‘Songdo: the hype and decline of world’s first smart city’ in ‘Sustainable Cities in Asia’

Routledge published ‘Sustainable Cities in Asia’ last September.The book was edited by Federico Caprotti, Associate Professor in Human Geography at the University of Exeter, and Li Yu, Reader in Planning at Cardiff University.It contains 23 chapters th…

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‘Songdo: the hype and decline of world’s first smart city’ in ‘Sustainable Cities in Asia’

Routledge published ‘Sustainable Cities in Asia’ last September.The book was edited by Federico Caprotti, Associate Professor in Human Geography at the University of Exeter, and Li Yu, Reader in Planning at Cardiff University.It contains 23 chapters th…

Continue reading »

Book – Landscape Observer: London, on Pops and Democracy

London has seen a boom in inner-city developments over the past five to ten years. Large areas have been transformed, become densified in many ways and existing development has been replaced to make way for huge investments. Along it came a number of landscape projects to design pleasing outdoor spaces.

London is comparably green for its size with many streets tree-lined and many public parks. However, the everyday location in this bustling city is still dominated by hard surfaces. Greenery is rare and often not maintained. Especially with the government’s ongoing austerity programmes, the local councils struggle to keep up maintenance.

To distinguish themselves investors invest big in the design of the surroundings of their buildings. It underlines the quality to justify sky-high rents. The public is invited in to generate footfall for rented spaces. Where previously private property was fenced off, investors have discovered the potential of beautiful spaces. It seems a win-win situation, the public gets more greened spaces, the local councils get well maintained outdoor spaces and the investors can secure their investment.

The numerous places that have sprung up across London are now documented in a new JOVIS publication Landscape Observer: London by Vladimir Guculak. The book acts as a guide, but also a repository of not just a handful, but some 89 projects. Ranging from large-scale projects like Kings Cross redevelopment in central London to the Cutty Sark Gardens in Greenwich and other smaller projects.


Image own / Title page of the pubication Landscape Observer: London, by Vladimir Guculak, 2017.

Each project is in detail documented with photographs by the author, a landscape architect himself, with additional information about location, size, year, designer, nearest public transport and accessibility information. Each chapter is proceeded by a map that helps locate each open space in the context of the city.

It is a beautifully designed publication complete with artwork by the author. With the photographic documentation, the publication gives an overview of the project and a number of detail shots to highlight specific areas and in some cases construction details. Along the photos, the author does give a brief listing of plants included, materials used and other special features such a street furniture and lighting.

Image taken from London Fieldwork / Spontaneous City in the Tree of Heaven

It also features a personal favourite the Duncan Terrace Gardens (p.18). With a very inspiring artwork by London Fieldwork Spontaneous City in the Tree of Heaven. Or the nice-to-be-in-the-summer-with-kids Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park.

The weather is always extremely sunny throughout this publication and everything is documented in bloom with green lush leaves. It might seem a good idea to show summer, but landscaping has to work 12 months a year not only three or four. This is especially true for English weather and seasons. Colourful autumn leaves are as beautiful if not more so and stormy or rainy conditions can make for dramatically romantic scenes. So not why not make use of it?

However, there are some more important problems with this publication. And it’s not that something like the John Lewis Rain Garden (p.81) designed by the prominent designer (Nigel Dunnett) of the 2012 Olympic Parc in Stratford (now Queen Elizabeth Olympic Parc) features as a model “public space”. The main problem is the nonchalant attitude towards public space.

Public space is one of the most important principles to an accessible and shared city that is open to everyone. It is highly political and can be linked to the concept of the city-state in ancient Greece with the Agora, the foundation of democracy. See for example Sennett, Richard, 1998. The Spaces of Democracy, 1998 Raoul Wallenberg Lecture or Henry Lefebvre, 1974 (1991 e). The Production of Space, Blackwell. p.237-241. We don’t need to launch into a manifesto for the open city here, others have done so much more thoroughly. Nevertheless, the open and shared spaces are fundamental to living together in an open democratic city.

The problem with public spaces is the creeping rise of POPS or pseudo-public spaces. These spaces look and feel like public spaces but are in fact private spaces. They are on privately owned land and therefore are governed by a very different set of rules. Rules that are made up by the private owner and rarely publicly shared. The fact that one can access a street, a square or a riverside does not for a long shot make it public space.

The Guarding has recently run a couple of stories on the rise of pseudo-public spaces in London and together with GiGL put together a database of such spaces in the UK and especially London. The Guardian has put together a quick guide to POPs here, listing important points such as “…appear to be public but are actually owned and controlled by developers and corporations.” or “…“Pops” – are not subject to ordinary local authority bylaws but rather governed by restrictions drawn up the landowner and usually enforced by private security companies”, noting “…public access to pseudo-public spaces remains at the discretion of landowners” and “…alter them at will. They are not obliged to make these rules public.”

Image taken from the Guardian / Map shwing the pseudo-public spaces around central London. The data has been put together in colaboration between the Guardian and GiGL and is available as open data.


Image taken from the Guardian / View of Canary Square, Kings Cross with square and fountain and the UAL in the background.

One of the most prominent areas of these new breeds of urban spaces is the area around Kings Cross with Granary Square, Wharf Road Gardens, Gasholder Park and more. It has become over the past two or so years a very popular meeting place with new restaurants, soon to be open shopping, housing and the UAL at the centre of it. It is a very cleverly disguised pseudo-public space with the university at the centre, a very large square with a sort of public program and fountain as well as access to the Regents Canal, Kings Cross and St. Pancras station.

All of these are listed in the discussed publication as examples and many more such as St Pancras Square and Regents Place to list a few. Interestingly the author does make a reference to what he calls “political activists” presumably campaigning for public spaces. Examples listed on other news sites such as BigThink list some of the implications:

In 2011, Occupy protesters were removed from Paternoster Square, outside the London Stock Exchange, on the grounds that they were trespassing on private land owned by the Mitsubishi Estate Company.

In Pancras Square, part of King’s Cross Estate, lying down on the grass is okay, but not sleeping. One homeless man told the Guardian that as soon as he shuts his eyes, he is accosted by security guards.

Taking pictures is becoming increasingly problematic, with photographers being informed by security guards that they are on private land, and their activity is subject to prior permission – even in what looks like public space, such as Tower Place, adjacent to the Tower of London.

Public drinking is considered sufficient reason for removal from certain Pops.

A lot of data has been put together by GiGL and the Guardian on sites in London and has been published as open data here.

This implicates the publication and the approach to some extent. It raises serious questions about the use of terminology or the understanding put forward of public and space. But it does not question the intention of the author. It was put together from a practitioners point of view, probably aimed at peers. Focusing on materials and practices, but then was opened to a wider audience, as hinted in the foreword.

Image own / Spread of the pubication Landscape Observer: London, by Vladimir Guculak, 2017.

Not just, but especially as professionals in urban planning, landscape architecture, architecture, public officials and other roles involved in the planning and maintenance of public spaces, we have to be extremely careful and precise with the terminology to ensure and preserve these fundamentally important features of an open and accessible city, our open society and ultimately democracy are not undermined.

Never the less it is one of the most comprehensive collections of recent landscape architecture projects in the centre of London and as such a valuable contribution, even if vague regarding terminology and location mapping. Extensive preview available on the publisher JOVIS’ website

Image own / Cover of the pubication Landscape Observer: London, by Vladimir Guculak, 2017.

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Chapter in Routledge Handbook of Mapping and Cartography – VGI and Beyond: From Data to Mapping

Hot on the heels of the Routledge Handbook of Environmental Justice is the Routledge Handbook of Mapping and Cartography. The handbook was edited by Alex Kent (Canterbury Christ Church University) who is currently the President of the British Cartographic Society and Editor of The Cartographic Journal; and Peter Vujakovic (also from Canterbury Christ Church University) who edited The Cartographic … Continue reading Chapter in Routledge Handbook of Mapping and Cartography – VGI and Beyond: From Data to Mapping

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Caren Cooper’s Citizen Science: How Ordinary People are Changing the Face of Discovery

Today, Caren Cooper new book Citizen Science: How Ordinary People are Changing the Face of Discovery is going on sale in the UK. The book has been out in the USA for about a year, and it is a good point to review it. The library of citizen science books is growing – there are the more … Continue reading Caren Cooper’s Citizen Science: How Ordinary People are Changing the Face of Discovery

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Chapter in ‘Understanding Spatial Media’ on VGI & Citizen Science

The book ‘Understanding Spatial Media‘ came out earlier this year. The project is the result of joint effort of the editors Rob Kitchin (NUI Maynooth, Ireland), Tracey P. Lauriault (Carleton University, Canada), and Matthew W. Wilson (University of Kentucky, USA). The book is filling the need to review and explain what happened in the part 20 years, with the increase use … Continue reading Chapter in ‘Understanding Spatial Media’ on VGI & Citizen Science

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Smiley’s London

This map created by illustrator Mike Hall (who we’ve featured before) for Penguin Books, shows the locations in London that featured in John le Carré’s George Smiley spy novels. This is a lovely map, drawn from scratch and using a distinctive yellow/green and pastel blue pastel colour palette that evokes classic literary works and hand-printed […]

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Harry Potter Map

Time Out London, in conjunction with official Harry Potter portal Pottermore, created this lovely map showing 18 places in central London that have featured in the Harry Potter books and films. From Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross station, to the Knight Bus crossing Lambeth Bridge, the map allows you to construct your own Harry […]

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Citizen Science 2017 – workshops day and opening panel

The Citizen Science Association conference is held at the River Center in St Paul, Minnesota on 17th to 20th May. This post and the following ones are notes that were taken during the meeting in the sessions that I’ve attended. Wednesday was dedicated to workshops, and I joined the Citizen Science at College level workshop. Organised by Thomas … Continue reading Citizen Science 2017 – workshops day and opening panel

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Curiocity

curiocity1

Curiocity is a weighty tome, written by Henry Eliot and Matt Lloyd-Rose and published recently by Particular Books. The book follows on from a short, alphabetically organised series of pocket maps, some of which that we featured (C) a few years ago (D). This is a book which certainly delivers on its back-cover promise to […]

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Suburban Urbanities: Suburbs and the Life of the High Street

The book ‘Suburban Urbanities: Suburbs and the Life of the High Street‘ is launched today. It’s open access and free for you to download and read. The book is edited by Laura Vaughan, who led two research projects in which I was involved as co-investigator. First, ‘Towards Successful Suburban Town Centres‘ (2006-2009) and then ‘Adaptable … Continue reading Suburban Urbanities: Suburbs and the Life of the High Street

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A great urbanist_Peter Hall




The book cover of ‘Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design in the Twentieth Century’


Yesterday I was surprised when I searched some new journal articles through UCL library’s E-Journal service. Volume85, Number 5, 2014 of Town Planning Review that was published just some days ago includes a new paper of Professor Peter Hall. Unfortunately, it is still unable to look through the UCL service, ‘And one fine morning -’: reflections on a double centenary, the paper can arouse the glad to read his words as well as the grief losing a great urbanist who passed away on 30 July 2014. 

 



I, had trained as an architectural designer, started to have an interest in urban studies after reading one of his tremendous books ‘Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design in the Twentieth Century.’ The book carefully and attractively introduced the history of modern cities from the 19th century to the end of the 20th century and it unveiled hidden stories that had built on the characteristics of each city step by step. The most interesting point what I found in this book, his vision for the city is not heading for built forms, but alternative society as Ebenezer Howard pursued. And it was entirely enough to bring the young student to London.

 



After I have entered The Bartlett, UCL, I had the opportunity to audit his seminar class for masters’ students. Every week, students groups analysed urban problems of particular cities in the world and studied how urban policies have intervened in the problems. When I listened his comments in the class, I could imagine Kung-Fu masters who simply overwhelmed many fighters in the movie what I watched long years ago . He looked like he knew everything about cities, and he was thoroughly conversant with geographical, economic and social issues from European cities to Sydney, Singapore and Global South. 

Recently, Regional Studies that Peter Hall worked as the first editor published a virtual special issue to commemorate him. In the editorial page, Nicholas A. Phelps and Mark Tewdwr-Jones admire him highly as the academic who “successfully brought together in his career – history, geography and planning” and explained his achievements based on his articles in the issue that you can freely access. 

I have made the list of his recent books.

The Planning Imagination: Peter Hall and the Study of Urban and Regional Planning  

Good Cities,Better Lives: How Europe Discovered the Lost Art of Urbanism

 

Also I have checked his lecture videos on online.
Youtube and Vimeo contain some his lectures, but the following videos might be useful to watch.

I recommend seeing Michal Batty’s tribute for Peter Hall.

Hope this post could be helpful to remember Professor Peter Hall and his works
 

 

Continue reading »

A great urbanist_Peter Hall




The book cover of ‘Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design in the Twentieth Century’


Yesterday I was surprised when I searched some new journal articles through UCL library’s E-Journal service. Volume85, Number 5, 2014 of Town Planning Review that was published just some days ago includes a new paper of Professor Peter Hall. Unfortunately, it is still unable to look through the UCL service, ‘And one fine morning -’: reflections on a double centenary, the paper can arouse the glad to read his words as well as the grief losing a great urbanist who passed away on 30 July 2014. 

 



I, had trained as an architectural designer, started to have an interest in urban studies after reading one of his tremendous books ‘Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design in the Twentieth Century.’ The book carefully and attractively introduced the history of modern cities from the 19th century to the end of the 20th century and it unveiled hidden stories that had built on the characteristics of each city step by step. The most interesting point what I found in this book, his vision for the city is not heading for built forms, but alternative society as Ebenezer Howard pursued. And it was entirely enough to bring the young student to London.

 



After I have entered The Bartlett, UCL, I had the opportunity to audit his seminar class for masters’ students. Every week, students groups analysed urban problems of particular cities in the world and studied how urban policies have intervened in the problems. When I listened his comments in the class, I could imagine Kung-Fu masters who simply overwhelmed many fighters in the movie what I watched long years ago . He looked like he knew everything about cities, and he was thoroughly conversant with geographical, economic and social issues from European cities to Sydney, Singapore and Global South. 

Recently, Regional Studies that Peter Hall worked as the first editor published a virtual special issue to commemorate him. In the editorial page, Nicholas A. Phelps and Mark Tewdwr-Jones admire him highly as the academic who “successfully brought together in his career – history, geography and planning” and explained his achievements based on his articles in the issue that you can freely access. 

I have made the list of his recent books.

The Planning Imagination: Peter Hall and the Study of Urban and Regional Planning  

Good Cities,Better Lives: How Europe Discovered the Lost Art of Urbanism

 

Also I have checked his lecture videos on online.
Youtube and Vimeo contain some his lectures, but the following videos might be useful to watch.

I recommend seeing Michal Batty’s tribute for Peter Hall.

Hope this post could be helpful to remember Professor Peter Hall and his works
 

 

Continue reading »

Book – Building as Ornament

The ornament is returning slowly to the architectural discourse. It has not really been absent though merely denied, but it is returning as a more prominent topic now.

A key text is Adolf Loos’ Ornament and crime (Ornament und Verbrechen) (1908) that was widely interpreted as at the easement of ornament in architecture. More recent interpretations (for example Gleiter, 2012) however is more differentiated. Already the title in which Loos uses and hints at this. Nevertheless ornament was denied a role in modernist architecture and is still a minefield for architects today.

BE the buildingsImage taken from designboom / A proposed project spelling out the letters ‘BE’ for buildings in Brussels by JDS in 2007.

The way for the reintroduction of ornament has been paved by technology interestingly enough. In the late 80ies and especially the 90ies CAD tools have presented the tools to begin to design with patterns including options to manipulate the pattern based on conditions. This has also the been linked to production and printed glass or pierce metals facades or even brickwork layer by robots (Bearth & Deplazes with Gramazio & Kohler, 2006).

This has been accompanied by theoretical writings, exhibitions and journals. For examples the exhibition at the SAM Re-Sampling Ornament in 2008. The architecture journals ARCH+ (1995/2002), l’architecture d’aujourd’hui (2001) or AD primers, Ornament: the politics of architecture and subjectivity (2013) for example have published on ornament during this early phase. Authors who have contributed to the now re-emerging discussion on ornament include Jörg H. Gleiter ((orig. German, 2002. Die Rückkehr des Verdrängten)), Michael Dürfeld (The Ornament and the Architectural Form (orig. in German, 2008. Das Ornamentale und die architektonische Form)) or Farshid Moussavi (The Function of Form, 2008).

The new possibilities in design and production using new technologies have allowed to re-imagine the relationship between design, production and product. Whereas at the time Loos wrote Architecture and Crime the industrialisation introduced the production of exact replicas into the thousands of one single product, the new technologies based around computers allow for a trance dent workflow and individually adapted and styled objects whilst still machine and mass produced. Hence the conditions have fundamentally changed.

What can be observed is, though very slow moving, a shift from an understanding of ornament as decoration to an interpretation of ornament as process in the sense of structure and narrative.

A special take on this is presented by Michiel van Raaij in his new publication Building as Ornament. Whilst van Raaij focuses on iconographic architecture he proposes building as ornament as a term to frame part of this discussion in a new way implying links to a theoretical discussion with references to a long tradition.

Fire station 4Image taken from 52weeks / The Fire Station 4 in Columbus by Venturi Scott Brown and Associates in 1968.

Van Raaij’s idea is to try and focus on the story the architect tries to tell through an iconic building. He argues that “Iconography is the use of images from outside architecture in architecture” and that the focus of the book is on “iconography that explains the function, social status, organisation, load-bearing structure and/or context of the building”. He makes the link to ornament using the narrative in the sense of explaining something.

The book brings together over 100 examples to illustrate this notion. This ranges from the Yokohama International Port Perminal by FOA, 2004, to the Bird’s Nest Stadium by Herzog de Meuron in 2008 or the People’s Building in Shanghai by BIG, 2004.

Whilst the book does not offer a theoretical framework for the introduced terminology or a broader discussion on the theoretical dimension of such a ‘new’ aspect of ornament in architecture, it presents a conversation. The publication is on one had a collection of projects that fit the description iconographic architecture and it is on the other hand a collection of interviews in which the author van Raaij discusses iconographic architecture with architects and architectural historians.

Signal BoxImage taken from architecture.com / The Signal Box in Basel, Switzerland by Herzog de Meuron in 1994.

The interview partners are, in order of appearance: Auke van der Would, Charles Jencks, Denise Scott Brown, Adriaan Geuze, Michiel Riedijk, Alejandro Zaero-Polo, Ben van Berkel, Steven Holl, Winy Maas and Bjarke Ingels.

All of the interview partners of course have a different angle on the topic and in some conversations the focus is more on icons, narratives, construction or material. Some do specifically discuss ornament as in the recently emerging debate, so for examples the interview with Denise Scott Brown where she discusses aspects of the design for Fire Station 4 in Columbus. She emphasises the very same topics of structure and narrative the ornament discussion is moving towards. Other interviews do however not even touch ornament.

There is loads of material and a very interesting discussion around icons in architecture and iconographic architecture to be found in this book. This is clearly the focus of van Raaij’s work and his personal interest. He has been running a blog on iconic buildings for a long time and he knows the projects in this field. The real contribution of this book is definitely to hear the architects, as described by van Raaij as the Generation OMA, to talk about icons and iconographic design processes in architecture. There are some very personal statements in these discussions that shed light on some of the famous icons this current generation of architects have developed. It demonstrates that there is more to the discussion of iconic architecture than it just being a land mark put up by an architect to make a bold statement.

Through out the book the terms ornament and icon/iconographic architecture are used interchangeably. And it turns out that ornament only plays a small role setting the stage in this nai010 publishers book. Even though one could have expected quite some potential in this take on ornaments, not as a complete explanation, but as a special case of ornament on the level of the building. More contextual material would be needed to define a clear standpoint.

However, the chosen title, it has to be said, is very cleverly chosen. It is catchy, provides a lot of historical context, touches the nerve (both of time and architects still hating ornaments, as they have been told to do in architecture school?) and it is simple enough to be self-explanatory whilst allowing room for imagination. Nevertheless for the reader who is looking for the specific topic on ornament it might mean to be disappointed, but not without discovering an interesting collection of personal discussions on iconic architecture.

Building as ornament coverImage taken from designboom / Book cover.

Van Raaij, M., 2014. Building as Ornament. nai010 publishers, Rotterdam.

Continue reading »

Book – Building as Ornament

The ornament is returning slowly to the architectural discourse. It has not really been absent though merely denied, but it is returning as a more prominent topic now.

A key text is Adolf Loos’ Ornament and crime (Ornament und Verbrechen) (1908) that was widely interpreted as at the easement of ornament in architecture. More recent interpretations (for example Gleiter, 2012) however is more differentiated. Already the title in which Loos uses and hints at this. Nevertheless ornament was denied a role in modernist architecture and is still a minefield for architects today.

BE the buildingsImage taken from designboom / A proposed project spelling out the letters ‘BE’ for buildings in Brussels by JDS in 2007.

The way for the reintroduction of ornament has been paved by technology interestingly enough. In the late 80ies and especially the 90ies CAD tools have presented the tools to begin to design with patterns including options to manipulate the pattern based on conditions. This has also the been linked to production and printed glass or pierce metals facades or even brickwork layer by robots (Bearth & Deplazes with Gramazio & Kohler, 2006).

This has been accompanied by theoretical writings, exhibitions and journals. For examples the exhibition at the SAM Re-Sampling Ornament in 2008. The architecture journals ARCH+ (1995/2002), l’architecture d’aujourd’hui (2001) or AD primers, Ornament: the politics of architecture and subjectivity (2013) for example have published on ornament during this early phase. Authors who have contributed to the now re-emerging discussion on ornament include Jörg H. Gleiter ((orig. German, 2002. Die Rückkehr des Verdrängten)), Michael Dürfeld (The Ornament and the Architectural Form (orig. in German, 2008. Das Ornamentale und die architektonische Form)) or Farshid Moussavi (The Function of Form, 2008).

The new possibilities in design and production using new technologies have allowed to re-imagine the relationship between design, production and product. Whereas at the time Loos wrote Architecture and Crime the industrialisation introduced the production of exact replicas into the thousands of one single product, the new technologies based around computers allow for a trance dent workflow and individually adapted and styled objects whilst still machine and mass produced. Hence the conditions have fundamentally changed.

What can be observed is, though very slow moving, a shift from an understanding of ornament as decoration to an interpretation of ornament as process in the sense of structure and narrative.

A special take on this is presented by Michiel van Raaij in his new publication Building as Ornament. Whilst van Raaij focuses on iconographic architecture he proposes building as ornament as a term to frame part of this discussion in a new way implying links to a theoretical discussion with references to a long tradition.

Fire station 4Image taken from 52weeks / The Fire Station 4 in Columbus by Venturi Scott Brown and Associates in 1968.

Van Raaij’s idea is to try and focus on the story the architect tries to tell through an iconic building. He argues that “Iconography is the use of images from outside architecture in architecture” and that the focus of the book is on “iconography that explains the function, social status, organisation, load-bearing structure and/or context of the building”. He makes the link to ornament using the narrative in the sense of explaining something.

The book brings together over 100 examples to illustrate this notion. This ranges from the Yokohama International Port Perminal by FOA, 2004, to the Bird’s Nest Stadium by Herzog de Meuron in 2008 or the People’s Building in Shanghai by BIG, 2004.

Whilst the book does not offer a theoretical framework for the introduced terminology or a broader discussion on the theoretical dimension of such a ‘new’ aspect of ornament in architecture, it presents a conversation. The publication is on one had a collection of projects that fit the description iconographic architecture and it is on the other hand a collection of interviews in which the author van Raaij discusses iconographic architecture with architects and architectural historians.

Signal BoxImage taken from architecture.com / The Signal Box in Basel, Switzerland by Herzog de Meuron in 1994.

The interview partners are, in order of appearance: Auke van der Would, Charles Jencks, Denise Scott Brown, Adriaan Geuze, Michiel Riedijk, Alejandro Zaero-Polo, Ben van Berkel, Steven Holl, Winy Maas and Bjarke Ingels.

All of the interview partners of course have a different angle on the topic and in some conversations the focus is more on icons, narratives, construction or material. Some do specifically discuss ornament as in the recently emerging debate, so for examples the interview with Denise Scott Brown where she discusses aspects of the design for Fire Station 4 in Columbus. She emphasises the very same topics of structure and narrative the ornament discussion is moving towards. Other interviews do however not even touch ornament.

There is loads of material and a very interesting discussion around icons in architecture and iconographic architecture to be found in this book. This is clearly the focus of van Raaij’s work and his personal interest. He has been running a blog on iconic buildings for a long time and he knows the projects in this field. The real contribution of this book is definitely to hear the architects, as described by van Raaij as the Generation OMA, to talk about icons and iconographic design processes in architecture. There are some very personal statements in these discussions that shed light on some of the famous icons this current generation of architects have developed. It demonstrates that there is more to the discussion of iconic architecture than it just being a land mark put up by an architect to make a bold statement.

Through out the book the terms ornament and icon/iconographic architecture are used interchangeably. And it turns out that ornament only plays a small role setting the stage in this nai010 publishers book. Even though one could have expected quite some potential in this take on ornaments, not as a complete explanation, but as a special case of ornament on the level of the building. More contextual material would be needed to define a clear standpoint.

However, the chosen title, it has to be said, is very cleverly chosen. It is catchy, provides a lot of historical context, touches the nerve (both of time and architects still hating ornaments, as they have been told to do in architecture school?) and it is simple enough to be self-explanatory whilst allowing room for imagination. Nevertheless for the reader who is looking for the specific topic on ornament it might mean to be disappointed, but not without discovering an interesting collection of personal discussions on iconic architecture.

Building as ornament coverImage taken from designboom / Book cover.

Van Raaij, M., 2014. Building as Ornament. nai010 publishers, Rotterdam.

Continue reading »

Book – Inside Cern Science Lives

What does science look like? This might evoke black and white images of the cities and sixties showing male scientists in white lab coats bent over a table where some assistant has layed out various tools and models. Materials are steel, chrome, glass and colourful plastic. Shown in the background is probably a black board with some formulas and equations written on.

But what does science really look like, today? In a new Lars Müller Publishers publication Andri Pol shows the reader some inside glimpse of one of the biggest scientific research labs in the world. In Inside CERN: European Organization for Nuclear Research he has been documenting work and live in and around CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research.

Inside Cern 'layered equations' p.233Image taken from uncubemagazine / ‘layered equations’ p.233.

Andri Pol is a Swiss freelance photographer with a specific focus on the everyday. This is also how he portraits the places, labs, offices, scientists and atmospheres at CERN, with great curiosity and respect.

There are no pretty pictures to be found in this documentation and there are no glorious moments. Its all about the effort, the struggle and the dedication. Flipping though the pages only unveils a great range of colours and oddly chosen angles or frames. The book does not work that way. The photographs are actually rather complex compositions with a lot of depth each with not just one but often a number of aspects.

Whilst there is a lot of equipment and machines visible there is an emphasis on the people who are involved at CERN in some way. Being this the scientists, indeed sometimes in white overcoats and blue shoe protectors, technical staff or students. People from all over the world come together at CERN working in teams. This is often shown, science is discussion and exchange.

The documentation portraits also the atmosphere at CERN. Beside the highly technical installations there is very little shiny and new infrastructure. In fact most of the facilities seem to be rather pragmatic and often improvised. It is clear the focus is somewhere else. This place is not about design and style, but about customablilty, flexibility and improvisation. That does not mean that self expression is absence. On the contrary the numerous portraits of individualised desks, doors, books and computers themselves tell a story.

Inside Cern 'calibrate' p.243Image taken from klatmagazine / ‘calibrate’ p.243.

Only on the last few pages the photographs stet to show some of the machinery of the actual Large Hadron Collider (LHC), photographs that look similar to what is usually circulated in the meadia. By that point the reader is already so deep immersed in the atmosphere at CERN that is seems to be most natural thing to walk past this monster of infrastructure that doesn’t even fit on a photograph. In many ways all the other photographs tell a much more telling tale of the LHC than the tons of steel, cable and concrete.

Inside Cern 'thinking' p.249Image taken from uncubemagazine / ‘thinking’ p.249.

This being a Lars Müller Publisher publication it does not come as a surprise that this is a very beautifully made book. A lot of care has gone into the design of the book and the selection of the photographs. Even though it is mainly a picture book a real narrative is being told here something that captivates the reader. This book certainly tells a very different story about science today. It is of course documenting science in a unique biotope of research and collaboration creating a special place between Switzerland and France. But what it shows is the fascination and dedication of the individuals working in this field and manages to transport this.

If this is not quite yet enough. Google has collaborated with cern and it features on Street View. Try this link to go on a virtual walk around CERN and the LHC.

Inside Cern book coverImage taken from amazon.com / Book cover. More details also available on the book website at insidecern.com.

Pol, A., 2011. Inside CERN: European Organization for Nuclear Research. Lars Muller Publishers, Zürich.

Continue reading »

Book – Inside Cern Science Lives

What does science look like? This might evoke black and white images of the cities and sixties showing male scientists in white lab coats bent over a table where some assistant has layed out various tools and models. Materials are steel, chrome, glass and colourful plastic. Shown in the background is probably a black board with some formulas and equations written on.

But what does science really look like, today? In a new Lars Müller Publishers publication Andri Pol shows the reader some inside glimpse of one of the biggest scientific research labs in the world. In Inside CERN: European Organization for Nuclear Research he has been documenting work and live in and around CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research.

Inside Cern 'layered equations' p.233Image taken from uncubemagazine / ‘layered equations’ p.233.

Andri Pol is a Swiss freelance photographer with a specific focus on the everyday. This is also how he portraits the places, labs, offices, scientists and atmospheres at CERN, with great curiosity and respect.

There are no pretty pictures to be found in this documentation and there are no glorious moments. Its all about the effort, the struggle and the dedication. Flipping though the pages only unveils a great range of colours and oddly chosen angles or frames. The book does not work that way. The photographs are actually rather complex compositions with a lot of depth each with not just one but often a number of aspects.

Whilst there is a lot of equipment and machines visible there is an emphasis on the people who are involved at CERN in some way. Being this the scientists, indeed sometimes in white overcoats and blue shoe protectors, technical staff or students. People from all over the world come together at CERN working in teams. This is often shown, science is discussion and exchange.

The documentation portraits also the atmosphere at CERN. Beside the highly technical installations there is very little shiny and new infrastructure. In fact most of the facilities seem to be rather pragmatic and often improvised. It is clear the focus is somewhere else. This place is not about design and style, but about customablilty, flexibility and improvisation. That does not mean that self expression is absence. On the contrary the numerous portraits of individualised desks, doors, books and computers themselves tell a story.

Inside Cern 'calibrate' p.243Image taken from klatmagazine / ‘calibrate’ p.243.

Only on the last few pages the photographs stet to show some of the machinery of the actual Large Hadron Collider (LHC), photographs that look similar to what is usually circulated in the meadia. By that point the reader is already so deep immersed in the atmosphere at CERN that is seems to be most natural thing to walk past this monster of infrastructure that doesn’t even fit on a photograph. In many ways all the other photographs tell a much more telling tale of the LHC than the tons of steel, cable and concrete.

Inside Cern 'thinking' p.249Image taken from uncubemagazine / ‘thinking’ p.249.

This being a Lars Müller Publisher publication it does not come as a surprise that this is a very beautifully made book. A lot of care has gone into the design of the book and the selection of the photographs. Even though it is mainly a picture book a real narrative is being told here something that captivates the reader. This book certainly tells a very different story about science today. It is of course documenting science in a unique biotope of research and collaboration creating a special place between Switzerland and France. But what it shows is the fascination and dedication of the individuals working in this field and manages to transport this.

If this is not quite yet enough. Google has collaborated with cern and it features on Street View. Try this link to go on a virtual walk around CERN and the LHC.

Inside Cern book coverImage taken from amazon.com / Book cover. More details also available on the book website at insidecern.com.

Pol, A., 2011. Inside CERN: European Organization for Nuclear Research. Lars Muller Publishers, Zürich.

Continue reading »

Book – Inside Cern Science Lives

What does science look like? This might evoke black and white images of the cities and sixties showing male scientists in white lab coats bent over a table where some assistant has layed out various tools and models. Materials are steel, chrome, glass and colourful plastic. Shown in the background is probably a black board with some formulas and equations written on.

But what does science really look like, today? In a new Lars Müller Publishers publication Andri Pol shows the reader some inside glimpse of one of the biggest scientific research labs in the world. In Inside CERN: European Organization for Nuclear Research he has been documenting work and live in and around CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research.

Inside Cern 'layered equations' p.233Image taken from uncubemagazine / ‘layered equations’ p.233.

Andri Pol is a Swiss freelance photographer with a specific focus on the everyday. This is also how he portraits the places, labs, offices, scientists and atmospheres at CERN, with great curiosity and respect.

There are no pretty pictures to be found in this documentation and there are no glorious moments. Its all about the effort, the struggle and the dedication. Flipping though the pages only unveils a great range of colours and oddly chosen angles or frames. The book does not work that way. The photographs are actually rather complex compositions with a lot of depth each with not just one but often a number of aspects.

Whilst there is a lot of equipment and machines visible there is an emphasis on the people who are involved at CERN in some way. Being this the scientists, indeed sometimes in white overcoats and blue shoe protectors, technical staff or students. People from all over the world come together at CERN working in teams. This is often shown, science is discussion and exchange.

The documentation portraits also the atmosphere at CERN. Beside the highly technical installations there is very little shiny and new infrastructure. In fact most of the facilities seem to be rather pragmatic and often improvised. It is clear the focus is somewhere else. This place is not about design and style, but about customablilty, flexibility and improvisation. That does not mean that self expression is absence. On the contrary the numerous portraits of individualised desks, doors, books and computers themselves tell a story.

Inside Cern 'calibrate' p.243Image taken from klatmagazine / ‘calibrate’ p.243.

Only on the last few pages the photographs stet to show some of the machinery of the actual Large Hadron Collider (LHC), photographs that look similar to what is usually circulated in the meadia. By that point the reader is already so deep immersed in the atmosphere at CERN that is seems to be most natural thing to walk past this monster of infrastructure that doesn’t even fit on a photograph. In many ways all the other photographs tell a much more telling tale of the LHC than the tons of steel, cable and concrete.

Inside Cern 'thinking' p.249Image taken from uncubemagazine / ‘thinking’ p.249.

This being a Lars Müller Publisher publication it does not come as a surprise that this is a very beautifully made book. A lot of care has gone into the design of the book and the selection of the photographs. Even though it is mainly a picture book a real narrative is being told here something that captivates the reader. This book certainly tells a very different story about science today. It is of course documenting science in a unique biotope of research and collaboration creating a special place between Switzerland and France. But what it shows is the fascination and dedication of the individuals working in this field and manages to transport this.

If this is not quite yet enough. Google has collaborated with cern and it features on Street View. Try this link to go on a virtual walk around CERN and the LHC.

Inside Cern book coverImage taken from amazon.com / Book cover. More details also available on the book website at insidecern.com.

Pol, A., 2011. Inside CERN: European Organization for Nuclear Research. Lars Muller Publishers, Zürich.

Continue reading »

Book – Inside Cern Science Lives

What does science look like? This might evoke black and white images of the cities and sixties showing male scientists in white lab coats bent over a table where some assistant has layed out various tools and models. Materials are steel, chrome, glass and colourful plastic. Shown in the background is probably a black board with some formulas and equations written on.

But what does science really look like, today? In a new Lars Müller Publishers publication Andri Pol shows the reader some inside glimpse of one of the biggest scientific research labs in the world. In Inside CERN: European Organization for Nuclear Research he has been documenting work and live in and around CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research.

Inside Cern 'layered equations' p.233Image taken from uncubemagazine / ‘layered equations’ p.233.

Andri Pol is a Swiss freelance photographer with a specific focus on the everyday. This is also how he portraits the places, labs, offices, scientists and atmospheres at CERN, with great curiosity and respect.

There are no pretty pictures to be found in this documentation and there are no glorious moments. Its all about the effort, the struggle and the dedication. Flipping though the pages only unveils a great range of colours and oddly chosen angles or frames. The book does not work that way. The photographs are actually rather complex compositions with a lot of depth each with not just one but often a number of aspects.

Whilst there is a lot of equipment and machines visible there is an emphasis on the people who are involved at CERN in some way. Being this the scientists, indeed sometimes in white overcoats and blue shoe protectors, technical staff or students. People from all over the world come together at CERN working in teams. This is often shown, science is discussion and exchange.

The documentation portraits also the atmosphere at CERN. Beside the highly technical installations there is very little shiny and new infrastructure. In fact most of the facilities seem to be rather pragmatic and often improvised. It is clear the focus is somewhere else. This place is not about design and style, but about customablilty, flexibility and improvisation. That does not mean that self expression is absence. On the contrary the numerous portraits of individualised desks, doors, books and computers themselves tell a story.

Inside Cern 'calibrate' p.243Image taken from klatmagazine / ‘calibrate’ p.243.

Only on the last few pages the photographs stet to show some of the machinery of the actual Large Hadron Collider (LHC), photographs that look similar to what is usually circulated in the meadia. By that point the reader is already so deep immersed in the atmosphere at CERN that is seems to be most natural thing to walk past this monster of infrastructure that doesn’t even fit on a photograph. In many ways all the other photographs tell a much more telling tale of the LHC than the tons of steel, cable and concrete.

Inside Cern 'thinking' p.249Image taken from uncubemagazine / ‘thinking’ p.249.

This being a Lars Müller Publisher publication it does not come as a surprise that this is a very beautifully made book. A lot of care has gone into the design of the book and the selection of the photographs. Even though it is mainly a picture book a real narrative is being told here something that captivates the reader. This book certainly tells a very different story about science today. It is of course documenting science in a unique biotope of research and collaboration creating a special place between Switzerland and France. But what it shows is the fascination and dedication of the individuals working in this field and manages to transport this.

If this is not quite yet enough. Google has collaborated with cern and it features on Street View. Try this link to go on a virtual walk around CERN and the LHC.

Inside Cern book coverImage taken from amazon.com / Book cover. More details also available on the book website at insidecern.com.

Pol, A., 2011. Inside CERN: European Organization for Nuclear Research. Lars Muller Publishers, Zürich.

Continue reading »

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 http://bit.ly/KRenmV


 

Continue reading »

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 http://bit.ly/KRenmV


 

Continue reading »

From Rhythmanalyst to Rhythmconductor- Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life

 

 

 

 

Image 1. The book cover of ‘Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life’

 
In the book, Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life, French sociologist Henri Lefebvre suggests ‘Rhythm’ as an alternative tool to understand and analyse everyday urban life beyond visual recognition. He argues that we can examine the true nature of cities from the human body, the basic unit of urban life, to substantial urban structures through rhythms.

 

Invisible rhythms are generating, repeating and transforming in cities. Lefebvre categorizes types of rhythm, which deeply intervene the life and make a foundation of law, institution and culture, based on its characteristics. Among them, the author particularly insists to pay attention to two aspects of rhythms that Arrhythmia which is creating discordance between or among two or more rhythms, and Eurhythmia which is staying in the state of harmony and balance. He asserts that it is important to convert Arrhythmia in the city that causes inequality and injustice to Eurhythmia which sustains healthy urban condition.

 

‘Rhythmanlysist’ is a fresh idea from the book published in 1992. Rhythmanlysist hears sounds of the city and reveals hidden systems behind visual images with sensing and analysing the change of spatial aspects in timing. As a rhythmanlysist, Lefebvre investigates Mediterranean cities. He presents some insights that the rhythms of Mediterranean cities are derived from specific geographical and climate environments, and the rhythms have created different political system and exceptional cultural diversity in contrast to Atlantic cities. Physically, it leads the development of plazas and the importance of stairways which link sloping lands.

 

Rhythmanlysist could still be a valuable concept to understand complex urban situations. However, we are living in the digital era. As Mitchell (Mitchell, 1999) denoted, the rhythms of our ordinary life are changing by digital communication. Every day tremendous data, which are invisible and inaudible, are generating, and its flows push us into the massive ocean of heterogeneous rhythms. Therefore, new Rhythmanlysist in the digital age needs other capacities. Capturing the digital data in real time and synthesizing it should be essential requirements to create or maintain Eurhythmia. While the cities of the 20th century needed Rhythmanlysist, now it is the time of ‘Rhythmconductor’ who collects digital rhythms, reorganises its tempos-meters-articulations and resonates new contexts. We can easily find good examples of Rhythmconductor like below.
 

Image 2. London Public Bike share map by Oliver O’Brien. http://bikes.oobrien.com/london/

Image 3. Analysis of Happiness on Twitter during 9th September 2008 to 31stAugust 2011.

Dodds PS,  Harris KD,  Kloumann IM,  Bliss CA,  Danforth CM  (2011) Temporal Patterns of Happiness and Information in a Global Social Network: Hedonometrics and Twitter. PLoS ONE 6(12)

 

This radical change of the rhythm gives an opportunity to redefine the scopes of each social group. Citizens collect and utilize the data by their mobile devices; furthermore, they solve complex urban problems by themselves. (Desouza and Bhagwatwar, 2012) The role of planners is challenging to make new rhythms by spreading effective information and stimulating civic participation using social media instead traditional managers’ role within mainstream planning structures. (Tayebi, 2013) Also, Scientists’ role is shifting. According to Wright (Wright, 2013), scientific researchers had focused to find reasons of urban problems until the last decade, however; their voices are getting stronger to solve problems and provide alternatives in the decision making process with geospatial data and geographical analysis.

 

You can find the detail of Lefebvre’s book from Google and Amazon.

 

Desouza, K C and Bhagwatwar, A, 2012, “Citizen Apps to Solve Complex Urban Problems” Journal of Urban Technology 19(3) 107–136.

Mitchell, W J, 1999 E-topia: “Urban life, Jim–but not as we know it” (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA).

Tayebi, A, 2013, “Planning activism: Using Social Media to claim marginalized citizens’ right to the city” Cities 32 88–93.

Wright, D, 2013, “Bridging the Gap Between Scientists and Policy Makers: Whither Geospatial? | Esri Insider” Esri Insider, http://blogs.esri.com/esri/esri-insider/2013/02/11/bridging-the-gap-between-scientists-and-policy-makers-whither-geospatial/.

 

 

Continue reading »

From Rhythmanalyst to Rhythmconductor- Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life

 

 

 

 

Image 1. The book cover of ‘Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life’

 
In the book, Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life, French sociologist Henri Lefebvre suggests ‘Rhythm’ as an alternative tool to understand and analyse everyday urban life beyond visual recognition. He argues that we can examine the true nature of cities from the human body, the basic unit of urban life, to substantial urban structures through rhythms.

 

Invisible rhythms are generating, repeating and transforming in cities. Lefebvre categorizes types of rhythm, which deeply intervene the life and make a foundation of law, institution and culture, based on its characteristics. Among them, the author particularly insists to pay attention to two aspects of rhythms that Arrhythmia which is creating discordance between or among two or more rhythms, and Eurhythmia which is staying in the state of harmony and balance. He asserts that it is important to convert Arrhythmia in the city that causes inequality and injustice to Eurhythmia which sustains healthy urban condition.

 

‘Rhythmanlysist’ is a fresh idea from the book published in 1992. Rhythmanlysist hears sounds of the city and reveals hidden systems behind visual images with sensing and analysing the change of spatial aspects in timing. As a rhythmanlysist, Lefebvre investigates Mediterranean cities. He presents some insights that the rhythms of Mediterranean cities are derived from specific geographical and climate environments, and the rhythms have created different political system and exceptional cultural diversity in contrast to Atlantic cities. Physically, it leads the development of plazas and the importance of stairways which link sloping lands.

 

Rhythmanlysist could still be a valuable concept to understand complex urban situations. However, we are living in the digital era. As Mitchell (Mitchell, 1999) denoted, the rhythms of our ordinary life are changing by digital communication. Every day tremendous data, which are invisible and inaudible, are generating, and its flows push us into the massive ocean of heterogeneous rhythms. Therefore, new Rhythmanlysist in the digital age needs other capacities. Capturing the digital data in real time and synthesizing it should be essential requirements to create or maintain Eurhythmia. While the cities of the 20th century needed Rhythmanlysist, now it is the time of ‘Rhythmconductor’ who collects digital rhythms, reorganises its tempos-meters-articulations and resonates new contexts. We can easily find good examples of Rhythmconductor like below.
 

Image 2. London Public Bike share map by Oliver O’Brien. http://bikes.oobrien.com/london/

Image 3. Analysis of Happiness on Twitter during 9th September 2008 to 31stAugust 2011.

Dodds PS,  Harris KD,  Kloumann IM,  Bliss CA,  Danforth CM  (2011) Temporal Patterns of Happiness and Information in a Global Social Network: Hedonometrics and Twitter. PLoS ONE 6(12)

 

This radical change of the rhythm gives an opportunity to redefine the scopes of each social group. Citizens collect and utilize the data by their mobile devices; furthermore, they solve complex urban problems by themselves. (Desouza and Bhagwatwar, 2012) The role of planners is challenging to make new rhythms by spreading effective information and stimulating civic participation using social media instead traditional managers’ role within mainstream planning structures. (Tayebi, 2013) Also, Scientists’ role is shifting. According to Wright (Wright, 2013), scientific researchers had focused to find reasons of urban problems until the last decade, however; their voices are getting stronger to solve problems and provide alternatives in the decision making process with geospatial data and geographical analysis.

 

You can find the detail of Lefebvre’s book from Google and Amazon.

 

Desouza, K C and Bhagwatwar, A, 2012, “Citizen Apps to Solve Complex Urban Problems” Journal of Urban Technology 19(3) 107–136.

Mitchell, W J, 1999 E-topia: “Urban life, Jim–but not as we know it” (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA).

Tayebi, A, 2013, “Planning activism: Using Social Media to claim marginalized citizens’ right to the city” Cities 32 88–93.

Wright, D, 2013, “Bridging the Gap Between Scientists and Policy Makers: Whither Geospatial? | Esri Insider” Esri Insider, http://blogs.esri.com/esri/esri-insider/2013/02/11/bridging-the-gap-between-scientists-and-policy-makers-whither-geospatial/.

 

 

Continue reading »

From Rhythmanalyst to Rhythmconductor- Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life

 

 

 

 

Image 1. The book cover of ‘Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life’

 
In the book, Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life, French sociologist Henri Lefebvre suggests ‘Rhythm’ as an alternative tool to understand and analyse everyday urban life beyond visual recognition. He argues that we can examine the true nature of cities from the human body, the basic unit of urban life, to substantial urban structures through rhythms.

 

Invisible rhythms are generating, repeating and transforming in cities. Lefebvre categorizes types of rhythm, which deeply intervene the life and make a foundation of law, institution and culture, based on its characteristics. Among them, the author particularly insists to pay attention to two aspects of rhythms that Arrhythmia which is creating discordance between or among two or more rhythms, and Eurhythmia which is staying in the state of harmony and balance. He asserts that it is important to convert Arrhythmia in the city that causes inequality and injustice to Eurhythmia which sustains healthy urban condition.

 

‘Rhythmanlysist’ is a fresh idea from the book published in 1992. Rhythmanlysist hears sounds of the city and reveals hidden systems behind visual images with sensing and analysing the change of spatial aspects in timing. As a rhythmanlysist, Lefebvre investigates Mediterranean cities. He presents some insights that the rhythms of Mediterranean cities are derived from specific geographical and climate environments, and the rhythms have created different political system and exceptional cultural diversity in contrast to Atlantic cities. Physically, it leads the development of plazas and the importance of stairways which link sloping lands.

 

Rhythmanlysist could still be a valuable concept to understand complex urban situations. However, we are living in the digital era. As Mitchell (Mitchell, 1999) denoted, the rhythms of our ordinary life are changing by digital communication. Every day tremendous data, which are invisible and inaudible, are generating, and its flows push us into the massive ocean of heterogeneous rhythms. Therefore, new Rhythmanlysist in the digital age needs other capacities. Capturing the digital data in real time and synthesizing it should be essential requirements to create or maintain Eurhythmia. While the cities of the 20th century needed Rhythmanlysist, now it is the time of ‘Rhythmconductor’ who collects digital rhythms, reorganises its tempos-meters-articulations and resonates new contexts. We can easily find good examples of Rhythmconductor like below.
 

Image 2. London Public Bike share map by Oliver O’Brien. http://bikes.oobrien.com/london/

Image 3. Analysis of Happiness on Twitter during 9th September 2008 to 31stAugust 2011.

Dodds PS,  Harris KD,  Kloumann IM,  Bliss CA,  Danforth CM  (2011) Temporal Patterns of Happiness and Information in a Global Social Network: Hedonometrics and Twitter. PLoS ONE 6(12)

 

This radical change of the rhythm gives an opportunity to redefine the scopes of each social group. Citizens collect and utilize the data by their mobile devices; furthermore, they solve complex urban problems by themselves. (Desouza and Bhagwatwar, 2012) The role of planners is challenging to make new rhythms by spreading effective information and stimulating civic participation using social media instead traditional managers’ role within mainstream planning structures. (Tayebi, 2013) Also, Scientists’ role is shifting. According to Wright (Wright, 2013), scientific researchers had focused to find reasons of urban problems until the last decade, however; their voices are getting stronger to solve problems and provide alternatives in the decision making process with geospatial data and geographical analysis.

 

You can find the detail of Lefebvre’s book from Google and Amazon.

 

Desouza, K C and Bhagwatwar, A, 2012, “Citizen Apps to Solve Complex Urban Problems” Journal of Urban Technology 19(3) 107–136.

Mitchell, W J, 1999 E-topia: “Urban life, Jim–but not as we know it” (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA).

Tayebi, A, 2013, “Planning activism: Using Social Media to claim marginalized citizens’ right to the city” Cities 32 88–93.

Wright, D, 2013, “Bridging the Gap Between Scientists and Policy Makers: Whither Geospatial? | Esri Insider” Esri Insider, http://blogs.esri.com/esri/esri-insider/2013/02/11/bridging-the-gap-between-scientists-and-policy-makers-whither-geospatial/.

 

 

Continue reading »

Book – Urban Fabrics Inside Out

Two new publications set out to investigate the urban structure from a different angle than the ever same physical structure perspective. Whilst it might not as such mark a general shift in the way cities or urban areas are investigated these two publication both take a very strong position stressing the social aspects, the experiential and the lived city. It is about people, individuals as much as society and culture.

Both books are part of much larger ongoing research project supported by large national bodies, but operating internationally.

The first of the two books is Suburban Constellations. Governance, Land and Infrastructure in the 21st Century. edited by Roger Keil published by Jovis. It is in fact some kind of half time summary of the ongoing project (2010-2017) Global Suburbanisms: governance, land, and infrastructure in the 21st century. Here the group not only reports on findings, but it is also a tool to define the status quo and look ahead at what is to be achieved further down the line. The project is mainly supported by Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada but investigates case studies from around the world. One of the very striking themes in this project is to bring case studies of all those areas of urban sprawl from around the globe together and compare/contrast them.

The second book is Handmade urbanism: from community initiatives to participatory models : Mumbai, São Paulo, Istanbul, Mexico City, Cape Town edited by Marco L. Rosa and Ute E and published by Jovis. Weiland and is a publication that draws on the Urban Age project at home at LSE and famously sponsored by Deutsche Bank. Here the Project is already into its sixth year and a number of books where published in its context. Most prominently the Endless City (2008) and Living in the Endless City (2011) both by Burdett and Sudjic. This new publication specifically focuses on the Urban Age Award which is organised by the Alfred Herrhausen Society as part of the Urban Age Conferences. With a focus on what is happening on the ground it is based on interviews with different stakeholders in each of the projects world cities. Those five cities are Mumbai, Sao Paulo, Mexico City and Cape Town. The editor of this new publication Ute Weiland has for the past five years coordinated said awards and worked closely with the local contributors in all five cities.

What is special on those two publications is the angel they portrait the urban world and the focus they chose for the respective research projects. The main topic is the rapid urbanisation, the fact that 80% of the world’s population will be living in urbanised areas by 2050 that urban means collective and that cities are in constant flux.

The publisher house Jovis has already a bit of a history with similar publications. There is for example Matthew Gandy’s Urban Constellations (2011) as one of the recent publications in this area. In fact Keil does specifically refer to Gandy in his introduction and the two books even share partly the same title.

Suburban Constellations. Governance, Land and Infrastructure in the 21st Century. being a work in progress brings together a body of writings much more experimental and investigative in comparison. Whilst this might be interpreted as a lack of focus or clear scope at times, it does surprise the reader with raw concepts and very direct lines thought making for a joyful read. Further more it does not require to be read from cover to cover, rather it can be picket up to read just one of the essays and read others maybe later.

It is structured along four topics: Foundations, Themes, Essay and Images and Regions. The first topic presents some ‘foundational thinking on suburbanisation’. The second topic ‘elaborated on those themes with emphasis on redevelopment, risk, boundaries, water, sewage, and transportation. These topics intertwined with the research project’s main points of Land, Governance and Infrastructure. Whilst this organisational structure whilst they might make sense from a project point of view it not as easily accessible for the generally interested reader.

book coverImage taken from the bad-news-beat.org / The waste lands of Fort Mcmurray AB.

The are pieces like “Forth McMurray, the Suburb sat the End of the Highway” by Clair Major describing the context of one of Canada’s two purely business driven settlements just north of Edmonton fuelled by the large oil sands. Or on the other hand an Essay by Alan Mabin “Suburbanisms in Africa” where he discusses not just the suburbs as places but mainly suburban as a term and its meaning in a culturally very different context. He for example points out how difficult it is to translate the term suburb or indeed suburbanises to other languages. For example in places such the urbanised areas of South Africa where beside the local/traditional languages plus English, French and Portuguese all compete for the meaning full expression such terminologies become very fluid in deed creating a complex concept of their own undermining all efforts to frame the topics with key terms.

The project plans a very comprehensive dissemination strategy including conferences and article, but also summer schools. So there will be much more to come from this project and research collective. Preview PDF for this publication is available HERE.

book spreadImage taken from the perfact.org / Book spread Handmade Urbanism showing sketch illustrations.

Handmade urbanism: from community initiatives to participatory models : Mumbai, São Paulo, Istanbul, Mexico City, Cape Town has its focus on what is happening on the ground in each of the five metropolis regions and is being supported by the worldwide operating initiative Urban Age Award sponsored by Deutsche Bank.

The premise of the initiative is that empowering the local population and supporting them to organise their own projects will lead to more sustainable and lasting projects and increases the communities resilience. These aspects are investigated through the interviews and discussions each locations is portrayed by. This is frased by Wolfgang Nowak, the initiator of the Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award in his interview as: “I am not one of these people, like a Florence Nightingale, who stands and gives out soup to the poor (she has in fact done a whole lot more, for people and science). What we want is to enable the poor no longer to accept soup queues and produce their own soup.” (annotation added)

The book structure is organised along the cities. This main body is introduced by a series of essays creating a context for the project. These are by Wolfgang Nowak, Ute E. Wieland and Richard Sennett. These essays are not extensive in length, but try to be very concise.

The main part of the book presents a range of information about each location. There are basic statistics and data key figures information, and a short introduction to each of the three shortlisted projects. This is then followed by a series of interviews with local stakeholders. Experts from the jury, the local government as well as the project initiators.

The book also comes with a cd so you can in addition watch the documentary about the award and hear a bit more about community-driven initiatives. Runtime only 5:30. Also the publisher offers a online preview in PDF for this publication, available HERE.

Both books provide a good overview and outline of these kind of projects. Both projects have a large scope but the struggle between global level of organisation and local level of operation is very apparent. It leaves the reader wondering what exactly do we take from all this? Urban Constellations is the one that makes for a good read with experimental thoughts and Handmade Urbanism is the more descriptive discussion type of publication.

Graphically the two books have very different approaches. Handmade Urbanism translates the topic literally and all illustrations are hand drawn sketches and symbols. Urban Constellations makes extensive use of photographs documenting places mainly views onto or into suburbs. It however a rather weak part of the book, the illustrations do not live up to the surprises the essays manage to challenge the readers with.

book coverImage taken from the Perfact / Handmade Urbanism book cover.

Keil, R. ed., 2013. Suburban Constellations. Governance, Land and Infrastructure in the 21st Century., Berlin: Jovis Verlag.
Rosa, M.L. & Weiland, U.E. eds., 2013. Handmade urbanism: from community initiatives to participatory models : Mumbai, São Paulo, Istanbul, Mexico City, Cape Town, Berlin: Jovis Verlag.

Continue reading »

Book – Urban Fabrics Inside Out

Two new publications set out to investigate the urban structure from a different angle than the ever same physical structure perspective. Whilst it might not as such mark a general shift in the way cities or urban areas are investigated these two publication both take a very strong position stressing the social aspects, the experiential and the lived city. It is about people, individuals as much as society and culture.

Both books are part of much larger ongoing research project supported by large national bodies, but operating internationally.

The first of the two books is Suburban Constellations. Governance, Land and Infrastructure in the 21st Century. edited by Roger Keil published by Jovis. It is in fact some kind of half time summary of the ongoing project (2010-2017) Global Suburbanisms: governance, land, and infrastructure in the 21st century. Here the group not only reports on findings, but it is also a tool to define the status quo and look ahead at what is to be achieved further down the line. The project is mainly supported by Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada but investigates case studies from around the world. One of the very striking themes in this project is to bring case studies of all those areas of urban sprawl from around the globe together and compare/contrast them.

The second book is Handmade urbanism: from community initiatives to participatory models : Mumbai, São Paulo, Istanbul, Mexico City, Cape Town edited by Marco L. Rosa and Ute E and published by Jovis. Weiland and is a publication that draws on the Urban Age project at home at LSE and famously sponsored by Deutsche Bank. Here the Project is already into its sixth year and a number of books where published in its context. Most prominently the Endless City (2008) and Living in the Endless City (2011) both by Burdett and Sudjic. This new publication specifically focuses on the Urban Age Award which is organised by the Alfred Herrhausen Society as part of the Urban Age Conferences. With a focus on what is happening on the ground it is based on interviews with different stakeholders in each of the projects world cities. Those five cities are Mumbai, Sao Paulo, Mexico City and Cape Town. The editor of this new publication Ute Weiland has for the past five years coordinated said awards and worked closely with the local contributors in all five cities.

What is special on those two publications is the angel they portrait the urban world and the focus they chose for the respective research projects. The main topic is the rapid urbanisation, the fact that 80% of the world’s population will be living in urbanised areas by 2050 that urban means collective and that cities are in constant flux.

The publisher house Jovis has already a bit of a history with similar publications. There is for example Matthew Gandy’s Urban Constellations (2011) as one of the recent publications in this area. In fact Keil does specifically refer to Gandy in his introduction and the two books even share partly the same title.

Suburban Constellations. Governance, Land and Infrastructure in the 21st Century. being a work in progress brings together a body of writings much more experimental and investigative in comparison. Whilst this might be interpreted as a lack of focus or clear scope at times, it does surprise the reader with raw concepts and very direct lines thought making for a joyful read. Further more it does not require to be read from cover to cover, rather it can be picket up to read just one of the essays and read others maybe later.

It is structured along four topics: Foundations, Themes, Essay and Images and Regions. The first topic presents some ‘foundational thinking on suburbanisation’. The second topic ‘elaborated on those themes with emphasis on redevelopment, risk, boundaries, water, sewage, and transportation. These topics intertwined with the research project’s main points of Land, Governance and Infrastructure. Whilst this organisational structure whilst they might make sense from a project point of view it not as easily accessible for the generally interested reader.

book coverImage taken from the bad-news-beat.org / The waste lands of Fort Mcmurray AB.

The are pieces like “Forth McMurray, the Suburb sat the End of the Highway” by Clair Major describing the context of one of Canada’s two purely business driven settlements just north of Edmonton fuelled by the large oil sands. Or on the other hand an Essay by Alan Mabin “Suburbanisms in Africa” where he discusses not just the suburbs as places but mainly suburban as a term and its meaning in a culturally very different context. He for example points out how difficult it is to translate the term suburb or indeed suburbanises to other languages. For example in places such the urbanised areas of South Africa where beside the local/traditional languages plus English, French and Portuguese all compete for the meaning full expression such terminologies become very fluid in deed creating a complex concept of their own undermining all efforts to frame the topics with key terms.

The project plans a very comprehensive dissemination strategy including conferences and article, but also summer schools. So there will be much more to come from this project and research collective. Preview PDF for this publication is available HERE.

book spreadImage taken from the perfact.org / Book spread Handmade Urbanism showing sketch illustrations.

Handmade urbanism: from community initiatives to participatory models : Mumbai, São Paulo, Istanbul, Mexico City, Cape Town has its focus on what is happening on the ground in each of the five metropolis regions and is being supported by the worldwide operating initiative Urban Age Award sponsored by Deutsche Bank.

The premise of the initiative is that empowering the local population and supporting them to organise their own projects will lead to more sustainable and lasting projects and increases the communities resilience. These aspects are investigated through the interviews and discussions each locations is portrayed by. This is frased by Wolfgang Nowak, the initiator of the Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award in his interview as: “I am not one of these people, like a Florence Nightingale, who stands and gives out soup to the poor (she has in fact done a whole lot more, for people and science). What we want is to enable the poor no longer to accept soup queues and produce their own soup.” (annotation added)

The book structure is organised along the cities. This main body is introduced by a series of essays creating a context for the project. These are by Wolfgang Nowak, Ute E. Wieland and Richard Sennett. These essays are not extensive in length, but try to be very concise.

The main part of the book presents a range of information about each location. There are basic statistics and data key figures information, and a short introduction to each of the three shortlisted projects. This is then followed by a series of interviews with local stakeholders. Experts from the jury, the local government as well as the project initiators.

The book also comes with a cd so you can in addition watch the documentary about the award and hear a bit more about community-driven initiatives. Runtime only 5:30. Also the publisher offers a online preview in PDF for this publication, available HERE.

Both books provide a good overview and outline of these kind of projects. Both projects have a large scope but the struggle between global level of organisation and local level of operation is very apparent. It leaves the reader wondering what exactly do we take from all this? Urban Constellations is the one that makes for a good read with experimental thoughts and Handmade Urbanism is the more descriptive discussion type of publication.

Graphically the two books have very different approaches. Handmade Urbanism translates the topic literally and all illustrations are hand drawn sketches and symbols. Urban Constellations makes extensive use of photographs documenting places mainly views onto or into suburbs. It however a rather weak part of the book, the illustrations do not live up to the surprises the essays manage to challenge the readers with.

book coverImage taken from the Perfact / Handmade Urbanism book cover.

Keil, R. ed., 2013. Suburban Constellations. Governance, Land and Infrastructure in the 21st Century., Berlin: Jovis Verlag.
Rosa, M.L. & Weiland, U.E. eds., 2013. Handmade urbanism: from community initiatives to participatory models : Mumbai, São Paulo, Istanbul, Mexico City, Cape Town, Berlin: Jovis Verlag.

Continue reading »

Book – Urban Fabrics Inside Out

Two new publications set out to investigate the urban structure from a different angle than the ever same physical structure perspective. Whilst it might not as such mark a general shift in the way cities or urban areas are investigated these two publication both take a very strong position stressing the social aspects, the experiential and the lived city. It is about people, individuals as much as society and culture.

Both books are part of much larger ongoing research project supported by large national bodies, but operating internationally.

The first of the two books is Suburban Constellations. Governance, Land and Infrastructure in the 21st Century. edited by Roger Keil published by Jovis. It is in fact some kind of half time summary of the ongoing project (2010-2017) Global Suburbanisms: governance, land, and infrastructure in the 21st century. Here the group not only reports on findings, but it is also a tool to define the status quo and look ahead at what is to be achieved further down the line. The project is mainly supported by Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada but investigates case studies from around the world. One of the very striking themes in this project is to bring case studies of all those areas of urban sprawl from around the globe together and compare/contrast them.

The second book is Handmade urbanism: from community initiatives to participatory models : Mumbai, São Paulo, Istanbul, Mexico City, Cape Town edited by Marco L. Rosa and Ute E and published by Jovis. Weiland and is a publication that draws on the Urban Age project at home at LSE and famously sponsored by Deutsche Bank. Here the Project is already into its sixth year and a number of books where published in its context. Most prominently the Endless City (2008) and Living in the Endless City (2011) both by Burdett and Sudjic. This new publication specifically focuses on the Urban Age Award which is organised by the Alfred Herrhausen Society as part of the Urban Age Conferences. With a focus on what is happening on the ground it is based on interviews with different stakeholders in each of the projects world cities. Those five cities are Mumbai, Sao Paulo, Mexico City and Cape Town. The editor of this new publication Ute Weiland has for the past five years coordinated said awards and worked closely with the local contributors in all five cities.

What is special on those two publications is the angel they portrait the urban world and the focus they chose for the respective research projects. The main topic is the rapid urbanisation, the fact that 80% of the world’s population will be living in urbanised areas by 2050 that urban means collective and that cities are in constant flux.

The publisher house Jovis has already a bit of a history with similar publications. There is for example Matthew Gandy’s Urban Constellations (2011) as one of the recent publications in this area. In fact Keil does specifically refer to Gandy in his introduction and the two books even share partly the same title.

Suburban Constellations. Governance, Land and Infrastructure in the 21st Century. being a work in progress brings together a body of writings much more experimental and investigative in comparison. Whilst this might be interpreted as a lack of focus or clear scope at times, it does surprise the reader with raw concepts and very direct lines thought making for a joyful read. Further more it does not require to be read from cover to cover, rather it can be picket up to read just one of the essays and read others maybe later.

It is structured along four topics: Foundations, Themes, Essay and Images and Regions. The first topic presents some ‘foundational thinking on suburbanisation’. The second topic ‘elaborated on those themes with emphasis on redevelopment, risk, boundaries, water, sewage, and transportation. These topics intertwined with the research project’s main points of Land, Governance and Infrastructure. Whilst this organisational structure whilst they might make sense from a project point of view it not as easily accessible for the generally interested reader.

book coverImage taken from the bad-news-beat.org / The waste lands of Fort Mcmurray AB.

The are pieces like “Forth McMurray, the Suburb sat the End of the Highway” by Clair Major describing the context of one of Canada’s two purely business driven settlements just north of Edmonton fuelled by the large oil sands. Or on the other hand an Essay by Alan Mabin “Suburbanisms in Africa” where he discusses not just the suburbs as places but mainly suburban as a term and its meaning in a culturally very different context. He for example points out how difficult it is to translate the term suburb or indeed suburbanises to other languages. For example in places such the urbanised areas of South Africa where beside the local/traditional languages plus English, French and Portuguese all compete for the meaning full expression such terminologies become very fluid in deed creating a complex concept of their own undermining all efforts to frame the topics with key terms.

The project plans a very comprehensive dissemination strategy including conferences and article, but also summer schools. So there will be much more to come from this project and research collective. Preview PDF for this publication is available HERE.

book spreadImage taken from the perfact.org / Book spread Handmade Urbanism showing sketch illustrations.

Handmade urbanism: from community initiatives to participatory models : Mumbai, São Paulo, Istanbul, Mexico City, Cape Town has its focus on what is happening on the ground in each of the five metropolis regions and is being supported by the worldwide operating initiative Urban Age Award sponsored by Deutsche Bank.

The premise of the initiative is that empowering the local population and supporting them to organise their own projects will lead to more sustainable and lasting projects and increases the communities resilience. These aspects are investigated through the interviews and discussions each locations is portrayed by. This is frased by Wolfgang Nowak, the initiator of the Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award in his interview as: “I am not one of these people, like a Florence Nightingale, who stands and gives out soup to the poor (she has in fact done a whole lot more, for people and science). What we want is to enable the poor no longer to accept soup queues and produce their own soup.” (annotation added)

The book structure is organised along the cities. This main body is introduced by a series of essays creating a context for the project. These are by Wolfgang Nowak, Ute E. Wieland and Richard Sennett. These essays are not extensive in length, but try to be very concise.

The main part of the book presents a range of information about each location. There are basic statistics and data key figures information, and a short introduction to each of the three shortlisted projects. This is then followed by a series of interviews with local stakeholders. Experts from the jury, the local government as well as the project initiators.

The book also comes with a cd so you can in addition watch the documentary about the award and hear a bit more about community-driven initiatives. Runtime only 5:30. Also the publisher offers a online preview in PDF for this publication, available HERE.

Both books provide a good overview and outline of these kind of projects. Both projects have a large scope but the struggle between global level of organisation and local level of operation is very apparent. It leaves the reader wondering what exactly do we take from all this? Urban Constellations is the one that makes for a good read with experimental thoughts and Handmade Urbanism is the more descriptive discussion type of publication.

Graphically the two books have very different approaches. Handmade Urbanism translates the topic literally and all illustrations are hand drawn sketches and symbols. Urban Constellations makes extensive use of photographs documenting places mainly views onto or into suburbs. It however a rather weak part of the book, the illustrations do not live up to the surprises the essays manage to challenge the readers with.

book coverImage taken from the Perfact / Handmade Urbanism book cover.

Keil, R. ed., 2013. Suburban Constellations. Governance, Land and Infrastructure in the 21st Century., Berlin: Jovis Verlag.
Rosa, M.L. & Weiland, U.E. eds., 2013. Handmade urbanism: from community initiatives to participatory models : Mumbai, São Paulo, Istanbul, Mexico City, Cape Town, Berlin: Jovis Verlag.

Continue reading »
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