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Tag "history"

Prestel has launched a new short series on the history of architecture focusing on a range of architecture styles. So far published are Romanesque Architecture, Renaissance Architecture, Gothic Architecture as well as Contemporary Architecture.

The aim of the series is to introduce architecture and specifically architecture styles throughout the ages. Each volume is dedicated to a specific topic and discusses it in detail making great use of carefully selected photographs, drawings and sketches to illustrate and extend on the accessibly written text.

Torre Velasca, Milan
Image taken from skycrapercity / Torre Velasca, Milan, Italy. built between 1956-58, hight 106 meters. Features in the booklet on The Story of Contemporary Architecture.

The text is key here and especially because each booklet is a short introduction, with about 140 odd pages, room is limited for flowering descriptions. The authors have managed to bring out the important points, anchoring each of them in the wider context.

Of course the series is not presenting any new material and history has been discusse before, but the nicely styles and well written booklets are a good way of getting into or even refresh on the different strands of architecture over the past, leading up to contemporary architectural discussion.

Image taken from skycrapercity / City of Saint-Malo built 12th-18th century in France. Features in the booklet on The Story of Gothic Architecture.

The series is mentioning aspects of technology, material and concepts as far at it is relevant to the development of the movement and the style. This also includes references to cultural movements and developments. Overall it provides a quite comprehensive picture.

Each booklet is structured with an introduction, providing the wider context and the lead in. this is followed by a discussion of the main characteristics of the style at hand. The third part is a presentation of examples featuring very prominent ambassador buildings representing each style.

Prestel the Story of ArchitecturePrestel the Story of Architecture
Prestel the Story of ArchitecturePrestel the Story of Architecture
Image taken from boomerangbooks / Architecture history series books covers.

Favole, P., 2011. The Story of Contemporary Architecture, London: Prestel.
Prina, F., 2011a. The Story of Gothic Architecture, London: Prestel.
Prina, F., 2011b. The Story of Romanesque Architecture, London: Prestel.
Servida, S., 2011. The Story of Renaissance Architecture, London: Prestel.
Zanlungo, C., 2011. The Story of Baroque Architecture, London: Prestel.

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AxisMaps offers a new online historic maps page to cover Londons past. It is a great resource overlaying about 30 maps dated between 1800 and 1900, on a digital current map based on open street map data. The service allows for interaction with to zoom in for great level of detail.

The producers of the service proposa a concept of space and place as a conceptual framework to understand and use the service. As they define it: “Space or “Which areas of Victorian London are most similar / different to each other (and how did that change over time)?” The 19th century was a dynamic time for London and its population and we wanted to let you explore that by the numbers. Organized by metropolitan works district, you can see how and where the population of London changed over 100 years. We’ve also included the locations of social institutions throughout London as their locations help us understand how the city tried to cope with the changing nature of its urban population.

axisMaps Landmark
Image taken from London Low Life / Image showing the London Zoo from the World’s Metropolis, or, Mighty London.

Place or “What was it like to be in Victorian London?” As London’s population was changing in the 19th century, the city itself was being reshaped. This map contains 3 different perspectives on the changing city. Historic base maps not only give you a top-down view of the city; they also allow you to see what aspects of the city cartographer’s felt were important enough to include on their maps. Original images let you see the important features of the city from a variety perspectives. Finally, the Tallis streetviews allow you to put yourself on a London street and look around.”

Iframe embeded from London Low Life / Click HERE for full version.

It is however not only about the maps, there is great additional information. This ranges from Street View to population data and also includes details of landmarks and infrastructure. The Street View is based on the maps and drawings produced during the 19th century by John Tallis. He was a publisher of maps in London and his company produced this very comprehensive Street frontage atlas. AxisMaps have now made this accessible via this online platform using pins on the map that correspond to digitised
scans. It is even possible to move around in the streetview and of course see both sides of the road.

axisMaps Population
Iframe embeded from London Low Life / Image showing the popuation of London around 1850.

With the additional information, the service covers population over the whole of the century and as well as population density and population change. In the infrastructure section the data details location and covers a range of types, such as prisons, universities, orphanages, work houses and lunatyc asylums. For most areas there are also additional documents such a s sketches and drawings to illustrate specific landmarks or institutions.

The platform provides a great experience of Victorian London and lets you explore many different aspects of a great city over a whole century. This interactive time-warp makes it a lot of fun and can become rather addictive. However it would be great if the information could be a bit more personal and engaging. At the moment it is very much the look at type of conventional museum presentation, very much a teaching environment.

It fits in with a range of other great tools providing access to historic location information, such as the iPhone app Historic Earth, the Walking Through Time iPhone app, or the augmented reality iPhone app Streetmuseum provided by the Museum of London.

Iframe embeded from London Low Life / Digital version of John Talli’s London Street View.

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The forthcoming Prestel publicationTadao Ando 1994-2009‘is looking back on the last 15 years of the architect Tadao Andos work. The publication is put together by Francesco Dal Co, the Casabella editor. He has already edited the last large scale Tadao Ando publication, the in 1998 published ‘Tadao Ando: Complete Works’. In this sense he knows Ando and his work very well.

This is then also the experience the publication translates. Everything here is neatly documented in chronological order. The publication mainly work with photographs and overview drawings. Hoever there are a few detail drawings and every now and then also a sketch or an atmospheric drawing.

Ando today is a star architect. He is one of the very big names among Frank Gehry, Foster and Partner or Nouvel. However his position as a Japanese architect is special. His designs have this very specific style that is unique in a different sense than his western colleagues.

Back in Japan he once was one of a few radical young architects, as he describes it in the essay in the introduction, who wanted to do things differently. And obviously they managed to succeed. His raw usage of concrete was in the 90is a very clear architectural language that was only beginning to develop with other practices.

The very first Ando building I experienced was the conference centre in Weihl, par tof the Vitra Design Museum. It is one of Ando’s very early Western project. And it is special, the grey concrete, the strong lines and the bare knobs of the shuttering as sort of print marks. For an early year architectural student back then a high light.

Maritime Museum
Image taken from the architect-studio blog / Sketch of the Abu Dhabi Maritime Museum.

Much is still the same in his work. The result still has this very specific strength and a very subtile presence. There is a variation of materials, even wooden structures as for examples in his Kashimo-Mura Community Centre. But the strong volumes and cubatures are still dominant a known from his Abu Dhabi Maritime Museum (This is the one with the sailing boat entering underneath, see above).

The favorites however are the very small structures, for housing in mainly very urban settings. This for example the 4 x 4 house in Kobe with the best view onto the Bridge spanning the water arm. Or the Kanamori House in Nihonbashi.

The absolut highlight however is the Penthouse in Manhatten, an unbilt project designed 1996. It sits on the roof of a 1920s Manhattan Tower. The penthouse is a glas box sor to f just dumped on the skyscraper. There is a second glas box piercing the tower about three thirds up at an angle entering one facade and exiting through the corner the other facade.

It is a think monograph with about 568 pages an extensive addendum and introduction essays by Francesco dal Co and Tadao Ando. A book not only for fans, definitely documenting a piece architecture history already.

Image taken from the Esperanzache / Night view from the water of the 4×4 house.

Co, F.D., 2010. Tadao Ando 1994-2009, Prestel.

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One hundred years apart and still people are fascinated with three dimensional representations of the city they live in.
In 1910 a London guide book was published by Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & CO., Ltd. & Love & Malcomson, Ltd., at Dane Street, Holborn, W.C. illustrating the capital in 20 Birsd-Eye Views of the Principal Streets. It also includes a Large Folding Map and an updated, coloured Tube Map. The Price – one shilling.


The book opens to describe London with the lines: ‘In this vast metropolisthere are to be seen individuals, families, tribes of pretty nearly every race on the habitable globe, of almost every tongue and dialect, of every colour and complexion, of every faith, religion, persuasion, and opinion – howsoever eccentric.'(London in 1910, p. B) At the time London had some 7 million inhabitants, putting it ahead of New York with 4.5 million and Paris of 2.8 million. And the book states that London adds about 108 people daily to ‘her’ population.
It is a guidebook with the different areas portrait in detail including historical aspects such as details of the Trafalgar Battle to introduce the Nelson Column on Trafalgar Square and so on. However, in terms of layout is is rather a text book.

Images taken Yell.com / A view from Trafalgar Square in London down Charing Cross road towards Whitehall and Westminster.

The publication must have been partly financed also with advertising. There are some really nice examples in this book, of companies selling curtains, or flats for renting and so on. This too gives a pretty good impression of the passage of time compared to todays advertisement. Similar the prices, a hotel prices its rooms at 9s per day. This wold nowadays be more like £110.
The Birds-Eye Views are the main feature of this publication and they are quite impressive. Note sure though how they have been drawn. Whether from the top of some roofs or entirely as sort of imagined hovering over the houses.
In comparison the new Yell.com maps service is rendered from aerial imagery and gives the option to view the city in 3D. ‘The 3D maps were created from actual film footage shot from light aeroplanes using sophisticated aerospace technology, which is then merged with other film taken from ground level’ according to the Yell press release. ‘Its technology appears to drape multi-directional aerial imagery over 3D point cloud. It offers true 360 degree view of objects on the ground and the map also has a control to adjust the tilt of the camera to the horizon’ acording to allThingsSpatial.

Images taken from London 1910 and Yell.com / A direct comparison of the Tottenham Court Road area in 1910 on the left and 2010 on the right. For a detailed 1910 scan of the illustration go to flickr, for the 2010 version go to yell.com/maps

Very interesting how this has changed the perception of many. The city has in a relatively short period of time become the completely visualised space with uncountable attempts to capture it all. This has somehow shifted the perception form it being a space one can explore and discover and has the luxury to be surprised by new features. However this has changed into a we know it all attitude with the dreadful surprise being something one doesn’t know.

Thanks for bringing the book over to my neighbour Steve. We’ll be trying to generate those 3D flights.

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A long awaited book with the tremendously interesting subject of time and mapping is finally out. Princeton Architectural Press has published a beautiful scholarly book by the two professors Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton, ‘Cartography of Time – A History of the Timeline‘ Beautiful in this case means not only the layout is nice, but this also extend to the presentation, material, text and depth and presentation of research.
Alone the collection of examples is astonishing and can serve as a visual encyclopaedia. I happily spend hours just browsing the pages and dive here and there in contextual texts of one of the illustrations.
The timing for this publication seems perfect. Time is a hotter topic than ever, from science labs to the work place to everyday live. Every service has a temporal aspect these days.
The content is presented in eight chapters, that seem to fit with the content maybe because it has multiple meanings. For one it represents loosely history, but also the history of the book as the process of developing and writing it and at the same time imposes structure to large groups of aspects. It starts with genealogy charts and develops over linear history charts to end in the chapter ‘Big Time’ where arrangements of long term timescales up to the current days are presented. Even though we take the timeline as a given tool of communication, the authors demonstrate here how this understanding was developed and how it came to be so intuitive.

Image taken from Cartographies of Time p120 / Joseph Priestley, 1769, A New Chart of History.

The examples shown are documented and explained with of lot of care for details and put in context. A lot of te examples are beautiful coloured in with watercolours, showing these quiet but present colours of green yellow, red and blue. Most examples are linear, but some are circular or even three dimensional. It features John Sparks’ 1931 ‘The Histomap’ but also R. Buckminster Fuller’s 1943 ‘Profile of the Industrial Revolution as Exposed by theChronological Rate of Acquisition of the Basic Inventory of Cosmic Absolutes‘ and his 1963 ‘Shrinking of our Planet by Man’s Increased Travel And COmmunication Speed Around the Globe’.
The book puts a lot of emphasis on the graphics and representation techniques. So not surprising, the first book quoted is Eduard Tufte’s ‘The Visual Display of Quantitative Information’
and the second is from the same author, ‘Beautiful Evidence’.
The publication makes it clear in the first sentence what the content is about: “While historical texts have long been subject to critical analysis, the formal and historical problem posed by graphic representation of time have largely been ignored.” (p.10) The authors introduce two terms for one subject, History = Time. Very few publications actually state their intentions this clearly and usually try to benefit from some vague outlines. ‘Cartographies of Time’ really is a history book, as the authors themselves admit in the lecture.

Image taken from Cartographies of Time p24 / Manuscipt timeline for Olaf Stapledon’s classic 1930 science fiction novel, ‘Last and First Men: A Story of the Near and Far Future.

For me, in this sense, the title of the book can be a little misleading and the move to declare time and history the same is questionable. For me there are overlaps and one (history) benefits from the other (time – especially concepts of linear times as in the sense of a time ‘line’ line). However the publication incudes representation of time that go beyond a pure history representation. For example it features Charls Josephs Minard’s 1860s graph depicting Napleon’s assult on Russia, a first sketches of ideas and devices to capture many frames in immediate sequence as developed by Muybridge and Marey in , ‘201 Days’ artwork by Katie Lewis where she mapped body sensation over a period of time on an abstract map or the ‘Historical Atlas’ by Eduard Quin published in 1828 depicting the spatial extension of the known world at different points in time using clouds as a graphical metaphor of the unknown.
Those examples for me indicate that there is a lot more to the aspect of time than the traditionally linear approach often chosen by historians. But at the same time history is not history and in the meaning of the word, for me, has more to do with story than line. In a sense I picture history and mapping history especially, similar to J. R. R. Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ map of Middle-earth and accurat representation of an idea. TIme and time concepts are very much representations of a social and scientific understanding or concept. I am aware that this is a big discussion and authos such as Zerubavel or Thrift have written extensively about it.

Image taken from Cartographies of Time p128 / Eduard Quin, ‘An Historical Atlas’. The European known Earth shown through clouds from the birth of Christ to the death of Constantine, A.D. 337. In full color from Scandinavia and Morocco to Korea.

However even though it is absent from this publication here, it was stated by the authors at the very beginning and this publication has its strength, as highlighted above, in very different areas.
This is a book about the graphical representation of history, told along a brilliantly selected chain of examples and the physical extend of it clearly shows that this is enough. Further more, the content demonstrates that this book contributes a significant elements, again as identified by the authors, to the field of time research as well as the discussion, for witch debating the subject again in this case is not necessary.
But maybe there is room for a sister publication on the representation of time in other fields, for example time, space, maths, religion, …

For additional reviews see the one on Bibliodyssey or information and a audio record of the lecture given by the authors at the book launch party organised by Cabinet.

Rosenberg, D. & Grafton, A., 2010. Cartographies of Time, Princeton Architectural Press, New York.

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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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The artist Rob Carter has put together a amazing visualisation of the growth of a urban metropolis. With a number of sheets and cutouts he takes us through the history. This is depicting the growth of Charlotte, North Carolina. He describes the projects on his page as: “Metropolis is a quirky and very abridged narrative history of the city of Charlotte, North Carolina. It uses stop motion video animation to physically manipulate aerial still images of the city (both real and fictional), creating a landscape in constant motion. Starting around 1755 on a Native American trading path, the viewer is presented with the building of the first house in Charlotte. From there we see the town develop through the historic dismissal of the English, to the prosperity made by the discovery of gold and the subsequent roots of the building of the multitude of churches that the city is famous for. Now the landscape turns white with cotton, and the modern city is ‘born’, with a more detailed re-creation of the economic boom and surprising architectural transformation that has occurred in the past 20 years.”
And actually it is not only talking about history of course there is a future scenario involved. Something we might wish to some cities, but not to others, references we all have. But if the vulcanos on small Island continue to burb ashes into the sky, especially if Eyjafjallajokull’s bigger brother decides it is time, not only the airspace over Europe, but some real cities might be covered in vulcano ashes knee deep. Note sure what the MET predicts regarding this, but they most likely have a model for it. After all they have to keep their £33m supercomputer busy.

Full version can be seen HERE, on the artist’s website. Found via brandavenue.

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The rise of location information brought us knowledge of where we are ad beyond. Today you’re not only told were you are but also what is around you, how it looks like, how far it is and in which direction. Almost assuming that you are not actually there. This is usually also the selling point. If you can’t find it for example or your still too far away this will give you guidance. However it also demands in-depth engagement of the end user. This is probably the point where all these services have trouble penetrating the everyday.
However, it is still fascinating and if you are into mapping and interested in what happens around you sooner or later aspects of time will start bothering you. Most of the apps feeding your ‘location awareness’ are actually static. They relate to one point in time or assume a permanence.
This is now being addressed with a number of emerging apps, including augmented reality like layar. But also in the area of the actual map information there is a rising wealth of information regarding past location information as in the form of old aerial photos or historic maps. Google has introduced the timeline feature in Google Earth earlier this year with the version 5.0, where you have the ability to access old aerial photos used since the launch of the Google Earth service in 2005. Now it has also swapped to the mobile market and apps for the iPhone are available. On this blog earlier featured the great app Historic Earth which has a huge database of old digital maps from the mother company Historic Map Works. Now the Edinburgh College of Art has developed a new web based mapping service called ‘Walking Through Time’ that is also available for mobile gadgets, such as the android and the iPhone. It looks really promising, with the developers saying: “…our user group is interested in walking through real space whilst following a map from 200 years ago (for example) and being able to tag and attach links to the map that offer historical and contextual information”. Tagging and linking? that is something we are interested, sounds great!
See teaser below.

found via digitalUrban

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Last weeks the most disturbing science news headline was “How the city hurts your brain” circulating as new research that proves the evil of cities. The original article can be found at the Boston Globe.
It all starts with a very innocent introduction where the author says: “The City has always been an engine of intellectual life, from the 18th-century coffeehouses of London, where citizens gathered to discuss chemistry and radical politics, to the Left Bank bars of modern Paris, where Pablo Picasso held forth on modern art. Without the metropolis, we might not have had the great art of Shakespeare or James Joyce; even Einstein was inspired by commuter trains.” From this point it goes down hill. From spreading cholera to the argument that the before named artists eventually moved out of the city, concluding “ … [the city] it’s also a deeply unnatural and overwhelming place” We’ll that is a statement, DEEPLY UNNATURAL! However, as we try to grasp the extend of the devastating news, the authors are quick with analysis and of course solution. It is all down to the city affecting the brain and a few minutes on the busy street will blow your memory and you start suffering from reduced self control (what does that mean?). Again with a very pointy argument, “that’s why Picasso left Paris”. The excuse comes in the form of the acceptance that “The mind is a limited machine” while still concluding this, the first solution comes in the form of “One of the main forces at work is a stark lack of nature”. I am aware that this is not actually a solution , but rather an other analysis or hypothesis, but in its tone directly implies to be a solution. And it does not stop there it straight goes through the wall with the sledge hammer solving ALL! the problems: “…that hospital patients recover more quickly when they can see trees from their windows, and that women living in public housing are better able to focus when their apartment overlooks a grassy courtyard”.
WOW, now I feel much better and I am convinced we live in a better world.
It however comes to the first element I do actually very much agree with the authors, the fact that this kind of research comes exactly in time with the news (and of course the media coverage and interpretation) that now over 50% of the world’s population live in cities. Unfortunately it dives right back down with a sweet but unrealistic naive worldview of: “For a species that evolved to live in small, primate tribes on the African savannah, such a migration marks a dramatic shift. Instead of inhabiting wide-open spaces, we’re crowded into concrete jungles, surrounded by taxis, traffic, and millions of strangers.”

I think I stop here, because the article goes on for another four pages, I hope I have missed the point of the article and if some of you read it all through, please let me know what I missed. The ‘leave a comment’ field can be found at the end of the post.

But actually there is another reason to stop at this point, because this one point is very interesting and important. We are living in a mainly urbanised world. Most of us live in urban areas and rising. The UN predicts some 70-80% by 2050. “The United Nation Population Fund, UN agency, says in a new report that humanity will have to undergo a “revolution in thinking” to deal with a doubling of urban populations in Africa and Asia. The UN continues to say that the number of people in African and Asian cities will grow by 1.7 billion by the year 2030. And worldwide, the number of city dwellers will reach five billion or 60 per cent of the world’s population (citymayors)“
‘Revolution in thinking’ is probably a more appropriate suggestion than to point out how bad our (western) cities are. Western city here is important if not to say European, because this is what I believe the above article is referring to. Conditions in other ‘urban’ areas in the world are dramatically different from what westerners call ’a city’. And I mean, to dig out a cholera example is pathetic. According to Wikipedia the first cholera pandemic reached London and Paris in 1832, a second one in 1849, the third Europe skipped, fourth in 1854 and a fifth in 1866 that was locally very much condemned as by then London was just about to finish its new water and sewage system (I guess it is still the same, but that is another topic). However you can see that since 1866 dramatic chances in the urban environment were introduced. I am aware that I also imply a lot here, but to bring it across in a similar style: the city was a much worse place. (We all know that this is a very difficult way to express thought about historical events and while being aware of the implications of the distorted and constructed past as seen from the present,
it might be much more complex, but we’ll keep things simple her for today.) To come back to the new challenge of the dramatic growth in urban population – a doubling of the city population in Asia and Africa – another example might be of interest. Thinking back to the last urban crisis this latest and now upcoming reaction very much reminds me of Haussmann’s renovation of in Paris or Ebenezer Howard with the Garden City.In fact both came after the Cholera pandemics. I am pretty sure, actually I was only waiting for the first such news to appear, that we ill see a lot of reactions to the ‘city problem’ coming down a similar route as the article quoted in the beginning of this post. It is all bad and we have to reinvent to solve it. Urban designer will be very quick to jump to Howard’s idea of the Garden City to have a readymade solution. Someone will dig it out.

Image from Wikipedia – as published in “Garden Cities of tomorrow”, Sonnenschein publishing, 1902

However to make it clear, I am not playing down the urgent and extend of the raising question. In the contrary, it is an urgent matter, especially because the urban planning profession in general and urban design and architecture (I add them here because they all think they can do both anyway) in particular is in an identity crisis with no consistent concepts available at present. The only thing that buzzes around is sustainability, but it’s got no content to it.

In an article on io9 Chanda Phelan presents how apocalyptic stories have changed in the past 200 years. She explains ”It’s not the idea of Ending itself that has faded – that will be around until we are actually mopped off the face of the Earth. It’s the actual moment of disaster, the blood and guts and fire, that has been losing ground in stories of the End. Post-apocalyptic fiction is a 200-year-old trend, and for 170 of those years, the ways writers imagined the end were pretty transparently a reflection of whatever was going on around them – nuclear war, environmental concerns, etc. In the mid-1990s, though, everything just turned into a big muddle. Suddenly, we’d get a post-apocalyptic world whose demise was never explained. It was just a big question mark.“ And she also points out that actually it was never about the end, but the new beginning. However she analyses that in the last 30 years there has been a decreasing interest in the why and how of the end, very often simply assuming that there was an end. Presumable, from my reading of it, the apocalypse was never about, it actually ends, but about narrating a sin or something stylised ‘problematic’ to actually urge people to change something in the present. Implying ”if you don’t behave now, something disastrous might, could possibly, eventually, maybe happen“. And in this sense skipping this part of the apocalypse is indeed a very dramatic change.

Image by Stephanie Fox – How the Apocalypse Will Happen – A Literary Chart

In this sense the attitude to the posed urban growth question would be, let’s skip the growth, the infrastructure demand, logistics, flows, identity, morphology, material, organisation, atmosphere, form, transport, colour, work, resource, governing, social, knowledge, communication, finance, and so on question and just build a New Cities for some 80 million people or maybe better a set of Garden cities, each with some 58’246.1 residents ?

So what to do?

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Former old map app has transformed and teamed up with a large library and is now Historic Earth. The old map app featured earlier this year on the bog with a review and now we want to look back, previous post HERE.
The really big change is the data, the app now has in the background. It draws the data from Historic Map Works a huge database of maps, containing some 1’000’000 maps including United States Property Atlases, Antiquarian Maps, Nautical Charts, Birdseye Views, Special Collections (Celestial Maps, Portraits, and other historical images), Directories and other text documents. Their main business is to provide high quality images of old maps to researchers and map enthusiasts. The main focus is North America, but they stock and increasing number of world maps and others. This means for now that the iPhone app also only covers North America. But this is changing, they have a visual counter on their web page to demonstrate how they are making progress both, increasing the service for the iPhone and geocoding maps in general. The aim is to offer some 130’000 maps in the next month. You can follow them on twitter to check on the status. For facebook lovers here is the fan page.

Image by urbanTick – Screenshot, looking at the Los Angeles Bay area over different times.

The iPhone app is probably aiming at map enthusiasts mainly really. As for research one probably wants’ more specific access to the data. However the app serves a fascination and is very addictive. It is developed by Emergence Studios as was the old map app. It is introduced as “Historic Earth allows you to map the history of cities, times, buildings and landmarks. View historic maps showing property owners, see buildings constructed and replaced, and watch the landscape change over time.”
The app is using OSM for the background to reference the layers to the modern map of the location. The overlay, the base can be adjusted in its transparency with a slider, normal gestures as known from Google maps are used to navigate the map. Once in the actual map window it is great you flip between times with the arrows provided and watch the area change. The trouble really is to get into, as the menu is not intuitive and there is for example no link between the map showing the covered area and the actual historic map.
However once figured out that in the settings the “lock frame when switching maps” switch is set to on it is a real pleasure to browse.
Not only the area changes, but also the representation techniques and focus of the maps. In this respect it is also a documentation of a changing space perception.
It is a bit slow to load here in London, I suppose this is down to all the 32’000 maps have to squeeze into the tube to get across the big blue : ) But the frustrating thing is not that it is slow (I don’t mind waiting for interesting content), but there is no indicator that something is actually happening. Usually while loading the screen only displays the, sort of, old paper background, but no progress bar or indicator of any sort. It is also one of the very few apps to choose not to display any information of the usual top bar with basic iPhone stats, like quality/type of connection, time and battery life. So there is no way you can tell the device is actually doing something and this has, at least for me, been very irritating I have to admit.
But sure enough, this is the first release of the app (if you don’t count the previous one) and as usual there are some things that just had to be done quickly in the end, but can easily be solved and improved in a following update. The main thing is the quality of the interface and the value of the data available. For both of these points the app scores very high!
You can get it for some £3.49 from iTunes.

Image by urbanTick – Screenshot, settings, coverage and menus

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