Digital City: Developing Digital Guerilla Tactics for the Urban Environment

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Ersin Altin

    New Jersey Institute of Technology, United States of America

Work text
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Guerilla Studio is a collaborative design studio developed for senior design (interior, industrial and digital design) students and offers a number of novel pedagogies and teaching methodologies.
Guerilla Studio is designed to explore possible ways to communicate a comprehensive and inclusive notion of city through design, by utilizing a number of digital tools such as VR and AR technologies, data processing, and digital visualization. While integrating digital tools to the pedagogy of design, Guerilla Studio motivates students to think about social responsibilities by widening the area that design serves and strategizing design processes as social tasks.

To determine a strategy for their design process students are asked to adopt a number of approaches such as preparing interactive “psychogeographic” maps of a portion of a city after experiencing it by adopting Situationist techniques of dérive and detournement. Another exercise mediates non-human dwellers of cities by utilizing data processing and visualization tools. Following a number of design exercises, students develop a wide range of design tactics varying from adding elements of (interior, industrial and digital) design to existing structures to “hack” a certain dominant narrative to more literal approaches which propose physical or digital “design solutions” that communicate the collective alternative information about the/any city.

Guerilla Studio locates each design problem within the urban context. In doing so, design itself and the cultural problem it tackles become a ground to discuss larger issues and, conversely, those societal/cultural problems gain a physicality within urban space. The goal is to create a correlation between micro and macro scales by stressing the complex and dynamic connection between them. In this sense, any intervention to urban space with design would become the outcome of various analytic phases in design process such as literature review, investigation of emerging technologies, analysis of urban space by concentrating on smaller scale. More importantly, design is recognized to have the potential to trigger reaction by becoming a part of urban life rather than isolated instances of production.

One of the student works produced in
Guerilla Studio, for instance, aims to confront modern city dwellers and their dependency on mobile devices by claiming their mobile phones temporarily. While mobile technology is undeniably one of the greatest tools currently available to mediate information, help, or leisure to list a few, its increasing ubiquity and demand for attention can create a barrier between the users and their overall experience with their surroundings. This project invites participants to engage with others and with the urban environment by plugging into the urban digital network without interruptions if they agree to give up their mobile device for a short time.

Another student work explores the physicality of urban space and related cultural patterns as a research tool in heritage studies. The project models and visualizes the city of Chan Chan by utilizing VR technologies to introduce this important ancient American city to the inhabitants of contemporary American cities. While a portion of Chan Chan can be experienced through a VR headset remotely, the project also seeks to find ways to create intersections between the culture of Chan Chan and present cities/city dwellers by organizing Guerilla shows in the mainstream art and culture centers, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Guerilla Studio encourages students to create a system that functions as informal nodes of information that are neither located nor created centrally but as part of the larger network of communications/interactions by exploring limits of digital tools and utilizing them creatively.
Guerilla Studio points out various possible intersections/interactions between the physicality of urban fabric and more abstract and complex domains such as digital technologies, culture, and identity.


Debord, G. (1977).
Society of the Spectacle. Detroit: Black and Red.

Moseley, M.E. and Mackey, C.J. (1974).
Twenty-Four Architectural Plans of Chan Chan, Peru: Structure and Form at the Capital of Chimor. Cambridge: Peabody Museum Press.

Topic, J.R. (2003). From Stewards to Bureaucrats: Architecture and Information Flow at Chan Chan, Peru.
Latin American Antiquity 14(3): 243–74,

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Conference Info

In review

ADHO - 2022
"Responding to Asian Diversity"

Tokyo, Japan

July 25, 2022 - July 29, 2022

361 works by 945 authors indexed

Held in Tokyo and remote (hybrid) on account of COVID-19

Conference website:

Contributors: Scott B. Weingart, James Cummings

Series: ADHO (16)

Organizers: ADHO