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November, 2009 Monthly archive

The latest UrbanDiary map is here, update 2009-11-27. This now includes twenty participants, each tracked over the period of two month. It adds a number of new highlighted routes that mark individual routines. The density of the centre has risen again and strengthens the centralistic structure of routine trips. However there are now also more one of trips to paint a more detailed picture of the London network.
Out of the twenty participants one stands out with a not centric oriented routine. In this case it is a more radial shape produced, with one of’s leading into the centre. If you compare it on the ‘what shape are you?’ it stands out for its orientation – it is square 2/5.
More UrbanDiary updates on the facebook page – become a fan!

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Image by urbanTick for UrbanDiary – Tracking map showing twenty participants by colour, updated 2009-11-27

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This is a really surprising timelapse tilt shift clip. Something that leaves you puzzled for the approaching weekend. Anyway enjoy, it might inspire you for some work over the weekend.
It is done by UpperFirst a studio working in the field of motion graphics and film. They have some more infos on how it is produced online HERE.

Colorama – Makeover from Upper First on Vimeo.

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As an update to the ‘what shape are you?’ post, here are some new shapes. The Project now counts twenty participants so we also have twenty shapes.
All shapes are produced over the period of two month and are represented here at the same scale.
As previously noted these ‘drawings’ depend on the location of important destination relative to one another and on mode of transport as well as frequency. The mental picture of the city that each individual builds up while interacting with the urban fabric is tremendously different. Linking back to the visualisation ‘The Naked City’ the phsychogeography of the city is very much dependant or a result of this as produced through the derive.

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Image by urbanTick for UrbanDiary – (click for large version) – Different shapes produces by participants of the UrbanDiary project over the same period of time.

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Finally I took the time to reprocess the UrbanDiary graphs. Since the last time the study sample has grown from 12 to twenty. This is a good sample size and will give a different picture. However it is to say, that the sample is not as consistent as it was with the first batch. They have all undertaken the study more or less during the same time frame, where as now the sample is spread over the period of half a year or more. Nevertheless the individual tracking time remains the same at two month continuously.
Also there is to note, that this time the graphs have been calculated slightly differently. Where as before it was purely on a count basis, this time it is based on the activity percentage per time unit for each participant. This accounts for the effect of one particular active event has on the overall picture.

The weekly graph remains the same. There is significantly less activity during the week days than there is on Saturdays. Even Sunday remains in line with the rest of the week. Why on Saturday participants record almost twice the amount of activity I don’t know at the moment. Is has something to do with outdoor activity, probably some sports.

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Image by urbanTick for UrbanDiary – Activity graph per day of the week for twenty participants.

While looking at the weekly pattern, the peaks remain largely the same. There is the nine o’clock peak for the morning rush hour and the six o’clock peak for the evening rush hour. There is also the after peak hour both for the morning and the evening.
Clearer in this graph now is the fact that there are more afternoon activities than morning activity. This most likely has to do with the weekend, particularly the Saturday. I suspect that the large chunk of Saturday recordings are based on afternoon activities.

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Image by urbanTick for UrbanDiary – Activity graph per 24 hours of one day for twenty participants.

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Every year the festivals return and bring a special character to the streets. A nice timeLapse of the Parade in Aberdeen. It has some really nice night time shots. As Adam says:“Look out for reindeer, pipers, giant swans, mascots, red-hats and big yellow trucks.”

Aberdeen Parade Timelapse from Adam Proctor on Vimeo.        

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The discussion around space is a complex topic and it seems that architects and planners are amongst the people having the biggest difficulties defining it. The reason might be lent two the fact that they have to deal with a unequal pair or space as in the construction of physical objects as well as the creation of space as a resulting void. This shall not be read as a final definition of the nature of space. It is only a attempt to collect some examples on the discussion around space.
I would like to start with the widely accepted idea of the figure ground representation of built form. I believe this technique is derived from the Nolli plan of Rome, invented by Giambattista Nolli and published in 1748. In essence it is the representation of physical form in black, leaving the void (space) in between white.

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Image taken from the Nolli Map Engine 1.0 by James Tice and Eric Steiner

You guessed it, this is the ultimate claim of objectivity implemented in the plan. However, usually it is claimed o be in use only for visualisation and communication purposes. Nevertheless it also contains the implementation of truth and the establishment of power through the plan.
Bill Hillier describes space in his book ‘Space is the Machine’ 1996 as: “Space is, however, a more inherently difficult topic than physical form, for two reasons. First, space is vacancy rather than thing, so even its bodily nature is not obvious, and cannot be taken for granted in the way that we think we can take objects for granted” (Hillier 1996, p 26). He continues however with “Space is quite simply, what we use in buildings” (Hillier 1996, p 28). And finally he comes up with an astonishing example of a spatial description (and this is the reason it stands in this context to the Nolli plan).

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Image by Hillier, taken from Space is the Machine, Fig 1.22 on page 30

For me this image represents two things. For one this is the statement of intent to follow the tradition of the Nolli figure-ground representation as the visualisation for space, and secondly it raises the question of what exists outside the black line. To some extend, I think, the question is answered with the implied assumption that space is taken in a Euclidean sense as a container, a box that you can put things in and arrange them – boxSpace.
In architecture many famous example of the employment of the Nolli Plan can be found. See for example Ado Rossi.
His take on architecture and the representation has largely influenced the Soglio study and the in this context developed representation techniques. The study on alpine architecture in the village of Soglio in Switzerland was conducted by the Institute of Architecture of the University of Applied Science Basel and lead by Michael Alder.

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Image taken from ‘Soglio – Siedlungen und Bauten’ – Ground Floor whole settlement

This example takes the idea of figure-ground to the level of the settlement. It completely relies on the rule of accessibility as the guide for spatial representation. In this sense it is what Hillier is talking about in his example. Space is the vacancy between for the human body impenetrable material (I should say object here I guess). In this sense you could probably also call it an accessibility map or a walking guide.
This is then how Hillier introduces the space syntax concept of space description, as a sequence of, for the human body, accessible spaces.
He says: “…related space, almost by definition, cannot be seen all at once, but require movement from one to other to experience the whole” (Hillier 1996, p 26). Interesting here for me is that to some extend this raises some critique on the figure-ground idea of space, as it employees movement ‘to experience the whole’. But more of this in a following post.

As a physical manifestation of this concept here an example I recently came across on A Daily Dose of Architecture. In some sense this is the above space Box concept in built, including the fabrication and installation process.

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Images by FNP – The project ‘S(ch)austall’ as published by DBZ-online

Alder, M. & Giovanoli, D., 1997. Soglio: Siedlungen und Bauten / Insediamenti e construzioni 2nd ed., Birkhäuser Basel.
Hillier, B., 1996. Space Is the Machine: A Configurational Theory of Architecture, New York: Cambridge University Press.

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This guy of San Francisco has produced a neat short timeLapse with his DIY-homemade tilt-shift lens. He has got instruction on how to build it yourself. So to say it is a real tilt-shift experience. He says:“Classic (but real) tilt-shift cheese: tiny boats and tiny people in Fishermans Wharf. Fishermans Wharf in San Francisco is a certified tourist trap, and most locals avoid it. However, if you are a photo geek it’s an absolute riot because there is almost always something interesting happening there to get pictures of.”
Audio credit: “My Baby Just Cares for Me”, Nina Simone

Plungercammed: Tiny Fishermans Wharf from Bhautik Joshi on Vimeo.

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A lot of the Kevin Lynch material has now been digitalised and put on line by the MIT. The objects in this collection relate to Kevin Lynch’s study The Perceptual Form of the City, conducted in Boston, Massachusetts from 1954-1959. The study was done under the direction of Lynch and Professor Gyorgy Kepes at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Urban and Regional Studies. Their research findings were the foundation of Lynch’s theories on city planning discussed in his seminal work The Image of the City.
It sais on the page: “The collection includes photographs and records from the Boston phase of the project. The nearly 2,000 black & white photographs, shot by Nishan Bichajian, assistant to Professor Kepes, document the Boston urban environment during the mid-1950s prior to urban renewal. The records document the planning, preparation, and progress of the project (1951-1956), and the research process and findings (1954-1959)”.
Some stuff can be accessed at the on the dome site. There is also a large collection of black and white photographs that the MIT has f[put online on flickr. See the slideshow below.

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Once more a nice timelapse for the approaching weekend. I think the title of the clip actually is a bit misleading, or a t least it unveils to much of the detail about making it. However the coours and the blending in is really nice and makes you wana go to Liverpool street for a lunch break.

Lunch-Time-Lapse Thursday 09-04-09 from Ace Renegade on Vimeo.

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Augmented Reality (AR) is the buzz word of the year. At least it is in connection with the latest mobile gadgets. Everything these days is AR, even though most apps are not strictly AR. What is on the market at the moment is simply information overlaid on the camera viewfinder screen. There is no image recognition involved yet.
All it is information pulled from a server based on the location and displayed according to the orientation of the device. The device makes use of positioning system, either GPS or assisted through mobile phone antennas or wire less hotspot and it uses the ‘compass’ to define the devices orientation.
So what are currently the best applications available for the iPhone? As hinted in the first line, currently every service starts offering a AR visualisation. For example Brightkite, we featured on the blog HERE, was one of the first to make use of the Layar platform, but also others like urbanSpoon jumped on the train. Very early on applications for Wiki content were developed.

The first one to await Apples approval to go on the itunes store was Acrossair’s nearest tube. It was announce in August 2009, but then delayed as they had to wait for the iPhone 3.1 software update and was finally released in mid September 2009.
And I have to say for me this is still one of the best apps. It is the cleanest app you can probably find, Acrossair as a logo or brand can nowhere be found and it is all about the information. No clutter and no distraction, this is simply five star – download “>HERE, costs £1.19.

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Image by urbanTick – iPhone screenshot Nearest Tube by Acrossair

Wikitude World Browser is the app for the Wikipedia content. It is similarly clean as the Nearest Tube app, but lakes the clarity by the POI’s (point of interests icons). They are tiny and all exactly the same. Four stars – the app is free, download HERE.

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Image by urbanTick – iPhone screenshot Wikitude

iLiving by metaio, looks like a interesting app. I have not yet tried it, but it seems as if this one almost allows for the most interactive and truly AR joy. You can actually place furniture in the viewfinder. Through this you can find out if the new sofa fits with the curtains your mother in law has brought round yesterday night as a gift. It looks promising in terms of the narrative, but the 3D elements are horrible… However this could be an other five star – download HERE, costs £1.79.

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Image by metaio – screenshots before and after as well as the object library

Peak.Ar by Salzburg Research is the outdoor and mountain specialist application. It give you the name and the height of the mountain and hills around you. Simple but nice as an app. It is free, but the design could be a bit sleeker. Four stars – download HERE for free.

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Images by urbanTick – screenshot Peak.ar, you can see I live somewhere around Primrose Hill

AugMeasure by2020, is a AR app that helps you measure something when you don’t have a meter handy. As useful as the iHandy Level is suppose but why not. An app that actually has some hands on approach to it… it is free, four stars – download HERE for free.

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Images by urbanTick – screenshot AugMeasure

TweetThru is a great twitter app that makes use of the AR API of the iPhone. However, it is not strictly AR in the sense of the rest of the application as it does actually not overlay information, but simply the text you type. Why would you want this, you might ask. Well it is really handy to see where you are going, if you are one of these people like me, constantly typing on the iPhone while walking on the street. Again five stars – download HERE for free.

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Image by urbanTick – iPhone screenshot TweetThru

Even though it is not AR it is as much AR as the rest of the apps. This highlight the fact that actually it is all a bit of hype with little content. There is a whole range of games emerging too. But it is early days and you only get ridiculous stuff like first person shooter to gun down the person you see in the viewfinder (I am certain the developer has never thought of school shootings and stuff) or you can throw tomatoes, eggs or even spit at objects and people you can see through the camera lens.
The technology is great and it is impressive the first time you see it, but so far I haven’t found it useful. We are all still waiting for this cracking application to come along…
For a first run, you can have a go your self at information service using AR. There are a number of services and platforms emerging. Layar is one of them featured on the blog earlier HERE. But also Wikitude is offering or the Junaio platform.

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