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— urbantick

June 2011 Monthly archive

Social networking is an internet phenomena and as such not limite to political borders. It spread rather quickly around the globe and is now as a range of maps recently has shown present on al continents as an important part of internet usage. THere are of course great variations between the locations as factors of actual internet accessibility.

GlobaWebIndex global social network usage
Image taken from globalwebindex / THe ranking of Social Network penetration by country. Not sure why Japan is so low. This depends on the definition of Social Networking presumably which is not provided.

Mashable describs the research: “The research, run by London-based consultancy Trendstream, has conducted six waves of surveys about global consumer adoption of the Internet and social media in 36 markets. It used data from its February 2011 surveys of between 750 and 2,000 online users in each market to define three behavior types: messagers, groupers and content sharers.”

GlobaWebIndex global social network usage
Image taken from globalwebindex / The global usage of Social networking. The grey circle show total number where the colours characterise the different group of use characteristics. Click for large image.

GlobalWeg Index explains the map as: “This shows the universe size of active social networkers for each market and then segments users into three behaviour types: Messagers, Groupers and Content Sharers. This behavioural data is based on a number of detailed questions we conduct into the way that consumers use social networks. Because social networking is now so big and touches every aspect of our internet experience, this detail is essential for the effective planning and implementation of marketing activity across social networks. This data reveals that users across the world are very different in how they utilise their network, with more focus on messaging and less on content sharing in established markets like the US and UK but more focus on content and groups in fast growing markets like Indonesia and China.”

These three different groups are shown on the map as with three different colours red for messages and mailers, blue for content sharers and green for group focused. The observed countries behave differently and from this study it seems that content sharing is more important in Asia, where messaging is more often used in the West. Indi seems to be the main marked for groups. Overall Asia and especially China is the largest market, with 155m users even now overtaking the US, with about 114m users. It is definitely the largest growing market.

Africa is as expected the smallest market compared to individual European or Asian countries. Some of the results are surprising such as the low number in Australia and rather high number in Poland. Also the visualisation is rather misleading with the results evenly distributed across the globe when it actually only is looking at certain countries. The map visually looks as if it covers everything. Stronger colouring in the actual locations or clearer association of the graphs with the country would probably help.
Nevertheless it provides a great overview and gives a feeling for the state of the social network usage globally.

Via Mashable

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With the possibilities of new computer technologies and the availability of rendering power physical models in architecture have lost the role as the main tool for spatial and physical shaping and testing of ideas.

It is convenient with a few clicks to simulate a rough 3D sketch in some free sketch tool providing bulky and unfitting standard elements. And for the architect it is easy to project ideas over these unfitting representations, mentally covering up and extending on the shortcomings of the method. Where this method can’t provide any help is with the physicality of materials the depths and the tactility. For this a real physical representation in 3D is needed.

Model making is a wide ranging field from sketch models to working models to models produced by a professional model maker. Similar is the application range for models, they can come it at every stage of the design process in various forms, scales and detail.

Book Model Making p29
Image taken from Model Making / Book page p29 showcasing the composite stack, where different materials are combined, prepared individually put together and sanded into shape.

The new book Model Making, of the Princeton Architectural Press series Architectural Briefs, is by Megan Weber. She is the founder of zDp Models, a San Francisco -based model making firm working for a range of clients in the bay area and beyond. This includes Apple, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, SOM, Gensler and EDAW.

The book is designed as a basic reader guide to model making and model material introduction. It takes the read through a whole range of options arranged by material. Each step is arranged by material, necessary tools, technique, technology, range of architectura concepts it is suitable for and some alternatives. This forma provides a good overview, for both inspiration and guidance. Further sections discuss the tools, additional techniques and specific aspects such as scale, surface treatment and architectural concepts.

Book Model Making p28
Image taken from Model Making / Book page p28 demonstrating the composite stack, where different materials are combined, prepared individually put together and sanded into shape.

The question is not whether one technique is better than the other one. This would be an exhausting an not very productive discussion. It is more a question of how do the different methods work together and where are they complementary. The process of designing is very individual depending on the team and the project but the tools can consistently be available and provide the methods for both developing and testing. Architectural models are definitely together with the drawings the essential tool and brings the ideas for the forst time into physical form, models are real.

For real world inspiration the V&A has an extensive collection of architectural models. It is definitely worth a visit and browsing through the range of historic and contemporary structures.

Book Model Making cover
Image taken from Model Making / Book cover.

Werner, M., 2011. Model Making, New York, N.Y: Princeton Architectural Press.

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Together with the digital mapping the 3D modes have become very popular and are of most mapping services these days. There is the basic terrain that can be rendered in 3D, but also the buildings.

Google had from very early on 3D buildings for cities, gradually expanding on numbers and quality. They started with grey volumes and now show good quality photo mapped buildings. To get here Google tried crowd sourcing the work in different ways and were really successful. They offer an online tools, the Building Maker, for people to use together with the required data such as location, aerial imagery and images of the building or texture mapping. This was back in 2009.

SenseFly UAV
Image taken from engadget / 3D model of an urban fragment generated from areal images recorded by an SenseFy UAV.

Other companies tried different technologies. Yell Maps were one of the first to show full coverage in 3D for cities using 3D models built from satellite imagery. It is based on lidar scans that created the basic mesh for the topography and then automatically mappen on with images.

This is a very different approach to the Google model because basically the buildings and the topography are mapped out at once. It is a high res topography scan that will include the buildings. This is sort of what other companies are using now for the 3D visualisation of online maps as for example the Nokia OVI maps or the maps available on the Swedish search engine hitta.se.

lidar scan
Image taken from searchmesh / The principles of a lidar scan.

At EPFL in Lausanne a team of scientists has extended on this research and developed a drone based mapping version of a similar technology. It is however, no longer based on laser scanning of the terrain for the point mesh, but instead they are using the images themselves to create the point mesh.

The drone is something like the SenseFly. An UAV works autonomous but can be controlled in rel time and captured images re available immediately after landing. See a clip HERE and a post on Digital Urban HERE.

SenseFly UAV
Image taken from geeky-gadgets / The UAV developed by SenseFly. It comes with a 12m camera and controle software in a neat flatpack box.

The drone will cover an area multiple times taking pictures from different angles as it passes overhead. The computer will match all images calculating the differences and produce the mesh in amazing detail.

This sort of brings the 3D modeling back to the crowd where everybody can join in and produce parts of the digital environment. On a larger scale this would also provide time based imagery with links to a great archive. It could become a tool for project like the Grassroot Mapping project (discussed on uT HERE) and similar projects of public involvement and feed into the Community Remote Sensing CRS movement.

Probably the commercial version is too expensive at $10’000 and mainly focusing on faming applications and land surveys. But maybe an adapted version using an iPhone and the photostich software to merge the images.

Via sunFoundation

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The widening of the planning process is something we have only seen happening in the past 20 years. Public consultations are older, but not public participation. There was a strong practice of participation in the late eighties and early nineties ,which has sort of established some public involvement, but it has also died out to a great extend again. It is however an upcoming topic again also with the availability of new tools and technologies such as digital and mobile gadgets.

The tension between the ‘planners’ and the ‘to be planned’, has always posed obstacles and the understanding and the working together is complicated already because of the self image of the different parties. One of the few methods with a good success for a productive process involving multiple parties is the games oriented approach, where the immediate self and the preoccupation can be diverted and the engagement or possible temporally enacting of a different role seems acceptable and possible.

In a new Valiz publication Game Urbanism: Manual for Cultural Spatial Planning, Hans Verhuizen discusses his theories and his practice in this field of, what he terms ‘Cultural Planning’, of working with multiple stakeholders on planning processes.

The publication puts Spatial Planning as: “Reassuring End-Pictures Remove all Fear of Change, yet also Curiosity about an Uncertain Result” and crucially for the approach: “The Best Idea is Indeed the Idea you Think of Yourself”.

The book puts forward a specific term for the aspects it is concerned with as ‘Cultural Planning’. It is not a new term, but Charles Laundry traces its roots back to the 1980s. The terms aims to broaden the meaning of ‘planning’ as a mer infrastructure and definitely physically oriented process. With the addition of culture the aim is to include social and cultural aspects.

The publication is structured in three main chapters, Handbook, Workbook and Urbanism Game. To understand the ful index it is important to have a look at the first few pages which are in fact part of the index. It is a sort of index spread allowing for a note with each topic. The number at the bottom is not the actual page number, but the page number this topic is discussed.

The Handbook chapter is the theoretical part with a wide range of inputs and considerations. Especially the side notes are a playful set of very serious input. The whole book is full of playful elements with rotation and skips or directions, where the topic of the content has informed the presentation and the character of the publication.

Image taken from archined / Parquette, a project game employing the herringbone pattern as a principle of reorganisation. The games reveilles the positive side of conflicts in the urban planning processes.

“Game Urbanism deals with the culture of spatial planning. Hans Venhuizen advances a broad understanding of culture that encompasses cultural history, heritage, architecture and art, as well as the culture of the current residents of a region and the idiosyncrasy of a place. In his search for a more specific identity for cities and areas, Venhuizen links the worlds of culture and space to each other in different ways. In this, his focus is always on the culture of spatial planning itself, and the game is his most important instrument. The relation between playfulness and seriousness is a key feature in all of Venhuizen’s projects. The game is capable of involving participants in an assignment on an equal basis. Moreover, it simplifies complex situations, reveals the wishes and interests of those involved, and provides pleasure in uncertain processes of change.”

“The book offerscase studies, context, methods and reflection. It shows a fundamentally different way of looking at how we deal with space, one in which culture assumes a natural and decisive role.”

The three authors have very different backgrounds and this shapes a very distinct perspective, creating interesting view.
Hans Venhuizen is director of Bureau Venhuizen, a project management and research bureau in the field of planning processes and spatial planning, also referred to as culture-based planning.
Charles Landry is founder and director of Comedia (UK), an international agency advising on creativity as source and stimulator for urban development and change. Landry is author of The Creative City: a Toolkit for Urban Innovators (2000), The Art of City Making (2006) and with Phil Wood of The Intercultural City: Planning for Diversity Advantage (2007).
Francien van Westrenen is Programmer/Curator Architecture of Stroom in The Hague and was project manager at Bureau Venhuizen.

For a quick overview of the book pleaase have a look at this clip.

SubMap 1.0
Image taken from archined / Book cover.

Venhuizen, H., Landry, C. & Westrenen, F.V., 2010. Game Urbanism: Manual for Cultural Spatial Planning, Amsterdam: Valiz.

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The discussion around the subjectivity of mapping and the potential of subjective mapping tools becoming possible with the ever greater penetration of gadgets an locative media is gaining momentum. There are a number of project focusing on the output of individual mapping outputs specifically conditioning the visuals to the location, mood, speed or purpose.

One such interesting project is SubMap by Dániel Feles, Krisztián Gergely, Attila Bujdosó and Gáspár Hajdu at Kitchen Budapest. A collective working with technology and the environment, its mainly funded by Magyar Telecom.

SubMap 1.0
Image taken from SubMap / In the first version of SubMap we present three print maps which show the city from ‘our point of view’. We chose our homes as epicenters of these unique, spherical, perspectival distortions. Additionally we created a superimposed map centred around Kitchen Budapest where we all work together.

The SubMap project distorts the map according to the location and literally lets the map appear larger around the focal point. This can be the actual location of the person or a location that is currently being talked about.

In the subjective version they are using Foursquare to track themselves and log the location. Each check in creates a new focal point. There is a whole series of SubMaps currently at version 2.0 including a Generative sound by Kiss László.

Exhibited: Subjective Budapest Maps, Galeria Centralis, Budapest, 20/10/2010-02/12/2010

In SubMap version 2.0 they are pulling in news data from a large archive. This shifts the focus from the individual to a more collective representation of activity. As described by “Ebullition visualises and sonificates data pulled from one of the biggest news sites of Hungary, origo.hu. The work is part of the project SubMap, which deals with subjective mapping of cities and countries.
One frame is one day, and on one day many things can happen. Depending on how many times a day the name of a city or a village is mentioned on the site, the map of Hungary dynamically distorts according to that number. The sound follows and sonfies that visual outcome, creating a generative ever changing drone.”

Via jmichaelbatty on Twitter.

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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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The Matterhorn is the iconic mountain in Switzerland and features on many ‘Swiss’ Products or as part of a logo as for example with Toblerone the Swiss chocolate in triangular shape, a abstraction of the Matterhorn itself.

There are of course other mountains, such as the Eiger or the Stockhorn, but the Matterhorn is definitely the best mountain as a brand. This si definitely also a lot to do with tourism and the way Zermatt, the village grown resort at the foot of the Matterhorn has managed to build up a name internationally and retain a popularity. This happened definitely in a symbiosis between the village and the mountain. Zermatt is probably thee days one of the most famous car free resort in the world.

Toblerone logo
Image taken from smudgecoverglasses / The Toblerone logo. Can you spot the hidden creature in the logo? Hint, its the animal representing the chocolate’s home town, the Swiss capital actually.

The Matterhorn is with 4’478 meters on of the talest peaks in the Alps. And as it is described on Wikipedia: “The Matterhorn was the last great Alpine peak to be climbed and its first ascent marked the end of the Golden Age of Alpinism. It was made in 1865 by a party led by Edward Whymper and ended tragically when four of its members fell to their deaths on the descent. The north face was not climbed until 1931, and is amongst the six great north faces of the Alps. The Matterhorn is one of the deadliest peaks in the Alps: from 1865 – when it was first climbed – to 1995, 500 alpinists died on it.”

The Golden Age of Alpinism was not lead by Swiss or French people, who lived in the valleys and Villigas surrounding the peaks, but it was mainly English climbers and explorers who fueled and pushed alpinism. It is the period between the ascent of the Wetterhorn in 1854 and Edward Whymper’s ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865. Its start predates the formation of the Alpine Club in London in 1857, the Golden Age was dominated by British alpinists accompanied by their Swiss and French guides.

BBC run a series on this topic with a group of mountaineers retracing some of the most famous routes. Also Britannica Online has a extended blogpost on the Golden Age, the Matterhorn and Eduard Whymper.

All this started more than 150 years ago and it is still to this day acting as a deining element for a wider region, a range of brands and as icon. This is not to say that it hasn’t already fulfilled such a role earlier. THe mountains do in fact as we all know very much so play an important role in old stories and myths. THey are definitely a strong source of identity.

In his stopMotion animation Willem van den Hoed plays with this subject of the Matterhorn as the focal point of a place and illustrates this poetically from different angles. Very much a nice clip and a good portrait of a mountain representing an age, a region and a dream.

The film was also part of the “Film in de buurt – Festival” in Rotterdam (2007) and shown at the Willem van den Hoed – exhibition, “Glass” at Galerie Litfasssaeule in Munich until the 11th of November 2007. Also shown at the Raiffeisen open Air Kino Zermatt (2008).

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Buildings are generally thought of being static structures playing a dual role in hosting and defining spatial context. The different types of buildings are adjusted to different activities and usages serving as platforms for interaction and communication.

A building live span is usually beyond the human live span and types are developed over generations of buildings adapting to chaining conditions such as context usage or activity, but also material and performance. The context has a very strong influence. Historically even more so as the direct surrounding and conditions shaped the resulting building directly via ground conditions, available materials near by and climate conditions.

The saltwaterpavilion
Image taken from DotCalendArt / ONL Saltwater Pavilion, Neeltje Jans, 1997. “The saltwaterpavilion has evolved from the very beginning of the design process as a three-dimensional computer model. We kneaded, stretched, bent, rescaled, morphed, styled and polished. He delineation of the form is laid down in the digital genes of the design that hold the germ of life. The first idea is the genetic starting point for all subsequent steps in the development. We no longer accept the domination of platonic volumes, the simplistic geometry of cube, sphere, cylinder and cone as the basic elements of architecture. That resolution is much too low. Our computers allow us to command millions of coordinates describing far more complex geometries.”

Along these parameters local and very specific building cultures have developed. And all of them are tightly entangled with everyday culture and practice and form a very important part there of.

Todays conditions have changed, with possibilites to source materials from around the globe and buildings being developed for less specific usages but the connections and context relevance are still very similar. Even if architects planners and especially developers are trying to denying any of this with some of the building they put up, building are still placed in context with adjoining developments.

In his new book ‘Towards a New Kind of Building – A Designer’s Guide for Nonstandard Architecture’,published by NAi Publishers in 2011, the Dutch architect Kas Oosterhuis discusses the paradigm shift in architecture thorough the aspects of shifting design, production and manufacturing processes, highlighting the changes. He uses his own architectural work both with his office ONL and with the Hyperbody research group at the University of Delft as a reference and discusses these shifts in a wider social context.

Car showroom and workshop for BMW
Image taken from ONL / Car showroom and workshop for BMW dealer EKRIS. “Architects must learn from the evolution of car bodies. IN the thirties cars were still traditional coaches on top of a chassis, much like buildings are a loose set of components on top of a foundation structure. Car evolved in the forties and fifties into monocoque structures, self-sufficient structural monocoque shell, preciously folded and perforated as to integrate a variety of organs, wiring and cladding materials. Now it is the architects turn to design and build monocoque structures, coherent enough to actually pick them up and displace them without losing its structural integrity.”

The book is structured along the process Oosterhuis is proposing with ‘Tag – all components will be tagged as to process information’, ‘Shape – the point cloud is organized by power lines to shape the body’, ‘Move – building components are actors in a complex adaptive system’, Evolve – the building body is a personal universe living inside evolution’.

The talking is of parametric design. Using the digital design tools the design process has shifted from individual blocks and pieces to mesh surfaces, continuous and flexibel materials strapped over point clouds and adaptive algorithms. Oosterhuis is also putting lot of emphasis on the changes and shifts leading from a top down to a bottom up planning process. He proposes this as a result of the shifting processes. What he puts forward he summarises with “From mass production to mass customisation”.

The book is not the first one to do so but probably is the most direct and open about making the claim for a new architecture style that is radically different from anything been here before. However, Oosterhuis gives it another 50 years to be fully established and common practice world wide.

Towards a New Kind of Building: Book Spread
Image taken from Modern Journal / Book Spread showing the Al Nasser Head Quarter Project by ONL.

Leading architecture school all haven been for a number of years participating in this field of parametric design with dedicated units and courses to the topic. The AA, the Bartlett, TU Delft (Oosterhuis’ lab), or at Yale to have only a few examples. Digital computing in architecture, especially in schools is common practice and firms like Zaha Hadid and Frank Gerry are other companies heavily using and developing such technologies.

Oosterhuis brings together in his book a well structured and comprehensive presentation of the changes brought along by the new technologies and methods and also outlines the process he has developed over the years as a ‘workflow’ or better probably a methodology. The presentation, as it starts in the introduction and spans right to he conclusion (which is actually already featuring in the introduction), is dominated by a very personal presentation of facts and points. This is on one hand irritating, probably because one would expect such proposal to take an objective position. On the other hand this provides space for a wealth of examples and experience presentations otherwise not possible.

Spaceport for Spaceship II
Image taken from ONL / 2012 Space Xperience Curacao [SXC], Curacao, Spaceport for Spaceship II. “The ambition of the initiators Harry van Hulten and Ben Droste *) of the Space Xperience Curacao© BV [SXC], supported by the Curacao authorities and their entrepreneurs, is to create a major touristic attractor for the Caribbean, hosting the future operator for Galactic Travels, and offering a venue for international scientific space research. The SXC landmark building, designed by the internationally renowned Dutch design studio ONL **), will be built as a spaceship, applying maritime and aviation techniques on the building body of the SXC. The SXC will be an inspiring venue both for the international scientific community, the future astronauts and for the tourists who will bring home a memorable Experience from the Space Xperience Curacao.”

To some extend it also stands opposed to the process and the method being generally understood as objective, algorithmic, in the sense of digital evolution with little conventional design elements, and therefor rather absolut. The presented personal standpoint in this sense helps to brake this up and develop a rather subjective understanding of the method.

There is a lot of presentation and a clear structured text with a wealth of practical examples supporting the case. The proposition of a change a paradigma shift in architecture, or parts of the architecture world, is on one hand overdue and on the other already superseded by itself. The field is moving very fast, but is still in development and this makes it extremely difficult to comprehensively bring the fundamentals and extend of a new kind to the point. Nevertheless, this book brings together a experience and development background of about 30 years in the field and at least bring this to the point. A very good start for a new kind of building.

Towards a New Kind of Building: Book Cover
Image taken from Modern Journal / Book Cover.

Oosterhuis, K., 2011. Towards a New Kind of Building: A Designerʼs Guide for Non-standard Architecture, Rotterdam: NAI Publishers.

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Nike is one of the very big brands managing to cleverly connect to their customers through both very good marketing and a product range always catching and inspiring the trends. So they were very early to offer an iPod extension to connect their sport equipment with a lifestyle gadget.

Since these early days of the Nike iPod marriage a lot has changed, but the basics are stil, you can listen to your favorite music and mange your training data. Nike+ offers a platform for managing the training data based on distance, pace and route and track performance over time. It also comes as an app for the iPhone including the GPS tracking.

1000 New York Nike+ runs
Image taken from cargoCollective / The 1000 runs of New York as a sample of Nike+ training data. The activity data redraws the geography of Manhattan including many of the streets.

Cooper Smith, a interaction designer, worked with a 1000 runs taken from the Nike+ data store and produced a series of amazing graphics focusing on New York. What he is working with is really the GPS tracks and the contained time and location data. He has been using the Google Refine for data cleaning and processing for the visualisations.

The data nicely draws out the geography of New York, especially Manhattan and shows a runners map of NY of sort. It is an individuals map with a collective presentation of spatial activity. Different patterns are showing as Smith is experimenting with different visualisation and processing parameters.

1000 New York Nike+ runs
Image taken from cargoCollective / Smith explains the distance parameters: “Not surprisingly, longer runs tended to be more prevalent in areas that runners could get to stretches of uninterrupted running trails, such as Central Park, the bridges, and the West Side Highway. Landlocked areas where trails are replaced by streets tended to see much shorter runs. I was surprised to see that most of the runs originating from the Upper East Side and Upper West Side were short runs, given their proximity to Central Park. It appears that people who begin their runs in Central Park tend to go for longer runs, while those who start outside of Central Park and run into it tend to go for shorter runs”.

The full animation of the data shows the patterns over a 24 hour period, superimposing the tracks in time. There seems to be more activity after work, but already in the morning is quite a peak. Nevertheless NY seems to be running all day. At least this was the picture back in autumn 2010.

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Urban regeneration in the UK appears to be mainly driven by speculation developer dominated investment projects thought and planned isolated as unique pieced dropped in a pool of likeminded, but distant relatives. As it looks cities, especially inner cities are suffering from identity loss with globalisation of characters and increasingly fragmented spatial configurations.

This is of course not a objective but a very subjective view on what is happening and how these changes feel. To be fair earlier changes in the seventies and eighties were worse. In this perspective a lot has changed and the nineties and the beginning of the 21th century projects have become a lot more sensible to a little bit wider context, maybe up to the pavement, and pretend more of a respect for environment and society.

The Public, West Bromwich
Image taken from Wikimedia / A view of the Public in West Bromwich. “The Building is lovely to photograph, though looks somewhat less impressive when actually standing in front of it. A financial disaster, the scheme has yet to prove its value in attracting investment to this run-down part of the West Midlands.

Phil Jones and James Evans have published in 2008 with Sage a reader on this topic, ‘Urban Regeneration in the UK: Theory and Practice‘. It a classical text book with all the features ‘Overview’ at the beginning of a chapter, ‘Key Points’ at the ed of each chapter, a ‘Further Reading’ section and very helpful a chapter by chapter bibliography. This is not to to say it is dumb or boring on the contrary it is very helpful and allows for quicker orientation, skipping and finding of specific information.

Finding thing is really what you what with this type of book. It is not about discovering and becoming immersed in new thought, its clearly to get the facts on the tabe. An this it does along the topics of ‘Policy Framework’, ‘Governance’, ‘the Competitive City’, ‘Sustainability’ and ‘Design and Cultural Regeneration’. Within this framework the book makes use of studies to present the cases and points. It is great to have such a practical focus.

Drake Circus
Image taken from geograph / A view of the Drake Circus shopping centre in Plymouth finished in 2007. It replaced a completely run down previous shopping mall. However, in stead of solving the identified problems of its precessor it presents a whole new set of complication to the city and the public. This includes its expression on the outside, connections for access, dead spaces and frontages as well as the very problematic roundabout at the north end of the development.

However it is important to point out that this is not a practical ‘how to do urban regeneration guide’. This is probably to be found in the CABE reading list or somewhere around there. This book is set in an academic context focusing on state-of-the-art research. In this sense the publication is providing the theoretical background and the discussion to the topic.

It an important topic and compared to many of Europe’s other large cities the quality of building in urban centres is really poor, actually dramatic. This publications provides some insight on the mechanics and the policies behind the processes leading to such a state. However it does not explain the spectacular failings. Project such as ‘The Public, West Bromwich’ or the ‘Drake Circus’ shopping centre and regeneration in Plymouth are on a two examples (see images above).

Drake Circus
Image taken from surreylibraries / ‘Urban Regeneration’ book cover.

Jones, P. & Evans, J., 2008. Urban Regeneration in the UK: Theory and Practice, London: Sage Publications Ltd.

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