Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) within the current landscape of urban affairs and knowledge, moving beyond speculative notions of automated urban futures. It explores the real-world applications and implications of AI and ML in research and policy contexts, covering areas such as digital fabrication, transport, energy management, public health and participatory governance. By grounding the discussion in the present, the workshop aims to highlight the tangible ways in which these technologies are already shaping cities around the world. In addition, the workshop will emphasize the importance of considering the ethical, social and economic implications of the use of AI and ML in urban research, applications and environments, and how responsible governance and community engagement work in this field.

  • We seek contributions that address, but are not limited to the following reflections:
  • Exploring the impact of AI on urban studies, science, architecture and planning
  • Tracing historical influences on future urban scenarios
  • The significance of visualisations in digital planning
  • Leveraging visualizations for enhanced digital urban planning
  • AI’s integration into computational and smart urban trends
  • Reimagining simulations beyond performance replication
  • Challenging assumptions about urban existence and interactions
  • Examining epistemic shifts in probabilistic urban systems
  • Unveiling the nature of Digital Doubles in urban analysis
  • Investigating the physical presence of Digital Doubles
  • Exploring cultural and technological interactions through human-like digital figures

We invite doctoral students and early/mid career researchers to participate in a 2-day symposium exploring emerging intersections of artificial intelligence, machine learning, urban studies, urban planning, and architectural and urban history. We encourage candidates from diverse backgrounds in architecture, the arts, humanities, social sciences, information science, engineering, and design to apply. An ability to converse across disciplinary perspectives is essential.

To apply for the symposium, please submit a 300-500 word abstract with relevant references (references not included in the word limit) to and by 30 June.



  • Abstracts due by 22 July, 2024
  • Notification of acceptance by 1 August, 2024


For any questions regarding the symposium, please contact Darío Negueruela del Castillo ( and Julio Paulos (


Co-organized by Digital Visual Studies, a Max Planck Society project hosted at the University of Zurich, and ETH Future Cities Lab, Digital Double 2024 is hosted by the Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History, in Rome, one of the most recognized institutions in its field, giving us an invaluable chance to get to know its assets and interact with its staff and researchers.


The symposium is offered at no cost upon application and selection. The travel, accommodation, and food costs will be covered individually by the participants themselves.

Organizing Institutions

Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History, in Rome, promotes scientific research in the field of Italian and global history of art and architecture. Established as a private foundation by Henriette Hertz (1846–1913), it was inaugurated in 1913 as a research center of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft. Today, the Bibliotheca Hertziana is part of the Human Sciences Section of the Max Planck Society and is considered one of the world’s most renowned research institutes for art history


Digital Visual Studies, is a cooperative project funded by the Max Planck Society and hosted by the University of Zurich, starting January 2020. The project’s aim is to establish Digital Visual Studies to expand Art History towards the Digital Humanities, modernize its methodologies, and contribute to forming a first generation of Digital Visual Humanists. The project includes Predoctoral Fellows, Postdoctoral Fellows and Visiting Fellows, who work in the areas of visual, textual, spatiotemporal and multimodal research. Digital Visual Studies is connected with a national and international network of partner institutions and digital initiatives. This cooperative project seeks to generate avant-garde research and methodological, technical, and intellectual innovation.


Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) Global is a research collaboration between ETH Zurich and the Singapore universities – National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) – with support from the National Research Foundation (NRF). It operates under the auspices of the Singapore-​ETH Centre (SEC).