About Us

The Mobile City is an independent research group founded in 2007 by Martijn de Waal and Michiel de Lange. The Mobile City investigates the influence of digital media technologies on urban life, and what this means for urban design and policy. How can we employ digital media technologies to make our cities more just, improve the quality of urban life, as well as make our cities more interesting places to live in?

We do independent research, consult, give lectures, organize events and workshops, and collaborate with organizations and individuals who share our interests in digital media and urban culture, from disciplines like architecture and urbanism, media, design, technology, and urban policy.

In our view, it is no longer useful or even possible to understand urban life as separate from information and communication technologies. The way cities function and how people live in cities is profoundly shaped by ubiquitous digital media technologies, such as wireless networks, social networks, surveillance technologies, location based services, augmented reality, gps-navigation, embedded sensors, as well as the emergence of the internet of things and ‘big’ and open data.

Taken together, the rise of these technologies is often labeled as the emergence of the ‘smart city’. The promise is that these technologies will optimize all kinds of urban processes, from energy use to traffic flows and as such improve the quality of urban life. We aim to broaden this scope on the role of technology in the city. How are new media technologies affecting urban life across various domains, including how we live, work, travel, meet, spend our leisure time, and so on? How are our ideas of time, space and place, culture and identity, publicness and citizenship changing? And what does that mean for the ways our cities are governed?

Our focus lies on the role of digital media technologies in the social and political domains of urban life. How can citizens use digital media technologies to organize themselves around issues of communal interest, feel a sense of ownership, and act? How can playful interventions, from storytelling and art to urban gaming, stimulate unexpected encounters and enrich urban life?

We argue that the design of the media city benefits from the mutual involvement of multiple disciplines. Urban design can no longer be understood as solely a physical discipline. Apart from architects, urban planners and policy makers, it now should include media developers, artists, telecom companies, technology research and urban anthropology, and in our approach we always try to bring these various world together.

Our two founding directors bring together a wide range of experience of working with these realms. Martijn de Waal (PhD), has specialized in the role of new media technologies in the urban public domain. Michiel de Lange (PhD) has specialized in new media technologies, play and identity.

The Mobile City is a foundation with two founding directors (Martijn de Waal and Michiel de Lange) and three board members. Currently, these are Frank Kresin (chair), Marthijn Pool (treasurer) and Esther Polak (secretary).

Contact us

If you want to get in touch or wish to collaborate, please reach us at info@themobilecity.nl. See the Contact page for further details.

Partners and sponsorships

The Mobile City wishes to thank its sponsors, partners and contributors that have enabled us to keep up this website and organize our events.

For 2011-2012 The Mobile City has received a generous grant from the Pauwhof Fonds.

The Mobile City collaborated with (amongst others) Virtueel Platform, ARCAMShanghai eArts, Waag Society, The Architectural League of New York, Kitchen Budapest, V2_, Cybercity Ruhr and Dynamic City Foundation, the Dutch Culture Centre (DCC) in Shanghai, the Netherlands China Arts Foundation, the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR), the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi) and the Royal Institute of Dutch Architects (BNA), the research groups New Media, Public Sphere and Urban Culture at the University of Groningen & Playful Identities at the the Erasmus University Rotterdam & Utrecht University. And we received grants from the Rotterdam municipality, the Rotterdam Trustfonds, and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).