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Book - Landscape Observer: London, on Pops and Democracy

Sat, 28 Oct 2017 14:02:00 +0000

London has seen a boom in inner-city developments over the past five to ten years. Large areas have been transformed, become densified in many ways and existing development has been replaced to make way for huge investments. Along it came a number of landscape projects to design pleasing outdoor spaces. London is comparably green for its size with many streets tree-lined and many public parks. However, the everyday location in this bustling city is still dominated by hard surfaces. Greenery is rare and often not maintained. Especially with the government's ongoing austerity programmes, the local councils struggle to keep up maintenance. To distinguish themselves investors invest big in the design of the surroundings of their buildings. It underlines the quality to justify sky-high rents. The public is invited in to generate footfall for rented spaces. Where previously private property was fenced off, investors have discovered the potential of beautiful spaces. It seems a win-win situation, the public gets more greened spaces, the local councils get well maintained outdoor spaces and the investors can secure their investment. The numerous places that have sprung up across London are now documented in a new JOVIS publication Landscape Observer: London by Vladimir Guculak. The book acts as a guide, but also a repository of not just a handful, but some 89 projects. Ranging from large-scale projects like Kings Cross redevelopment in central London to the Cutty Sark Gardens in Greenwich and other smaller projects. Image own / Title page of the pubication Landscape Observer: London, by Vladimir Guculak, 2017. Each project is in detail documented with photographs by the author, a landscape architect himself, with additional information about location, size, year, designer, nearest public transport and accessibility information. Each chapter is proceeded by a map that helps locate each open space in the context of the city. It is a beautifully designed publication complete with artwork by the author. With the photographic documentation, the publication gives an overview of the project and a number of detail shots to highlight specific areas and in some cases construction details. Along the photos, the author does give a brief listing of plants included, materials used and other special features such a street furniture and lighting. Image taken from London Fieldwork / Spontaneous City in the Tree of Heaven It also features a personal favourite the Duncan Terrace Gardens (p.18). With a very inspiring artwork by London Fieldwork Spontaneous City in the Tree of Heaven. Or the nice-to-be-in-the-summer-with-kids Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park. The weather is always extremely sunny throughout this publication and everything is documented in bloom with green lush leaves. It might seem a good idea to show summer, but landscaping has to work 12 months a year not only three or four. This is especially true for English weather and seasons. Colourful autumn leaves are as beautiful if not more so and stormy or rainy conditions can make for dramatically romantic scenes. So not why not make use of it? However, there are some more important problems with this publication. And it's not that something like the John Lewis Rain Garden (p.81) designed by the prominent designer (Nigel Dunnett) of the 2012 Olympic Parc in Stratford (now Queen Elizabeth Olympic Parc) features as a model "public space". The main problem is the nonchalant attitude towards public space. Public space is one of the most important principles to an accessible and shared city that is open to everyone. It is highly political and can be linked to the concept of the city-state in ancient Greece with the Agora, the foundation of democracy. See for example Sennett, Richard, 1998. The Spaces of Democracy, 1998 Raoul Wallenberg Lecture or Henry Lefebvre, 1974 (1991 e). The Production of Space, Blackwell. p.237-241. We don't need to launch into a manifesto for the open city here, others have done so much more thoroughly. Nevertheless, the open[...]



Practice, production and the quest for innovation

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 11:17:00 +0000

The means to produce are changing. The chimneys stopped smoking during the past century, and large industries increasingly are replaced by distributed production lines. Production is coming to a desk near you.

These new ways of producing, such as 3d printing, while in some branches of technology already being employed in mass production, are being explored extensively by the creative industries. Not so much as a tool of mass production but rather as a rapid prototyping tool to explore options and simulate a proof of concept.

(image) Image taken from formLabs by Dani Clode. / From Fixing Disability to Extending Ability.

A mesmerizing project was recently developed by design student Dani Clode at Royal College of Art for her final year project. She had already worked in reference to the body in earlier projects and also experimented with other ideas centring around prosthetics.

This third thumb project is exploring the relationship between body function, mechanics and perception. Clode states about her project: It is part tool, part experience, and part self-expression. She has in fact based the project not on the idea of fixing, but rather the interpretation of the word prosthetic as extending.

The Third Thumb functions via sensors on the shoe of the wearer to control the movement of the 3d printed sixth finger, or third thumb.

(image) Image taken from DANI AT RCA by Dani Clode. / MY COFFEE TABLE CURRENTLY, November 21, 2016.

(image) Image taken from DANI AT RCA by Dani Clode. / WORK-IN-PROGRESS, January 20, 2017.

It references a growing body of work that is exploring the human body such as for example Instrumented Bodies by Joseph Malloch and Ian Hattwick with Les Gestes

Objects and extensions in this dialogue are not reduced to mere fashion accessories but placed in a discourse that ranges from cyborgs to self-image. Couldn't be more suitable for our times.

src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/220291411?color=ffffff&portrait=0" width="580" height="326" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen>Video taken from Vimeo by Dani Clode. / Promotion clip for imaginary KickStarter campaing.


edited, 2017-10-25



Printing useful stuff

Thu, 25 May 2017 14:18:00 +0000

3D printing is growing up. The technology is morphing from an idea into a useful tool. Many universities and aspiring companies are developing amazing spinoffs that can produce meaningful stuff.

The Design Computation Lab at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL has printed this cool chair using a robot arm to extrude the material.

(image) Image taken from Design Computation Lab UCL / VOXELCHAIR V1.0 Robotically 3d Printed Plastic Chair.

width="560" height="320" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/7Pxi1mWmbc0?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
Voxel chair v1.0 designed by: Manuel Jimenez Garcia and Gilles Retsin
Fabrication Support: Nagami.Design and Vicente Soler
Team: Manuel Jimenez Garcia, Miguel Angel Jimenez Garcia, Ignacio Viguera Ochoa, Gilles Retsin, Vicente Soler



edited, 2017-10-25



Shifting Concrete - Architecture in Motion

Wed, 05 Apr 2017 13:01:00 +0000


There is motion in architecture. Not at first glance, but if one starts looking it appears in most aspects, being this the movement of people, goods or materials to building parts such as doors, windows or blinds. Even by design buildings can move. See for example designs by Frank Gerry, Himmelb(l)au or the late Zaha Hadid.

However, noting makes architecture move more than light. It continually transforms and changes the shape and appearance of buildings.

src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/76937410?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0" width="580" height="326" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen> Shifting Concrete — Video Mapping. Video by WECOMEINPEACE on Vimeo.


edited, 2017-10-25



Cities are Many Things - Urban in Motion

Mon, 16 May 2016 10:54:00 +0000

Cities can be many things to its citizens. Urban as an acronym for constant change and transformation, a world to shape up dreams and visions. The artefact city as a construction and collage of layered times, hopes and desires is open to interpretation. Here on UT this has been a topic from the beginning and will continue to be.

How to read the city and how to visualise the many possible interpretation of data, charts and reports is part of the ongoing discussion shaping the building culture of the present. From smart cities to participation, technology has been branded pervasive, particularly in relation to cities and hopes have been pinned to the rise of data visualisation. There has not been a definite result, certainly a business case is pitched, but more importantly a very specific practice has emerged. A practice that is not only lauded by city officials and leading researchers, but has become part of the individual everyday. In the sense of a very early post: You are the city

An impression or interpretation thereof by the artist Saana Inari in a video installation made for Kiveaf about Belgrade back in 2013. Described as an Audiovisual installation is a study about the city of Belgrade, describing different sides of it, architecture, communication, traffic, humans…

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="326" mozallowfullscreen="" src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/67547272?color=ffffff&portrait=0" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="580"> Stop Motion Beograd. Video by Saana Inari on Vimeo.

Two to three channel vertical HD video, total duration 9 minutes. Stereo audio for the space, duration 10:30 min.
Director / Camera / Animation / Sound: Saana Inari, made for: Kiveaf, funding: Oskar Öflunds Stiftelse



Book - Building as Ornament

Mon, 16 Jun 2014 21:57:00 +0000

The ornament is returning slowly to the architectural discourse. It has not really been absent though merely denied, but it is returning as a more prominent topic now. A key text is Adolf Loos' Ornament and crime (Ornament und Verbrechen) (1908) that was widely interpreted as at the easement of ornament in architecture. More recent interpretations (for example Gleiter, 2012) however is more differentiated. Already the title in which Loos uses and hints at this. Nevertheless ornament was denied a role in modernist architecture and is still a minefield for architects today. Image taken from designboom / A proposed project spelling out the letters 'BE' for buildings in Brussels by JDS in 2007. The way for the reintroduction of ornament has been paved by technology interestingly enough. In the late 80ies and especially the 90ies CAD tools have presented the tools to begin to design with patterns including options to manipulate the pattern based on conditions. This has also the been linked to production and printed glass or pierce metals facades or even brickwork layer by robots (Bearth & Deplazes with Gramazio & Kohler, 2006). This has been accompanied by theoretical writings, exhibitions and journals. For examples the exhibition at the SAM Re-Sampling Ornament in 2008. The architecture journals ARCH+ (1995/2002), l'architecture d'aujourd'hui (2001) or AD primers, Ornament: the politics of architecture and subjectivity (2013) for example have published on ornament during this early phase. Authors who have contributed to the now re-emerging discussion on ornament include Jörg H. Gleiter ((orig. German, 2002. Die Rückkehr des Verdrängten)), Michael Dürfeld (The Ornament and the Architectural Form (orig. in German, 2008. Das Ornamentale und die architektonische Form)) or Farshid Moussavi (The Function of Form, 2008). The new possibilities in design and production using new technologies have allowed to re-imagine the relationship between design, production and product. Whereas at the time Loos wrote Architecture and Crime the industrialisation introduced the production of exact replicas into the thousands of one single product, the new technologies based around computers allow for a trance dent workflow and individually adapted and styled objects whilst still machine and mass produced. Hence the conditions have fundamentally changed. What can be observed is, though very slow moving, a shift from an understanding of ornament as decoration to an interpretation of ornament as process in the sense of structure and narrative. A special take on this is presented by Michiel van Raaij in his new publication Building as Ornament. Whilst van Raaij focuses on iconographic architecture he proposes building as ornament as a term to frame part of this discussion in a new way implying links to a theoretical discussion with references to a long tradition. Image taken from 52weeks / The Fire Station 4 in Columbus by Venturi Scott Brown and Associates in 1968. Van Raaij's idea is to try and focus on the story the architect tries to tell through an iconic building. He argues that "Iconography is the use of images from outside architecture in architecture" and that the focus of the book is on "iconography that explains the function, social status, organisation, load-bearing structure and/or context of the building". He makes the link to ornament using the narrative in the sense of explaining something. The book brings together over 100 examples to illustrate this notion. This ranges from the Yokohama International Port Perminal by FOA, 2004, to the Bird's Nest Stadium by Herzog de Meuron in 2008 or the People's Building in Shanghai by BIG, 2004. Whilst the book does not offer a theoretical framework for the introduced terminology or a broader discussion on the theoretical dimension of such a 'new' aspect of ornament in architecture, it presents a conversation. The publication is on one had a c[...]



Book - Hugh Maaskant. Architect of Progress

Mon, 12 May 2014 12:17:00 +0000

A very special figure in the architectural history of the Netherlands has finally a architectural monograph dedicated to his work in a new international edition: Hugh Maaskant. Architect of Progres. It is not just the architect Maaskant himself, but especially also the context he was working in and his home city of Rotterdam that makes this a very interesting and insightful book. Rotterdam was the very logic or 'functional' city with its strong focus on the port and its logistics and with this was the ideal context for the rational and functionalist strategies of Hugh Maaskant. The story is beautifully put together and researched in detail by author Michelle Provoost who spent almost a decade researching and tracing Maaskant's work finally summarising it in her PhD thesis that was originally published in Dutch as Hugh Maaskant. Architect van de vooruitgang (Hugh Maaskant. Architect of Progress). The new international version of the book is also publisher by nai010 publishers, designed by Simon Davies with Stephanie de Man and also features an essay by photographer Iwan Baan. Image taken from baunetz / One of the court yards of the Groothandelsgebouw (1945-1953) today. Part of the photo essay by Iwan Baan. Provoost makes it clear that Maarkant was a modern architect and clearly saw himself as a modernist architect. However she ale points out that Maaskant did not share the ideological background with the modernist movement. Provoost claims that in Masaskant's work social criticism is absent and "that he was not a 'critical' architect but a 'consensual one." (p. 13). Interestingly, it appears that Maaskant did exclusively focus on construction and realisation. He was not interested in theory and intellectual reflection on his own work. He was a businessman with a keen sense for strategy and opportunities without artistic leanings. Image taken from fotorob on flickrFlu / Akragon (1955-1970) sports tower in Rotterdam by Hugh Maaskant. Nevertheless his work is still inspiring today. The clarity of his functionalism approach, the rigour of his style and the dedication to detail and design in his works are part of what makes the fascination. And this fascination is bleed, not only for architecture students, architects or architecture historians. The interest group is much larger. Michelle Provoost's original Dutch publication was sold out within the first year. The interest in this period and Maaskant's work in particular is amazing, his work is still captivating today. Image taken from Wikipedia, article 'Scheveningse pier' / Scheveningse pier (1954-1961) in Scheveningse by Hugh Maaskant. As Provoost points out in the preface, her work on Maaskant and the wider subject of urban planning in and around the city of Amsterdam has helped to shape a new approach to and appreciation of the past and lead to a number of MAAskant's buildings being refurbished or reused, saving them from being replaced by a new wave of renewal. This kind of continuity might not be what Maaskant's approach to architecture was in his time, but it is what we have learned from his work and what Provoost beautifully demonstrates in this book. It is not about critique but this lesson is about understanding the work in a wider context, commenting it to draw inspiration for the present. Image taken from naibooksellers / Book cover. Provoost, M., 2013. Hugh Maaskant - Architect of Progress nai010 publishers, Rotterdam. [...]



Book - Inside Cern Science Lives

Tue, 29 Apr 2014 12:07:00 +0000

What does science look like? This might evoke black and white images of the cities and sixties showing male scientists in white lab coats bent over a table where some assistant has layed out various tools and models. Materials are steel, chrome, glass and colourful plastic. Shown in the background is probably a black board with some formulas and equations written on. But what does science really look like, today? In a new Lars Müller Publishers publication Andri Pol shows the reader some inside glimpse of one of the biggest scientific research labs in the world. In Inside CERN: European Organization for Nuclear Research he has been documenting work and live in and around CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research. Image taken from uncubemagazine / 'layered equations' p.233. Andri Pol is a Swiss freelance photographer with a specific focus on the everyday. This is also how he portraits the places, labs, offices, scientists and atmospheres at CERN, with great curiosity and respect. There are no pretty pictures to be found in this documentation and there are no glorious moments. Its all about the effort, the struggle and the dedication. Flipping though the pages only unveils a great range of colours and oddly chosen angles or frames. The book does not work that way. The photographs are actually rather complex compositions with a lot of depth each with not just one but often a number of aspects. Whilst there is a lot of equipment and machines visible there is an emphasis on the people who are involved at CERN in some way. Being this the scientists, indeed sometimes in white overcoats and blue shoe protectors, technical staff or students. People from all over the world come together at CERN working in teams. This is often shown, science is discussion and exchange. The documentation portraits also the atmosphere at CERN. Beside the highly technical installations there is very little shiny and new infrastructure. In fact most of the facilities seem to be rather pragmatic and often improvised. It is clear the focus is somewhere else. This place is not about design and style, but about customablilty, flexibility and improvisation. That does not mean that self expression is absence. On the contrary the numerous portraits of individualised desks, doors, books and computers themselves tell a story. Image taken from klatmagazine / 'calibrate' p.243. Only on the last few pages the photographs stet to show some of the machinery of the actual Large Hadron Collider (LHC), photographs that look similar to what is usually circulated in the meadia. By that point the reader is already so deep immersed in the atmosphere at CERN that is seems to be most natural thing to walk past this monster of infrastructure that doesn't even fit on a photograph. In many ways all the other photographs tell a much more telling tale of the LHC than the tons of steel, cable and concrete. Image taken from uncubemagazine / 'thinking' p.249. This being a Lars Müller Publisher publication it does not come as a surprise that this is a very beautifully made book. A lot of care has gone into the design of the book and the selection of the photographs. Even though it is mainly a picture book a real narrative is being told here something that captivates the reader. This book certainly tells a very different story about science today. It is of course documenting science in a unique biotope of research and collaboration creating a special place between Switzerland and France. But what it shows is the fascination and dedication of the individuals working in this field and manages to transport this. If this is not quite yet enough. Google has collaborated with cern and it features on Street View. Try this link to go on a virtual walk around CERN and the LHC. Image taken from amazon.com / Book cover. More details also available on the book website at insidecer[...]



3D Printing - the Form 1

Sun, 16 Mar 2014 00:23:00 +0000

Over the past few years printing three dimensional objects has become widely popular with new tools now becoming available at low costs ready to use. Whilst 3D printing has been around since the 1980s only now have consumer gadgets found their way onto the market. Most of the models currently available are using the extrusion technology where the material is liquefied and then added layer by layer where it hardens keeping its new shape. Such printers like the RepRap series, the cube or the MakerBot are very popular. The main drawback with this is the limitations in accuracy and roughness of the surface finishing. An alternative is the Form 1 which uses Stereolithography (SL) technology. This process is based on photopolymer that is cured using a laser resulting in very high accuracy and smooth surface finish. It requires, however, a cleaning process to finish off the model after the printing. Image by urbanTick / The Form 1 printer is after plugging in and filling up ready to use. It comes neatly designed and is operated with just this one button. The Form 1 is produced by FormLabs which came out of a Kickstarter project. They managed to secure plenty of funding for the proposed product and have stated shipping about a year ago in early 2013. We have no finally managed to get hold of one of these cool machines and be able to play around with it testing various builds and models. In short, it works great and is very easy to handle. Basically out of the box, poor some photopolymer in the tray and your good to go. The software to send the 3d object to the printer can be freely downloaded at FormLabs. It loads .STL files places them in a virtual cube representing the build volume (125 x 125 x 165mm ) of the printer. A good place to start for 3D models is either on shapeways or for free on thingiverse. Both are community based platforms to share 3D objects. Users can comment and upload images of their own builds for each of the objects. The discussion often gives hints and instructions if it is a more complicated project. Once loaded in the software the object can be rotated resized and moved if other objects need to fit in beside. The software also helps with the support structures. These are important during the building process both for the stability of overhangs, but also to secure the object in place during the process. Image by urbanTick / Printed parts hanging down from the build platform of the Form 1. The Form 1 creates the object upside down. They each hang on the built platform and grow out of the tray with the liquid photopolymer. The laser is located in the bottom of the device beneath the tray with has a transparent bottom. The fancy transparent orange hood of the Form 1 blocks in the laser beam in case it goes off target. It is save to operate the device on your work desk. Once all the digital objects are in place and each has their supporting structures the model is sent to the printer. After the data is transferred, the printer can be disconnected. Very handy, you can prepare the model on your laptop, once ready plug in the printer and upload the model. It will start working straight away on the first layer and once the upload has completed the computer can be disconnected, and the printer runs the object independently. Time to prepare the next batch. Simple small things will require an hour or two, bigger and more complex objects can take several hours. Time ask depends on settings such as kind and density of support structure and resolution and layer thickness. The Form 1 offers three resolutions 0.1mm, 0.05mm and 0.025mm. While some extruder based Machines will also print at 0.1mm or 100 microns the SL technology will produce a still smoother overall finish. The difference between the three options really is marginal if considered for rapid prototyping. Image b[...]



Book - Deventer a Story About Project Making

Fri, 17 Jan 2014 21:49:00 +0000

Is architecture real? At times the discussion seems to imply that there is a certain degree of disconnectedness between real live and the abstract concepts architecture is thought of. Does it still have anything to do with real live? The large scale landmark projects of star architects work more for the marketing of location than a real sense of place is often claimed. Glossy magazines and picture books often can't help to shake off such impressions. But a story can.

The story about architecture comes with a lot of context and discussion worked into the narrative. It creates a sense of the current debate whilst not neglecting the plot, the everyday struggle to achieve a sustainable project especially in its social context.

The book is unusual in two points. It comes as a novel and there are only a hand full of illustrations. It sets out to follow two projects an the leading architect in the city of Deventer in the Netherlands telling the story of muddy fields and yellow large scale machinery in rainy weather, long arguments over the phone, the mine fields of different interests and visions for change. Its about everyday live, architecture as real as it gets. It still conveys a hint of glamor and the ghost of cleverness is present every now and then, so not all is lost.

Deventer was published in 2013 by Nai010 publishers and is the fourth novel by writer and editor Matthew Stadler. Stadler has written a lot about planning every since he lived in the Netherland to research for one of his early novels The Dissolution of Nicholas Dee. Later he wrote for the magazine Wiederhall and later New York Times and New York Times Magazine.

(image) Image taken from Wikipedia.org / Nederlands: Topografische kaart van Deventer (woonplaats).

There is nothing spectacular about the projects portrait in Deventer, in a design or art sense. They are as normal as could get. What is of interest and concern is the possibilities, the ideas and the process that need to be forged by all concerned parties in order to create something fitting for the community, the location and the owners. Stadler reports on what is happening and continues to weave in contextual information after every other sentence. He lets the protagonists talk about details and everyday worries as much as ideas and theories, thus creating a dense atmosphere where struggle and effort create a sense of suspension capturing the reader.

The book portraits a model of community development and reports on the mechanisms of collaboration, but it is not a guidebook for professionals. It is rather an inspirational tale that has the power to motivate initiatives for their independent struggles to create and strive to change in order to improve their community.


Stadler, M., 2013. Deventer, Rotterdam: Nai 010.



Book - Urban Fabrics Inside Out

Fri, 18 Oct 2013 10:10:00 +0000

Two new publications set out to investigate the urban structure from a different angle than the ever same physical structure perspective. Whilst it might not as such mark a general shift in the way cities or urban areas are investigated these two publication both take a very strong position stressing the social aspects, the experiential and the lived city. It is about people, individuals as much as society and culture. Both books are part of much larger ongoing research project supported by large national bodies, but operating internationally. The first of the two books is Suburban Constellations. Governance, Land and Infrastructure in the 21st Century. edited by Roger Keil published by Jovis. It is in fact some kind of half time summary of the ongoing project (2010-2017) Global Suburbanisms: governance, land, and infrastructure in the 21st century. Here the group not only reports on findings, but it is also a tool to define the status quo and look ahead at what is to be achieved further down the line. The project is mainly supported by Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada but investigates case studies from around the world. One of the very striking themes in this project is to bring case studies of all those areas of urban sprawl from around the globe together and compare/contrast them. The second book is Handmade urbanism: from community initiatives to participatory models : Mumbai, São Paulo, Istanbul, Mexico City, Cape Town edited by Marco L. Rosa and Ute E and published by Jovis. Weiland and is a publication that draws on the Urban Age project at home at LSE and famously sponsored by Deutsche Bank. Here the Project is already into its sixth year and a number of books where published in its context. Most prominently the Endless City (2008) and Living in the Endless City (2011) both by Burdett and Sudjic. This new publication specifically focuses on the Urban Age Award which is organised by the Alfred Herrhausen Society as part of the Urban Age Conferences. With a focus on what is happening on the ground it is based on interviews with different stakeholders in each of the projects world cities. Those five cities are Mumbai, Sao Paulo, Mexico City and Cape Town. The editor of this new publication Ute Weiland has for the past five years coordinated said awards and worked closely with the local contributors in all five cities. What is special on those two publications is the angel they portrait the urban world and the focus they chose for the respective research projects. The main topic is the rapid urbanisation, the fact that 80% of the world's population will be living in urbanised areas by 2050 that urban means collective and that cities are in constant flux. The publisher house Jovis has already a bit of a history with similar publications. There is for example Matthew Gandy's Urban Constellations (2011) as one of the recent publications in this area. In fact Keil does specifically refer to Gandy in his introduction and the two books even share partly the same title. Suburban Constellations. Governance, Land and Infrastructure in the 21st Century. being a work in progress brings together a body of writings much more experimental and investigative in comparison. Whilst this might be interpreted as a lack of focus or clear scope at times, it does surprise the reader with raw concepts and very direct lines thought making for a joyful read. Further more it does not require to be read from cover to cover, rather it can be picket up to read just one of the essays and read others maybe later. It is structured along four topics: Foundations, Themes, Essay and Images and Regions. The first topic presents some 'foundational thinking on suburbanisation'. The second topic 'elaborated on those themes with emphasis on redev[...]



The End of the Virtual? - Touch ID on the New iPhone 5s for the Real Online Self

Wed, 25 Sep 2013 17:53:00 +0000

Since the announcement of the new Apple iPhone 5s and the built in fingerprint scanning technology branded ‘Touch ID’ the discussion around security, data protection and privacy has been relaunched. It is an ongoing topic in the industry, both on the hardware side amongst producers of devices and the software side with developers of applications and services, but specifically for end users and consumers. Until now, it was the password, or PIN, that protects and restricts access to the virtual world of data. This has led many of us to come up with creative procedures to create and remember a complicated sequence of letters, numbers and symbols in order to keep personal information secure. It has always been the debate as to how complicated these passwords need to be and how user-friendly this practice is, and often 'better' and ‘easier’ solutions for users were wished for. Now Apple has implemented such a solution with their latest top of the range device. The iPhone 5s features a fingerprint scanner in the 'Home' button to uniquely identify a user (up to five different prints can be set up) and grant access. The ‘fingerprint identity sensor’ also allows users to shop on the iTunes Store, Apps Store and iBooks Store where the Touch ID approves purchases. The new feature is branded by Apple as ‘convenient, highly secure and ahead of the future’. However, the technology and its implementation in mobile devices is nothing new. Motorola’s Atrix smartphone was introduced back in 2011, but also laptop manufacturers have trialled and implemented fingerprint scanner technology in the past decade [REF]. Other manufacturers, namely HTC, are gearing up to release gadgets with similar technology and features. Although the technology is not new, it is the fact that it is being introduced on such a large scale that makes it a ‘hot topic’. According to TechCrunch, Apple has currently (2013) an estimated user base of 147 million iPhone users, plus about 48 million iPad users. Of the new iPhones (iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c), Apple sold 9 millions in just three days after their launch on the 20iest of September 2013. This is a new record, as previous implementations settled on a much smaller scale. This means that the iPhone 5s is already used by a large number of people. It could therefore be classified as ‘mainstream’ and ‘cultural commodity’. The introduction of this technology can therefore be expected to be used by a much larger customer base as any other similar implementation of biometrics so far. In this context, the introduction of a unique and personal identifier, the fingerprint, is a smart move. Smart, because everybody knows and understands the idea of the fingerprint. It is in use as signature and plays an important role in crime investigation and law enforcement for over a century. Through its use in detective stories and crime thrillers it has also found its way into everyday culture. It is this very idea of the fingerprint as a unique identifier - ‘’your iPhone reads your fingerprint and knows who you are’’ - that Apple has turned into a selling point to the products advantage. Image taken from fingerprintingscottsdale / Fingerprint identification plate. It can be speculated that with the introduction of Touch ID, similarly to the introduction of the touch screen, Apple changes, once again, the way we access electronic devices and use the Internet. Whether this is intentional and whether the use of the fingerprint has played an main role in the development of the newest iPhone generation can only be speculated. A range of problematic aspects in connection to the use of this technology in electronic devices shall be discussed in the following. The points raised function only as an in[...]



Book - Close up at a Distance

Sun, 18 Aug 2013 10:45:00 +0000

What do we see, when we see the world? In today's world transcended by digital technology and flooded with representations, models and mashups the question of 'what are we looking at?' becomes more important. The many layers of data and visualisations in many cases start clouding the subject or in some cases appears completely detached from it and develop a dynamic of their own. The kind of critiques are nothing new and have been heard through out the past decade. How perception is manipulated with information has been discussed for example in the book How to lie with Maps by H.J. de Blij , 1992. Here de Blij presents examples of representations and how they are used to favour certain aspects. Or also indeed The Power of Maps by Denis Wood, 1992, You are Here by Katharine Harmon, 2003 or the Atlas of Radical Cartography edited by Alexis Bhagat and Lize Mogel, 2008, to name a few of the recent cartography/mapping books of the recent years. In a new Zone Books publication Close up at a Distance: Mapping, Technology, and Politics Laura Kurgan presents her research work and offers a theoretical discussion on the usage and employment of representations. Whilst most of the presented works have been seen around the web in the past few years, the book offers a bunch of new perspectives by bringing the series of works together and wrapping them in a theoretical discussion. Laura Kurgan is Associate Professor of Architecture at the Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation, and Planning at Columbia University, where she is Director of the Spatial Information Design Lab and Director of Visual Studies. Whilst Lying with Maps focused heavily on the map and its technical aspect such as projection, Kurgan goes deeper and explores the fundamental relationship between the visual and a visualisation as much as the technicality of production. The projects presented n the book take the read far beyond the mere representation of physical geography. The author emphasises the power within the techniques of spatial representation and unmasks the promise of truth associated with such representations of abstract knowledge. Image taken from the NASA / This photo of "Earthrise" over the lunar horizon was taken by the Apollo 8 crew in December 1968, showing Earth for the first time as it appears from deep space. The introduction to the book summarises this approach in a very nice way. Kurgan presents the series of 'Blue Marble' photographs released by NASA over the past 55 years and discussed the evolution from the initial 'Earth Rise' photograph actually taken by the astronaut on the Apollo 8 mission orbiting the moon to the 2012 version 'Blue Marble: The Next Generation 2012' assembled "from data collected by the Visible/Infrared Image Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NNP satellite in six orbits over eight hours". Image taken from spatialinformationdesignlab.org / Million Dollar Block by Laura Kurgan and Spacial Information Design Lab. Map shows Government spending on incarcerate of individuals per block. Bright red represents more than 1 million $ of spending a year. The example puts upfront the discussion and the shift from a photograph take from outer space, but still 'as seen by the human eye' through the lens of a camera to the '360-degree composite, made of data collected and assembled over time, wrapped around a wireframe sphere to produce views dynamically selectable and constantly updatable. The second part featuring projects developed over the past 20 or so years take the reader from basic and playful but very intellectual GPS experiments to ware zones in Bosnia, Iraq and Kuwait and to inner city migration facts. Its a tour de force with a lot of depth. Definitely a book for anyone interested[...]



Book - Contagious Architecture

Fri, 28 Jun 2013 23:23:00 +0000

Computers have changed the architectural process fundamentally. In most areas the practice has embraced the possibilities of the software tool and has alongside the technology transformed not just the way architecture is produced but foremost the way architecture is thought. Whilst CAD offers flexibility and speed, 3D software visualises models and simulation tools are employed to help with strategic design decisions, its the algorithm used in parametric design where the computer code actually becomes part of the process of designing. A new The MIT Press publication by Luciana Parisi. Parisi is senior lecturer at the centre for cultural studies at Goldsmith, University of London. She publishes a comprehensive and thought provoking discussion of the practice and the thinking of parametric design in the field of architecture. However in this text Parisi does not just simply present the software logic and practice. Instead, as she states right at the beginning: "Algorithms do not simply govern the procedural logic of computers: more generally, they have become the objects of a new programming culture. The imperative of information processing has turned culture into a lab of generative forms that are driven by open-ended rules." A definition of Algorithms is provided in the notes of the book referring to David Berlinski, " an algorithm is a finite procedure, written in a fixed symbolic vocabulary, governed by precise instructions, moving in discrete steps, 1, 2, 3, whose execution requires no insight, cleverness, intuition, intelligence, or perspicuity, and that sooner or later comes to an end." (Berlinsky, D. (2000). The Advent of the Algorithm: The Ideas that Rule the World. New York: Harcourt.) Whilst the book is heavy on theory a few examples are provided. All examples are carefully chosen and do not at all make up a showcase. They illustrate specific points of discussion in the text and at the same time serve are points of reference to push the thinking forward. Image taken from archdaily.com / Kokkugia, Taipei Performing Arts Centre, 2008. Roland Snooks + Robert Stuart-Smith. The competition was won by OMA. Image taken from corpora.hu / DoubleNegatives Architecture (dNA) Yamaguchi Centre for the Arts and Media, 2007. Sota Ichikawa. Image taken from new-territories.com / R(&)Sie(n), Une Architecture des humeurs, 2010-2011. What is most interesting about the concepts of algorithmic architecture discussed in this book is the fact that from the very beginning time and space are folded into one and remain present aspects of the process at any time. Whilst the use of digital tools in architecture has transformed the practice in many ways, the continuous presence of time and space as one in architectural theory is probably the most fundamental. This transforms the way architecture is thought of from a physical object to a transformative process. This is a very specialist book and runs deep on the theory of parametric architecture and algorithm based design. It is however not just for architects and experts who work with algorithms themselves, but is definitely interesting experts from a range of fields including theoretical works. The way Parisi pushed the thinking ahead creates successfully a niche in timespace for parametric design to develop an identity. Image taken from the MIT Press / Book cover. Parisi, L., 2013. Contagious architecture: computation, aesthetics, and space, Cambridge MA: The MIT Press. [...]



Rotterdam Timelapse

Fri, 05 Apr 2013 07:46:00 +0000


In preparation of a trip to Rotterdam some impressions from the self styled creative city of the Netherlands. A curious place completely rebuilt after being bombed during World War 2 and since developing a dense layering of ever changing approaches to planning and layout.

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It is also the town with the tallest and possibly most high rise buildings in the Netherlands. Numerous residential high-rise buildings are lined up in the very centre, all above 100 meters. Something quite unusual for Europe. On Dak van Rotterdam (the roof of Rotterdam) you can hope between the 360 views of the city from a whole range of the tall structures. one of the interesting tall structures currently under construction is the De Rotterdam designed by OMA.

And of course the main feature of Rotterdam is the international port handling a large percentage of all traffic in and out of Europe. This leads to a lot of traffic on the river Maas.

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Book - Cycle Space

Sun, 24 Mar 2013 21:59:00 +0000

Cycle Space: Architecture and Urban Design in the Age of the Bicycle by Steven Fleming is a nai010 publishers book. It aims to takle the questions surounding the rebewed popularity of cycling in the urban areas of the western world from a architects point of view. The book is cleverly organised in chapters mixing examples and theory. The author understands to weave experience and references to creat a dense fabric around the topic of cycling in our cities today. In eight chapters the reader is taken on a tour around the world starting in Amsterdam, probably considered the ultimate cycling city, under the aspect of cycling is practical, to New York where cycling is reported as political, back to Copenhagen wher it is all about design, down to Sydney, where Cycling is prestigious, to Singapore for free cycling, to Portland where cycling is cool, to Chicago for green cycling to finally end in Paris the city of teatrical cycling. This broad approach aims to creat an universal picture of cycling, locally working out the specifics to feed them into a discusiof cycling on a global level. Whilst it is a big strech the depth of the local examples is actually a large plus of this publication. Cycling is a very direct and individual experince of the city and local knowledge is key to finding the suitable route. The author is from down under and knows his place inside out, but makes an efford to get to know all the places featuring in the book. Linking up with locals and drawing on their unique knowledge is key to a successfull portrait in the book. In this sense the reports are presented as well informed, packed with insider tips. This on the other hand also renders the accounts very personal making them challenging to generalise in an objective sense urban planning discussions are usually held. However the topic might require the exploring of new territory regarding the synthesising of strategies for the development and implementation of ridable cities. Image taken from the book / Sample spread of the book Cycle Space. Overall it is a well structured book with clear insight both regarding first hand experience reports and theoretical background. The reader is being presented with interesting portraits. Although it is difficult to get into different environments if your not really living it, being a local is not easy, but with great support and advice workable. It provides an insightful discussion of the cycling topics both as actual challenges faced by planning and political authorities, theoretical with references to planing ideas such as modernism, but also current project recently being built for cycling. Te author makes a clear case that planning for cycling clearly has to go beyond the integration of bike infrastructure in new and renewing projects in urban areas. However it has to be noted that it is not enough to just reduce it to brown fields. Very few cities in Europe for example have the concrete storm flood water ways the author preferably refers to as ideal sites for cycling. Cycling is a networked based activity and as the author of the book remarks on different occasions mainly based on en-route, in-context decision making. Whilst cycling, similar to pedestrians, one craves for the freedom of choice and options. Variety, possibilities and flexibility is what makes cycling exciting and this is too perfectly portrayed by the author already in the introduction. In this context the call of the book for separated and specific, exclusive cycling infrastructure seems not quite fitting. The bolder, and possibly cheaper call, would bee for shared infrastructure. After all at the crossroad we all meet and hav[...]



Urban Playground

Mon, 25 Feb 2013 00:42:00 +0000


The city can be boring, repetitive and grinding at times. Its the same old routine every day, a miserable day. But hey there is no need, it can be so different. Just think, it could be this exciting world of your own. A park, an ocean a dolls house. And then the city turns into a an adventure play ground, a huge entertainment park.

This is just how Fernando Livschitz for BlackSheepFilms imagined his city. A series of shorts show cities as playgrounds Buenos Aires - Inception Park, CONO Egypt Amusement Park TVC اعلان كونو الملاهي - كونو متفائلين and NEW YORK PARK.

And remember, the next time you leave the house, think of what the city could be to you.

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Manufacturing on Your Desktop

Mon, 11 Feb 2013 16:32:00 +0000

The technology around desktop production of printed 3D objects is evolving rapidly. In the past year a number of systems have surfaced in the cheap segment of printing machines. Where it only was the RepRap self built options, melting thermoplastics to layer the objects the year before, resin based systems below $2000 are becoming available. Image taken from kickstarter / The new Form 1 about to ship from April, although them lot ar sold out if you order now it will most likely be the May batch. One of the market leaders in this very young segment is the Brooklyn based company MakerBot. Currently offering three versions of their Replicator printer. It work on a really good accuracy level for an attractive price. It brings the object manufacturing to your desk and can make a difference to your workflow if you are a designer. width="580" height="326" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/3o6pcbhylmQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Architecture has a big interest in the 3D manufacturing. As experts point out there is a gaping hole between the progress in software capacity and possibilities and the physical manufacturing capacities. This recent progress might start to close this gap for soem of the practices. Especially in academia architecture has had an long standing interest in the 3d printing process. Many school have by now established a 3d manufacturing unit undertaking very interesting research towards the integration of processes in the workflow, but more importantly integrating 3d printing as part of the design process. For quick starters Makerbot offers also a platform to share 3d print object files. The Thingiverse is a great source not just for files to get you started but for discussion and advice, with each object has its own discussion channel and gallery of recreated objects. Usefull if you want to print your very own iPhone case, a filter lense case or working natilus gears. Regarding precision a new 3d printer is about to come on the market developed and produced by formlabs. It is the result of one of the early large kickstarter projects. The team spent the past year developing and refining the design and the engineering oft he product and is now ready to ship them out by April this year. src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/50181953?byline=0&portrait=0&color=ffffff" width="580" height="326" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen> This will be interesting to follow up and seeing the changes in practice these now available technologies bring to the everyday of designers, architects and engineers. It is great to see finally the shift back from virtual and digital modeling into the physical and real world. And here we have the potential for applications beyond the model oder visualisation objects, but for the production of working parts as actual pieces of our environment or in other words Printing the City as discussed in an earlier post. [...]



Virtual Landscape and a Peak for the London 2012 Olympic Park

Wed, 05 Sep 2012 08:08:00 +0000

I will be speaking at the Society of Cartographers 48th Annual Conference today. The talk will focus on the New City Landscape maps under the title New City Landscape Maps: Urban Areas According to Tweet Density. The maps are visualising location based tweet activity in urban areas and part of the talk will focus on urban morphology and real world feature to influence the virtual activity. The range of maps produced show that unique conditions exist for different cities from around the world and this is reflected in the Twitter landscape maps. Three types have been identified showing similar characteristics. A type with one central core are, a type with several different islands of high activity and a type showing an area or shape of high activity. Image by urbanTick for NCL / Top row central type, middle row feature type and bottom row island type.Also we have been monitoring Twitter activity in London during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Whilst this is still ongoing a first preview of the data is showing a surprising shift of activity, a new addition to the landscape of the NCL-London map respectively. There has an actual peak appeared over the area of the Olympic park with masses of location based tweets. It is something we have always talked about in presentations of the maps in the past couple of month and here it is, it finally did show up as a major 'landmark' in the virtual map of London. Image by urbanTick for NCL / Locationbased Twitter activity in London during the London 2012 Olympic Games. The Olympic park on the right does show up as a remarkable peak during the early period of the Olympic Games. A final version will be produced in the after the end of the Paralympic Games.[...]



Olympics 2012 in London and some Twitter Visuals

Fri, 27 Jul 2012 11:33:00 +0000

The Olympics are in town and about to kick off tonight in a packed Olympic Stadium out in Stratford. The last week was all about gearing up to for London to this big event. There were a few new changes, including the Olympic lanes for official traffic, but also simple things like chaining the timing of traffic lights for example. Image taken from zimbio / The Olympic Rings 2012 being shipped up the Thames past the O2. Image taken from msn.car / The official Olympics 2012 London car. However so far things are running smoothly if only the weather plays along. But then a bit of the very British weather won't harm the good spirit, it's the Olympics! The venues are reported to be all set. The velodrome was one of the first venues to be finished already last year. Now the Olympic Stadium is open, the Aquatics centre plus the little venues. Also the observation tower in the Olympic Park is open to visitors, at extra cot unfortunately. Image taken from London2012 / The Olympic Park as of July 2012. Compare to earlier stages for example in previous posts on urbanTick. London has prepared through out the city a massive events program to go alongside the Olympic Games. There are cultural events like the Tate is running at the newly opened Tanks or of course the official Olympic Festival with a massive program of arts and culture events through out the Olympics. The sponsors have all their own way of being present at the games. Coke has set up a pavilion that is at the same time a musical instrument. The facade is built from sensor equipped cushions and visitors can play tunes by interacting with the facade of the pavilion. EDF, also one of the big sponsors is running a special light show on their very own London Eye. Every evening the light on this big London attraction will have a light show on display that is governed by the mood of the nation. Image taken from gizmag / The London Eye with the Energy of the Nation light show in progress, earlier this week. The installation is using Twitter data to feel the pulse of the nation through out the day and summarise it in the evening for a show of flashing lights and colours. The data from Twitter is analysed regarding the positive or negative content of the message. The overall count of this rating is then via an algorithm transformed into the pattern of light and colour displayed on the wheel. For the Energy of the Nation project, EDF is work with Mike Thelwall, from the University of Wolverhampton and SOSO design company on this project, to light up the London Eye with a daily custom light show. width="580" height="326" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/5LYwVs7qwZY?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Talking about Twitter data visualisation another one, pretty unrelated to the Olympics has been put together recently by Nikhil Bobb. Its a lens flare sort of visual effect to let the tweets blink up on a map. Looks very nice and the map is interactive and you don't have to wait until the evening to enjoy it. You can check it out round the clock fro London from HERE. Other cities are in the list on the left if you want to travel the world on a lens flare trip. Via Living Geography. Image by urbanTick / Tweet flare visualisation of real time tweets by Nikhil Bobb. Let the Games Begin![...]



Book - Rethinking a Lot

Wed, 18 Jul 2012 16:25:00 +0000

Since the early half of the last century the car is a defining aspect of the urban environment. Pre-car urban pattern are obviously different and many scholars and practitioners have since covered the topic of how things have changed. It is in most parts of Europe no longer as dominant as it was in the 70s as the directing constraint, but is obviously still very much present. Present not only in the way it moved and demands space to move, but cars also occupy space to stop and stand. Parking lots are required to supply this need for cars to be parked and they area permanent infrastructure taking up space whether in use or unused. little can be combined with these lots and indeed most of the time they sit there empty, just like that, as a tarmaced free space with a few white lines. Outside Europe in higly car dependant areas, such as the Unites States, Canada, England and increasingly Asia most lots for cars are surface parking. Meaning each building requires a plain surface in immediate proximity the size according to the number of peak time occupants. What the residence of for example Milton Keynes, UK, know very well from their everyday experience, the perceived density of the urban environment is exceptionally low. This because there is never a feeling of closedness, of held space, because of the constant distance between ones position and the parking lots and between buildings. A list of the largest parking lots was put together by Forbes HERE. width="580" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="https://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Milton+Keynes,+UK&aq=0&oq=milton+&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=56.899383,60.205078&t=h&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Milton+Keynes,+United+Kingdom&ll=52.038465,-0.757011&spn=0.001155,0.003111&z=18&iwloc=A&output=embed"> In a new publication this topic of lots and parking is examined in detail from an american perspective in an MIT Press publication by Eran Ben-Joseph in Rethinking a Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking. The author is MIT Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning and as he explains in the introduction tot he book has ben teaching one of the most famous courses at MIT architecture. The course runs already for over 75 years under the title Site Planning. It has been taught by a hand full of, as Ben-Josephs calls them, luminaries of urban design and city planning, foremost Kevin Lynch, who took over the course in 1956. Image taken from emspy.com / Car Park and Terminus Strasbourg designed by Zaha Hadid in 1998, completed in 2001. This for the context of the book. Whilst of course the course covers a whole range of other subjects, the design and arangements of parking lots is only a part of the course. Nevertheless a subject that, as Ben-Joseph stresses, in the US not had a lot of attention. Indeed it is tricky, thinking on your feet, to come up with a handfull of good lot designs. Probably Hadid's parking design for Car Park and Terminus Strasbourg would be one of them. Image taken from democraticunderground / To make matters worse, a lot of parking lots are not only pooly designed and landscaped, but also maintained. The publication is structured in three parts. Whilst the first part covers the topic from todays perspective focusing on problems, questions and requirements, introduced with a quote by J.B Jackson, taken from his Landscape in Sight: Looking at America, but also covering natural aspect[...]



The Fastest Connection in the City

Wed, 13 Jun 2012 11:00:00 +0000

This week at the Institut Architektur at FHNW we started new fieldwork for a GPS tracking project in Basel, Switzerland. Earlier the UrbanDiary project already tracked individuals everyday movements in the same urban context. See HERE and HERE for posts. With the new project the perspective is still on movement in the urban context, but the motivation is very different. Whilst the travel in the earlier project was guided by a handful of personally important hotspot locations business connections guide the routing in the KurierT project. The trackers are carried by the professional bicycle messengers of the KurierZentrale Basel. What we are looking at are business connections and how they link across the city. Image taken from KurierZentrale / Bicycle messenger in action. The bicycle couriers are probably the jguys with the best local knowledge there are to be found for any city. From their daily experience of navigating the streets and blocks specific non physical aspects are expected to influence the decision making process. This includes traffic, terrain, season or weather maybe. As part of this project we are planning to look into these influencing aspects. On the other hand another interest is on how the service the couriers provide describes the city. In many ways the activity of delivering mail between different locations creates a network of connections. This describes the city in terms of links. Beyond the locations of the sender and receiver, the interesting part is in how this connection physically manifests in an optimised routing provided by the courier. As part of the project the aim is to develop these relationships into a descriptive atlas of the city linking the aspects of a social network to the physical conditions of the link. Image by urbanTick for KurierT / Routing around Basel showing the tracks of one courier over two days. Software used Cartogaphica. The couriers offer a range of services. Whilst most of the jobs are small parcels and letters between different businesses in the city, there are jobs in the wider region of Basel or heavier loads for which the couriers change from bicycle to a car. Beside the business services the couriers have a meal service over lunch and in the evening around dinner time. From a selections of restaurants in the city meals can be ordered and get them delivered. This combination of business and private services makes the data collected ver rich in that we not only have a picture of the business contacts but also see a shift in activities and cover residential areas. This extended business model covers more areas in the city and the expected black spots in the urban fragment not covered by the couriers' movements are dramatically reduced. The resulting overview covers a very particular perspective on the city and generalisation is limited, but within the particular setting the results are expected to provide valuable insight in urban connections, urban networks and routing. In terms of planning this has practical application for example in the provision of cycle routes for the general public. Image by urbanTick for KurierT / Routing around Basel showing the tracks of one courier over two days. The tracks are coloured according to speed. Red is slow and white is fast, above 30. The background shows a point density indicating locations and high traffic areas. Software used Cartogaphica. The temporal aspect of traveling the city is particularly part of the bicycle messenger daily business. Besides [...]



Book - Informotion

Tue, 29 May 2012 11:51:00 +0000

Infographics are everywhere and a lot of development both in therms of technology and style has gone into the representation of information in the last few years. It is however an old topic and through out the past century aspects of graphics, design and technology in regards to the presentation of data and information were developed. The Gestalt Theory (Detailed article in the German Wikipedia) was developed in the early 20s of the last century or Tufte (earlier on urbanTick) wrote his much influential books in the 80s and 90s to name two. Image taken from the189.com / Informotion project by Bryan Ku docuemnting the final game in the 122nd edition of the Wimbeldon Championship Men's Final between tennis giants Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. See the animated version HERE. The reason for some more recent development in information design and especially and especially handling is connected to technological and practical changes, but also the increased availability of raw data and details to be turned into information graphics. Often however the subject to the data is temporal or process based with need for background or lead in, change of place or frequent change of perspective. For these cases animated inforgraphics can be a great way to communicate knowledge. Besides who doesn't like to look at motion pictures? It really fits in with the whole TV consuming sort of urban lifestyle. src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/27150005?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0&color=fdb813" width="580" height="326" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen> Its pretty save to say, that for the first time the book Informotion: Animated Infographics by Gestalten bring together a selection of the best motion picture graphics communicating knowledge. All of the examples are very recent projects and most can be found on either vimeo or youtube of course. However the interesting bit on the book is the context the examples are being put in. The editors Tim Finke and Sebastian Manger put great emphasis on contextual details in a wider sense. Where publications like the recent Taschen Infographics are a mere selection of great examples the Informotion book includes the theoretical and practical aspects too. This of course makes the book heavier to read, it's also but not only to look at, but you get a lot more out of it for your practice. Besides inspiration the book provides a refresh and update on the graphic, visual and design theories as well as the technical details of animation production such as software, storyboards or size, resolution or format. Image taken from binalogue.com / Images showing the page spread design. The example shown here is an animated infographic by binalogue showing the CANAL Isabel II water cycle. See video below for the original animation. src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/17891444?portrait=0&color=ffffff" width="580" height="326" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen> There is also one of the aNCL (animated New City Landscape) informmotion graphics included as anexample in the book (p.188-189). It is the animation produced in collaboration between urbanTick and Anders Johansson on the Twitter landscape in the area arond the city of Zuerich in Switzerland. The original post on the animation can be found here, the animation is below. src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/22447109?portrait=0&color=ffffff" width="580" height="326" framebord[...]



Book - Food for the City

Wed, 16 May 2012 06:16:00 +0000

Everybody needs to eat. Eating and sleeping are two of the very fundamental repetitive necessities of life. There is no going without it for longer periods of time. Food needs to be accessible on a regular basis continuously. This is as such already a spatial condition that forms part of the spatial organisation pattern of settlements. For cities where a large number of people live in a relatively small area this means its a basic element that needs to be integrated to supply this demand. No easy task to feed a million people who generally do not contribute a single carrot, nor potato, salad, nor tomato, nor wheat, nor anything to their own daily need. Every single aspect of food has to be provided through specialists trading for something. The specialisation has gone this far as to that there is no way any of the structures would survive without the others and supplying food is one of the fundamental aspects of forming densely inhabited settlements. Image taken from stroom / Wheatfield - A Confrontation by the American artist Agnes Denes, 1982 in the middle of New York. Its nothing new, this has been an aspect of settlements and cities for as long as they exist, however with site and degree of specialisation of its inhabitants the task has become more complex. Today we are as far detached from the food we eat as to not knowing where it comes from or how it is produced. We are the generation for whom everything simply comes from the supermarket shelf as if it would grow there. The rest of the supply chain and especially the origin of products as simple as apple, bread or milk is a mystery. Do potatoes grow on bushes, is milk a product of vegetables and monkey nuts are roots? In a recent NAi Publishers / Stroom Den Haag publication Food for the City: A Future for the Metropolis this topic of the food supply chain and the various connected aspect in regards not the city are discussed. In 13 show essays a range of views from food production to food delivery to food processing and food consumption are in detail presented. The core element is a continuous photo essay documenting and illustrating the topic in a wider context. Food has become part of the wider discussion surrounding cities in the wake of environmental consciousness and the push for sustainability. It has become clear that even though the food supply chain has disappeared from the daily business of the individual citizen it is a major task requiring a lot of resources. From the production, to transportation, to storage, to recycling food requires energy. On the other hand the modern food chain poses high risks and requires a level of security. Image taken from foodprint / Michiko Nitta en Michael Burton, Algaculture, early works. The essays in the publication, most of which focus on a specific aspic or case study imply wider application to other situations and a such can be read in combination or in multiple contexts. With this the publication is seeking to cover the topic more widely. There is the Industrialist proposing a new paradigm for 2050 to feed the world, the chef finds answers in the rubble of Haiti, the farmer writes on how to think out of the box, the technologist of course solves the problem of food production and the architect discusses the food network in arctic communities. Whilst the topics are very interesting and definitely timely the essays each are very short and only really give an overview of the topic. Little g[...]



Book - Information Graphics

Mon, 30 Apr 2012 13:27:00 +0000

Information graphics are the subject to a brand new Taschen publication Information Graphics that is bringing complicated data made understandable through brilliant designs to a strong coffee table near you. The book is colourful with strong visual guidance, large, very large and heavy, some 480 pages heavy. As this outline shows, its a bold publication that doesn't hide behind all the various examples of graphic design, but provides a tasteful framework to showcase the many awesome examples of data narratives. Image taken from aestheticsofjoy by Stephanie Posavec / Writing without words exploring possibilities to visually represent text.Of course info graphics are currently trending and one of the most talked and specially passed around topic, not only online but more recently also in the media. All the large media houses have a special information design group and the publication showcases a number of these examples. In this context the book is not the first such collection of good designed information, but certainly one of the boldest in a positive sense. The publication is edited by Julius Wiedemann und features contributions by Sandra Rendgen, Richard Saul Wurman, Simon Rogers from the Guardian Data Blog and Paolo Ciuccarelli. This is a very interesting team Taschen has put together for this publication with, whilst still being information specialists, covering a broad spectrum of perspectives and expertise. Image taken from dynamicdiagrams by NYT / Interactive visualisation showing the changes in election results over the period 2006-2010. Find the interactive version at NYTWhere other publications, for examples Data Flow by Gestalten, Otto Neurat by NAi or indeed Edward Tufte focus on the context of the graphics, the theoretical background of narrating information as well as the actual teaching of how to present information the Taschen publication is a showcase. It is foremost about showing great examples from a variety of sources on how to visualise data sets graphically in mainly 2D. There are a few web based, animated or interactive examples too though. This takes into account that complexity showing in these graphics is continually rising. Image by Torgeir Husevaag / Escape Routes, 2010-2011. A series of drawing studying possibilities of spatial movement under given time constraints. On the left the map and on the right a detail of some of the blue shaded location sixth path detailsShowcasing such a large collection of examples is tricky in that the ordering system as to how the examples are organised becomes very prominent and therefore important. Here the editor has decided to go with a very low number of groups to arrange the info graphics. Where other publications make an exercise out of inventing a whole new system to clarify and characterise the examples this one takes the simple approach. This both refreshingly straight forward and annoyingly rough. What do the chosen terms Location, Time, Category and Hierarchy actually describe, or more importantly how are they distinguished? The questions remain unanswered however, this does not stand in the way to enjoy the great quality and variety this collection shows. Its a book to brows, jump and flip, a publication you will keep in reach for a long time and always go back to to enjoy or indeed recharge your design batteries. Image by Taschen / Book cover Information Graphics.Rendgen, S., 2012. Informatio[...]