The living city is an urban ecosystem where inhabitants interact in a balanced way with social, biological, and natural ecosystems. In this approach, the way of building is no longer constrained by the verticality of technology or architecture. The concept of a “living city” is inextricably linked to the concept of “urban metabolism.” This represents the circular and regenerative transformational process that the city is capable of enacting at the core of ecosystems from which it derives its resources.
Carlos Moreno, a complex system, robotics, and artificial intelligence researcher, contrasts his idea with a new vision of the “living city.” He is an Associate Professor and Scientific Director of the Paris IAE at the Panthéon Sorbonne University’s ETI (Entrepreneurship, Territory, and Innovation). Moreno is the scientific advisor to national and international personalities, including Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, which he was the Mayor’s Special Envoy for Smart Cities. In 2010, the French Republic made him a Knight of the Legion of Honor. In 2019, the French Academy of Architecture awarded him the Foresight Medal. Professor Moreno was inspired by Jane Jacobs (1916 – 2006), who proposed this concept of seeing cities as systems with their own logic and dynamism, which would evolve over time according to their use. He critiques the smart city’s techno-centric and universalist character, which erases the concept of life and people’s relationships and bio-natural systems, resulting in lifeless cities. Influenced also by the complexity thinking of his master and eminent French and universal philosopher Edgar Morin, he envisages the city of the 21st century as a set of dynamic interrelationships, including with technology, where the ‘whole is worth more than the sum of its parts’.
The living city is also technological, but it must promote interactions and trade to generate new ideas, activities and services. Moreno sees a living city with a human scale that is not dominated by technology, based on the concept that cities need to breathe, to constantly regenerate themselves in a circular way. Professor Moreno, the scientific director, and professor at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne has received the OBEL award for new international architecture, which recognizes recent and outstanding contributions to improving the physical and planned environment for the common good.
Like a living organism, it is natural that cities are incomplete, imperfect, and fragile. They are made up of many interconnected systems, some of which are even flawed, some of which are becoming obsolete, some of which need to be maintained, to be upgraded, and all of those in a constantly changing context. Cities are the most intricate systems that mankind has produced. They must be seen as complex systems in order to produce flexible solutions. This is how Moreno came up with the idea of a “living city” rather than a “smart city.” He has contributed to thinking about the city of the future and its various models, which include the digital and sustainable city in 2006, the smart city in 2010, the human smart city in 2012, the living city in 2014, and the 15-minute city, which was followed by the 30-minute territory, which was launched in 2016. Moreno, a professor of information technology, founded the first startup of the GENOPOLE’s Evry in 1998 before selling it to ENGIE in 2010. He proposed the notion of “living cities” as a precursor to “smart cities.” He is a regular media presence, speaker, and author of projects targeted at conversations between international players (Forum Live in a Living City, City Protocol Society, Smart City World Expo Congress, World Urban Forum).
Throughout his career, Carlos Moreno has made an effort to bridge different cultures. His significant efforts in the high-tech sector to build links between governmental organizations, large enterprises, and SMEs are driven by a strong conviction in the virtues of collaboration and a desire to foster collective intelligence. Additionally, he participates in joint initiatives for innovation and research between the public and private sectors. Moreno has worked on several governmental committees, working groups, and public service missions as a scientific expert. He is always in demand by the media in France and throughout the world as a speaker and scientific researcher to propagate his work on science, technology, and urban innovation.
Moreno has made significant contributions to the development of links between France and Latin American countries, as well as notable collaborations with large corporations with export operations. He has also opened up new business opportunities and supported technological transfer. The Entrepreneurship, Territory, and Innovation Laboratory of Sorbonne University in France is led by Moreno.
Professor Moreno has gained international praise for his creative work and unique approach to urban concerns at both the national and international levels and serves as a scientific advisor. Moreno supports the technological world and tries to apply technologies to the daily lives of people. His partners have included the Academic Board of the Singapour’s Strate Design School, the City Diplomacy Lab of Columbia University, the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) global Association, the C40 Cities Global Network, UN-HABITAT and the Mayor of Paris, whom he represented as a special envoy for smart cities. The reinvention of the “Living City” concept served as the key to innovation and is proof of the devoted work of Carlos Moreno.