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Tag "city"

Autonomous home delivery is on the rise. McKinsey predicted in 2016 already that 80% of the good will be delivered by autonomous vehicles. The trend is still towards speedy deliveries such as instant and same day for which consumers are willing to pay significant premiums. Hence this is a big market. Even though currently in London Amazon is in most cases no longer capable of delivering same day or even next day. There seem to be limits to the expandability of deliveries.

The big driver behind deliveries is of course e-commerce. Bloomberg reports and predicts that the market will reshape by 2040. Online shopping, household goods, cloth and groceries are big business. However, both cloth and groceries are unlikely to be autonomous deliveries for people want the crates to be brought up to the doorstep and get an instant refund on unwanted items. But all else is content for to be delivered autonomously.

Animation taken from Meg Kelly/NPR / Starship’s autonomous delivery box under way in the urban context.

starship robot

Tests are underway in various locations in the US and also in the UK and elsewhere. Southwark, a south London council is running a pilot scheme with Starship Technologies to deliver locally with the fleet of Starship’s own autonomous six-wheel vehicles.

Image taken from Piaggio Fast Forward press kit / Gina is shown following a person in an urban context.

These Self-Driving Delivery Robots are also being manufactured and tested by other companies, such as Marble, Nuro and , competing on this “last mile” of the delivery. Gregg Lynn design worked for Piaggio Fast Forward to develop Gina as their answer to granular mobility. The space between the customer and the warehouse. Interestingly those two locations are pretty much the only physically relevant locations within all of this. The rest of the everyday activities are increasingly becoming ubiquitous in the sense that they are transferable and pop-up doings. Things like food, work, exercise, play are being app managed with user accounts working across device and location. For goods delivery, however, location still matters and start-ups are competing for this slot. The term “last-mile” is quite fitting.

Driverless machines taking over the urban spaces and increasingly starting to shape the urban space is to be expected. Physically there will be the introduction of lanes for autonomous delivery vehicles, sort of bus line style or special parking regulations for drop off of and pick up. Of much more interest is the mental and experiential makeup of urban space in the wake of robot-delivery. The bodySpace of the urban fabric of older days. Is the world shrinking or expanding is there going to be more or less space between the warehouse and the customer?

Image taken from archiobjects / View of the High Rise City Project, L. Hilberseimer, 1924

It might bring us closer to the post city landscape where time and location no longer define the urban context but free up the space between entities. Thus creating a cross between Ludwig Hilberseimer’s High Rise City (1924) and Decentralized City (1944)? With the driving forces missing behind the urban concept new forms of spatial configurations and spatial order will become necessary and desirable. Will we be able to escape the modernist city through ultra mechanisation?

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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…

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

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What kind of nuclear future awaits us? The recent discussion on the next generation of nuclear power has ebbed away much too quickly. However especially in the UK a public discussion would be much needed with the current plants becoming out of date and a urgent requirement to either decommission them and replace or refurbish to keep going.

The afterlife of nuclear power, being it military or civil usage is however, a much undiscussed topic. It is a field of uncertainties and projections. A whole range of interesting problems are associated with it, not the least the dramatic time span it covers. See also a post on http://urbantick.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/message-to-future.html. How to plan for 10’000 years?

Image by Factory Fifteen taken from architizer taken from Dezeen / A vision of the post nuclear city.

Many futures are possible and Factory Fifteen has produced a short on their vision, quite a disturbing one but amazingly produced, mixing some CGI and real footage.

The Synopsis of the film in short: In a post-nuclear future, when the earth is riddled with radiation, a new urban developer proposes to regenerate the cities back into civilisation. GAMMA sets out to stabilise the atomic mistakes of yesteryear for the re-inhabitation of future generations. Using its patented ‘Nuke-Root’ technology; part fungi, part mollusc, GAMMA intends to soak up the radiation and remove it from the irradiated cities, rebuilding them in the process.
Setting out from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, GAMMA launches its RIG_01 BETA and heads east to the iconic disaster sites of 1980’s USSR. The film follows a group of researchers investigating GAMMA’s practice from launch to deployment. Moving through a trail of unsuccessful ships across the desert, we follow the researchers from Aralsk’s littered sea bed east to the Ukraine.

GAMMA begins its quest of nuclear stability in the Ukraine; Pripyat is used as a test bed for the deployment of GAMMA’s patented ‘Nuke-root’ organisms. Intended to soak up the radiation, the roots infiltrate the ground and built structures to absorb the ‘nuclear nasty’s’. As with many urban developers, GAMMA’s execution is cheap and ineffective. The city is in turn rendered more radioactive, broken and uninhabitable than before, only now with an outbreak of growing ‘Nuke-roots’. The film follows the researchers through the ruins of the 70’s utopia, moving across a whole city that consists solely of desolation and total abandon, the researchers witness the aftermath of GAMMA’s almighty cock-up.

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The UCL Urban Laboratory brings out a publication under the title Urban Constellations, summarising five years of work since the LAB was established in 2005. The LAB was set up as an interdisciplinary work group within UCL bringing together architecture, engineering, anthropology and film studies with a focus on urban. With urban Mattheew Gandy the Director of the urbanLAB and also editor of the publication sees encompassed far more than in the bounded term city. This is then also what the publications aims to achieve, drawing out and identifying critical themes and opening a discussion around them.

The collection explores themes such as new forms of political mobilisation, the effects of economic instability, the political ecology of urban nature and the presence of collective memory. The section Excursions documents artistic interventions in the urban context by 5 artists.

urban constellations cover
Image taken from Footprint / Installation The Games are Open, with materials recycled from the 2010 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games Athletes’ Village, by Köbberling & Kaltwasser, 2010.

The other four parts of the publication are Urban Lexicon outlining popular topics in the urban discurse, Crisis and Perturbations depicting strong influential shaping process, Places and Spaces as a showcase of concrete examples of urban studies and Projections linking the theoretical discussion to other fields such as art. A preview of sample page can be found on the publisher JOVIS website as a HERE.

Each essay, of which there area total of 42, is intentionally short. As Gandy outlines in his introduction, the aim was to create little vignettes of aspects. With this linking it to Sigfrid Kracauer’s work and use of the term urban vignettes. Similarly is the link established to Walter Benjamin via the book title Urban Constellations which link to the use of constellations by Benjamin. With this Gandy aims to underpin a close attention to detail of everyday life.

The essays are written by a selection of mostly well known scholars. In most cases they are related to the context of UCL with for examples Jane Rendell and Ian Borden form the Bartlett School of Architecture.

The essays are of very good quality and interesting to read although as mentioned very short, at most four pages. However, the main aspect of the publication is how it highlights the current state of the urban discussion. And this is if there is one, but more likely there are many. As Gandy himself already summarises in the introduction the essays draw form the remains of the modernist planning umbrella to examine how the urban context managed to cope, both with the domination of a religious planning doctrine based on technology and the decline thereof.

Further more it highlights the shift in approaches with the disappearance of bullet-point lists and the replacement of solutions with possibilities. The field seems all very vague and there are very few topics or even cornerstones the community can take for granted.

This is a very tricky position for the professionals to be in as with a lack of operational directions of development other disciplines are threatening to take over urban planning. Of course it is once more technology and the quantitative sciences promising anything they can even think of under a new umbrella of Smart Cities. It is of course no coincidence that here again the terms city is pushed as it represents exactly what Gandy described as too restrictive.

Qualitative research into urban environments in general is currently mainly exploring the boundaries of structuring aspects of dogmas and predefinitions. This is of course essential to understand more about the nature and the complexity of the urban context. On the other hand it would be healthy to start directing these efforts towards a more applied and pragmatic practice. As such the publications makes an effort to actually apply such a practice and combine the dismantling of modernist’s remains with a application of findings. Things can be taken from there.

urban constellations cover
Image taken from amazon / Urban Constellations book cover.

Gandy, M. ed., 2011. Urban Constellations, Berlin: JOVIS Verlag.

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Twitter data is becoming a new rawmaterial for representing cities. Visualisations are being produced frequently. The latest addition comes from Trendsmap the online platform visualising emerging Twitter trends.

The guys have produced visualisations for a number of cities from around the world plotting locations of georeferenced tweets. The series is called Paint a City by Numbers and so far covers only a doyen places, but is poised to grow with Trendsmap having access to a lot of Twitter data through heir service.

Trendsmap painting cities, Melburne
Image taken from trendsmap / Painting the city of Melburne using geolocated tweets.

Trendsmap painting cities, Sydney
Image taken from trendsmap / Painting the city of Sydney using geolocated tweets.

These sort of maps we have seen already for examples in the work of Eric Fischer. Still it is always amazing as to how much detail the maps actually contain with streets completely covered. For example in the map painted of the area around Amsterdam in this example HERE, the main roads draw out in amazing detail.

However Trensdmap have added also specific features. One of the fascinating ones is the airport. Here on urbanTick we have pointed out a number of times how different urban features draw out specifically in the city fabric and the airports are definitely a special case.

The Trendsmap guys have plotted data for the area around the Atlanta International Airport and the resulting creepy crawly bug structure is amazing.

Trendsmap painting airports, ATL
Image taken from trendsmap / Redrawing the airport of Atlanta ATL, actually the busiest airport in the world in 2011.

Trendsmap painting airports, SFO
Image taken from trendsmap / Redrawing the international airport of San Francisco resembling the shape of a spider using geolocated Tweets.

Via GoogleEarthBlog.com

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Increasingly architecture is produced globally. Large offices are delivering projects for clients more than half way across the world making it a very international profession. It is however mainly a oneway relationship with western practices operating for Middle Eastern or Asian clients. This means that even though there are financial benefits and gains in prestige, there are cultural differences and difficulties.

This applies both to the design process and the design as such in a form sense. Architecture is widely acknowledged as a cultural product and therefore this practice could be seen as a sort of cultural export of both practice and product, resulting in quite some problematic entanglement for architecture practices interested in contextual based design processes.

So far this dilema has had little focus, with large practices actually denying its existence for the past ten years at least. However, things are changing and practices are searching for ways and means to conceptualise this problem in order to develop a response.

Image taken from Event Cities 4 / Book spread 10-11, project sketches.

Bernhard Tschumi puts in his new book, Event-Cities 4: Concept-Form, published by MIT Press in late 2010, such a concept forward and presents how he and his practice has developed a process tool to takle this dilemma.

This latest book in the Event series is focusing on the term pair of Concept-Form. This has developed, as it becomes clear from both the introduction and the examples presented in the body of the book from an increased global practice. It is one response to the task of delivering projects across the world, in changing contexts and without the cultural background. In some sense the terminology is a conceptual construction to deal with the stringent requirements of a global architecture, providing a framework for the project development process.

As Tschumi puts it: “It is a concept that generates form, or a form that generates a concept, in such a way that reinforces the other. The concept may be programmatic, technological, social and so on. But the form must be relatively abstract, since many aspects of the program are indeterminate, …”

It is not a theory book. It is really a project monograph, showcasing and documenting the work of Bernhard Tschumi Architects over the past eight years, from 2002 to 2010. Highlights include master plans for a pair of media-based work spaces and cultural campuses in Singapore and Abu Dhabi; a major master plan for a financial center with 40,000 projected inhabitants in the Dominican Republic; the innovative Blue Residential Tower in New York City; a group of museums and cultural buildings in France, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and South Korea; a pedestrian bridge in France; and a “multi-programmatic” furniture piece, the TypoLounger. The book contains more than twenty of the Tschumi firm’s recent projects, showcasing the most current and forward-looking designs of one of the world’s leading architectural practices.

Footbridge, la Roche-sur-Yon
Image taken from aeccafe / Footbridge across the TGV line in la Roche-sur-Yon, 2007-2009. Bernhard Tschumi and Hugh Dutton.

One of them is for example the La Roche-sur-Yon pedestrian bridge. A collaboration by Bernhard Tschumi and Hugh Dutton. It is a project seeking to merge architecture and structure and as Tschumy explains:”The bridge connects new districts to the historical city with both functional and symbolic links.”

Another one is the Elliptic City for the Dominican Republic, an IFCA Master Plan. It is a 30 km2 site at the coast with nothing but one road and a power line. The project is termed Elliptic City and is based on a tabularasa concept, meaning its built with no existing context in othe green landcape. And interestingly there are some landcape features, like a series of caves running along the Western boundary of the site, or a ridge in the North-Eastern corner. And after-all there is an existing population of about 8000 squatters living on site at the sea shore.

Elliptic City
Image taken from skyscrapercity / Elliptic City Masterplan by Bernhard Tschumi, from 2005.

Proposed by Tschumi Architects is a masterplan based on an elliptical form with nine clusters of massive buildings framed by a highway. It is a rather formal approach, perfectly fitting with the concept-form overall concept. However it is proposed as a phased planning over the period of 25 years.

The publication provides a good overview of the projects and has with its massive 600 something pages enough space for an elaborate project presentation. Its great to have some room fo the projects and not having to understand a complex concept on only half a page. The proposed concept is definitely something that should become part of the international discourse on how architecture as a cultural product can be delivered around the world. The dilemma and the difficulties are very visible in the presented range of project in this volume. There is a clear difference between the project the office has delivered in France, Europe or the States and the ones they have proposed everywhere else. However the point of the book as outlined in the introduction by Tschumi is to have a discussion and this is definitely what the book delivers.

Event Cities 4
Image taken from Abitare-Urbanism / Book cover.

Tschumi, B., 2010. Event-Cities 4: Concept-Form, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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In a new book Sentient City: Ubiquitous Computing, Architecture, and the Future of Urban Space Mark Shepard presents a discussion on the current state of the art of ubiquitous computing showcasing a range of five projects together with a series of essays around the topic of the sentient city in the sense of a responsive and ‘intelligent’ city. It is published by MIT Press with the Architectural League of New York.

The book grew out of an exhibition ‘Towards the Sentient City‘ presenting a whole range of investigative projects. This was supported by the Architectural League New York. For the exhibition the curator Gregory Wessner summarised the aims as: “For many, it is a leap of the imagination to think that a microprocessor the size of your fingertip, or the mobile phone in your pocket, can meaningfully affect the shape of the room you’re sitting in, let alone a city’s skyline. At a moment when new digital technologies seem to be dematerializing more and more of the world around us (think books, CDs, photographs), what impact can they possibly have on the insistent materiality of buildings and cities?”

The book offers a range of five case studies which each have a specific focus and of course essentially build on concepts of pervasive technologies. They are:
Amphibious Architecture by the Living with Natalie Jeremijenko on visualising water quality.

Natural Fuse Haque Design+Research
Image taken from SentientCity / Project Natural Fuse – Experiment with wilting plants by intermittent/PWM water delivery.

Natural Fuse by Haque Design+Research on sourcing plants for energy. The plant in this project acts as a sort of distributor to encourage energy sharing. Energy is distributed through the plant, but only if consumers share it nicely the plant is happy and can grow letting the consumers use more energy. If they don’t share the energy use kills the plant and consumers can use less energy.

Trash Track‘ by the MIT on tracking trash’s end-of-life journey. Using smart tags the team tracked the route of trash, from the point of deployment, a bin presumably, all the way though the cities waste management system. This is how it works: “TrashTrack uses hundreds of small, smart, location aware tags: a first step towards the deployment of smart-dust – networks of tiny locatable and addressable microeletromechanical systems. These tags are attached to different types of trash so that these items can be followed through the city’s waste management system, revealing the final journey of our everyday objects in a series of real time visualizations.”

Trash Track by the MIT
Image taken from spatiallyrelevant / A track of a plastic bottle in New York City through the City’s waste management system.

Too Smart City‘ by Davis Jimison and Joo Yoon Paek on ‘intelligent’ street furniture. The street furniture is equipped with a lot of technology and robotics and set to augment the context they are acting within. They are however, programmed to surprise and interrupt and with it chalenge our expectation of what furniture should be doing. They have for example developed a bench that can trow people of or a sign that changes direction.

Breakout!‘ by Anthony Townsend on the city as office. They are injecting light wight structures into the urban realm providing essential working infrastructure and with this allowing for impromptu meet-ups through social networking software.

In the second part of the book the topics around the sentient city are explored in a series of 10 essays. There is a very interesting group of people contributing with for example Saskia Sassen and Kazys Varnelis who wrote the Infrastructural City book.

The discussion around the role of ubiquitous computing in urban design and the present of a possibly sentient environment is definitely something that is going to influence the debate on cities and urban environments for the next years. This book picks up from where it experimenting stands today and leads thoughts towards how this could be substantially integrated in future practice of urban design.

Trash Track by the MIT
Image taken from archleague / Book cover showing the heat sensitivity of the colour used.

Shepard, M., 2011. Sentient City: Ubiquitous Computing, Architecture, and the Future of Urban Space, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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It hase come a bit out of fashion to build new cities. It sort of comes in waves or trends when suddenly a lot of cities are being planned and built, but then the ide dies out again. The Romans build a lot of cities, then it was quiet in Europe until the Medieval times when cities came back into fashion with market rights and privileges but really was a topic during the renaissance period. Of course during the industrialisation cities were all the topic again but for all the negative reason, leading to the planning of new cities, the garden city idea. Later on during the 20th century the New Town movement brought us some new settlements. Since then with the acknowledgement of the associated problems, the conflict between structured objectivity and perceived livability.

Skolkovo Innovation Center
Image taken from Univers Utopia / A drawing of the city of Palmanova near Venice.

The ver idea of a new city and the theories around building a new place however are kind of persistent. Its a sort of statice vision. With the search for better conditions and the idealistic vision of the sustainable city, the beginning of the 21st century was marked with a few city planning projects mainly in connection with the boom in the Middle East. One of the projects Gateway City with the Dead Star by OMA and the other project, Masdar City by Foster and Partners.

Russia has not hada prestigious urban planning project for a while and has now after the Middle East boom relaunched the idea of planning a new city. Here again the focus is on technology and innovation with the promise of better quality, better conditions and of course peace of mind with numerous sustainability promisses.

The new development lead by French planners AREP Ville is branded as the Russian Silicon Valley (Press Release) using big global companies to demonstrate the attractiveness of the plans. Amongst them are according to the Fast Company Intel, Nokia, Siemens, and Cisco

The new city will be planned in Skolkovo just outside Moscow. The project came out of competition that also featured for example OMA, Foster and Partner, ARUP or Albert Speer.

In their article the Fast Company puts it as: “The 15,000-person, $4.3 billion city will feature five zones, each focusing on a different area of research: IT, nuclear, biomedical technologies, energy, and space research. Residents will get the benefit of picturesque tree-lined walkways, bike paths, and foot bridges. And, presumably, free-flowing vodka.” The cities project manager, Viktor Maslakov, is quoted as saying: “The pedestrian will come first, followed by cyclists and public transport. It will be linked to Moscow by high-speed trains taking 17-20 minutes.” This will mean a very drastic change in Russa, where the car is very much still the dominating the traffic landscape.

Architects plan for the town to generate its own electricity using solar panels, wind farms and wells that tap into geothermal energy.

Skolkovo Innovation Center
Image taken from the Fast Company – Overview of the new planned innovation centre by AREP.

With the latest series of cities, from Masdar to Skolkovo, the talking of new cities has change quite substantially. It is now about figures and performance, about technology and numbers. The city has become a product in a sense, usually branded as a science park with inovation cluster promoted to save the global problems. Where New Towns still had this strong Garden City ideology to improve peoples live, enable them to live in their individual house and play a role in the local community. The science cities are positioned as global hubs for urban nomads on business trips bringing fresh ideas and reinventing the wheel. These new cities are promoted as entities in a global market with very little concept of locality beyond icons.

Urbanisation is however still trending to increase and as Mike Batty discusses in his Commentary in the latest Environment and Planning A volume 43 is likely to increase. Batty discusses the urban growth from looking at the historic development and out of this developing a longterm perspective. He calls it ‘When all the World is a City‘ as the predictions are that everybody will be living in cities by the end of the century, but also points out the there are indications that it is likely not all will be connected to the giant cluster.

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London is almost ready for the Royal Wedding later this week on the 29th of April. Preparations have been going on for weeks and the media is completely ull with details and stories covering the latest developments. Prince William is getting married to his long term partner Kate Middleton in a ceremony at Westminster Abbey. The event is expected to be the biggest of its kind ever and attract a world wide audience of some 2 billion viewers on TV, radio and internet. Copmared the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana aracted a world wide audience of 750 million and the last Superbowl in America set the national audience record at 111 million viewers.

flags along Regent Street
Image taken from the hotmeganews / The flags along Regent Street in London transforming the space and time warping it back to the beginning of the last century.

Of course digital media is part of this these days and the official web page is central to this. However, the twitter feed will come from @clarencehouse. The general twitter tag for the occasion is #rw2011 or the #royalwedding. The official facebook page with 360’000 likes is also covering the events in detail.

Royal Wedding Route
Image taken from the the Sun / The plan of the route between Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey as chosen. Guests and the wedding couple will be traveling along it. Prince William and Kate Middleton will be traveling in the golden carriage if the weather is nice otherwise in a car.

The dressing up of the city as the venue is of course most obvious with the decoration that has been put of in the lead up to the Royal Wedding. Most notably are the coverage of British flags as shown above in Regent Street. It transforms the place completely and give a very different feeling from the usual Christmas decoration. The flag as such still has this official and important touch to it. It almost turns back the time to represent London one hundred or at least fifty years ago with a bit of steam and fog.

Then there is the change in security. It already is a big topic in London anyway but now police have stepped up and security has been tightened. The main focus is on the route between Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey of course, but also other major areas and attractions are being prepared.

Royal Wedding Security
Image taken from the toledoblade / Security is being checked and implemented across London.

There is a lot of money involved an additional guest in London and the UK in general are expected to help boost the economy.
The goverment is also very much involved with a lot of hopes to gain some benefit from the event directly. A number of oficial goverment web page feature the wedding as their current top priority. For example HNE on how to stay save during the Royal Wedding of course or DirectGov with the public service view on it.

With the day being declared an additional day off there is more time for employees to spend money. Merchandising is expected to make huge amounts by selling all the flags and cups and plates. The BBC says: “Restaurateurs and hoteliers can now look forwards to a two year bulge in tourism numbers, with the 2011 wedding to be followed by the 2012 Olympics.” The UK Gift Company, which specialises in Royal items anticipates an upturn in business of about 30% to 40%.

Royal Wedding Seating Plan
Image taken from the BBC / Seating plan for the guest at Westminster Abbey. The structuring of the seating in groups is following clear ordering principles.

The seating is following a detailed ordering system of who is sitting where and next to whom. The arrangements have taken weeks of negotiation and preparations. 1900 guest will be seated. For everyone else there is an app for that, to take you round Westminster Abbey in 3D with a lot of background information. However, it will cost you a few bucks.

Royal Wedding Seating Plan
Image taken from the BBC / Layout of the cutlery on the table for Prince William and Kate’s wedding reception.

Of course the planning of details goes further into details with small gestures and practices. From a city scale right down to how to dress for the wedding, how to greet and of course how to eat. The Royal Wedding has its very own layout of cutlery on the wedding reception table. The BBC has the details on how to manage all the different pieces. However, the BBC comments: “It’s quite simple – start at the outside and work in as the meal progresses”

The guest list has only been released, but very much in the nature of the time has shortly after ben declared public data and the Guardian data blog features it, with the option to download the list as free data. Maybe you get a great viz out of it!

Visualisation using many eyes by IBM / Bubble chart using the open data of the Wedding invitation list, coloured by nationality. Click to interact.

The organisation of the wedding reflects the strong hierarchical organisation of the Royal concept. Both practically and socially, it is a clear structure of ranks with the Queen at the top end and this will be reinforced through practice on the day. Practice is feeding into al elements of the wedding, from invitation to seating, even to traveling, there is a very strict guide on who is leaving when for Westminster Abbey. Of course the most practical way is the addressing of people respecting the individual rank. The five levels after the Royals are: the Duke / Duchess, followed by the Marquess / Marchioness, followed by the Earl / Count or Countess, followed by Viscount / Viscountess, followed by Baron / Baroness, as described by Debretts.

There is a lot more to the Royal Wedding than just a couple getting married. It is not about the two individuals Prince William and Kate Middleton, but about the bigger idea of Royal and State. The event is a far reaching demonstration of a very old aristocratic practice and represents the position of England in general as part of the world.

This demonstration solely is based on practice, routines and established rites and in this case culminate in the wedding ceremony. This is the reason for the practice to be of such importance because only through its celebration it can be established and such an occasion is the perfect practice this structure can celebrate. The bigger idea is the hope that this wedding will put everything in to place.

This of course centres on the Royal family but reaches out from the palace to the wider London area, to national politics, to the society of this country and its related nations, to international politics and ultimately to the world. With this there are a lot of people and groups very keen on getting some positive benefit directly from this ceremony foremost probably the Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservative Party as they are trying to deliver massive financial cuts and keep the people quite, but definitely other such as Boris Johnson for London and the upcoming Olympics 2012 and then of course the rehearsal of hierarchical structures will act as a boost to older traditions and society structures probably feeding into the Big Society idea the conservatives are trying to sell. It of course a big celebration of everything that has rank and name, but it pulls in the normal person too. Formost with the announcement of the Royal Wedding day to be a national bank holiday, an extra day off. With this you’ll be buying a lot of good will. Of course then you also have the representatives and identification figurs featuring at the Royal Wedding, such as the Victoria and David Beckham, Joss Stone, Rowan Atkinson, Guy Ritchie or of course Sir Elton John.

These practices are employing symbols and simple seemingly elements such as flags all the way down Regent Street, but exactly this is what lets people create their identity and reinforces a practice of space and lets the Wedding become a great event.

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How to teach architecture? How to teach design and an understanding of context? Architecture is not something that happens isolated, architecture with it the building is always placed in the context of a fabric either rural or urban.

Architecture is different to other subjects in the sense that it involves a mistic combination of science, art and social components. The subject is widely regarded as a creative education, but on the other hand admired for technical skills as well as engineering knowledge. Furthermore, since most projects involved humans as users or inhabitants there are social aspects being pored into the mix. In short from the distance it looks very much interdisciplinary, a job for an al-rounder.

However, in recent years the profession has to some extend been dragged into an identity crisis, increasingly under pressure from different disciplines. After almost a century as the successful merge of scientist and artist, the architect has become a widely criticised and blamed professional. This has largely to do with changes in perception and values in the built environment and the increased pressure of sustainability issues. There has been a great deal of specialisation in many areas, technically and practically. A lot of specialists areas have managed to establish themselves within the domain of the building or the built environment. These are mainly related to the high degree of engineering in areas of structure, material, energy as well as manufacturing and management.

At the same time the image has shifted from the locally respected professional some architects have shot up to international stardom together with the concept of iconic architecture and buildings. In this bi-problematic context the question of architectural education is a dramatic one. How to teach architecture, how to lead a new generation of architects to find an identity and establish a sense of practice in a increasingly perceived as more and more complex context?

At the ETH’s chair of architecture Dietmar Eberle this question has been extensively investigated and the reflection together with the planning for a new structure has lead to a publication “From the City to the House: a Design Theory” which was published by GTA Verlag. The book is published as a bilingual English – German publication.

He outlines the demands of architectural education as the ability to ‘design on different levels, scales and in different disciplines simultaneously’. This builds on a “broad background of knowledge wich is distinguished by an interest in everyday life and experience”. Eberle makes it very clear in his introduction that he does not see architecture as an art with the argument that acording to him ” art lies claim to create a counter-world, the essential brief of architecture is to create useful worlds”.

The didactics and method offered in architecture education at the Eberle Chair are founded on five key topics Place, Structure, Shell, Programm and Materiality. Also Eberle puts a lot of emphasis on the context, hence the book title, but the city as the context for the building leads through the book. Te didactic is linearly built to investigate on topic after the other as exercises, always combining the previous topics with the newly added on. This process ends with the ninth exercise that will combine all five topcis.

So far the introduction of the book, the really interesting and part worth looking into is the detailed documentation of the exercises using a mixture of student projects and essays. The wealth of ideas, test and concepts presented is amazing. Everything is very well presented and of course fits in exactly with the book structure. This creates a symbiosis very beneficial for the topic at hand. It is always good to have well documented case to present for making a point. And in this case this is definitely a striking argument.

After more than seven years of teaching at the ETH there is plenty of good material to showcase and it is a pleasure to not only scan but really to dive into the book and the many examples. A few of the indicated as illustrations with tis post.

However there are definitely more aspects to the teaching of architecture and there are other points to make. For examples as presented in another publication from the ETH from the Chair Angelil ‘Cities of Change: Adis Abba‘ or the Harvard yearbooks and many more being published as communication from architecture school. Nevertheless this publication here is astonishingly consistent and complete and definitely a good starting point for the architect as a craftsman.

City to House
Image taken from ETH ARCH Chair Eberle / Book cover.

Eberle, D. & Simmendinger, P., 2010. Von der Stadt zum Haus. Eine Entwurfslehre
From City to House. A Design Theory
2nd ed., Zurich: GTA Verlag.

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