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— urbantick

May 2010 Monthly archive

Icons dominate the modern maps completely and with the comic style Google simplifications of symbols our ives have become very ordinary. There are currently some 166 Google standard symbols available in Google Earth and 91 in Google Maps. Of course there are projects to symbolise our worlds, where you an find replacements and additional material for Google Earth and Maps.

Image taken from Google Earth / Set of icons preinstalled with the software.

This domination of everyday live orientation has lead to some surprising and funny projects and reactions. One was the real world Google Maps location marker and now one that I just found as an online project by the artist collective Jodi.
Jodi, or jodi.org, is the duo of the artists Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans. They started creating artworks for the Web, later they also turned to software art and artistic computer game modification. Now, they have been in what has been called their “Screen Grab” period, making video works by recording the computer monitor’s output while working, playing video games, or coding.’
Their website globalmove.us is a portal to the wold of mapping with Google Maps and Google Earth, a spinning, twirling and hopping approach. If previously the icons made you feel ridiculous this is heaven. It is a very fascinating visualisation?animation using web based mapping tools , on the other hand it is quite annoying and without context that one could start making sense of what is going on on the screen. In the end it really shows how these tools manipulated our daily experience. I like it.

Image taken from globalmove.us / A animated drawing on Google Maps on random locations. Click the image for the animated version.

The work I like best really are the rotating circle locations on Google Earth this definitely makes you feel dizzy after a while!

Image taken from globalmove.us / A map connecting and circling round structures in Brussels on the map. click image for the animated version. Click HERE for additional cities.

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Architecture is about space, about working with space. The way it is constructed is very earthy and not far from a clay hut human ancestors carved out of the soil. It stands up from the soil but is bound to earth by gravity, there is only one direction but down.
After 5000 plus years things changed on July 20, 1969. An estimated 500 million people watched on television how Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set their feet on the moon. I was a big step for the human race. A the ame time it was a big shift for architecture, all of a sudden things might not simply fall down, gravity might not be a line but a curve. These events deeply influence generations after the event. And this fact is once more celebrated and discussed in the new publication by Greg Lynn, Michael Maltzan and Alessandro Poli ‘Other Space Odysseys‘ published by Lars Mueller Publishers. The book follows an exhibition at the CCA, the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal that is currently on, until the 06 September 2010. (If you are in Montreal or plan to go over the summer please let me hear your impressions.)
The timing is sort of great, is there a rising interest in space travel again these days. Also space tourism is currently taking shape.

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Image taken from Abitare / Alessandro Poli, Zeno incontra Aldrin a Riparbella (Zeno and Aldrin meet in Riparbella) © 2008, Archivio Alessandro Poli.

It is not them three guys riding on this wave, Gregg, Michael and Alessandro are riding a very different wave. They have really grown up with this fascination of the moon landing and Greg Lynn extensively details his memories of the event that took pace when he was four. Interestingly and at the ame time surprising the discussion and references are of then to what I knew as a child and how I imagined things as a child are brought up as explanations of interestes they now have a architects and designers. Surprising in so far as that this sort of implies a embossment of spatial thinking and concepts from early childhood. For not to dwell on this thought, there might be something to it.
Of course also a number of projects are presented. Lynn has done a number of projects referring or directly engaging with extraterrestrial structures. So for example the New City, discussed earlier on urbanTick or N.O.A.H (New Outer Athmospheric Habitat) for Joerg Tittel and Ethan Rhyker’s ‘Divide’. Lynn’s role was do design these in space floating structures. Also te Superstudio film ‘Architettura Interplanetaria’ is par tof the discussion. There i of course a lot of talking about possible habitats outside of our planet and an interesting link could be made to the beautiful project ‘Globus Cassus‘ by Swiss architect and artist Christian Waldvogel, another Lars Mueller Publishers book.
The book in essence presents one or two projects by each ‘team’ member as well as an interview with each. This opens a discussion that is not new, but has once more a very up to date touch. Very much in the sense it is more than once remarked the space explorations and science experiments are as a much about outer space and the moon as they are about our planet earth. As is quoted in the introduction “By 1969 Buckminster Fuller already understood that unless you are “a cape Kennedy capsuler”, you coud not have a comprehensive view of earth. Suddenly the ability to see new approaches to global problems and devise different solutions was possible by seeing the planet in its totality. Refering to the famous blue marble – Earth rise on the moon photograph taken by William Anders on Christmas Even 1968.
The book is an interesting revival to rethink architecture after the space age and with not just the option down.

Borasi, G., Zardini, M. & Architecture, C.C.F., 2010. Other Space Odysseys: Alessandro Poli (Superstudio), Michael Maltzan and Greg Lynn, Lars Müller Publishers, Baden.

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The current map exhibition at the Britsh Library is still on and it is big, really big. There are far more examples and beautiful maps than I had expected. However I was a bit disappointed that there are exclusively old maps, apart from a few contemporary artists takes on mapping. The exhibition manages a few things, it brings together a large collection of very old maps, covering the past 500 years. It presents scientific aspects of mapmaking as well as cultural and social aspects. In fact there is a strong emphasis on the cultural aspect of maps, how they comunicate and manifest wealth and status. In this sense they are presented less in a scientific sense but an cultural. Maybe this explains the absence of modern maps and the presence of artists impressions.
For me the fascinating aspect of the exhibition are the many different roles maps have played and the much more holistic approach to map making cartographers applied in these early days. The rich illustrations the additional informations around the outside the characters that were as important as the symbols. Compared to this richness the clean and ‘objective’ maps of today apear really boring.
One of the most beautiful maps in the exhibition is Diogo Homem’s ‘A Chart of the Mediterranean Sea, 1570. A map of the Mediterranean only showing the shorelines, in a very imaginative abstraction decorated with colours and gold.
Another impressive object is the Hereford Mappa Mundi c1300. Its name meaning ‘cloth of the world’ and it is drawn on calf skin. The BBC documentarie discussed it at length. Fascinating is the way the map combines different times of past and present as well as eternity into the same picture. Also it combines knowledge and myths, believe and culture as elements of the same whole. In this sense it shows as much of the known as of the unknown and also presents the beginning as well as the end. This cyclical aspect ist the key to its power.

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Image taken from Wikipedia / Hereford Mappa Mundi, about 1300, Hereford Cathedral, England. A classic “T-O” map with Jerusalem at center and east toward the top. Find a version with description HERE.

At the heart of the map is Jerusalem and the main orientation is East. Of course this reflects a very christian world view but historically this is important. In temporal terms the map depicts events separated by hundreds of years. There are activities such as the Caesar sending out helpers to map the world, the Arche Noah and the crucifixion of Christ in the same image representing the history of the world. Outside the disc of the world additional scenes put it into context. There is judgement day at the top of the map and the passage to another world at the bottom of the world. Interestingly the disc of the world is fastened to the surrounding eternity by the letters M, O, R, S – latin for death. This all sits in the context of the late medieval world view, but surprisingly to me this represents a sort of inside out understanding of life, a sort of progress from the centre to the edge and beyond. This narrative approach to mapping was for me the exciting and surprising part.

I have to say immediately after seeing the exhibition I was a bit disappointed not to see the art of map making progress through to the current state. However the more I thought about it, the more I realised how much of the detail and additional aspects of old maps would have been distracted from by new maps purely focused on technology.
The BBC does present the topic on their website, the Beauty of Maps, in two parts of them one are the old maps and the other part are the modern maps. This includes for examples Google Earth or MapTube, a platform to create and share maps.

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Predicting the future is a trade of its own. What the future holds has been a mysterie fascinating man kind since the early days. With predicting you can either get it right or wrong. The closest to the prediction probably comes the planning approach. This is applied widely in science and planning. A specific concept of scenario planning was developed in the 60’s. The idea is to analyse the current situation and test possible future options. Along ‘factual’ parameters a solution corridor can be defined, within which the options can take place. Defining factors can be policies, time requirements or resources.

the Afghan Conflict, old 164cm x 70cm Print

Image taken from the Afghan Conflict / Detail. Stay or Leave?.

A very beautiful example of this technique was recently developed in the context of a Politikvisualisierung lecture in winter 2009/2010 at the Fachhochschule Potsdam. The Afghan Conflict is concerned with possible scenarios for the future of Afghanistan. The country is still in the prime light of the world as everyone follows the developments. The informations are often disconnected and mainly focused on military activities. To see some of the elements cleanly arranged and put in relation to one another makes it possible to orientate.

the Afghan Conflict, old 164cm x 70cm Print

Image taken from the Afghan Conflict / View of the print, old 164cm x 70cm Print.

“The Afghan Conflict – A Map of Possible Scenarios starts with the current Timeline, a single line on the map. Which then splits into more and more possible future scenarios currently discussed. The scenarios split and join, or lead to other ones according to events that may take place or decisions made. The design is pure and minimalistic, using only lines and typographic elements, which does not resemble the ugliness of a war, but helps understanding a complex structure of problems without being visually manipulated by polemic images.”

The work is developed by Pierre la Baume, Karen Hentschel and Marc Tiedemann. They can be contacted via info [at] theafghanconflict .de
In the prezy below you can explore the resulting map in its totality.

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Found via datavisualization.ch

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Instead of a book review, for once this is a book promotion. My recent book (2010) Cycles in Urban Environments: Investigating Temporal Rhythms published by LAP is now available on amazon online. The content is based on my research work for my Masters Thesis at the Bartlett School of Architecture. In two parts this publication looks into temporal aspects of the urban environment, from individual movement to collective activities and observes cultural or socia constraints as well as possibilities. The second part of the book looks into possible applications in the context of a project for a floating city in the Thames Estuary.

Image by Fabian Neuhaus taken from Cycles in Urban Environment / Friday 07th, Cycles Memory, the London 7/7 Memorial.

Image by Fabian Neuhaus taken from Cycles in Urban Environment / Tuesday 04th, Cycles Season, Seasonal Life Cycles.

Published on: 2010-05-04, Original language: English, Binding: Paperback, 180 pages

Cycles in Urban Environment This book explores the appearance and impact of cycles in urban surroundings and, in a second stage, their potential for an urban proposition. Cycles appear in any part of life. Examples can be found in time, economics, environment or social activities. Cycles appear through a wide range of scales and often without referring to them. Investigating these patterns in a spatio-social context makes sense regarding urban planning and urban sustainability as well as from a theoretical point of view in the sense of a spatial-temporal concept. The first part, is designed as an observational study in an existing urban environemnt, where as the second part, is an application of some of the findings of part one in a proposal for a floating city in the Thames Estuary. Both elements are approached as one process and influence one another. Four included essays with a specific focus on a related topics help to set a wider context and guide the debate.

Neuhaus, F., 2010. Cycles in Urban Environments: Investigating Temporal Rhythms, LAP Lambert Academic Publishing.

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The recent Book Radical Games: Popping the Bubble of 1960s Architecture by Lara Schrijver and published by NAi Publishers is looking back at the last century of architecture theory to formulate a new direction for craftmanshipt. Going from modernist theories to postmodernists to projective architecture Schrijver cals for an ’embedding of of speculations on fundamental societal questions in the material forms of architecture that allow a multiple reading independent of societal hierarchies and preconceptions.’ [p.218] In the sense of Sennett’s craftman she urges to connect the intellect with the action to move beyond a ‘post-critical’ approach.

Image taken from Radical Games / Title page with a suggestive illustration to get you thinking right from the start.

In short this is the conclusion of the book. But it is not about the end point, what maters is the process to get there and in this sense this is a book worth reading from beginning to end. A beautifully told and carefully narrated theory book, that will take you through a master lesson in architectural theory.
Schrijver is putting a focus on the work of three modernist critical groups to develop her position. This is to be seen of course in the recent revival of these 1960s’ ideas. Seen for example in the recent debate on Ecological Urbanism.
The first are the Situationist International and their review of the twenthiest-century city. Here with a beautifully suggestive chapter title ‘From the modernist Battlefield to the Situationists Playground.
The second are Venturi and Schott Brown with signs and symbols and the last is Archigram the London based group of architects, active between 1961 and 1974.
The structure of the book however is interestingly based on three different elements. The areas thought to be crucial here are the city, the image and technology. Those are identified by Schrijver as the main topics of criticism and resistance of modernism. And this is for me the interesting part of the book, it is not simply again a chronological review of the history, but a purpose built argumentation.
This book stands in a series of publications of young architects and architects theorists who really seem to develop a new perspective and with it start to shape a new position. See for example ‘Grand urban Rues‘ by Alex Lehnerer or ‘Subnature‘ by David Gissen.

For additional reviews see also Archidose and ArtBook.

Schrijver, L., 2009. Radical Games: Popping the Bubble of 1960s Architecture, Rotterdam: NAI Publishers.

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In an interview series urbanTick is looking closely at meaning and implications of time in everyday life situations. In the form of dialogs different aspects are explored, with the idea to highlight characteristics. The main interest is circling around the construction and implementation of different concepts of time between independent but related areas of activity, such as leisure and work, privat and public, reality and virtual. This interview series will not be continuos, but more adhoc, so you might want to use the interview tag to catch up with the rest.

3rdlifeKaidie is the latest incarnation of artist/curator/educator Kai Syng Tan as part of her PhD research at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London. Trained in London, Chicago and Tokyo, the diehard Singaporean posits herself as a traveller/tourist. Kai Syng’s interdisciplinary work has been shown in more than 40 cities (Guangzhou Triennale, Biennale of Sydney, ICA London). Kai Syng has won several grants and scholarships, residencies (NIFCA in Helsinki, Japan Foundation in Beppu), and awards (SFIFF merit award, Young Artist Award, Most Promising Young Artist Award). Kai is advisor in digital arts in panels in Singapore, and for 7 years, she was film lecturer and ran a Video Art degree programme. Her large-scale permanent artwork is on display in a central subway Station in Singapore.

Image by Kaidie / Time heals no wounds.

urbanTick: How does time pass in relation to your life of 1000 days?

3rdlifekaidie: Kaidie is alive from 12.12.2009 to the last day of the London Olympics, 09.09.2012. (Do note that the dates form a pseudo-pallindrome of sorts!) As we speak, Kaidie is already 150 days-old, and has only 850 days or 216,000 minutes left. Having a clear knowledge of one’s duration Kaidie’s existence all the more intense and augmented. It is in living a death sentence that one is compelled to question what one’s priorities in life is. It is an extremely positive and focused experience, as Kaidie lives every minute to the fullest. Being a runner only accentuates this. Running echoes the speed at which technology is changing today. This technological rush and running both make Kaidie run out of breath. That said, she is not a sprinter.

Image by Kaidie / Every time Kaidie runs at the Regents Fark, she takes a reality and time check at the Bee Tee Tower.

urbanTick: Your life is constrained to 1000 days. How does 1000 days feel? The limitation probably is even more obvious compared to something that lasts longer. What do you measure the passage of your life against?
You are talking about living life to the limit, experienceing it intense and running. Is there a slow and a fast time?

3rdlifekaidie: 1000 days is both tortuosly long and terribly short. What could be accomplished in 1000 days? For Kaidie, she has to find the Meaning of Life 3.0 (with)in/before time runs out. Is 1000 days long enough for that? Or is it too thinned out? 800 or 8000 days is still not feel sufficient for one to heal the wound of a dead memory; 1 day is 1 too many to go cold turkey on an addiction/obsession/obscure object of desire; every minute of every single day is a new discovery, a new beginning for a baby. Running 42km for 5 hours seems a little preposterous; ‘hanging out’ with a loved one for the same duration seems too short, as one always yearns (futilely) to ‘spend the rest of one’s life’ with an other. Kaidie rejects any notion of eternity and permanence (if there is one thing that is remotely ‘forever’, it is the notion of changeableness). Instead, Kaidie plunges into the moment of the now/here, and lives like all tommorow’s parties (and funerals) are right now.

As Kaidie traverses between the real and virtual worlds, she measures her time against the calender in real life. Taking the cue from one of her favourite performance artists Teh-Ching Hsieh and his 1-year performances, Kaidie cannot cut her hair for 1000 days. Well, most of her hair. It would be rather unbecoming to appear excessively Neanderthal, would it not.

Image by Kaidie / Kaidie’s Meaning of Life 3.0

urbanTick: Is it important to be on time? What is you strongest time experience?

3rdlifekaidie: Of course it is important to be on time – especially given that Kaidie has such a short lifespan of all of 1000 days only. Not to add that it is incredibly rude to keep someone else waiting – unless one intends to offend the other party, in which case it works rather well. One of Kaidie’s stronger time experiences so far was when she took part in the 10km charity run for the Friends of Medecins Sans Frontieres. She split up the workload with her Facebook friend, Kailives, and managed to complete the race in half her usual time. Another instance was when she was advised by her reader to ‘look for love’ in her Life 3.0. Being so short of time, she went on a speeddating session. However, she found nothing. Maybe such things need more time? Perhaps she will learn in time to come.

3 rounds painful 1st 4km, switched on only from KingsX by urbantick at Garmin Connect - Details
Image by Kaidie / 3 loops around Regent’s Fark

urbanTick: The clock time is everywhere on planet earth different, how would you describe the current time of the planet globally? In a rather global sense, how would you define time?

3rdlifekaidie: Time is process, journey, running, goes on, does not stop, goes on in spite of, change, memory, experience, imagination, fantasy, learning, not learning, wounds, healing, not healing, life goes on, in spite of.

urbanTick: I always presumed the virtual world to be a replication of the real world. You are spending a lot of time in the virtual world. Can you explain what the terms ‘space and ‘time’ mean in life 2.0?
Are you using a specific definition of time in each of the worlds, and if so how do you translate it?

3rdlifekaidie: Where Kaidie is, in Life 3.0. Life 3.0 is the tactic of the dérive in the ma (in between) of Life 1.0 and Life 2.0. It occurs in a dimension in which space and time are ‘mutually responsive’, in a ‘chaotic, mixed condition’.

Typical of cultures that view life as cyclical and temporal, ma appears to be imprecise according to Western paradigms, adhering to the exasperating ‘oriental’ logic of ‘contradiction’.[ii] Ma, which refers to ‘an “interval” between two (or more) spatial or temporal things and events,[iii] departs from the Cartesian expression of space-time as a ‘homogeneous and infinite continuum’. That ma encapsulates in its meaning the notions of both time and space can be seen in compound terms such as time (jikan), and space (kuukan). Instead of being ‘abstracted as a regulated, homogenous flow’, time was believed to exist ‘only in relation to movements or spaces’[iv] in Japan. Noh actor Komparu Kunio admits the ambiguity and power alike of the single term ma:

Because it includes three meanings, time, space, and space-time, the word ma at first seems vague, but it is the multiplicity of meanings and at the same time the conciseness of the single word that makes ma a unique conceptual term, one without parallel in other languages.[v]

Cyberspace, one of the components of Life 2.0 in the discussion, is itself an unstable and still-untamed site. The ‘nonspace of the mind’ [vi] is a site of ‘consensual hallucination’. [vii] It is also ‘the ether that lies inside and occupies the in-betweens of all the computers’[viii]. Superimposing the notion of dérive to that of ma as ‘space between’ [ix], ‘time between’[x] and space-time-between[xi] Life 1.0 and Life 2.0, Life 3.0 is the restless travelling in between space, travelling in between time, as well as travelling in between the space and time between space and time.

[i] Isozaki, Arata, and Ken Tadashi Oshima, Arata Isozaki (Phaidon Press, 2009), p. 157.
[ii]Daniel Charles, ‘Bringing The Ryoan-Ji To The Screen’, Taka Iimura homepage , accessed 21 November 2009.
[iii] Pilgrim, Richard B., ‘Intervals (“Ma”) in Space and Time: Foundations for a Religio-Aesthetic Paradigm in Japan.’ History of Religions 25, no. 3, February 1986, p. 255.
[iv] Isozaki and Oshima, 157.
[v] Isozaki and Oshima, p. 158
[vi] William Gibson, Neuromancer, new edition, Voyager, 1995.
[vii] Gibson.
[viii] Sardar Z. & Ravetz J.R., 1995. From Martin Dodge, ‘Cybergeography’, Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 28(1) 1-2, 2001 , accessed 4 January 2010.
[ix] Pilgrim, p. 255.
[x] Pilgrim, p. 255.
[xi] Isozaki and Oshima, p. 158

Image by Kaidie / Kaidie Running for her lives (after Muybridge)

urbanTick: At work you run, well you are running all the time, how do you relate to time while you run? Is there a backup system if the timing fails?

3rdlifekaidie: Rather than a static condition, Life 3.0 is a verb of action, of restless running in between Life 1.0 (physical reality) and Life 2.0 (realm of imagination, and Web 2.0). Kaidie runs, albeit slowly, as her race is a marathon of her life journey. Any marathon is a test of one’s physical as well as mental stamina. In any long-distance run, there are ups and downs. Kaidie gets her fair share of ‘runner’s highs’. When this happens, time (and space) are not of any consequence. However, when Kaidie hits the walls, or runs with blisters and aches, time slows down, or even comes to a standstill. In times like these, Kaidie ploughs through, runs through the pain and moves on.

Image by Kaidie / Permanence/transience/forevers/nows/what nexts

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The urban context directly shapes our experience of the city. As we make our way down to the bus stop the sun rays falling through the leave canopy bouncing on the shiny metall of the railing burn an image in your memory and evoke a smile on your lips. Breathing can be difficult down below underground in a full tube carriage, while trying not to fall over and clinging on to a handle. In the evening the feet burn from walking for miles across the tarmac. An still while closing the eyes the pattern of walkway slabs disappearing beneath the steps flicker by your eyes while lying in bed.
Exploring the city as a flaneur in the sense of the Situationist’s can multiply these experiences. And this body city interaction has been subject to a number of investigations in different disciplines from architects, planner, geographers and artists. How does this excitement, pain or tiredness visualise? How does the city inscribe its extension on the human body?
In the bio mapping work of Christian Nold the excitement was registered via a Galvanic Skin Response and later plotted on a map.

Image by Gordan Savicic taken from yugo.at / The resulting marks on the artist's body as  record of the network activity.
Image by Gordan Savicic taken from yugo.at / The resulting marks on the artist’s body as record of the network activity.

In the project “The pain of everyday life” the artist Gordan Savicic goes a step further and directly ‘inscribes’ the parameters on the human body as an intensified transformation. His responsive fetish corset translates urban communication network signals into physical compression. The wearer is squeezed according to the signal strengt of surrounding WI-FI access points. Depending on the area this can feel quite squashed.
‘A chest strap (corset) with high torque servo motors and a WIFI-enabled game-console are worn as fetish object. The higher the wireless signal strength of close encrypted networks, the tighter the corset becomes. Closed network points improve the pleasurable play of tight lacing the performer‘s bustier.'(yugo.at)
The resulting pain map is recorded and can be rendered into a general tourist city map. A set of maps are available, but more interesting might be the experience of accelerated sensing.

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A nice timeLapse clip with very dramatic music composed together by Constantin Philippou. It is just another taken on the city thing, but the soundscape makes this an intense portrait of everydayLife with some touching behind the (City) scenes moments. So turn your headphones up.

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The general discussion around Ecological Urbanism or Sustainability in an urban context is very often not about design. It is about technical aspects, about technology and science. Very much in the sense that Kiril Stanilov pointed out in his post, planning but also the design of are focused on the implementation of technology. Stanislov points out that his was the invention of the modernist movement and it changed the city dramatically. But is also poses the question of what roe can design play now? And to actually play a role again it needs to move beyond acting as a mere container for technology. Clever cities in the sense of computers might be fun for computer scientists but in terms of everyday life and spacial experience there might be little gain. This current discussion here on urbanTick has beside the post by Annick Labec on the Architecture of R&Sie not featured this aspect enough and in a second instalment of this discuss there would need be to focus more clearly on the design aspects. This is not to say that technology doesn’t matter, quite the opposite, but it has to be put in a context or better a network.
The Atom is the past. The symbol of science for the next century is the dynamical Net. The Net is the archetype displayed to represent all circuits, all intelligence, all interdependence, all things economic and social and ecological, all communications, all democracy, all groups, all large systems [Kevin Kelly, Out of Control in Richard Rogers, edited by Phillip Gumuchdjian, Cities for a small planet, page 146].
Similar to the design aspect, time, features very little in the debate. Already the concept of past present and future is applied in a very limited sense. Usually learning form the past means to borrow ideas and implement them in the present. Retro doesn’t apply to the current environmental problems we have today, the condition have changed dramatically in the last forty years. But also much shorter time scales do not yet play an important enough role in the city. The complete infrastructure is designed to cope throughout with peak flows, even though most of the day the general use is half or less of this amount. The importance of flows and networks as discussed by Duncan Smith play the important part here. Again infrastructure of flows is a product defined largely by the modernist concept of the city and it would be very interesting to discuss new emerging concepts of an integrated approach.
This is then in a next step also very much dependant on scale and for an Ecological Urbanism to be effective it has to cover aspects throughout the different scales. This I believe is a very positive thing though, because it brings disciplines closer together and highlights the relationships between the scales. This requires the planning to become more dynamic and the old categories have to be reshaped into dynamic categories. This is especially interesting regarding social aspects of an Ecological Urbanism. In a distinct post, DPR has pointed out the importance of the social apexes. Through out the social scales from society, to neighbourhoods and groups to individuals everyone plays a role. Since sustainability is something everyone is involved, as Luis Suarez has discussed, the city requires everyone to take part it has the potential to transform the relationship and define it anew. It could become a tool to overcome the dogma of the machine city, the city that serves, the city as an infrastructure and free the citizen from being a user. And under the title used by Stanza for his contribution this could create the ‘Emergent City’. A new relationship under the aspect of an Ecological Urbanism could see the people becoming an active element in the urban context with attributed capacity of creation and decision and lead to a more engaged and participatory urbanism, were responsibility could have a meaning again.
To archive this involvement education has to be part of the plan. Sustainability is to some extend a question of education and knowledge. To understand things in such a way, of course there is education needed. I don‘t think it is an accident that sustainability appears together with a systemic understanding of the world in the early seventies of the last century. The discovery of the system description enables to become aware of action impacts and raises the key questions of sustainability.
The first satellite picture from outer space in 1959 gave these new thoughts an image. The whole world could look at it self and capture the finiteness of our living room. And it is maybe still the most powerful image to support all activities around sustainability. Sustainability is also about images > Spaceship Earth [in Fuller, R.B., 1982. Critical Path 2nd ed., St. Martin’s Griffin.] as Martin Callanan has beautifuy illustrated with his work ‘A Planetary Order’.

Image taken from limcorp.net / The earth from outer space.
Image taken from limcorp.net / The earth from outer space.

It is not about one field of action where sustainability haste to take place in such a manner. First, sustainability has to take place through all scales up to a global level in all fields. Every action is embedded in a system of elements, relations and impacts; every action has to be taken in awareness of this fact. Every action matters through all the scales. But all partners need to be on the same level of understanding. Sustainability is also about equal rights. If you want to build solutions for the future and have people working with you, every citizen has to understand the system very well. You have to have a commitment with simplicity. Every child should know the design of his or her own city. They should design the city even, because if you can design the city you can understand the city. If you understand the city, you will respect the city [Jaime Lerner on public transport in Mau, B., Leonard, J. & Boundaries, I.W., 2004. Massive Change, Phaidon Press. Page 59].

I would like to thank the people who contributed to this now closing series of posts on the topic of Ecological Urbanism very much for their participation. Those are, in order of appearance: Duncan Smith, Luis Suarez, DPR-Barcelona, Annick Labecca, Martin John Callanan, Stanza, Kiril Stanilov.
It has been produced on very short notice and contributors have reacted enthusiastic and thanks to them this series of post turned out so well.
The topics discussed have provided many insights and have stimulated especially in cross combination a wider range of thoughts. In this sense and with the topics in mind that were highlighted by the debate as in need of more attention I am please to announce that a second instalment of the discussion of Ecological Urbanism is in planning and should take place in two month time. With this we are for now closing the contributions on this invited series on Ecological Urbanism on urbanTick. In the mean time please leave comments and suggestions, it would be great if we could extend the discussion further. If you are interested to contribute in the next format, please drop me a note and we can work out the details.

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