City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

About Dan Hill / City of Sound

Written in


This site is archived. My latest writing, and selected cuts from the archive below, is available at Medium.

This is the personal site of Dan Hill [fuller biography below] The views expressed here are my own, and not necessarily those of my employer. Please ask if you need clarification.

Some relevant starting points
Below, some popular or defining posts at cityofsound. They all tend to gravitate towards recurring themes of cities, architecture, design, media and culture—often colliding in the same post, say on the imagined connections between travel writing and design, or football and architecture—but here's an attempt at filing some starters discretely nonetheless.

Design practice


Cities, Places and buildings







Biography for Dan Hill
British. Born Zürich, 1970. Based in Stockholm.

Dan Hill is Director of Strategic Design at Vinnova, the Swedish government's innovation agency.

Previously, Dan was an Associate Director at Arup, the global design and engineering firm. He founded Arup Digital Studio, a multidisciplinary design team that helps clients and collaborators create great user experiences for buildings, places, infrastructure and cities, making innovative ideas tangible, and grounding them in research and prototyping.

His previous leadership positions have produced innovative, influential teams and projects, ranging across built environment (Arup, Future Cities Catapult), education and research (Fabrica), government (Sitra), and media (BBC iPlayer, Monocle), each one transformed positively via new digital technology and a holistic approach to design. He has lived and worked in UK, Australia, Finland and Italy.

He started his career working on the urban regeneration of Manchester, and has subsequently worked on city strategy and urban development projects worldwide, including Barangaroo in Sydney, Masdar in Abu Dhabi, Low2No in Helsinki, Melbourne’s smart city strategy, and the design strategy for the State Library of Queensland and Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs, amongst many others. Outside of built environment work, he was one of the design leads for the BBC's groundbreaking iPlayer service, and his team introduced podcasting to the BBC, amongst numerous other innovative services.

Dan is an adjunct professor at RMIT University (Melbourne) in Design and Communication, and at the Faculty of Architecture at UTS (Sydney), and is the Sir Banister Fletcher Visiting Professor at the Bartlett School of Architecture for 2016, with Joseph Grima. He has taught at the Architectural Association, London, University of Sydney, Politecnico di Milano, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, KU Leuven, and many others schools.

Dan was one of the organisers of the acclaimed architecture and urbanism event Postopolis!, running in New York and Los Angeles so far, and he also writes City of Sound, generally thought of as one of the leading architecture and urbanism websites, running since 2001, as well as regularly writing for architecture and design press worldwide. Books and essays include "Dark Matter & Trojan Horses: A Strategic Design Vocabulary" (Strelka Press, 2012), "Sentient City: Ubiquitous Computing, Architecture, and the Future of Urban Space", Mark Shepard (ed.) (2011), "Best of Technology Writing 2009", Steven Berlin Johnson (ed.) (Yale University Press, 2010), and "Actions", Mirko Zardini (ed., 2008), amongst others.  His writing also appears regularly in Domus' magazine, amongst others, where he curated the SuperNormal series, as well as a regular column at Dezeen.

Dan is also a member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, which selects nominees and winners for the Webby Awards, the leading honour for websites, as well as being a jury member for both Core77 and IxDA interaction awards. He was included in the inaugural list of Sydney’s ‘Creative Catalysts’ for the Vivid Sydney arts festival 2009.

His design work has featured in the Istanbul Design Biennal (2012), the AAA exhibition 'Remodelling Architecture: Architectural Places – Digital Spaces' (Sydney, 2009) and 'Habitar: Bending the urban frame' (Gijon, 2010), as well as being regularly featured in global media.


  • 2019—: Vinnova, Director of Strategic Design, Stockholm
  • 2015—2018: Arup, Associate Director, London [related post]
  • 2014—2015 Future Cities Catapult, Executive Director/Chief Design Officer, London [related post]
  • 2012—2013: Fabrica, Chief Executive Officer, Treviso [related post]
  • 2011—2012: Sitra, Strategic Design Lead, Helsinki. [related post]
  • 2008—2011: Arup, Associate, Sydney. [related post]
  • 2008: Consultant (clients included Channel 4, Lonely Planet, BBC)
  • 2007-2008: Monocle, Director of Web and Broadcast, London/Sydney. [related post | related post]
  • 2001-2006: BBC, Head of Interactive Technology & Design, London. [related post]
  • 2001: Urbis Museum, Manchester. Curator/Producer (freelance) [related post]
  • 2001:, London. Design Director (freelance)
  • 1997-2001: state51, London. Designer
  • 1994-1997: Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester. Researcher/Designer
  • 1992-1994: Manchester City Council, Manchester. Senior Officer, Chief Executive's Department


  • MA by research: 'Cultural Industries in the digital city', Manchester Metropolitan University (1995-1997)
    The research provided a snapshot of contemporary cultural change in Manchester's Northern Quarter, addressing the nascent new media design industry and other design-oriented cultural industries, urban cultures, urban regeneration models, and theoretical writing on the city. It provided practical recommendations for regeneration and intervention in this area, tied to active engagement and support for cultural businesses in the Northern Quarter. [published article | related post]
  • BSc: Computer Science (2:1), University of Hertfordshire, (1988-1992)
    [related post]

Presentations and events

  • Melbourne Knowledge Week, opening speech, May 2016
  • Design and the City, Amsterdam, closing speech, April 2016
  • Architecture of Information, Leuven, April 2016
  • FutureEverything Singapore, May 2015
  • Dubai Smart City, Dubai, keynote speech, November 2013
  • Smart Citizens speech to Netherlands government environment ministry, November 2013
  • Future of design and design education public lecture, RMIT Design Hub, Melbourne, September 2013
  • Public sector innovation working group, speech, European Commission, Brussels, June 2013
  • Wired Next Fest, speech, Milan, June 2013
  • Digital Byliv, closing speech, Oslo, May 2013
  • Design spectrum series public lecture, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, May 2013
  • New Babylon: Architecture & Urbanism after the Crisis, Karlsruhe, speech, January 2013
  • Electric City, London School of Economics, speech, December 2012
  • SmartCityExpo, Barcelona, panel, November 2012
  • International New Towns conference, Rotterdam, moderator, September 2012
  • Trust Us, V&A conference, lecture and panel, September 2012
  • Public talks for Integrated Design Commission, Adelaide & Melbourne, March 2012
  • Social Cities of Tomorrow, Amsterdam, keynote, February 2012
  • Design of Understanding, London, keynote, January 2012
  • Cisco Public Services Summit, Oslo, workshop, December 2011
  • Integrated Design Commission/TACSI public lecture, Adelaide, November 2011
  • Creative Entrepreneurship for a Competitive Economy, Tallinn, speech, October 2011
  • Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design Open Lecture, Copenhagen, September 2011
  • Laptops and Looms, Derbyshire, August 2011
  • Keynote speech, National Digital Forum, Wellington, October 2010
  • Helsinki Design Lab Global, moderator of sustainability sessions, September 2010
  • Partnership for Urban Innovation, Shanghai, June 2010
  • Creative Clusters symposium, Hong Kong, June 2010
  • Microsoft Social Computing Symposium on cities, January 2010 [related post]
  • Closing keynote, Web Directions South, Sydney, October 2009
  • 'New Soft City', World Design Congress, Beijing, October 2009
  • Opening speech, 'Bluestone Lounge Room: Designing the streets of Melbourne' exhibition, Melbourne, July 2009 [related post]
  • 'Urbanism about information', Australian Institute of Architects, Sydney, July 2009
  • RE:HAB Student Architecture Congress, Canberra, July 2009
  • Brisbane Ideas Festival, Brisbane, March 2009
  • Postopolis! LA, Los Angeles, April 2009 [related posts]
  • 'Soft Infrastructure Superpowers', LIFT09, Geneva, March 2009 [related post | presentation]
  • State of Design, Melbourne, July 2008
  • Pervasive 2008, Sydney, May 2008
  • Postopolis!, New York, June 2007 [related posts]
  • 'New Movements in Media', Aula: Movement conference, Helsinki, June 2006. Speaking as part of a panel with Tyler Brulé, Abbas Raza, Jim Griffin and Dan Gillmor among others. [info | related post | presentation]
  • IDEA 2006 conference, Seattle, October 2006. Speaker on 'The New Media': how the architecture of information around media/art shapes our experience and interaction. [info]
  • 'New Musical Experiences', Sibelius Academy/British Council, Helsinki, keynote speaker at 'Future of Music' seminar, September 2005. Also given at Manchester Metropolitan University 'Local Cultures in Global Space' lecture series, February 2006. [presentation]
  • 'Radio in 2010', Nokia symposium, Helsinki, February 2005
  • 'The Future of User-Centred Technology Design', AIGA Experience Design, Design Council, London, January 2005 'Self-Centred Design', Design Engaged conference, Amsterdam: November 2004 [info]
  • 'Future of Design' seminar, UK Government-sponsored (DTI) mission, British Consul, San Francisco, October 2004 [info | report]
  • 'Designing for Hackability', SIGCHI Designing Interactive Systems conference (DIS2004), Cambridge, Mass.:, August 2004 [info | presentation]
  • 'Towards Designing for Adaptation', AIGA Experience Design, Design Council, London, December 2002 [info |

Publications and published work

  • 'Røde, and the new manufacturing', a version of which appeared in Monocle (2009) [full text]
  • 'The Adaptive City', chapter in the accompanying publication to 'Urban Play' project/exhibition, curated by Droog Design and Scott Burnham, part of ExperimentaDesign Amsterdam (2008) [full text]
  • 'Loam for civic creativity', chapter in the accompanying publication to 'Actions: playing, gardening, recycling and walking', exhibition, curated by Mirko Zardini and Giovanna Borasi for the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal (2008)
  • Review of Jan Gehl Architects' plans for Sydney in Architectural Review Australia (2008) [full text]
  • Contributed a section of Dan Saffer's book 'Designing for Interaction' (New Riders, 2006) on the subject of adaptive design, interaction design and architecture, alongside 10 other 'interviewees' such as Marc Rettig, Larry Tesler, Hugh Dubberley, Brenda Laurel etc. [full text]
  • Report for UK Government: 'Adaptation, Personalisation and Self-centred design', in the Department of Trade & Industry Global Watch Report: 'Innovation through People-Centred Design' (2004) [full text]
  • Icon magazine: 'When Perfect Isn't Good Enough', on the iPod and adaptive design (2004) [article]
  • Core77: 'Insanely great, or just good enough?' (2004) [full text]
  • Other writing and journalism for Monocle, City journal [full text], BBC Music, IconCre@te magazine and various online music magazines.
  • My architectural photography appeared as part of the Art Gallery of Ontario's major Frank Gehry exhibition throughout early 2006 [info]


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