Using Augmented Reality Technology to Visualize Utopia of Friendly Urban Spaces

Collaboration with Artistic Fellow Martin Binder, 2023-24.

Who makes decisions about urban space—and whose interests does it represent? Who determines sovereignty of use in the public sphere? How do consumerist interests influence urban planning? What does public space say about a society—and how can our cities be designed to be more people-friendly?

In public space, urban design and strategic building measures are increasingly used to displace certain groups of people and behaviours. There are various gradations: from the ethically controversial nudging, in which individual behaviour is to be guided by subtle impulses, to the more or less discreet discrimination measures of defensive architecture, to the less discreet, sometimes aggressive displacement strategies of hostile architecture.

As part of the Safe&Urban project (2021), Martin Binder designed dystopian products of a fictional street furniture company. From hostile to hospitable is a further development of his examination of discrimination in urban public spaces. At the same time, the two projects are related to each other in opposite ways: While Safe&Urban focuses on ironically exaggerated forms of defensive architecture, from hostile to hospitable deals with concrete approaches to solutions and alternatives.

In collaboration with the interdisciplinary AR specialists of the AURORA XR School for Artists at HTW Berlin, Martin Binder is developing a mobile WebAR application to draw attention to defensive architecture in Berlin’s urban space and to provide information: First, places in Berlin’s urban area that are characterised by discriminatory design are selected. With the help of AR technology, alternative counter-designs are provided: 3D models that function as a utopian antithesis in relation to the existing design.

People affected by discrimination in urban spaces as well as experts are involved in the development of the project. To this end, the artist is in contact with homeless organisations such as querstadtein e.V. and the Berliner Stadtmission.

Further information on instagram: @safeandurban
Artist’s website: