The Critical Futures Lab occupies the liminal spaces between critical social science theory and generative design methods. Through prototypes, experiments and explorations — bridging creative thinking and critical making — the Lab engages with complex socio-technical (political, cultural, economic, ethical and environmental) questions about the conditions of everyday working and living in cities in the context of ongoing economic and environmental crises. These varied and multidisciplinary activities — informed by science and technology studies, media studies and communications — intend to bring together diverse viewpoints in order to raise vital questions and alternative possibilities. In particular, the Lab is concerned with the ways in which the digital is materialized, contextualized and embodied across a variety of scales, from city infrastructures to the built environment, and from interactive objects to digital bodies.

Laura Forlano (Director) is an Assistant Professor of Design at the Institute of Design and Affiliated Faculty in the College of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology. Her research is focused on the intersection between emerging technologies, material practices and the future of cities. She is co-editor with Marcus Foth, Christine Satchell and Martin Gibbs of From Social Butterfly to Engaged Citizen: Urban Informatics, Social Media, Ubiquitous Computing, and Mobile Technology to Support Citizen Engagement (MIT Press 2011). Forlano’s research and writing has been published in peer-reviewed journals including Fibreculture, ADA, Journal of Urban Technology, First Monday, The Information Society, Journal of Community Informatics, IEEE Pervasive Computing, Design Issues and Science and Public Policy. She has published chapters for books including editor Mark Shepard’s Sentient City: Ubiquitous Computing, Architecture, and the Future of Urban Space (MIT Press 2011) and The Architecture League of New York’s Situated Technologies pamphlet series and is a regular contributor to their Urban Omnibus blog. She received her Ph.D. in communications from Columbia University.

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