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Designing Smart Over a Distance for Sustainable Communities

Reflecting on AI, the Metaverse, and the Role of HCI for Addressing the Sustainable Development Goals
OzCHI, Wellington, New Zealand
Sunday 3 December 2023

The Workshop

Discover the Future of Smart Cities: Join our workshop to explore innovative, inclusive, and sustainable solutions for urban, regional and rural challenges. This full-day workshop explores and develops the notion of designing smart, and embraces this year's OzCHI theme of “Design from a Distant World”. Our workshop will continue the debate on sustainable development goals across disciplinary boundaries within the field of HCI research, including interaction design, urban planning, architecture, environmental humanities, community development and others. The objective of our workshop is to bring academics, researchers and practitioners together to explore and debate new and trusted approaches for co-designing communities, cities, regional centres, services and experiences of the future. 

Topics of interest 

The workshop invites contributions from academics, researchers, and practitioners interested in exploring the opportunities, challenges and complexities of designing smart over a distance for sustainable communities. Topics of interest for this workshop include but are not limited to the following areas of HCI scholarship and inquiry:


  • HCI, interaction design, participatory design that explores political issues, such as designing for existential crises, institutioning, and re-politicising HCI

  • HCI for civic design, community activism, community engagement

  • HCI for smart engagement and smart city planning and design

  • HCI and post-anthropocentric design, post-humanist design, more-than-human futures

  • HCI and sustainability

  • Accessibility and inclusivity of future smart cities

  • HCI for behaviour change towards sustainable lifestyles

  • Human-centred design for SDG implementation

  • Human-centred mobility and transportation design

  • Ethical considerations in AI-driven smart cities

  • Empowering citizen participation through digital platforms

  • Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications for urban planning and design

  • HCI and new economic paradigms such as circular economy, doughnut economics, degrowth, voluntary simplicity, prosperous decent, cooperativism

  • HCI for building stronger more resilient communities

Submission process and workshop format

Submissions to this workshop will be in the form of an online registration questionnaire. Based on the responses and key themes identified, a series of activities and discussion points will be facilitated throughout the day. During the workshop, participants will contribute to small group discussions, as well as larger discussions and workshop activities. A key component of the workshop will be a design challenge to engage workshop participants in envisioning scenarios set in the future. This will allow participants to move beyond their day-to-day experiences, discuss situations that are relevant to their SDG focus, share stories and knowledge around sustainable development, and explore best practice principles about evolving HCI design approaches to address these challenges. 

Prior to the workshop, participants are expected to create a short 30 second video outlining their research area and SDG focus. 

Complete the online registration questionnaire here.

Important dates

3 October 2023: Submission due 

23 October 2023: Notifications 

3 December: Workshop day

Planned outcomes

The workshop organisers have a Special Issue proposal accepted in the Urban Planning Journal, entitled “The Role of Participatory Planning and Design in Addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals”. The Urban Planning journal is a highly regarded Q2 journal. Selected participants from this workshop will be invited to submit an article, thereby sharing experiences and expertise and building bridges between “designers from a distant world”.

UN Sustainable Development Goals. Source: Azote for Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, CC BY 4.0


Workshop Activity 

Keynote speaker
Group activity session 1
Morning tea
Group activity session 2
Speculative design challenge
Afternoon tea
Group presentations
Workshop wrap-up



Workshop Organisers


Dr Joel Fredericks

Lecturer in Design 

The University of Sydney

  • Linkedin - Joel Fredericks
  • Instagram - Joel Fredericks

Joel is a Lecturer in Design at The University of Sydney’s School of Architecture, Design and Planning. His research is at the intersection of interaction design, community engagement, urbanism, and smart cities. Joel has worked on a variety of transdisciplinary research projects that incorporate participatory methods to design, develop and deploy interactive systems that enhance community engagement and contribute to collaborative city-making. Joel has authored and co-authored in numerous publications and books. Most notably he was the lead author of Media Architecture Compendium Vol.2 – Concepts, Methods, Practice, which draws on academic research and global studies to present an evolutionary account of concepts, methods, and practice for bringing media architecture thinking into projects.

Dr Callum Parker


Lecturer in Interaction Design
The University of Sydney 

  • Linkedin- Callum Parker
  • Instagram - Callum Parker

Callum is a Lecturer in Interaction Design at the Urban Interfaces Lab in the University of Sydney’s School of Architecture, Design and Planning. Callum’s research seeks to gain new understanding of interactive digital city interfaces and their place within urban environments, contributing towards the broader smart city. He is specifically focused on leveraging cutting edge technologies such as pervasive displays, {augmented, virtual, and mixed} realities, and media architecture.


Prof Glenda Caldwell

Professor of Architecture

  • Linkedin- Glenda
  • Instagram - Glenda Caldwell

Glenda is a Professor of Architecture, and the Academic Lead Research in the School of Architecture and Built Environment, Faculty of Engineering at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, Australia. She is an architecture and design scholar with expertise in physical, digital, and robotic fabrication, leading Industry 4.0 innovation through human-centred and participatory design research in design robotics and media architecture. 

Prof Marcus Foth

Professor of Urban Informatics


  • Linkedin - Marcus Foth
  • Instagram - Marcus Foth
Marcus Foth.jpeg

Marcus is a passionate wombassador and beekeeper. In his spare time, he is Professor of Urban Informatics in the QUT Design Lab, Brisbane, Australia. He is also an ACS Fellow and ACM Distinguished Member with a long-term research focus on interaction design and sustainability. Marcus currently leads the More-than-Human Futures research group at QUT. Together with Dr Sara Heitlinger and Dr Rachel Clarke, Marcus is currently editing a new book for Oxford University Press on Designing More-than-Human Smart Cities: Beyond Sustainability, Towards Cohabitation.


Dr Hilary Davis

Senior Research Fellow
Swinburne University of Technology

  • Linkedin - Hilary Davis
  • Instagram - White Circle

Hilary is a social science researcher with an Human Computer Interaction background. She has a strong focus on research for social impact, particularly for people from marginalised or diverse backgrounds. She conducts research with networks of stakeholders in rural Australian communities including community members, community leaders and CEOs of rural health organisations. You can usually find her online or dodging kangaroos somewhere in the Australian outback. 

Prof Martin Tomitsch


Professor and Head of the Transdisciplinary School
University of Technology Sydney

  • Linkedin - Martin Tomitsch
  • Instagram - Martin Tomitsch

Martin is a Professor and Head of the Transdisciplinary School at the University of Technology Sydney, a founding member of the Media Architecture Institute, the Urban Interfaces Lab, and the Life-centred Design Collective. His books include Making Cities Smarter (Jovis), Design Think Make Break Repeat (BIS), and Designing Tomorrow (BIS). 

Ali Crosby.jpeg

A.Prof Alexandra Crosby

Associate Head of School, Design
University of Technology Sydney

  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram - Ali

Alexandra is an internationally recognised scholar and visual communicator in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building at the University of Technology Sydney. Her current body of research is focused on more-than-human design and recombinant ecologies in urban environments. Here, she explores the relationships between plants and people, revealing the systems and ecologies that will be critical to overcoming the impacts of climate change on our cities.


Victoria University of Wellington

Location TBC

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