Data Cities for Digital Earth

Data Cities: A new book on architectural aspects of Digital Earth

ISDE Life Member Davina Jackson (PhD, M.Arch) has authored a new book promoting the Digital Earth/GEOSS movement and its main agendas relevant to built environment professionals.

In Data Cities: How satellites are transforming architecture and design, Dr Jackson explained how rocket science and electromagnetic technologies have disrupted traditional processes in architecture and are expanding potentials for environmental design in the third millennium.

Over 10 chapters, she identified many historical foundations for the Digital Earth vision: from Eratosthenes’ ancient calculations of the Earth’s circumference to Newton and Einstein's experiments with light, and last century’s advances in rocket science, computation and electronic graphics.

She highlighted Richard Buckminster Fuller’s 1928 (pre-computers) vision of a ‘4D Air-Ocean World Town Plan’ and his 1960s concepts for systems to sustain the resources of 'Spaceship Earth’. She also noted that Al Gore first coined the term Digital Earth in his 1992 book, Earth in the Balance.

The book includes images and descriptions of many exceptional contemporary concepts, displays and structures designed by leading architects, scientists, artists, engineers, geographers, urbanists, gamers, gardeners, filmmakers and musicians who are reimagining life on our planet — and elsewhere.

Highlighted projects include lichtarchitektur by Asymptote, Yann Kersalé, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Bruce Munro and Leni Schwendinger, VR and AR demos by Greg Lynn, William Latham and Joe Paradiso; creative robotics by Carlo Ratti, Patrick Tresset, Zaha Hadid Architecture and Boston Dynamics; laser-cut constructs by Alex Haw and Patrick Keane; 'living' architecture by Philip Beesley, Rachel Armstrong and Mitchell Joachim; Moon and Mars settlement schemes by Foster + Partners and BIG; symbolic structures by MVRDV, Wolfgang Buttress, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Santiago Calatrava, Coop Himmelb(l)au, UN Studio, SHoP, LAVA and MAD; atmospheric concepts by Philippe Rahm, Daan Roosegaarde and Bruce Ramus; city modelling by UCL-CASA, 300,000 Km/s, ETH-Zurich and MIT, and underwater and aerial designs by Marc Newson, Ars Electronica-Spaxels and Giancarlo Zema.

Data Cities is published internationally by Lund Humphries, London.

Dr Jackson is a Sydney-based writer on creative applications of post-internet technology to urban development, and pan-Pacific history. During the past decade, she has produced books, websites, papers, exhibitions and events on Digital Earth-relevant themes she named ‘viral internationalism’, ‘data cities’, ‘smart light cities’, ‘virtual nations’ and ‘astrospatial architecture’. She is a former editor of Architecture Australia (journal of the Australian Institute of Architects) and a founder of the annual city light festivals in Sydney and Singapore

She was a delegate to the ISDE’s 2009 Vision 2020 workshop in Beijing, a co-author of two Vision 2020 essays published in PNAS and the IJDE, and presented potentials for ‘virtual nations’ to the 2013 GEOSS Visions workshop in Frascati. She also edited the 2012-14 report D_City: Digital Earth | Virtual Nations | Data Cities (sponsored by GEO and endorsed by ISDE, UN-Habitat and the Metropolis association of major city governments).


Dr Jackson was awarded an honorary life membership of the ISDE in 2016. She is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and Royal Society of Arts, and a member of history, geography and authors’ organisations in Britain and Australia.