This project explored the future of the built environment in cities through the lens of sensory experience. Using sight, smell, touch, sound, and taste, Urban Sensorium anticipated potential energy, ecology, climate, transit, and food scenarios for five major cities chosen for their projected economic growth and international influence. To develop the scenarios, the team gathered indicators from SWA’s current design and planning projects and colleagues based in each city, conducted fieldwork, and identified the major drivers of change to gain insight into what future scenarios might look like in these five cities.  Insights included New York getting brighter, Houston more fragrant, San Francisco drier, Los Angeles quieter, and Shanghai spicier, the implications of which were drawn in a type of citywide “future mapping.”  The project was funded by the Patrick T. Curran Fellowship at SWA with support from SPUR Urban Center and Urbanspace Gallery.


Emily Schlickman and Anya Domlesky, XL Research and Innovation Lab at SWA


Noah Christman, SPUR
Chenlu Fang, SWA
Bill Tatham, SWA
Fangyi Lu, SWA
Jeff Buscheck, University of California Davis Pavement Testing Center
Ghanshyam Patel, NYC DOT
Harold Takooshian, Fordham University
John Fraser, New Knowledge Organization Ltd.
Bryan Jackson, BKF Engineers
Josh Jakus, Automatic Arts
Larry Nierth, City of Houston
Patrick Sheridan, CAL Lighting


SPUR Urban Center, San Francisco
Urban Sensorium Exhibition

SXSW Cities Summit
“Urban Sensorium: Sights, Sounds, and Smells of the Future City”

The Atlantic’s CityLab
“The Smells, Sounds, and Tastes of Future Cities”

Urbanspace Gallery, DesignTO Festival
Exhibition Closing Talk

ASLA Annual Meeting
“Incubating Innovation in Practice: Models from Architecture, Engineering, and Landscape Architecture”

Urban Omnibus
“Illuminated Futures”

Ground Up Journal Issue 7: Consequence
Urban Sensorium

University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design & The Global Humanities Initiative
Other Urbanisms: Next Urbanism

University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design, Department of Landscape

American Inhouse Design Award
Urban Sensorium Environmental Graphics