Carlo Ratti directs the MIT SENSEable City Lab, which explores the "real-time city" by studying the way sensors and electronics relate to the built environment.
An architect and engineer by training, Carlo Ratti practices in Italy and teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he directs the Senseable City Lab. He graduated from the Politecnico di Torino and the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées in Paris, and later earned his MPhil and PhD at the University of Cambridge, UK.
Ratti’s work deals with the built environment of cities – from street grids to plumbing and garbage systems – using new kinds of sensors and hand-held electronics that have transformed the way we can describe and understand cities. Other projects flip this equation – using data gathered from sensors to actually create dazzling new environments. The Copenhagen Wheel developed by MIT Senseable City Lab explores how any bicycle could be transformed into a network-connected e-bike by sampling changing a wheel hub. The project Trash Track uses electronic tracking to better understand and optimise flows of waste through cities. He has also opened a research centre in Singapore as part of an MIT-led initiative on the Future of Urban Mobility.
Ratti’s work has been seminal in the field of intelligent or smart cities. In an article published in Scientific American together with Anthony M. Townsend, however, Ratti contrasts the prevailing technocratic vision of smart cities – highlighting instead the “human face” of urban technologies and their potential in promoting bottom-up social empowerment.
Carlo holds several patents and has co-authored over 250 publications. As well as being a regular contributor to the architecture magazine Domus and the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, he has written for the BBC, La Stampa, Scientific American and The New York Times. His work has been exhibited worldwide at venues such as the Venice Biennale, the Design Museum Barcelona, the Science Museum in London, GAFTA in San Francisco and The Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Carlo Ratti has been featured in Esquire Magazine’s ‘2008 Best & Brightest’ list and in Thames & Hudson’s selection of ‘60 innovators’ shaping our creative future. In 2010 Blueprint Magazine included him as one of the ‘25 People Who Will Change the World of Design’, Forbes listed him as one of the ‘Names You Need To Know’ in 2011 and Fast Company named him as one of the ’50 Most Influential Designers in America’..
Carlo Ratti has been a presenter at TED 2011, program director at the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow, curator of the 2012 BMW Guggenheim Pavilion in Berlin, and was named Inaugural Innovator in Residence by the Queensland Government. The Italian Minister of Culture also named Carlo as a member of the Italian Design Council – an advisory board to the Italian Government that includes 25 leaders of design in Italy.
He is currently serving as a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council for Urban Management.