What is it about?

From the point of view of urban agents, the city can be seen as an information system. In this article, we focus on the city as an information structure insofar as it is an experiential context. Therefore, we will not deal with the “analytical information” about city X that is available while being elsewhere. We will instead deal with the “experiential information” which is accessible while being/acting in city X. A large part of urban experiential information reaches individuals without any specific conscious focal awareness. For the individuals operating in the city and using the city (residents, shopkeepers, entrepreneurs, developers, consumers, tourists, etc.), experiential information is crucial. At the personal level, experiential inputs help to positively regulate an individual's psycho-physical state. On an interpersonal level, experiential inputs help to structure and coordinate agency among human agents, and between them and physical elements of the environment. In discussing experiential information, the attention is not merely on human senses, but, first of all, on the vehicles that convey such information: images, sounds, smells, artifacts, behaviours. Taking experiential information seriously implies new ways to interpret the functioning of cities and modes of urban intervention (e.g. planning and urban design).

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Why is it important?

This article contributes to the debate on the nature of cities by focusing on the distinctive way in which a certain kind of information supports their functioning. It develops the phenomenological line of research on urban issues by generalizing certain insights and connecting them to different theoretical perspectives.20 The article stresses that urban experiential information has a very specific character and deserves more attention than has traditionally been paid to it. The main idea put forward has been that taking experiential information seriously has more radical consequences than is usually assumed, in both explanatory and normative terms.


Our thesis is that the role of '(urban) experiential information' is wider than has hitherto been recognised. In particular, the wider, richer and more varied the experiential information is, the more urban agents benefit.

prof. Stefano Moroni
Politecnico di Milano

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The city as an information system: Urban agency, experiential inputs and planning measures, Cities, March 2023, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.cities.2022.104183.
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