Surveillance is the New Black

“A speculative proposal for architects to give away their design service for free… and make their revenue elsewhere”

by Nicolay Boyadjiev

This project is based on the above premises of the Google Urbanism project by Nicolay Boyadjiev and his team at the Strelka Institute. We take the current forces, such as surveillance as a given, and create new models for architects and designers to generate revenue from data captured in physical space. When data is captured from public space, we give back something to the city.


The project site is Parc del Clot in Sant Marti district of Barcelona. The park is mainly used by local residents, young and old, male and female, each engaging in different activities.


The area highlighted in blue is the active part of the park where physical activities such as basketball and tennis are taking place. We will capture data within the boundaries of the park and generate revenue in order to design and develop the underutilized parts of the park.


Let’s say that the Ministry of Health wants to increase physical activities of citizens to reduce health care cost. They will give commission to each physical activity successfully generated, instead of giving budget for developing sports facilities upfront.


Designers and the municipality decide to collaborate and capture data in the park in order to identify the physical activities missing in the park. Data will be captured through sensors and the politics of the capture will be automatic. 


Data on physical activities and age group will be captured. From this simple data set, we are able to identify that the physical activities for adults and elderlies are missing. Therefore, we will design spaces for physical activities, such as circuit activities and petang.

In the same way, additional data such as gender, time of the day, day of the week and weather will be captured in order to utilize all parts of the park at all times with different physical activities.


The more data sets and variables we are able to capture, the more activities we will be able to generate, hence more revenue for designers and the municipality. We will tap on this multiplier effect, repeat the cycle of data capturing, and design new physical activities so that we, designers and the municipality, continue to generate revenue from the Ministry of Health. We will utilize the revenue to design and develop the park, not only for physical activities, but also to improve accessibility and create spaces to enhance the experience of the users.



Designers x City: A New Model is a project of IaaC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia developed at Master in City and Technology in 2018/2019 by:
Students: Luna Nagatomo and Polina Skorina
Faculty: Nicolay Boyadjiev