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Carlo Ratti

The Extending

“Networks have become the nervous system of every metropolis. Innovation consists of the ability to work in a dynamic way, designing and developing "living" cities and buildings in harmony with their citizens who live in an interconnected civilization.”

He is regarded as the most high-tech city planner in the world. With an eclectic training and a cosmopolitan soul, Carlo Ratti has an ambitious aim: making all cities more intelligent. He dreams of a dynamic and flexible architectural style, a cultural metaphor of our times. Carlo believes that the digital dimension should be integrated in material, physical construction and that the operational approaches offered by the Internet represent a challenge for contemporary designers.


Carlo Ratti was born in Turin in 1971. He studied engineering at Turin's Polytechnic and the École nationale des ponts et chaussées in Paris, and was later awarded a PhD in architecture and engineering from Cambridge University. He was just 39 when he was appointed as director of a laboratory at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) that deals with how new technologies change the way cities are designed and planned. The laboratory includes a multi-disciplinary team, consisting of fifteen people: architects, designers, engineers, computer technicians and sociologists.

In 2002 he founded Carlo Ratti Associati, a design studio based in Turin, which was regarded as one of the best in Italy by the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2004. His works there include a thousand anti-tsunami houses in Sri Lanka. In 2007, the Ministry of Culture chose to appoint him as a member of the Italian Design Council, an advisory body involving the best Italian designers.

His idea is to plan interacting cities, in tune with their citizens, combining the material with the immaterial. People today live in an interconnected reality and perceive the digital world as an extension of their physical life. That is why, at the Expo 2008 in Zaragoza, Ratti presented the Digital Water Pavilion: a building with walls made of intelligent water, giving life to a highly interactive architectural environment. During Milan Fashion Week 2008, in partnership with the French landscape architect Patrick Blanc, he presented a glass-and-green outdoor area at the Trussardi Cafè. In 2008, together with his group of digital city planners in Boston, he presented the Project New York Talk Exchange. This project featured a depiction of traces of all the telephone connections between New York and the rest of the world, obtained using the mobile phone sensors.

In Italy, Ratti carries out consultation for urban and civic projects, such as the Progetto Collegium, dedicated to reforming European universities and the Comitato Valdo Fusi dedicated to renewing a square in the centre of Turin.

Another of his works is The Cloud, one of the projects candidated for the 2012 London Olympics.

Today he teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, USA, where he directs the MIT Senseable City Lab. Esquire magazine listed him among the "Best & Brightest", Forbes among the "Names You Need to Know" and Wired among the "50 people who will change the world". Fast Company named him among the "50 most influential designers in America" and Thames & Hudson among the "60 innovators shaping our creative future". Two of his projects – the Digital Water Pavillion and Copenhagen Wheel - have been included in Time magazine's list of "Best Inventions of the Year" (2007 and 2014). Also in 2014, the Copenhagen Wheel won the prestigious Red Dot: Best of the Best award.



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