In the Spotlight: Dr. Roy Bendor

Roy BendorDr. Roy Bendor is Assistant Professor of Critical Design in the department of Human-Centered Design at TU Delft. His research and teaching explore the social and political contexts of design. He more specifically focusses on the topic of alternative futures.
Within the centre for BOLD Cities, Roy Bendor is part of one of the Team Science Projects, Urban Digital Twins, that asks how inclusive are urban digital twins for a diversity of people, experiences, and politics in the city.  In the last couple of years, he also was a guest lecturer in our Smart and SHARED Cities-minor.

Can you tell us a bit more about your academic background and expertise?

My academic background is quite diverse. During my bachelor, I majored in philosophy and film studies. During these studies, I got very interested in the world of ideas and the study of culture, media and technology. Following my bachelor, I did a master’s in political theory and development and continued that with a PhD in philosophy of technology and a Postdoc in art and sustainability.
“Officially” I thus am a media scholar, but that is not necessarily what I am practicing right now at TU Delft, or at the Centre for BOLD Cities. In my current research and teaching, I focus on the role of design in imagining alternative futures. I research possibilities to move out of some patterns that we as a society are locked into. Economic models for example, our relation to the environment, or our current norms and values that determine what is good and what is bad.

Why do you think an interdisciplinary approach is important?

The world is complicated and includes different entities that exist in ways that are both beautiful and surprising and unanticipated. If the world is a complex place, we should look for diverse ways of approaching this complexity, otherwise we cannot fully do it justice. The same goes for dealing with cities. To create change, you must understand the multiple factors that play a role in daily city life. To do so, you need interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, or even undisciplinary research methods. It is important to pick and choose from the tools that allow us to understand the different aspects of the world we are living in.

How did you get involved with the Centre for BOLD Cities and what does it mean to you?

I was approached by the scientific director Liesbet van Zoonen, with the question if I wanted to join the new Team Science project on Urban Digital Twins. We research how urban digital twins (4D data-based representations of a city) help solve but also create new challenges for cities and citizens. Within this project, interdisciplinarity really comes to play: we collaborate in a team of scientists who all have a different background. From these different backgrounds, we look at the same phenomenon and see what knowledge we can reveal from that.
Next to that, over the last couple of years I was also involved in the BOLD Cities minor, Smart and SHARED Cities. I gave a guest lecture in the second module, on speculative design and values. The lecture was focused around ‘what if’ questions, to stimulate the students to unpack why urban technologies are the way that they are.

Do you have a book/podcast/film which inspired you that you would like to share with us?

A book I very much enjoyed reading is The City and the City by China Miéville. It is a futuristic novel that takes place in two cities that exist in the same space but are forbidden to communicate or even refer to each other. One of the cities is more liberal, the other more authoritative. The book follows a detective that tries to get to the bottom of the difficult relationship of these two cities. The world building is incredible, and the storyline reflects our reality in a way: many versions of a city exist within one city, without ever being in contact with one another.

China Mieville. The City & The City. 2011. EAN 9780330534192

More information
More about Roy Bendor (TU Delft profile page)