Vend-O-Kiosk 售货亭 // Shenzhen Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture

Vend-O-Kiosk is part of the UABB Shenzhen Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture 2019/20, chief curated by Carlo Ratti and his team at UABB. This project is in collaboration with Future Factory, a student-led think-tank at The New School, Parsons School of Design, exploring the future of urban living.  The collaborative effort will be exhibited at the Futian Train station, in Shenzhen, China, from December 2019 through to March 2020.

Our team just returned from the showcase, and will announce more images and details soon.


Video Credit: © WE-DESIGNS – Edited by Evaline Huang


Image Credit: © WE-DESIGNS



Challenging the future of the next economy, how might new technological scenarios in the future of consumption affect the relationship between the human and urban terrains? WE-DESIGNS proposes our “Vend-O-Kiosks” that will be exhibited at the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture in Shenzhen, China, as part of a “tri-city” proposal. The WE-DESIGNS team will also design and facilitate a series of programs and workshops to supplement the exhibitions in Shenzhen, China, with a future exhibition in New York City.  Connecting cities around the world, this project initiates a united, global conversation surrounding the future of the next economy.

This project questions how the adoption of new technologies will affect the spatial, social, and ethical repercussions of innovation driven by AI. All data collected by the “Vend-O-Kiosks” will be published and publicly available as open-sourced data.  Users will learn about the “manual” and the “automated” next to one other, allowing them to witness the machine operated “digital,” while still being able to “physically” interact with the objects of “labor.”

The active discussion with this proposal is to offer these global communities a realistic look at the machines that operate behind the scenes of our daily-lives and to allow them to individually interact with the often unseen and invisibly operating technologies that power our cities. Our “Vend-O-Kiosks” 售货亭 encourage visitors to reconsider the notion that “machines are taking over their jobs,” and instead evoke a discussion surrounding the evolution of design practices in our future economy.


Shenzhen Biennale - Vend-O-Kiosk

Image Credit: © WE-DESIGNS



Goods are exchanged for other goods, labour is exchanged for resources, monetary payment is exchanged for proprietorship, and increasingly, our primary exchange relationships in today’s systems are defined by the exchange of personal data and behavioural information for access to services and community. Contemporary urban cities are the converging point of millions of interactions of exchange. As urban context, systems of value and relationships keep evolving, what will exchanges consist of in future economies?


Image Credit: © WE-DESIGNS



By creating a vending machine where only different types of experiences are input and received, instead of money or products, we’re imagining a future economy consisting only of experiential exchanges. In this installation, an experiential activity is performed by the user as the ”payment” required in order to unlock a corresponding experience dispensed from the machine, transforming an economic relationship into a phenomenological one.

For more information about the Biennale, and the themes, please click the following links:

Eyes of the City


Image Credit: © Prospekt


The overarching theme of 2019 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (Shenzhen) is ”Urban Interactions”. Chief curators for this year’s UABB are Architect and Director of MIT Senseable City Lab Carlo Ratti, CAE Academician Meng Jianmin and art critic Fabio Cavallucci. Under the theme of ”Urban Interactions”, there are two parallel sections, namely ”Eyes of the City” and ”Ascending City”, both exploring the evolving relationship between cities and new technology. The ”Eyes of the City” section features Carlo Ratti and Politecnico di Torino-SCUT as the curatorial team, while the ”Ascending City” section is to-be curated by Meng Jianmin and Fabio Cavallucci. 


The main venue of the exhibition, the Futian underground high-speed railway station in the city of Shenzhen, acts as a clear counterpart to the wider implications of the curatorial approach – both the exhibition design and the location itself will be symbolically connected to the curatorial theme, “Eyes of the City.” Railway stations are historically associated with the ultimate anonymity of the urban experience, places in which people experience a characteristic set of feelings: isolation and loss of identity, but also freedom that stems from indifference, and even a degree of moral freedom. In other words, railway stations have a long-time association with the archetypes of the flâneur, the urban wanderer, the mercurial stranger. With new technologies and AI in particular, this might change. Railway stations, as urban gateways, at national borders, might soon become places where the ability of the built environment to respond to one’s presence is showcased in the most powerful way.

The main exhibition design will reflect on this concept, setting the stage for a series of experiences that explore some scenarios of the digitally-augmented city. The area within and around the main venue will be redesigned so as to foster new relations between people and urban space. The general aim of the design intervention is to improve connections with the city while at the same time allowing new interactions to flourish in this logistic non-lieu. The positive effect of such a broader web of synergy and connectivity will start with the Biennale but ideally last even after its conclusion.



Creative Lead –
Wendy W Fok

Strategic Lead –
Lillian He

Communications Lead –
Kristina Soriano-Jacobs

Junior Designer –
Erin Lee Carman

Video Editing –
Evaline Huang

Research Intern –
Logan Kurtz Larkin

WE-DESIGNS™ provides creative strategy for the built environment. We are hustlers, designers, educators, architects, but most importantly, creatives.

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New detail: Completed Date: December 2019 - March 2020 Client: Shenzhen Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture Location: Shenzhen, China