Shake UP your city News : Interview with Paula Trigueiros
"It makes more sense to have a city without new technology than a city without culture." To Paula Trigueiros, researcher at the I-CITY (ICT for Future Mobility) project, which is under development at the University of Porto, "culture will surely be a major topic in the cities of the future". She adds that "culture is in the people and a city without people does not make sense". It is with this line of thought that Paula Trigueiros highlights the importance of "the city of people" when referring to the so called future cities. "Technology is used to improve the quality of life of the citizens, therefore, it only makes sense if there is an effective improvement, otherwise it does not" she adds.
Paula Trigueiros also represents the fields of Art and Design at the Future Cities Project. She advocates a strengthening of multidisciplinary research lines, where the study and sensitivity of the artistic areas are combined with the research work in various areas of engineering and social sciences. She makes clear the importance of this connection: "We need to find a common language that allows people to whom the technology is addressed to understand it, assimilate it and identify themselves with the product, otherwise they will reject it." It is precisely here that, in the eyes of the researcher, the creativity and artistic sensibility have a major role to play because "design gives meaning to technology". She continues, stating that "the sense that technology may have on people's lives requires first to get to know people and society".
To Paula Trigueiros, the importance of technology is related to the resolution of specific problems, so "if we want to develop such a sustainable city, we have to develop it not as an academic project, but as an ongoing service to society". Moreover, and to ensure its assimilation, it is important that technological evolution is consistent with the local identity – the mentioned “culture of the people". "Computers, sensors, optical fibres and mobile phones are similar everywhere". Again, the researcher stresses the importance of "differentiation" based on local values and culture, translated by the development of products and services that may provide suitable responses to different problems, from each of the cities of the future.
Taking a broader perspective, Paula Trigueiros argues that projects like the Future Cities or I- CITY (ICT for Future Mobility) “are not mere research projects, but development projects that imply cooperation and active involvement of the academia, entrepreneurs and decision-makers".
Paula Trigueiros is currently in London developing a research project at UCLIC - University College London Interaction Centre. She was the first researcher to participate on the X-FARE – a program which funds the exchange of researchers between four European universities and partners in the Future Cities Project. As a result, Paula Trigueiros expects "to take problems, perspectives and knowledge of Porto" and possibly bring some answers. “My expectations are very high and my work plan is very ambitious...” concludes. She addresses potential candidates for the X-FARE program in a straightforward way: “It is a unique opportunity... apply!"
Paula Trigueiros is part of the research team of the I-CITY (ICT for Future Mobility) project at the Center of Competence for Future Cities of the University of Porto. She is responsible for the study of interfaces in order to improve the quality of the experience for end-users of ICT in public transport.
Paula Trigueiros has a degree in Architecture and a PhD since 2008, and has been a Design professor since 1993 at several Portuguese universities. Her work and research areas include Inclusive Design and Interfaces and Technologies, the accessibility to information and Public Transport. She has published some articles and academic papers and has been invited as speaker at various events, especially related to Design, Creativity, Accessibility and Inclusion.