The Urban Improvise (Hardcover)

Improvisation-Based Design for Hybrid Cities

By Kristian Kloeckl

Yale University Press, 9780300243048, 240pp.

Publication Date: January 7, 2020

List Price: 35.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


A book for architects, designers, planners, and urbanites that explores how cities can embrace improvisation to improve urban life

The built environment in today’s hybrid cities is changing radically. The pervasiveness of networked mobile and embedded devices has transformed a predominantly stable background for human activity into spaces that have a more fluid behavior. Based on their capability to sense, compute, and act in real time, urban spaces have the potential to go beyond planned behaviors and, instead, change and adapt dynamically.
These interactions resemble improvisation in the performing arts, and this book offers a new improvisation-based framework for thinking about future cities. Kristian Kloeckl moves beyond the smart city concept by unlocking performativity, and specifically improvisation, as a new design approach and explores how city lights, buses, plazas, and other urban environments are capable of behavior beyond scripts. Drawing on research of digital cities and design theory, he makes improvisation useful and applicable to the condition of today’s technology-imbued cities and proposes a new future for responsive urban design.

About the Author

Kristian Kloeckl is associate professor at Northeastern University’s School of Architecture and Department of Art + Design. He was previously a research scientist at MIT’s Senseable City Lab where he established the lab’s research unit in Singapore.

Praise For The Urban Improvise: Improvisation-Based Design for Hybrid Cities

“Kloeckl’s insights are original, credible, and eminently useful. This innovative book unlocks performativity as a design approach, making it applicable to the smart hybrid city. This is an important and novel twist to the rapidly fossilising rhetoric around the smart city. It offers a new fresh lens for understanding the implications of technologies that are seeping into the normal everyday.”—Mike Phillips,

“In the headlong rush towards a digital world, we are in danger of losing the emotions of living in cities. In this essential book, Kristian Kloeckl suggests that the way we improvise has an even more significant role in the cities of the future.”—Michael Batty, author of Inventing Future Cities

“If your city seems overscripted lately, take time for Kristian Kloeckl on open systems for agile citizens. Concise, enjoyable, and deeply researched, The Urban Improvise could be the best urban technology book to read this year.”—Malcolm McCullough, author of Downtime on the Microgrid

"Kloeckl’s thoughtful application of concepts from improvisation in the performing arts to the design of urban interactions in the hybrid city offers a vital alternative to the techno-centric approach of the smart city evangelist."—Mark Shepard, editor of Sentient City: Ubiquitous Computing, Architecture, and the Future of Urban Space