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Tag "place"

The Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference 2011 is under way this week in London. It opened yesterday under the topic The Geographical Imagination and is chaired by Stephen Daniels, University of Nottingham.
As every year it is going to be a very big event with a lot of paralel sessions. I will be presenting some aspects of the twitter New City Landscape research. The presentation is part of the session organised by Ladan Cockshut of Durham University under the title Getting lost on the way to Farmville“. Virtual, mobile and online spaces of interaction: Exploring the emerging geography and culture of new media technologies. The session starts at 09h00 and is located in the Skempton Building in Room 163 on the Imperial College campus.

The session has four presentations discussing the aspects of emerging social networking geographies. Two of the papers are based on gaming culture and the aspects of locality. One is presented by Kenneth Lim discussing Second Life and especially the SS Galaxy, a cruse ship. Lim’s interest for this part of Second Life stems from the view that a cruse ship is a self contained space providing all the essentials for living whilst on the move. There are of course very interesting connections to be drawn to the 1920 with Le Corbusier for example. He viewed the ocean liner at the ultimate city and admired its independence.

THe second gaming paper will be presented by Ladan Cockshut on Spatial and Interactive Dynamics in World of Warcraft. The third paper is by Amil Mohanan from UCL on the net neutrality debate discussing priotised datatransfer in the network by OFCOM and the possible emergence of a two-tiered market.

My paper is going o be the fourth contribution under the title New City Landscape – Mapping urban online spaces of interaction. The data for this paper is derived from the Twitter service, where users can send information as 140 character message. The platform allows to maintain a pool of followers (friends) with whom one shares the tweets (messages). Technically it is possible to collect every tweet sent via the open API (application programming interface) gaining access to millions of location based messages. From the collected data a new landscape based on density is generated. The features of this landscape of digital activity correspond directly with the physical location of their origin but at the same time represent with hills the peaks of locations from where a lot of messages are sent. The flanks and valleys stand for areas with lesser activity and vast plains and deserts of no tweets stretch across the townscapes. These New City Landscape maps (NCL) don’t represent any physical features, but the interaction with physical features on a temporal basis. The digital realm has become as much part of the urban environment as the physical features and with these tweetography maps they are made visible for the first time.

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Knowledge is the recourse of our times. In the form of data and information, knowledge is not only the current hype it is the main topic in many areas. The best illustration for this is probably the rise of Google as a company focusing entirely on the management of knowledge or the popularity of Wikipedia an open source project of recording and arguably generating knowledge.

This shift is however, not entirely reflected in the way education of the next generation. In most countries the education system suffers great cuts and reduction of financial support. Education and the gaining of knowledge is increasingly by officials put as something every person is responsible of gaining themselves, probably from Google and Wikipedia. This leaves of course a big gab between services and users and a lot of people without the basic capacity to take part in this beautiful new world, keeping it an exclusive domain for few.

Campus and the City
Image taken from e-architect / Science City is the development vision for the university campus of the 21st century. The board of governors of the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule in Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, or ETH Zurich) formulated a strategic vision as the basis for current and future developments. The campus is required to act as an interface between scholarship and society, somewhere the worlds of business, economics, politics and scholarship can interact. The spatial rendering of this vision is a dense fabric of buildings large and small, squares, courtyards and gardens that provide the ideal environment for research, discussion and development. Thanks to its precisely planned connections to the city and other university facilities, the network also extends to the metropolitan level: from Science City to City of Science. This project features in the book in the section ‘Greenfield Campus’.

On the other hand this also removes knowledge and with it education increasingly from the public space. The remote nature of a lot of education and knowledge building leaves places empty. Through out history campuses were amongst the main elements of place being a major feature of the city. Still today great campuses feature as great attractions and landmarks, even making it into movies.

Nevertheless campuses and places for education, especially higher education still get buit ad are multi billion pound projects. Many are new, but a lot are existing and reinvent themselves. There are of course the archetype campuses Oxford and Cambridge in the UK, but also institutions in the Netherland, such as Delft and Utrecht or in Switzerland the ETH and EPFL campuses and of course in the US for example the MIT campus or the Stanford Research Park amongst many.

‘Campus and the City – Urban Design for the Knowledge Society’ in a gta Verlag publication edited by Kerstin Hoeger and Kees Christianse with contributions by numerous people on the planning and implementation of campuses world wide. The book puts its emphasis on the contextua integration and the potential of syntheses as the generation of place.

Campus and the City
Image taken from supertacular / Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein with the new Herzog de Meuron exhibition building in the foreground. Visible in the back grond is another campus buildings by Frank Gerry. This project features in the book in the section ‘Corporate Campus’.

The book is a result of a conference series inspired by the reorganisation of the ETH Hoenggerberg campus ‘Science City’ in Zuerich, Switzerland. The first conference ‘Campus Design’ was held in 2006 with the following up ‘Competitive Campuses’ with some more events in this series. The conference content has been extended for the book publication with research work undertaken at the Institute for Urban Design (ISB) and was published in 2007.

The discussion around campuses and how to design space for knowledge is very successful at combining different levels as for example architecture with the educational requirements of the new Bologna education plan. This syntheses results in a discussion on urban design that goes much beyond the usual planning context. It is not just for the campus but with the campus in a wider context reaching out to the city and beyond.

Campus and the City
Image taken from supertacular5osa / Mensa Karlsruhe, by J. Mayer H. Architects, is an elastic space, that sits in the center of the Karlsruhe University Campus. As an extension of the already existing facilites, the city of Karlsruhe is building a canteen that will serve the growing number of students. The building becomes the new adress of the campus, negotiating between the identities of three universities as well as between the urban fabric and the Hardtwad forest. The building reacts to this special condition with different stages of porosity. This project features in the book in the section ‘Inner-City Campus’.

The contributions and discussions around specific campuses are structure in four sections. Each section describes a different condition. They can be defined in terms of location as with ‘Inner-City Campus’ or by character as with ‘Greenfield Campus’ or with work conditions and specifications as the section ‘High-Tech Campus’ or also as with the last section on ‘Corporate Campus’ the economic conditions.

Place making has become increasingly difficult, both as a result of the changing technologies but also social configurations. This publication shows in a very practical way how careful examination and far reaching planning can create great places for the network society.

Campus and the City
Image taken from KCAP / Campus and the City book cover.

Hoeger, K., 2007. Campus and the City: Urban Design for the Knowlege Society, Zuerich: gta Verlag.

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To continue on the topic of ‘a view from the Road’ another high-speed clip documenting a road trip. Here with 800mph from North Point Hong Kong Island to Mui Wo on Lantau Island. Very interesting how the features of the urban development direct the experience of the trip.
Some examples I picked out to illustrated the idea Lynch used to characterise and describe the urban experience as seen from the road in his book ‘The view From the Road’ (1966). I have increased the contrast on those key images to highlight the landscape feature. One should spend a bit more time on this to do it properly, was just a quick sketch.

Image by urbanTick / screenshots taken from the clip by LantauOnline / The increased contrast highlights the landscape features.

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