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— urbantick

October 2008 Monthly archive

I have been working with the collected track data from my Plymouth pool. 365 track records represent my interaction with the built environment. Some “landmarks“ are drawn out quite good. Specially the rigid street structure of the city centre, designed by Abercrombie in 1944 (A Plan for Plymouth). But also the crossings over the river Tamar are visible (only three ways to cross, Tamar Bridge, Torpoint Ferry and Mount Edgecombe Ferry). Other infrastructure features like the trai​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​n line (especially Plymouth to Exeter) and the A38. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The image is​​​ ​j​u​s​t​ ​​an ​​o​​the​r​​​ ​​​​​v​​​​i​​​s​u​​​a​l​i​​z​a​t​​ion​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​,​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​c​​​​a​​n​​‘t​​ ​k​ee​​p​ ​my​​ ​h​an​​d​s​ o​f​​ ​it​ ​​loo​k​​s​ j​u​​s​t​​ ​gre​​​a​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​t​.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Image by urbanTick – Plymouth 365

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Here we go, Google has transferred the application Google Earth to the iPhone. It is possible to carry the earth in one’s pocket and have it at one’s fingertip.
The application can be downloaded from the iTunes store for free. Navigation is simple with the touch screen by using the fingertips to move zoom in and zoom out. Amazingly the accelerometer of the phone is used to tilt the view. There is a set of layers that can be turned on and off. Google integrated Wikipedia and Panoramio so far. Unfortunately it is not possible to display customized kml files. This would become very interesting if this functionality will be added in the future. The New York Times has put together a good and bad list to summaries first impressions.

Watch the short introduction movie by Google:

It can be downloaded through this iTunes link.

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Here is an other image of a collection of tracks recorded over a longer period of time. This time it is London. This record was set up as part of my research for the master thesis.
In this thesis project the focus lay on my personal diary. I wanted to find out, or better visualize the spatial extend of my routines. Although it is a record over a relatively short period of two month, it shows a very clear pattern. It could be described as a bunch of north-south back and forward lines. This is the from and to home respectively, to and from the Bartlett School of Architecture.
There are some occasional trips leaving this pattern. They are very distinct from the everyday pattern and I can still remember most of them quite detailed, although this is two years back. A trip to the Barbican to see the Future City exhibition, the great walk through Hampstead Heath, kicking the ball on a hot day in Regents Park. Those sorts of trips just stand out. This is somehow a different way to memorize spatial activity. The exception stands out from the crowd.

Image by urbanTick – London 2006

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This entry contains a list to all the quotes in this blog. I will try and be as disciplined as possible and note down each one of them.
For now I sort the entries alphabetically per source. Maybe in the future there will be the need for some sub categories.


Alder, M. & Giovanoli, D., 1997. Soglio: Siedlungen und Bauten / Insediamenti e construzioni 2nd ed., Birkhäuser Basel.

Allsopp, B., 1974. Towards a Humane Architecture, London: Muller.

Appleyard, D., Lynch, K. & Myer, J.R., 1964. The View from the Road, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press for the Joint Center for Urban Studies of M.I.T. and Harvard University.

Burdett, R. & Sudjic, D., 2008. The Endless City, London: Phaidon Press Inc.

Bonnemaison, S. & Eisenbach, R., 2009. Installations by Architects: Experiments in Building and Design, Princeton Architectural Press.

van Boom, N. & Mommaas, H. eds., 2009. Transformation Strategies For Former Industrial Cities, R: NAi Publishers.

Capra, Fritjof (1997 ), The web of Life – a new Synthesis of Mind and Matter. Flamingo, London.

Grosz, E., 1998. Bodies-Cities. In H. J. Nast, ed. Places Through the Body. London: Routledge.

Hall, P.G., 1988. Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design in the Twentieth Century, Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Hillier, B., 1996. Space Is the Machine: A Configurational Theory of Architecture, New York: Cambridge University Press.

Jackson, J.B., 2000. The Stranger’s Path. In Landscape in Sight. London: Yale University Press.

Christian Nolde, et all, 2009. Emotional Cartography – the Technologies of the self.

Author, A. N., 1978. Human Activity and Time Geography – Volume 2 – Timing Space and Spacing Time. Tommy Calstein, Don Parkes, Nigel Thrift ed. London: Eduard Arnold Ltd

Debord, G., Jorn, A. & et al, 2006. Theory of the Derive and Other Situationist Texts. Actar

Gould, P. & White, R., 1974. Mental Maps, Harmondsworth: Penguin.

R. Klanten, N. Bourquin, S. Ehmann, F. van Heerden, T. Tissot, 2008. Data Flow. Berlin: Gestalten

Morris, A.E.J., 1994. History of Urban Form: Before the Industrial Revolutions 3rd ed., Harlow: Longman Scientific & Technical.

Office, F.M.A., 1998. Small, Medium, Large, Extra-Large: Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Rem Koolhaas, and Bruce Mau 2nd ed., New York, N.Y: Monacelli Press.

Kempf, P., 2009. You are the City Pap/Trspy., Baden: Lars Muller Publishers.

Koppelkamm, S., 2006. Ortszeit = Local Time, Stuttgart: Edition Axel Menges.

Lynch, K., 1960. The Image of the City, Cambridge, [Mass.]: MIT Press.

Manaugh, G., 2009. The BLDGBLOG Book, Chronicle Books. Available at: http://bldgblog.blogspot.com/.

Nesbitt, K., 1996. Theorizing a new agenda for architecture, New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

Refinetti, R., 2006. Circadian Physiology 2nd ed., Boca Raton: Taylor & Francis.

Reichholf, J., 2008. Warum die Menschen sesshaft wurden: Das größte Rätsel unserer Geschichte 2nd ed., Fischer (S.), Frankfurt.

Richards, E.G., 1998. Mapping Time: The Calendar and Its History, New York: Oxford University Press.

Shane, D.G., 2005. Recombinant Urbanism: Conceptual Modelling in Architecture, Urban Design and City Theory, Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

Shannon, K. & Smets, M., 2010. The Landscape of Contemporary Infrastructure, Rotterdam: NAi Publishers.

Somer, K., Van, E.&.V.L.S. & Amsterdam, (., 2007. The Functional City: The CIAM and Cornelis Van Eesteren, 1928-1960, Rotterdam: NAi Publishers.

Yi-Fu Tuan (1974), Topophilia. Columbia University Press, New York


Thomas Kapler and William Wright, GeoTime Information Visualization. In: IEEE InfoVis 2004, 2004. 8.

David Crandall, Lars Backstrom, Daniel Huttenlocher and Jon Kleinberg, 2009. Mapping the World’s Photos. http://www.cs.cornell.edu/~crandall/photomap/: www



Author, A. N., Official Google Blog: Introducing Google Earth for iPhone. [Webpage] Available from: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/10/introducing-google-earth-for-iphone.html
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Author, A. N., Biggest Drawing In The World. [Webpage] Available from: http://biggestdrawingintheworld.com/drawing.aspx
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Author, A. N., Google Earth Comes to the iPhone – NYTimes.com. [Webpage] Available from: http://www.nytimes.com/external/readwriteweb/2008/10/27/27readwriteweb-google_earth_on_the_iphone.html?sr=hotnews
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Author, A. N., Bluetoothtracking.org. [Webpage] Available from: http://www.bluetoothtracking.org/
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Author, A. N., Bluetooth is watching: secret study gives Bath a flavour of Big Brother | UK news | The Guardian. [Webpage]
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[accessed Wednesday, 12 November 2008].

Author, A. N., www.cityware.org.uk. [Webpage]
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Author, A. N., Add Gadget to Your Webpage. [Webpage]
Available from: http://www.gmodules.com/ig/creator?synd=open&url=http://hosting.gmodules.com/ig/gadgets/file/114026893455619160549/embedkmlgadget.xml
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Some crazy guy did this BIG project. I think it was his thesis project for a degree/diploma in art. Nice idea, though.
He sent a parcel with DHL around the world, tracking the parcels route. How far can tracking go?

Image from The Biggest Drawing in the World – World as a canvas

Image from The Biggest Drawing in the World – Shipping instruction for DHL to get the drawing to sit on the right place on this enormous canvas.

It appears in the end that is all fake! Anyway, the idea is great, the visuals are convincing.

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For a three month period I tracked my journey while living in Basel, Switzerland. In this example the modes of transport are bicycle, bus, tram and as a pedestrian. There are a number of lines leaving the image down in to the rest of Switzerland towards north is Germany and west is France). This is probably down to the fact that Basel as a city is quite small compared to Plymouth or London. An other aspect, especially compared to Plymouth is that the public transport is very good. Even though one does not have a car, it is simple and quick to go somewhere, this probably motivates to make trips to other places.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
The pattern that usually shows where I live and where I work appears surprisingly less obvious that expected. The knot where I lived is somehow visible, but apart from this is rather unclear.
Strong lines also appear along the train line Basel-Olten and there is a strongly visible mark leading towards the Laufental.
Image by urbanTick – The straight lines occur where the GPS device had a weak satellite connection

The following are notes just after I recorded the tracks in 2007-02-15.
“…it is again the graph with the plotted tracks that show how I move around the city. The pattern stayed the same it became just denser. I stopped this record at the end of the year. So I do have now three month of records, guess that’s enough as there is no changes in sight for the near future.
The pattern develops around a few hotspots and connects them within and with some points of interest or necessity.
As it is basically a movement pattern and not an activity pattern there is not much to find about my acting in the city. It is talking about the city structure and tells the story of how one can move about this particular area. Maybe more interesting is what I do in between. One could say this is closer to some kind of space-syntax research, but maybe in terms of how activities are structuring the movement within the settlement this is not very useful. It is too close to the physical reality to tell a richer story.
There is a lot of information missing. For example it would be very interesting to actually see where and how long I stopped somewhere. There are brakes in between the lines, at my workplace, where I go for lunch… these events could tell a totally different story. It is actually recorded in most of the daily data on the GPS device, I just do not know how to visualize this…!
I am already working for a few months with this device and I am still impressed by the output. The drawing shown is very simple but it visualizes very clear how much of the city structure I actually know, in terms of physically experienced, and how much I have left out. But still, I would claim to know the city as a whole. Despite the fact I haven’t seen large areas I create a mental image of the city and its network of connections. …”

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The title of a book I have come a cross today in the library. I only just flipped through, but what I picked up was that the author is saying that today’s (what ever publication date the book has) architecture and urbanism are disconnecting the people living in those structures from their natural habits and the way humans are meant to live.
Although I do not entirely agree with this claim, I could relate the topic of cycles and rhythms to this argument.
It is a fact that we are no longer living like people did in agent times, when everyone was a farmer and completely relying on what they were able to produce on their own fields with their own hands. But I would assume that the natural cycles still apply to nowadays life, even in the city. The book is: Allsopp, B., 1974. Towards a Humane Architecture, London: Muller.

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A specific interest in the field of cycles are the three areas to deal with the interaction between the people in the city and the city it self. The hypothesis here is that cycles as repetitive actions are involved in the construction of orientation, memory and identity in the urban context.
The following examples are taken from my master thesis “Cycles in urban environments”. The thesis developed from the project AKA www.jafud.com and is based on researching the topic in London.

Identity of the place or the genius loci can be mainly driven by the rhythm events fill and empty the space. As a very simple example can be named a local street marked. Every week the Saturday is the marked day. The road is traffic free for the duration of the marked while the stands occupy the street and the people gather round to do their weekly shopping and have a chat.
The example documents the street market at Queens Crescent in Kentish Town, London. How the identity of the place changes between the two aggregates of market day and local street day are best documented with photographs.

Image taken from cycles in urban environments – Market Day

Image taken from cycles in urban environments – Street Day

The changes reach from function e.g. the road, the walkways to role of the defining elements, such as local shops to distances, density and usage. Also certain secondary elements change dramatically. For example colors, materials and smells transform the space dramatically. These are the changes that follow directly from transformation. But from the repetition of the cycle, the space, in this case the road generates it special identity consisting of the two aspects of street day and market day.

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Wile in Plymouth I was recording my person movement on a daily basis with a simple Garmin Handheld GPS device. It is a collection of tracks over the period of one year and it visualizes my interaction with the built environment. Two characteristics can clearly be seen in the image produced. One is that the movement was almost solely purpose orientated. It draws usually a straight line ( as direct as possible respecting the built form and the topography) between point A (initial position) and point B (destination). Furthermore, I can say that also the number of destinations are rather limited. Although recorded over the period of one year the movement is restricted and highly predictable. There seems to be only a handful of important location to be that are worth going to. Obviously, there are the three main destinations, home, work, essentials.
The second characteristic is closely related to the first one. The routes stay the same, the movement between the points are repetitive. At the beginning, there might be some optimizing going on, but after two-three times it seems to lock in and stay how it is.
Overall it is a very personal record of my time in Plymouth. It could be called a dairy, a spatial diary. It definitely helps to bring up memories of activities and experiences through recapturing the spacial configuration. I am wondering how long this will last. Will it prove to be as good as a photograph to help me remember certain anecdotes in twenty years time?

edited, 2017-10-23

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