No more busywork! DRY up your NSString constants

Preamble In the last few years, Objective-C has become enormously DRYer. For example: in the past, adding a property to a class meant adding several of: an ivar, a @property, a @synthesize, a getter/setter, and a release call in dealloc. Worse, renaming or deleting the property meant updating all these. This was error-prone busywork, and […]

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London in time | A London’s Evolution Animation

The Roman Road network 410AC, as a floating layer over contemporary London in 3D. 
How did London become what it is today? How did it evolve and why? It is widely known that London is a historical city. One that has been inhabited for over 1500 years. What most people don’t know however, is that the greatest preserved feature of the city, is the road network itself. Unlike other historical cities such as Athens or Rome where there is an obvious patchwork of areas of different periods, London’s scheduled sites and listed buildings are individual structures, in many cases assembled gradually by parts from many different periods. Those who tried to locate different historic structures will know that these features appear as pieces of different puzzles, scattered within the vast fabric of the contemporary city. What has been preserved, and what will we preserve in the future?

The London Evolution Animation (LEA) was developed by The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (UCL), as a partnership project between English Heritage, The Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (University of Cambridge)/Dr Kiril Stanilov and Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) (with the Mapping London and Locating London’s Past projects), and was initiated and directed by Polly Hudson (PHD).

The London Evolution Animation for the first time, brings together and shows the historical development of London from Roman times to today, through the evolution of the road network and preserved structures of the built environment. The information is categorized by periods and the new road segments appear gradually over an image of the faded contemporary London. For each period, gradually enlarging yellow points highlight the position and number of statutorily protected buildings and structures. Datasets cover London’s 19,000 Listed Buildings and 156 Scheduled Monuments which are categorized by period (listed date) and integrated into the animation. LEA brings together datasets provided by English Heritage’s National Heritage List for England, MOLAS, University of Cambridge -Dr. Kiril Stanilov and Ordnance Survey. Originally, LEA was meant to be developed fully in 3D, which is an ongoing project.

The animation was part of the “Almost Lost” Exhibition and aims to create awareness of the importance of preservation of the city’s past and provide a reflection for the future. The exhibition included several digital exhibits from the Centre of Advanced Spatial Analysis, such as the popular Pigeon Sim and the Bloomsbury Augmented Reality Application, which allows visitors to view a 3D fully interactive model of the area’s historic periods, using their iPad.
A series of digital pictures showcase the what if scenarios of developments in London that were never realized, while 3D animations of London’s history of the built environment explain more about the city’s architectural heritage.

The exhibition is found online in Polly’s Hudson Almost Lost online and its a great showcase of London’s historic wealth. Further information on the Animation, a historical overview and on the production of the video can also be found in Polly’s Hudson website.

List of References:

A. Paolo Masucci, Kiril Stanilov and Michael Batty (2013) The growth of London’s street network in its dual representation




English Heritage:

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Multi-Agent Systems for Urban Planning

Recently we contributed a chapter to “Technologies for Urban and Spatial Planning: Virtual Cities and Territories” which aims to quote from the preference:  

“(i) to contribute to the dissemination of the recent research and development of the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in urban and spatial planning, trying to demonstrate their usability in planning processes through the presentation of relevant case studies, framed by their underlying theory; (ii) to give additional evidence to the fact that ICT are the privileged means to produce virtual cities and territories; and (iii) to make available, from a pedagogical standpoint, a group of illustrative reviews of the scientific production made by both academics and practitioners in the field.”

The book has 11 chapters which are grouped in several themes:

“first group focuses on the discussion over the use of ICT in spatial planning; the second group of contributions deals with urban modelling and simulation; the third group focuses on the use of different sensors to acquire information and model spatial processes; the fourth group focuses on the use of data to create more capable visualization tools; and the fifth group is about the use of virtual models to simulate real environments and plan and manage other aspects of the built environment such as energy.”

Our chapter is entitled “Multi-agent Systems for Urban Planning” fits into the second group with respect to urban modeling and simulation. We present a detailed overview about the theory and the development of multi-agent systems (MAS) in spatial planning, focusing on how MAS can lead to insights into urban problems and aid urban planning fostering a bottom up approach to spatial planning. The abstract is as follows:
Cities provide homes for over half of the world’s population, and this proportion is expected to increase throughout the next century. The growth of cities raises many questions and challenges for urban planning including which cities and regions are most likely to grow, what the pattern of urban growth will be, and how the existing infrastructure will cope with such growth. One way to explore these types of questions is through the use of multi-agent systems (MAS) that are capable of modeling how individuals interact and how structures emerge through such interactions, in terms of both the social and physical environment of cities. Within this chapter, the authors focus on how MAS can lead to insights into urban problems and aid urban planning from the bottom up. They review MAS models that explore the growth of cities and regions, models that explore land-use patterns resulting from such growth along with the rise of slums. Furthermore, the authors demonstrate how MAS models can be used to model transportation and the changing demographics of cities. Through these examples the authors also demonstrate how this style of modeling can give insights into such issues that cannot be gleamed from other modeling methodologies. The chapter concludes with challenges and future research directions of MAS models with respect to capturing the dynamics of human behavior in urban planning.

Full Reference:

Crooks, A.T., Patel, A. and Wise, S. (2014), Multi-agent Systems for Urban Planning, in Pinto, N.N., Tenedório, J. Antunes A. P. and Roca, J. (eds.), Technologies for Urban and Spatial Planning: Virtual Cities and Territories, IGI Global, Hershey, PA, pp. 29-56. (pdf)

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37000 Old OS Maps

The National Library of Scotland (NLS) yesterday unveiled a HUGE collection of maps that they have digitised and placed online. The maps, covering England and Wales, are historic Ordnance Survey maps that are between 60 and 170 years old and are at a high resolution. The scale is 6-inch-to-the-mile and covers the whole country. At […]

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The techniques of urban design- Designing Cities: Basics, Principles, Projects

Image 1. The book cover of ‘Designing Cities: Basics, Principles, Projects’
What is the basic knowledge for urban design? Which techniques are necessary for designing decent urban spaces? ‘Designing Cities: Basics, Principles, Projects’, written by German architect Leonhard Schenk, is navigating the answer of these questions.

The book is structured along three parts,
1) General principles of urban design
2) Practical techniques for designing cities with relative examples

3) Three sensible examples that are recently constructed and well evaluated   – Hamburg (Germany), Tubingen (Germany) and Belval (Luxemburg)
When people want to make an overview from the basic theory to the completed projects, it seems a well organised book to look through all parts. 
The author argues that the most urban design projects have been realised by competitions, and two factors should be incorporated to win the competitions. On the one hand, projects need to satisfy the demands of the client and the jury. On the other hand, the functionality, the design and the representation capacity of projects have to be promoted by themselves. This argument clearly indicates the direction of the book. Over 350 pages, the author illustrates in detail the systematic methods for creating urban spatial organisations and visually attractive designs.
What an interesting point of this book is the explaining principles of urban design step by step, particularly in the Chapter 1 and 2. For example, ‘the law of similarity’ describes that ‘elements that resemble one another in the form are more readily experienced as belonging together than elements are. In addition, similar elements result in more uniform groups than dissimilar ones’. (P.21, See image 3) The principles demonstrate not the characters of each element but the natures of the group as a corporate body of the elements. These rules are underestimated because too simple and too obvious. But, we could easily deep in troubles during the design process if we do not keep them in mind. And then, from the Chapter3, the author starts to explain the practical ways of urban design such as designing urban blocks, various grid structures, organising building lots, road systems, designing public space and representation skills. 
Image 2. The sample page of Chpter 2. Page 18 and 19

Image 3. The sample page of Chpter 2. Page 20 and 21
A variety of example images are helpful to understand the intention of the author. The project images of international offices like OMA, BIG and KCAP, and other competition images were considerably selected, and are provided in the right positions depends on the topics. When the possibilities of diagrams are expressed to show complex relationships, for instance, the KCAP’s first prize winning diagrams for FredericiaC competition are suggested as a suitable case.(See image 8) This brings good chances not only for analysing some parts of each project but also for watching highly correlated site plans with the parts.   
Image 4. Good project images are helpful to understand the intention of the author. Page 40 and 41

Image 5. Sample pages. Page 74 and 75

Image 6. Sample pages. Page 110 and 111

Image 7. Sample pages. Page 276 and 277

Image 8. Sample pages. Page 280 and 281
The final chapter is a weak side of the book. Much writing about the ways of urban design is focusing on the designing physical urban spaces through the pages. However, planning issues, such as the process of urban regeneration and the consortium structure, are primarily discussed rather than design issues in the last chapter which analyse successful cases of Hamburg, Tubingen and Belval. If the book places more emphasis on the design issues like the spatial characteristics of each city, it would be more adequate with the original intent of the book. Also, most project images are from the European context while some Asian projects are included. In other regions where have different geographical and societal backgrounds, more careful approaches would be demanded to apply the ways of the book. 
Overall, ‘Designing Cities: Basics, Principles, Projects’ provides a good level of overview for urban design. Definitely, it is a nice reference for people who are interested in urban design and its methods. This book was honoured the best architectural books among 242 participants from DAM Architectural Book Award that was held by Deutsches Architektur museum and the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Here is the basic information of the book, and you can find more information from the links.

Designing Cities: Basics, Principles, ProjectsHardcover: 356 pages

Publisher: Birkhauser Verlag AG (25 July 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 3034613253

ISBN-13: 978-3034613255

Product Dimensions: 24.4 x 17.5 x 3 cm

Amazon UK


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Visualising Empathy

As part of our exploration of how to facilitate empathy by allowing greater communication of emotion we have been putting together some prototypes which explore not textual representations of emotion. In the example here we have ‘hacked’ a candle so that we can change the colour of its flame. There […]

The post Visualising Empathy appeared first on CEDE.

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A hive plot of hospitality received by Coalition Special Advisers

With political transparency an increasingly topical subject in the wake of press scandals and allegations of official coverup, it is a useful exercise to examine any data reflecting the interaction between our leaders and our purveyors of news. Since taking power the UK coalition government has published records of hospitality received by Special Advisers – […]

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An Urban Renaissance Achieved? Mapping a Decade of Densification in UK Cities

It’s been 14 years since the landmark Urban Task Force report, which set the agenda for inner-city densification and brownfield regeneration in the UK. Furthermore we’ve seen significant economic and demographic change in the last decade that’s greatly impacted urban areas. We can now use the 2011 census data, mapped here on the LuminoCity GB … Continue reading

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Launching LuminoCity GB: Urban Form and Dynamics Explorer

Our cities have been changing dramatically in recent years, with the intensification of urban centres, redevelopment of old industrial spaces, new demographic trends, and the pressures of a volatile global economy. The aim of the LuminoCity website, which launches in beta today, is to visualise urban form and dynamics to better understand how these trends … Continue reading

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Google Maps raises the bar

Google have been reworking their Maps, currently available by request to review in beta. The other day Ollie O’Brief blogged with a breakdown of the pros and cons of the new design, arguing it represents a visual improvement but functional regression. Here I’ve thrown a few screenshots together to illustrate the comparisons at different scales […]

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Stickcrowd modelling

Commuting by train (if you’re lucky enough to get a seat) offers all sorts of opportunities for frivolous coding adventures (code-mmuting?). Having watched Andy Hudson-Smith’s review of Softimage crowd simulation.. … I decided to see how quick it would be (2 hours) to do something similar with stickmen, and at the same time develop a […]

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