Interdisciplinary Research Track 1

Interdisciplinary Research Tracks are short conferences in which prominent scientists inspire the audience by illustrating new and innovative research areas that intersect information technology with other disciplines.

Participants who prefer attending only a specific track, may register using  the “one-day pass” (see here)

ACM womENcourage 2019 organizes two tracks (Track 1, Track 2)

Track 1: Shaping Conscious Cities 

Where: MAXXI Auditorium

When: September 17th, 14:15 – 17:15

The world around us is increasingly controlled by algorithms that predict and react to our needs. As we blur the boundaries between the physical and digital realm, who will be responsible for defining our relationship with the homes, offices, and streets we inhabit? Creating empathic, human-centred spaces will be in the hands of computing innovators, making it imperative that all sectors of society are present and represented in the process. How will we translate insights emerging from psychology and neuroscience into guidelines for coding healthy and democratic architecture and urban design?

This minisymposium, in partnership with The Centre for Conscious Design, will address the role of data analytics, artificial intelligence, and technology in shaping the future of urban innovation.

Organizers: Itai Palti, Giovanni Stilo, Natalia Olszewska, Eleonora Velluto


Program Affiliations





Itai Palti

Event opener: How will we teach machines to empathise?


Itai Palti is a practicing architect and researcher focusing on designing with the human experience in mind. He is also a director of Hume, science-informed arcitectural and urban design practice. In 2015, Itai founded the Conscious Cities movement; a new field of research and practice for building people-centred environments that are aware and responsive using data analysis, AI, tech, and behavioural science in design. A fellow at The Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health (editing its inaugural journal), and at the Urban Design Forum, a member of advisory board at ANFA (Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture), Itai also carries out thought leadership roles in bodies such as Harvard and a Brookings Institution. An alumnus of The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, Itai and has worked alongside the late visionary architect Jan Kaplicky at Future System on projects such as the Ferrari Museum in Modena. His design work and writing has been featured internationally and he is a regular speaker at events focused on human-centred design.


Davide Ruzzon


Architecture and Neuroscience: a new ancient alliance


Davide Ruzzon is Scientific Director of NAAD Master at Venice University. As well as his role as a practicing architect and scientific director of the NAAD Master’s programme, David is the Co-Director of the new architecture magazine ‘Intertwining’. He has carried out public and private construction projects and participated in international competitions. David is widely published and is a co-ordinator of events and publications on the subject of architecture and neuroscience. Architect at TUNED/Lombardini22


Michal Gath-Morad

Simulation of cognitive agents to explore occupants’ wayfinding experience in future buildings


Michal Gath-Morad is an architect, urban designer and PhD student at the chair of Cognitive Science at ETH Zurich. Michalʼs interdisciplinary work aims to converge the fields of Architecture, Cognitive science and Computer science to support the design and evaluation of future, human-centred built environments. Michalʼs PhD focuses on the development of pre-occupancy simulation tools and workflows to support architectural design and evaluation of future buildings. In collaboration with ETHʼs Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore, Michal applies her tools to simulate the impact of architectural design decisions on wayfinding behavior in mixed-use and crowded megastructure in urban city centres. Michal obtained her B.Arch and M.Sc from the Technion (Haifa), where she was part of a research group focused on simulating occupantsʼ behavior in hospital settings. Throughout her studies Michal won several architectural awards and was recently awarded with a Swiss Government Excellence Grant to support her PhD research.


Anat Rapoport

Using AI to help cities make better decisions



Anat Rapoport -VP R&D @Zencity. Experienced development manager with an MSc in computer science from TAU and with a thesis in the field of Phylogenetic Trees. Anat is an IDF 8200 Alumni and a fierce advocate for women in tech. Manages and leads ZenCity’s dev and data science teams. Responsible for team deliverables, from architectural design through coding, verifications and release to production.


Elnaz Ghazi

Computational Design, Emotions and Mental Health


Elnaz Ghazi, MArch, PhD, has practiced in Italy and in Iran. She pursued her doctoral degree in architecture at the University of ‘La Sapienza’ with title “New horizons and new potentiality of the public space: Interaction, Sociology, Communication, Technologies, Neuroscience” for improving the social interaction in the public space. Her research interests focus is specifically on the brain waves and facial expressions as a mean to capture the users’ emotions, feelings and sensations. After her Ph.D., she immediately started to collaborate with Rachel Armstrong and her research group in the field of ‘Living Architecture Systems’ at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom. Furthermore, she gained the professional experience working with various architectural practices in the middle East and Europe, among them Fuksas Studio in Italy. At the moment she is working for the international architectural practice in Germany in the field of Computational Design. She also worked as the lecturer for the master degree program ‘Neuroscience Applied to Architectural Design’ at IUAV university in Venice. In the recent years, a variety of her personal projects was awarded and was exposed in ‘HOMI Design in Milan 2016, 2017, 2018’, ‘Expo Milan 2015’, ‘Fab10’ Barcelona 2014, ‘Maker Fair’ Rome 2014. Other awarded projects were ‘Rascacielo 2013’ for ‘ARQUITECTUM’ in Lima in Peru, ‘So.Ma’ and ‘Aleph’ for the digital crafting competition ‘Reshape’ and ‘Responsive Environment’ for the ‘CAME Design Award’. Moreover, she is an author of several scientific publications and her work has been awarded and exhibited internationally.


Natalia Olszewska

Cities and human needs


Natalia Olszewska is a practicing medical doctor. She also works as the Lead for Human Metrics Lab at HUME, the science-informed architecture and urban design studio created by the architect and researcher Itai Palti. Being a graduate in medicine (Jagiellonian Univeristy & Tor Vergata), neuroscience (Sorbonne Université & ENS), Brain and Mind studies (UCL) and ‘Neuroscience applied to Architectural Design’ (IUAV university) she works between disciplines and aims to create insights which can change our architectural and urban environment and make it more user centred. At work, she combines her deep care for people and their well-being with her passion for architecture and design. Her specific professional interest is the impact of architecture on different aspects of our lives: social, behavioural, health & well-being and cognition.





Sponsored by