Smart Urban Governance for More-than-Human Future(s)

Project dates: 01/03/2021 - Ongoing

We acknowledge the Turrbal and Yuggara people, Traditional Custodians of the land where we live, learn, and create. We pay our respect to all Elders—past, present, and emerging. We acknowledge the lands and waters, all their human and nonhuman beings, and their agencies.

Given the accelerating effects of environmental change, biodiversity loss, and rapid urbanisation, the concept of more-than-human cities has recently garnered much interest. However, urban governance practices in smart cities are still primarily driven by neoliberal and technocratic economic growth agendas. This study on Smart Urban Governance for More-than-Human Future(s), with three protagonist species/ecosystems, Koalas, Australian White Ibis, and Soil Ecologies, is a critical response to technocratic, human-centred, and capitalist modes of smart urban governance. The study critically reviews the selective blindness and ethical repercussions of a technocratic approach to smart urban governance, which largely reinforces human exceptionalism whilst omitting our entanglements with nature. Drawing on a diversity of more-than-human perspectives across the triad of data-driven technologies (smart), cities (urban), politics (governance), this study aims to reveal the untapped potential of more-than-human approaches in smart urban governance. More-than-human perspectives enable the study’s analysis to move beyond the centrality of humans in order to embrace the complex messiness of human-nonhuman lives and relationships.

Smart Urban Governance for More-than-Human Future(s) Official Website

Researcher & Creative Director

Hira Sheikh

Hira Sheikh is Doctoral Researcher at the QUT Design Lab and QUT Digital Media Research Centre. As an interdisciplinary researcher and creative designer, her work builds on more-than-human and multispecies studies arising from plural communities to explore the possibilities for acknowledging nonhuman lifeforms as beings with agencies within smart urban governance practices. She is an architect and an urban design theorist by background. Before commencing her PhD, she worked as an urban planning consultant at The United Nations Development Programme and as a Research Assistant with [urban interfaces] at Utrecht University. Her creative practice takes on an ecocritical and a decolonial approach to explore human-nature relationships.  Her collaborative work has most recently been exhibited by Ars Electronica.ART Global Gallery and Helsinki City Museum.

QUT Academic Profile | | |LinkedIn | Twitter


Lowana-Skye Davies

Lowana-Skye Davies is part of the QUT community that stands on unceded Country of the Turrbal and Yugara people. She is a pro-Indigenous, Queer, Intersectional Feminist Artist employing practice-led research to attune to the precarity of more-than-human smell escapes. Her work explores more-than-human-centered approaches to care for multispecies smellscapes such as oceans and air. Lowana-Skye has presented live, solo and collaborative works across Australia including at HOTA, OuterSpace, The Commonwealth Games – Festival 2018, Gold Coast City Gallery, WhiteBox Gallery, The Walls Art Space, End of the Line Festival, Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre, Adelaide Fringe Festival, Glitter Festival, Two-High Festival, The Western Australian Circus Festival, Bleach Festival, and online. She has also presented work in the city of Chengdu China and painted murals in Niigata and Nagano prefectures in Japan. | | LinkedIn | Instagram


Bella Deary

Bella Deary is a Meanjin (Brisbane) based visual artist whose practice gathers influence from environmental science and climate activism to promote the equality of all living forms. Deary uses key materials of latex and video projection to create installations, often with immersive and interactive qualities. Her practice centres around the concept of ecocentrism, the belief that all natural life should be valued equally. Deary’s work aims to dismantle the hierarchy between human and non-human life by emphasising the body’s organic qualities and simulating interactions between these forms. Notably, Deary has recently exhibited in a group exhibition of projections onto the Judith Wright Centre’s façade entitled ‘Location Location Location’ with OuterSpace. She also recently exhibited in the Metro Arts’ ‘Young Artist Forum’. Deary has commenced a Masters of Philosophy under an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship, whereby she will investigate art-science collaborations to promote environmental welfare. She graduated from QUT in 2020 with a Bachelor of Fine Art (Visual Art), and upon graduating was awarded the Milani Family Art Prize. Deary exhibited her first solo exhibition in 2020, titled ‘Organism’ at The Walls Artspace, Gold Coast. | Instagram


Merinda Davies

Merinda Davies’s work is inspired by the environment, human and more-than-human social and ecological structures and the possibilities available to us in future imaginings. Her practice aims to find clarity and connection in the external world through deep listening, observation, and research into the emotional and physical states in our internal worlds. She grew up in Bundjalung Country, Northern NSW, and is currently living and creating on the land of the Yugambeh language group, in South East QLD. Merinda’s solo and collaborative work has most recently been commissioned by; Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane & Blue Mountains Cultural Centre (Imprints, 2020/2021), Outerspace (Umwelt Collective:, 2020), The Walls (Take your pleasure seriously, 2020, MIAMI/MIAMI international residency), Placemakers* GC (Fully Automated Human Touch, 2020) and City of Gold Coast (Conversations with the Forest, ongoing). | | LinkedIn | Instagram


Digital Ecologies (29th – 30th March 2021)

Event | Talk

Witnessing and Worlding Beyond the Human (28th-29th May 2021)

Event | Talk

Regen Brisbane/Meeanjin. Can Brisbane become a regenerative city? (29th – 30th July 2021) | Event

QUT Sustainability Week: Conversations at the Cube (24th August 2021) | Event

More Just, More Sustainable Futures: Artistic Research Symposium for PhD Students: Multiple Ecologies, Diverse Ontologies (28th-29th September 2021)


NENA Annual Conference: Growing a Wellbeing Economy for Australia (5th – 7th November 2021)


Speaking about the humans. Animal perspectives on the multispecies world (17th- 18th March 2022)


Chief Investigators

Other Team Members

Related Events


Other Partners

The project is situated at QUT Design Lab and Digital Media Research Centre. It is affiliated with the QUT More-than-Human Futures Research Group, DMRC’s GeoPrivacy ARC Discovery project, and the DataCare project. The project workshops are organised in collaboration with NENA Brisbane Hub, QUT Design Lab, Australian Earth Laws Alliance, the Greenprints Initiative, and Future Dreaming Australia.