An environmental approach to connected autonomous renewable energy vehicles, associated semiotics and the synthetically intelligent city
Colin Polwarth
Project overview —

Through a systemic transdisciplinary symposium method, my doctoral study investigates a new way of thinking and approaching connected autonomous renewable energy vehicle (CAREV) technology in a synthetically intelligent (SI) city to achieve positive environmental outcomes. This research asks a meta-question about the combined effects of a future CAREV system on the public realm. My response is an imaginative study in CAREV, semiotics, and the synthetically intelligent city where human intelligence is augmented by SI. SI involves the creation of entirely synthetic intelligent systems that are not based solely on biological structures or processes. The project creates an ecological view of the future transport modality with CAREV, associated semiotics and the SI city. My research contribution is a systemic semiotic technoecology, integrating advanced technology with environmental consciousness to enhance the public realm’s safety and functionality.

Video 1: Architectural multimedia design experiments In this video, I narrate a 12-minute summary of CAREV semiotic and city design research from chapter 3 of my PhD thesis, titled CAREV Semiotics. The video is designed to disperse the research to a plural audience such as industry, practitioners, and academia. I show animations and design experiments as a method in architectural multimedia discourse that includes hand-drawn palimpsest stop-motion animations and computer-aided design. I also discuss the symposium method, the research questions and the design tools developed during the research. Animations were used in the symposia to provoke transdisciplinary discussion and to challenge thinking about CAREVs and the SI city, as well as semiotics, embodiment and cognitive processes.


I am a registered architect and Director of Studio Colin Polwarth, a practice specialising in major transport infrastructure projects, urban design, architecture, heritage, and public art. My core thinking and design responses are strongly committed to environmental advocacy, the origins of which lie in my love of nature and an esoteric connection to the earth from my childhood in Zimbabwe to adulthood in Australia. We are a transdisciplinary, multi-award-winning practice. Accessibility and humour are ingredients of my personality that permeate my practice research.

My doctoral study extends practice knowledge into new areas of specialisation and consultancy, including presentations, writing, publications and lectures. I presented my CAREV research spatial findings to the Academy of Neurosciences in Architecture (ANFA) as a keynote speaker for the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) at the University of California, San Diego, in September 2023.  Parts of the research, such as Videos 1 and 2, are designed to appeal to non-academic audiences. Video 2, the CAREV spatial investigation, was presented at the Royal College of Art Biennale in July 2023 at the Copeland Gallery in London. The two videos, the thesis, and the appendix of drawings and multimedia will be publicly available in the 2024/25 academic year.