BIG Data = Big Structures? | The 2016 skyscraper competition

The E-Volo skyscraper competition just announced its winners. Mega structures are almost always viewed idealistic and it is precisely the fact that they meet the line between what is real and what is utopian that makes such works inspirational. This year most of the works were dedicated on the emergence of the smart city. Sensors, BiG Data, Drones domination; and always winking at sustainability.

But do Big Data equal Big structures? Unlike previous entries, this year’s projects present skyscrapers that have a purifying role for the city, but are not habitable. They are gigantic structures designed to host technology or “environment”. In the year of the refugee crisis and informal settlements, will we need to create homes for sustainable machines?
The first price went to Yitan Sun and Jianshi Wu for “New York Horizon” (cover). The project questioned the traditional perception of what is a skyscraper and designed a sunken mega-structure to reveal mountains and landscapes that are now hidden under the surface of Central Park. The landscape as a hidden ancient temple it is exposed and exhibited, referring to the recent theories of preservation and the need to preserve cultural heritage.
A personal favourite, the second price by Hadeel Ayed Mohammad, Yifeng Zhao, and Chengda Zhu creates a terminal station for commercial and personal drones, forming a “bee hive”, as a humorous comment to the rise of the drone tribe. While the third price, creates a vertical data storage in Iceland.
Very interesting is the “Cloud Craft: Rainmaking Skyscraper” by Michael Militello and Amar Shah which seeks to create a gigantic rain making machine, located (where else..) in California. The pair managed to point out an interesting fact. The concept of rainmaking skyscrapers may sound happy and utopian, but the idea of huge machine-type structures which their only function is to improve the environment is somewhat contradictory. Almost like saving seals with guns. Which is why their original conceptual image is set in a dystopian city, while the design of the rainmaker skyscrapers, directly refer to high-tech polluting factory pipes.
It is a fact that electronic waste is a serious challenge for the new age and recycling/self-repairing is now in the priorities of many smart systems. However, is the problem actually being addressed?
The hype of the new age is coming much faster than the realization of such and there is almost no time for the development of a theoretical background. That is why there is a tendency to turn to smaller rather than bigger. 
View the submissions below>>

Read more »

Continue reading »

BIG Data = Big Structures? | The 2016 skyscraper competition

The E-Volo skyscraper competition just announced its winners. Mega structures are almost always viewed idealistic and it is precisely the fact that they meet the line between what is real and what is utopian that makes such works inspirational. This year most of the works were dedicated on the emergence of the smart city. Sensors, BiG Data, Drones domination; and always winking at sustainability.

But do Big Data equal Big structures? Unlike previous entries, this year’s projects present skyscrapers that have a purifying role for the city, but are not habitable. They are gigantic structures designed to host technology or “environment”. In the year of the refugee crisis and informal settlements, will we need to create homes for sustainable machines?
The first price went to Yitan Sun and Jianshi Wu for “New York Horizon” (cover). The project questioned the traditional perception of what is a skyscraper and designed a sunken mega-structure to reveal mountains and landscapes that are now hidden under the surface of Central Park. The landscape as a hidden ancient temple it is exposed and exhibited, referring to the recent theories of preservation and the need to preserve cultural heritage.
A personal favourite, the second price by Hadeel Ayed Mohammad, Yifeng Zhao, and Chengda Zhu creates a terminal station for commercial and personal drones, forming a “bee hive”, as a humorous comment to the rise of the drone tribe. While the third price, creates a vertical data storage in Iceland.
Very interesting is the “Cloud Craft: Rainmaking Skyscraper” by Michael Militello and Amar Shah which seeks to create a gigantic rain making machine, located (where else..) in California. The pair managed to point out an interesting fact. The concept of rainmaking skyscrapers may sound happy and utopian, but the idea of huge machine-type structures which their only function is to improve the environment is somewhat contradictory. Almost like saving seals with guns. Which is why their original conceptual image is set in a dystopian city, while the design of the rainmaker skyscrapers, directly refer to high-tech polluting factory pipes.
It is a fact that electronic waste is a serious challenge for the new age and recycling/self-repairing is now in the priorities of many smart systems. However, is the problem actually being addressed?
The hype of the new age is coming much faster than the realization of such and there is almost no time for the development of a theoretical background. That is why there is a tendency to turn to smaller rather than bigger. 
View the submissions below>>

Read more »

Continue reading »

Lego X Combines Augmented Reality, 3D modelling and 3D printing

Lego has been in the top preferences for architectural toys since forever. And who doesn’t enjoy playing with the super colorful Lego pieces. Within the Richard Rogers exhibition in RA London in 2013, one full section was dedicated to the famous bricks, filled with hundreds of lego pieces lying around, to engage people in the architectural thinking of creative modelling. Gravity, a company based in London, has recently  announced an app that will use “location mapping and gyroscopic sensors” to generate digital models of Lego creations.

The program, “scans” Lego pieces real time and creates 3D models on the fly. Using sophisticated algorithms 3D Lego structures seem to be translated into surfaces, such as walls and roofs. The final stage appears to smooth out corners and curves to produce 3d printable objects which can be send directly for 3D printing.

Read more »

Continue reading »

Lego X Combines Augmented Reality, 3D modelling and 3D printing

Lego has been in the top preferences for architectural toys since forever. And who doesn’t enjoy playing with the super colorful Lego pieces. Within the Richard Rogers exhibition in RA London in 2013, one full section was dedicated to the famous bricks, filled with hundreds of lego pieces lying around, to engage people in the architectural thinking of creative modelling. Gravity, a company based in London, has recently  announced an app that will use “location mapping and gyroscopic sensors” to generate digital models of Lego creations.

The program, “scans” Lego pieces real time and creates 3D models on the fly. Using sophisticated algorithms 3D Lego structures seem to be translated into surfaces, such as walls and roofs. The final stage appears to smooth out corners and curves to produce 3d printable objects which can be send directly for 3D printing.

Read more »

Continue reading »

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 http://www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/casa/publications/working-paper-189

CASA UCL: http://www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/casa

MOLA: http://www.museumoflondonarchaeology.org.uk/NewsProjects/Current-News/LondonEvolutionAnimation.htm

Cambridge: http://www-smartinfrastructure.eng.cam.ac.uk/

English Heritage: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/

Continue reading »

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 http://www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/casa/publications/working-paper-189

CASA UCL: http://www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/casa

MOLA: http://www.museumoflondonarchaeology.org.uk/NewsProjects/Current-News/LondonEvolutionAnimation.htm

Cambridge: http://www-smartinfrastructure.eng.cam.ac.uk/

English Heritage: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/

Continue reading »

Developing classical and contemporary models in ESRI’s City Engine- CASA Working Paper 191


ESRI’s City Engine not only is a great urban generator, but it also provides the ideal approach for turning the 3D virtual city into an urban modelling tool. Procedural modelling visualizes the results of mathematical models on a 3D Environment and simulate the changes real-time, providing all the necessary features for testing the consequences of Urban modelling theories onto the physical form of the urban environment.

I am very excited to have this first paper published in the CASA UCL webpage.

Abstract:

In this paper we describe the development of projects which aim to explore the use of procedural modelling as a complete toolkit for building interactive visualizations of urban modelling theories. We will use three case studies, starting with the original von-Thunen model, a generalization of von-Thunen using multiple centres and finally the standard dynamic retail model by Wilson and Harris. We will discuss the advantages and limitations in using ESRI’s City Engine and the use of interactive techniques, to visualize and explore classical and contemporary urban modelling theories, by introducing spatial interaction and spatial dynamics within the simulation of a 3d city. In this framework, we provide a guide for developing urban models to aid better analysis and understanding of the urban environment through 3d urban visualizations, complexity theories and interactive systems.

 

download the full paper and other publications by CASA from here

This paper presents work conducted within the context of the MRes in Advanced Spatial Analysis and Visualization. Supervisor professor: Dr. Andrew Hudson Smith.

I will soon publish a brief tutorial.

Continue reading »

Developing classical and contemporary models in ESRI’s City Engine- CASA Working Paper 191


ESRI’s City Engine not only is a great urban generator, but it also provides the ideal approach for turning the 3D virtual city into an urban modelling tool. Procedural modelling visualizes the results of mathematical models on a 3D Environment and simulate the changes real-time, providing all the necessary features for testing the consequences of Urban modelling theories onto the physical form of the urban environment.

I am very excited to have this first paper published in the CASA UCL webpage.

Abstract:

In this paper we describe the development of projects which aim to explore the use of procedural modelling as a complete toolkit for building interactive visualizations of urban modelling theories. We will use three case studies, starting with the original von-Thunen model, a generalization of von-Thunen using multiple centres and finally the standard dynamic retail model by Wilson and Harris. We will discuss the advantages and limitations in using ESRI’s City Engine and the use of interactive techniques, to visualize and explore classical and contemporary urban modelling theories, by introducing spatial interaction and spatial dynamics within the simulation of a 3d city. In this framework, we provide a guide for developing urban models to aid better analysis and understanding of the urban environment through 3d urban visualizations, complexity theories and interactive systems.

 

download the full paper and other publications by CASA from here

This paper presents work conducted within the context of the MRes in Advanced Spatial Analysis and Visualization. Supervisor professor: Dr. Andrew Hudson Smith.

I will soon publish a brief tutorial.

Continue reading »

Limitless London

Defining urban boundaries is certainly an undefined topic. A proof is the recent “boarderless” competition where the winning projects swing between creating a functional built form of the boundary, or revolved around the notions of non-permanence and instability. The winning project ‘Floating Border Project’ by Hélène Grialouand Sebastien Gafari, creates a moving boarder. “The shaded frontier is moving throughout hours, days and seasons. The installation is composed of an inflatable structure which consists of a balloon cloud upon the Temple. These balloons calculate the weather forecast, wind and luminosity. During bad weather, the limit on the ground disappears and the aerial structure lights up to become a signal seen by the both two countries.” 
As urban planning and architecture integrates advanced techniques from computer science, big data and other sciences, it is affecting the built environment in both design and construction. New techniques which introduce complex calculations of different data feeds have led professionals of the build environment to slightly change their role and find solutions in relation to design and function with a clear focus on optimization and efficiency.
In the movie “Limitless” – 2011, a writer finds the “golden” pill, which allows him to access all of his potentials, giving him fulfilment in life- work and relationships and to accomplish his every goal. The intro of the film, is a very good metaphore of the limitless city. A reflection of todays fluxuating society and the rush to adjust to something that looks as if “it” has begun and as if “it” has no ending.

1st prize of boarderless competition  Hélène Grialou & Sebastien Gafari
In another film by K. Giannaris, “From the Edge of the City” , the undefined city boundaries represent a more vague image of the people who live in the edge of social acceptable. In today’s society, to be able to learn quick and easy so as to be as efficient as possible is part of this new world and this tends to be a dominant idea of the new urban utopia. Are we giving our cities some technological shots in the end? Are the boarders going to be defined by what is unable to adjust; inhabited by the marginalized of those without smart-phones?
And so, inspired by the brilliant intro of “Limitless” – here is a google maps version for the city of London. Of course not as well executed, but an animation using Google maps and some free sounds from http://soundbible.com, turned out to be something very quick and easy to do.
Continue reading »

Limitless London

Defining urban boundaries is certainly an undefined topic. A proof is the recent “boarderless” competition where the winning projects swing between creating a functional built form of the boundary, or revolved around the notions of non-permanence and instability. The winning project ‘Floating Border Project’ by Hélène Grialouand Sebastien Gafari, creates a moving boarder. “The shaded frontier is moving throughout hours, days and seasons. The installation is composed of an inflatable structure which consists of a balloon cloud upon the Temple. These balloons calculate the weather forecast, wind and luminosity. During bad weather, the limit on the ground disappears and the aerial structure lights up to become a signal seen by the both two countries.” 
As urban planning and architecture integrates advanced techniques from computer science, big data and other sciences, it is affecting the built environment in both design and construction. New techniques which introduce complex calculations of different data feeds have led professionals of the build environment to slightly change their role and find solutions in relation to design and function with a clear focus on optimization and efficiency.
In the movie “Limitless” – 2011, a writer finds the “golden” pill, which allows him to access all of his potentials, giving him fulfilment in life- work and relationships and to accomplish his every goal. The intro of the film, is a very good metaphore of the limitless city. A reflection of todays fluxuating society and the rush to adjust to something that looks as if “it” has begun and as if “it” has no ending.

1st prize of boarderless competition  Hélène Grialou & Sebastien Gafari
In another film by K. Giannaris, “From the Edge of the City” , the undefined city boundaries represent a more vague image of the people who live in the edge of social acceptable. In today’s society, to be able to learn quick and easy so as to be as efficient as possible is part of this new world and this tends to be a dominant idea of the new urban utopia. Are we giving our cities some technological shots in the end? Are the boarders going to be defined by what is unable to adjust; inhabited by the marginalized of those without smart-phones?
And so, inspired by the brilliant intro of “Limitless” – here is a google maps version for the city of London. Of course not as well executed, but an animation using Google maps and some free sounds from http://soundbible.com, turned out to be something very quick and easy to do.
Continue reading »

Invisible fields

The Washington Post recently released a front-page article claiming that “The federal government wants to create super WiFi networks across the nation…Cities support the idea because the networks would lower costs for schools and businesses or help vacationers easily find tourist spots. Consumer advocates note the benefits to the poor, who often cannot afford high cellphone and Internet bills.”
I will not comment on whether this is a true or false statement, however I am at the CASA office in Tottenham court road and right now i am probably within the range of more than 100 sending and receiving signals. From mobile phones, to wireless networks, to the Geiger counter which measures radiation levels and shows results real-time via CASA’s online webpage “CityDashboard”. Sensors have come to realize a new urban landscape. A new locality which is not however making a realized dialogue with the physical environment… However, there are side-effects.

Wireless in the world from Timo on Vimeo.

“This new urban landscape is no longer predicated solely on architecture and urbanism. These disciplines now embrace emerging methodologies that bend the physical with new measures, representations and maps of urban dynamics such as traffic or mobile phone flows. Representations of usage patterns and mapping the life of the city amplify our collective awareness of the urban environment as a living organism. These soft and invisible architectures fashion sentient and reactive environments.”(1)
In that sense, Urban transformations may not result merely from “changing economic and social drivers within and around densely populated areas” (2), but from a more abstract distortion of time and space. Utopian Architects and planners predicted from a very early age that future cities would not only be defined by buildings and streets, but also by different flows of information. It is now widely accepted that citizens would have to live in a constant flux and there is a need for identifying the possible effects of these new systems, as they are potentially new constituencies for the development of planning.
The introduction of open real-time data may aid in the development of new scenarios and a hint that we are leading in this direction is the recent interest in crowdourcing data analysis and visualizations e.g. the Twitter API which is one of the most popular APIs for visualizations. There are now over 50 Twitter visualizations. “These applications mine Tweets to provide services that help users track topics of interest, geolocated Tweets and are even used to predict flu outbreaks”.(2)


The globe tweeter visualizes real-time twits on a 3D globe project by Cedric Pinson (code development), Design by Guillaume Lecollinet, Node.js hacking Johan Euprhosine.

We are officially living in hybrid environments where space and flowing data interact with each other. At the same time, the ways in which we perceive this information plays an important role on our understanding about the environment we live in and therefore affects decision making. The realization of such an era is certainly important for the development of new solutions.
Speaking about invisible fields, Stefan Berke and Martin Hunniger thought of sound as Anthony DeVincenzi (invisible forces) thought of fields. This is a project were midi notes drive the creation of an openGL shader, seeking new aspects in the 3d visualization of invisible fields.

Downtrib, screened at Fulldome UK 2012.

Continue reading »

Invisible fields

The Washington Post recently released a front-page article claiming that “The federal government wants to create super WiFi networks across the nation…Cities support the idea because the networks would lower costs for schools and businesses or help vacationers easily find tourist spots. Consumer advocates note the benefits to the poor, who often cannot afford high cellphone and Internet bills.”
I will not comment on whether this is a true or false statement, however I am at the CASA office in Tottenham court road and right now i am probably within the range of more than 100 sending and receiving signals. From mobile phones, to wireless networks, to the Geiger counter which measures radiation levels and shows results real-time via CASA’s online webpage “CityDashboard”. Sensors have come to realize a new urban landscape. A new locality which is not however making a realized dialogue with the physical environment… However, there are side-effects.

Wireless in the world from Timo on Vimeo.

“This new urban landscape is no longer predicated solely on architecture and urbanism. These disciplines now embrace emerging methodologies that bend the physical with new measures, representations and maps of urban dynamics such as traffic or mobile phone flows. Representations of usage patterns and mapping the life of the city amplify our collective awareness of the urban environment as a living organism. These soft and invisible architectures fashion sentient and reactive environments.”(1)
In that sense, Urban transformations may not result merely from “changing economic and social drivers within and around densely populated areas” (2), but from a more abstract distortion of time and space. Utopian Architects and planners predicted from a very early age that future cities would not only be defined by buildings and streets, but also by different flows of information. It is now widely accepted that citizens would have to live in a constant flux and there is a need for identifying the possible effects of these new systems, as they are potentially new constituencies for the development of planning.
The introduction of open real-time data may aid in the development of new scenarios and a hint that we are leading in this direction is the recent interest in crowdourcing data analysis and visualizations e.g. the Twitter API which is one of the most popular APIs for visualizations. There are now over 50 Twitter visualizations. “These applications mine Tweets to provide services that help users track topics of interest, geolocated Tweets and are even used to predict flu outbreaks”.(2)


The globe tweeter visualizes real-time twits on a 3D globe project by Cedric Pinson (code development), Design by Guillaume Lecollinet, Node.js hacking Johan Euprhosine.

We are officially living in hybrid environments where space and flowing data interact with each other. At the same time, the ways in which we perceive this information plays an important role on our understanding about the environment we live in and therefore affects decision making. The realization of such an era is certainly important for the development of new solutions.
Speaking about invisible fields, Stefan Berke and Martin Hunniger thought of sound as Anthony DeVincenzi (invisible forces) thought of fields. This is a project were midi notes drive the creation of an openGL shader, seeking new aspects in the 3d visualization of invisible fields.

Downtrib, screened at Fulldome UK 2012.

Continue reading »

UNITY 3D – The infinite museum

In the 2011-2012 MRes of Advanced Spatial Analysis and Visualization we worked on some fascinating topics and new year is always a good time to re-cap. The Infinite museum is the result of an interdisciplinary collaboration with Martin Dittus, Ian Morton, Mohammad Masum and myself, for the design of a virtual exhibition space, as a showcase for a constantly updating database of different visualization techniques. The first question that emerged in this case, was why build a spatial structure for the presentation of a-spatial information. In this case the answer is conceptual.
In 1929, Le Corbusier designed the Museum of Unlimited Growth (Musée à croissance illimitée) for the Mundaneum in Geneva. He imagined a square spiral that would develop and grow infinitely in time. In his vision, visitors would follow a path which would let them explore exhibits via a continuous circulation, allowing them to experience what he called a “promenade architectural” (an architectural walk). Despite its utopic nature, the vision behind this concept is the realization of an era of constant change and non-permanence, followed by an optimism of continuous growth.
Later, the idea of “virtuality” provoked an even more interesting swift in planning and design with the emergence of parametric modelling, sensors and new interaction techniques, which allowed new notions, e.g gaming, to become an active player in the design process. This awareness became an inspiration for the development of new solutions, such as the experimental project Arctic Research Facility by Polar Ants for building structures in constantly fluctuating physical surroundings. Or even projects which address to philosophical questions, as in the case of the Lotus Dome  by studio Roosegaarde, in whether technology can be sacred.

The museum of Unlimited Growth – Le Corbusier 1929

In continuance to these ideas, the Infinite Museum, is an interactive application that allows players to visually explore exhibits (images, movies, 3D models, animated objects) and the complex network of relations between them. The project, follows the inspiration of unlimited growth museum, with the difference that in this case, it moves away from the traditional 3d exhibition spaces which rely on a pre-built structure with a “continuous” or a tree- type “network” circulation. Instead, the Infinite Museum explores the possibilities of modular construction and dynamically constructs a map of rooms whose topology is a result of both player choices and pre-defined exhibit relationships.
The idea is to create a typical spatial structure of an exhibition space which will be augmented with the ideas of Web3 such as the use of a cloud network for categorizing the exhibits and guiding the viewer. 3D “types of rooms” connect to each other, in order to create a sequence of spaces that will guide the viewer through the exhibition, while providing him the choices of the cloud network. The user becomes the curator, who structures the exhibition, not by designing it, but by choosing types or “tags” of exhibits and therefore, he is more likely to run into the exhibits that are more related to his group of preferences.
This is a UNITY 3D application, which includes assets built in a range of 3D modeling software packages. Unity, as a game engine, provides excellent tools for interactive 3d space as well as the possibility for developing interesting multi-player game-play.

The infinite museum is a showcase for a range of visualization techniques such as images, videos, 3d objects and 3d animations. 

The application explores the possibilities of modular construction

The application doesn’t rely on a pre-built structure, instead it dynamically creates a map of rooms whose topology is a result of player options and  pre-defined exhibit relationships. 

In terms of typology, the rooms of the Infinite Museum are especially designed so as to be “convex”, meaning they all connect seamlessly, and in their combination fully cover a 2D area. The impression in this case, is not a sequence of rooms, but more of a collection of infinite spaces. Very much like a puzzle with different pieces that are all linkable to each other. In that way there are 6*6*4= 144 possible connections and therefore 144 different spaces generated by just 6 cubic rooms.

The 6 rooms of the infinite museum

The generation of different spaces is illustrated above using random formations.
At this point the project is aimed to be a tool for the collection and presentation of different visualization works. Textures and lighting are defaulted and flexible for further development as the game play progresses. Next steps include texture and pattern design, association of spatial items with exhibit tags, real time shadows and interactions, game-play development and the introduction of multi-players.
The exhibition incorporates visualizations that were produced as part of taught courses, while the project itself was made in the context of the visualization course by Andrew Hudson Smith and Martin Austwick, in the MRes ASAV 2011.

This blogpost contains extracts from our group essay.
Team Members, visit their blogs at:

Martin Dittus              COVSPC
Ian Morton                 visual metro
Mohammad Masum    Spatial Urban
Flora Roumpani          En-topia

Continue reading »

UNITY 3D – The infinite museum

In the 2011-2012 MRes of Advanced Spatial Analysis and Visualization we worked on some fascinating topics and new year is always a good time to re-cap. The Infinite museum is the result of an interdisciplinary collaboration with Martin Dittus, Ian Morton, Mohammad Masum and myself, for the design of a virtual exhibition space, as a showcase for a constantly updating database of different visualization techniques. The first question that emerged in this case, was why build a spatial structure for the presentation of a-spatial information. In this case the answer is conceptual.
In 1929, Le Corbusier designed the Museum of Unlimited Growth (Musée à croissance illimitée) for the Mundaneum in Geneva. He imagined a square spiral that would develop and grow infinitely in time. In his vision, visitors would follow a path which would let them explore exhibits via a continuous circulation, allowing them to experience what he called a “promenade architectural” (an architectural walk). Despite its utopic nature, the vision behind this concept is the realization of an era of constant change and non-permanence, followed by an optimism of continuous growth.
Later, the idea of “virtuality” provoked an even more interesting swift in planning and design with the emergence of parametric modelling, sensors and new interaction techniques, which allowed new notions, e.g gaming, to become an active player in the design process. This awareness became an inspiration for the development of new solutions, such as the experimental project Arctic Research Facility by Polar Ants for building structures in constantly fluctuating physical surroundings. Or even projects which address to philosophical questions, as in the case of the Lotus Dome  by studio Roosegaarde, in whether technology can be sacred.

The museum of Unlimited Growth – Le Corbusier 1929

In continuance to these ideas, the Infinite Museum, is an interactive application that allows players to visually explore exhibits (images, movies, 3D models, animated objects) and the complex network of relations between them. The project, follows the inspiration of unlimited growth museum, with the difference that in this case, it moves away from the traditional 3d exhibition spaces which rely on a pre-built structure with a “continuous” or a tree- type “network” circulation. Instead, the Infinite Museum explores the possibilities of modular construction and dynamically constructs a map of rooms whose topology is a result of both player choices and pre-defined exhibit relationships.
The idea is to create a typical spatial structure of an exhibition space which will be augmented with the ideas of Web3 such as the use of a cloud network for categorizing the exhibits and guiding the viewer. 3D “types of rooms” connect to each other, in order to create a sequence of spaces that will guide the viewer through the exhibition, while providing him the choices of the cloud network. The user becomes the curator, who structures the exhibition, not by designing it, but by choosing types or “tags” of exhibits and therefore, he is more likely to run into the exhibits that are more related to his group of preferences.
This is a UNITY 3D application, which includes assets built in a range of 3D modeling software packages. Unity, as a game engine, provides excellent tools for interactive 3d space as well as the possibility for developing interesting multi-player game-play.

The infinite museum is a showcase for a range of visualization techniques such as images, videos, 3d objects and 3d animations. 

The application explores the possibilities of modular construction

The application doesn’t rely on a pre-built structure, instead it dynamically creates a map of rooms whose topology is a result of player options and  pre-defined exhibit relationships. 

In terms of typology, the rooms of the Infinite Museum are especially designed so as to be “convex”, meaning they all connect seamlessly, and in their combination fully cover a 2D area. The impression in this case, is not a sequence of rooms, but more of a collection of infinite spaces. Very much like a puzzle with different pieces that are all linkable to each other. In that way there are 6*6*4= 144 possible connections and therefore 144 different spaces generated by just 6 cubic rooms.

The 6 rooms of the infinite museum

The generation of different spaces is illustrated above using random formations.
At this point the project is aimed to be a tool for the collection and presentation of different visualization works. Textures and lighting are defaulted and flexible for further development as the game play progresses. Next steps include texture and pattern design, association of spatial items with exhibit tags, real time shadows and interactions, game-play development and the introduction of multi-players.
The exhibition incorporates visualizations that were produced as part of taught courses, while the project itself was made in the context of the visualization course by Andrew Hudson Smith and Martin Austwick, in the MRes ASAV 2011.

This blogpost contains extracts from our group essay.
Team Members, visit their blogs at:

Martin Dittus              COVSPC
Ian Morton                 visual metro
Mohammad Masum    Spatial Urban
Flora Roumpani          En-topia

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3D Paris – An Interactive approach


image source: obey magazine

3D Paris is an interactive application designed for IPad and following Recce, it aims in bringing the 3D city closer to the user. The viewer can wander in the streets of Paris of 1829, learn about the evolution of the city, or enjoy an aerial view of the city from the top floor of the Eiffel tower.

In this application the city itself becomes the object of interest, creating a bridge between the broader public and urban history. Virtual reality and the interactive approaches of gaming are being applied on the actual form of the city and that makes me wonder of how long till we see interactive city planning.

In any case, watching something like this makes me anticipate for an application narrating the history of Athens, the Parthenon and the Ancient Agora. I am looking forward to chatting with the ancient philosophers instead of kinect’s (now cancelled) “Milo“…

Experience 3D Paris in your browser at:
http://paris.3ds.com/#Patrimoine

for more images:
Read more »

Continue reading »

3D Paris – An Interactive approach


image source: obey magazine

3D Paris is an interactive application designed for IPad and following Recce, it aims in bringing the 3D city closer to the user. The viewer can wander in the streets of Paris of 1829, learn about the evolution of the city, or enjoy an aerial view of the city from the top floor of the Eiffel tower.

In this application the city itself becomes the object of interest, creating a bridge between the broader public and urban history. Virtual reality and the interactive approaches of gaming are being applied on the actual form of the city and that makes me wonder of how long till we see interactive city planning.

In any case, watching something like this makes me anticipate for an application narrating the history of Athens, the Parthenon and the Ancient Agora. I am looking forward to chatting with the ancient philosophers instead of kinect’s (now cancelled) “Milo“…

Experience 3D Paris in your browser at:
http://paris.3ds.com/#Patrimoine

for more images:
Read more »

Continue reading »

New York Cityvision Competition – the city of the future

This time the future of the contemporary metropolis was “put onto the table” by the New York Cityvision Competion (NYCV) which has recently announced its winners. The competition organised by City Vision challenged designers, architects, urbaners and planners, to imagine how will the big Apple look like in several years and to make suggestions in a very uncertain and unstable present. Perhaps this is the reason why most of the suggestions were not based on scientific evidences, but rather had a philosophical dimension which went beyond the urban context and its architectural goals and joined environmental worries with cinematographic scenes of the distant future.

In this context, the submission which achieved the first place by E. Giannakopoulou, S. Carera, H. Isola, and M. Norzi, offers an opportunity to ask ourselves whether a Manhattan covered with waste could be the city of the future, or the future of the city. On the other hand, the recent theories in preservation and the rise in construction of new museum spaces, give ground to the project of E. Pieraccioli and C. Granato to imagine the future city as a very well preserved monument of human heritage.

A personal favorite would be the submission of J. Tigges, F. Segat, A. Menon and N. di Croce who look at the architectural features of the city as immigrants, who are humorously moved with ships and planted into other capitals of the world, making a point about this very controversial today’s phenomenon.

The conceptual framework, is presented in several ways. Dramatic images, or superrealistic areal photos that communicate the same way as a cinematographic oeuvre. Many designs are inspired by illustrators such as Saul Bass (1920-1996) or François Schuiten and Benoît Peeters (La fièvre d’Urbicande 1985) and in some cases one could say that there are traces of the work of Superstudio (1966). Such images present a future known to many filmmakers, where the past is very much alive and nostalgia becomes an urban feature.

Entries and prizes:

Read more »

Continue reading »

New York Cityvision Competition – the city of the future

This time the future of the contemporary metropolis was “put onto the table” by the New York Cityvision Competion (NYCV) which has recently announced its winners. The competition organised by City Vision challenged designers, architects, urbaners and planners, to imagine how will the big Apple look like in several years and to make suggestions in a very uncertain and unstable present. Perhaps this is the reason why most of the suggestions were not based on scientific evidences, but rather had a philosophical dimension which went beyond the urban context and its architectural goals and joined environmental worries with cinematographic scenes of the distant future.

In this context, the submission which achieved the first place by E. Giannakopoulou, S. Carera, H. Isola, and M. Norzi, offers an opportunity to ask ourselves whether a Manhattan covered with waste could be the city of the future, or the future of the city. On the other hand, the recent theories in preservation and the rise in construction of new museum spaces, give ground to the project of E. Pieraccioli and C. Granato to imagine the future city as a very well preserved monument of human heritage.

A personal favorite would be the submission of J. Tigges, F. Segat, A. Menon and N. di Croce who look at the architectural features of the city as immigrants, who are humorously moved with ships and planted into other capitals of the world, making a point about this very controversial today’s phenomenon.

The conceptual framework, is presented in several ways. Dramatic images, or superrealistic areal photos that communicate the same way as a cinematographic oeuvre. Many designs are inspired by illustrators such as Saul Bass (1920-1996) or François Schuiten and Benoît Peeters (La fièvre d’Urbicande 1985) and in some cases one could say that there are traces of the work of Superstudio (1966). Such images present a future known to many filmmakers, where the past is very much alive and nostalgia becomes an urban feature.

Entries and prizes:

Read more »

Continue reading »

City portraits by Victor Enrich

There is something fascinating in visualizing sentences. “Don’t talk about it, picture it”. Spanish artist Victor Enrich creates surreal city portraits. Images that resemble virtual landscapes, but with a touch of criticism that derives from capturing extremely intimate urban surroundings and manipulating them as he would do in a virtual environment. There is a little bit of magic in combining everyday architectural pictures with virtual ideas. Cities with a road that leads to the sky, a building that looks like a gun.. I particularly like the stranded urban block of flats and the stairs of the plaza hotel, that somehow lost their way to the top of the building and continued duplicating forward:

click to view images
Read more »

Continue reading »

City portraits by Victor Enrich

There is something fascinating in visualizing sentences. “Don’t talk about it, picture it”. Spanish artist Victor Enrich creates surreal city portraits. Images that resemble virtual landscapes, but with a touch of criticism that derives from capturing extremely intimate urban surroundings and manipulating them as he would do in a virtual environment. There is a little bit of magic in combining everyday architectural pictures with virtual ideas. Cities with a road that leads to the sky, a building that looks like a gun.. I particularly like the stranded urban block of flats and the stairs of the plaza hotel, that somehow lost their way to the top of the building and continued duplicating forward:

click to view images
Read more »

Continue reading »
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