Colin Polwarth Pedestrian communications with vehicles diagram, Image Credit: Colin Polwarth

Colin Polwarth



Autonomous Vehicles

The Built Environment and Associated Semiotics 

The aim of my research is to investigate cultural, environmental and technical pathways to fully autonomous vehicle transport system that transfigure the way cities operate. Humanity’s dreams of sharing its environment with a diverse ecosystem of a magical autonomous kin-systems has been expressed in myths, stories of magic, in science fiction and in scholarly writings. Historic narratives of autonomous renewable energy vehicles form a broad picture of perhaps, a common wish for a utopian transport system. The driverless future suggests an empathetic, embodied machine intelligence for the vehicle and environmentally astute city. Multisensory communication systems could be conceptualised as a living networked ‘intelligent transport ecology’. As a cognitive ecology, road-based semiotics should be claimed by artists to resolve both as a linguistic, environmental and aesthetic concept. Overall this is an aesthetic research contribution for the benefit of urban designers, the community and Colin’s creative practice.


Colin founded the multiple award-winning creative practice of Studio Colin Polwarth PL in 2012 and is collaborating on a number of landmark projects in Australia with artists, architects, scientists, engineers and planners. As an architect, Colin forms strategic transdisciplinary alliances to provide clients with specialist infrastructure design, urban design, architecture, masterplanning and transdisciplinary expertise in art. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture (University of Cape Town), a Master of Architecture by research through the University of Natal and a Diploma in Business Management. In 2016, Colin completed a Master of Art (Painting) with Excellence from UNSW Art and Design.



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Ines Weizman