#FLthecity: Re-enchanting the city (2)

Weeks 3 to 5 covered things architectural, green and technological, while the final week zoomed in our old friend, human scale. Weeks 1-2 here.

Architecture in the city

What role do architects play in the city? How do architects engage with the development process? Exploring the question of design diversity and the ‘starchitect’ phenomenon.

Diversity in architecture in the city means having different types of buildings designed for different activities and realised in different historical times with a diversity of materials…when you visit a European city like Venice, Rome, Paris, London, at first you see a uniform, old city with a few contemporary buildings standing out. But on a more in depth reading, you realise that the story is quite different.

Urban design encapsulates the process of designing the broad infrastructure for our cities, towns and villages, while architecture focuses on individual buildings. However, often architects act as urban designers, contributing to broader plans of city-making.

Key considerations of urban design:

  • understanding of topography, solar access, wind, transport, people and connectivity
  • floor space arrangement and massing
  • (the key) challenge of diversity and consistency (cohesion, shared purpose, embodied social values)

In looking at how we could transform the masterplan for Central Park we carefully studied the buildings that existed already, the buildings that were under construction, and we tried to see whether we can pull this sequence together in a different way, in a way that created more meaningful open space, that actually created a more generous interface with the adjacent community.

…making roads that could connect heritage items to give people a sense of memory so they could understand that it’s not all new. That as you turned a corner, you could see something old that you knew from before the site was developed. That idea of building in time is an important part of urban design processes.

Two examples of how heritage items were integrated at Central Park:

  • designing with heritage architecture – the Australian Hotel, a key listed building from 1938, created challenges for Foster+Partners (critique); heritage considerations were addressed through the idea of a city datum line, “expressed as a recess in the building that acknowledges and expresses the Australian Hotel’s original height”; the design process considered sensitivity to scale, a response to a sense of place, and influences of function and light for the facade (very reminiscent of that hotel in Rotterdam, where F+P were also involved – see the Gdn’s out of place city buildings feature and contributions)
  • adaptive reuse – the Irving Street Brewery (award citation) ties Central Park back to its early history, with the redevelopment influenced by the technology of the building and merging new, in the form of the trigeneration plant, with old; the trigeneration is expressed and designed into the building, including its distinctive roof

How do architects strike the balance between responding to context and pursuing the dream?

Starchitects are criticised for rolling out their habitual style on any site in any country without genuine response to the individual place, climate, or culture, and getting away with bigger (or higher, different use) buildings than governments would otherwise allow. Their buildings are frequently controversial. Do they have an unfair advantage, or is it a reward for fine design? See documentary.

Is the distinction between star and other architects spurious? The question of what is local, what is specific, what is regional is a very elusive thing…we work (increasingly) in a truly global context (critique).

Discourse from comments: “global design…befits Australia’s identity…inspirational…a fitting tribute to Australia’s multicultural identity”…

(St)architecture’s role in city creation is to engage with what exists while also taking people toward a future they cannot imagine. It does this both by fitting in and standing out, considering the nature of place from outside in, and from inside out. It must accommodate the individual and the larger group, pursuing beauty, economy, and structural integrity with architects, both servants and shapers of the planning system.

Diversity – except when it comes to buildings:

Many postmodern urban theorists have argued that the essence of the traditional city is uniformity, yet Australian cities, being relatively young and brash, are distinguished by their diversity, with terraced houses next to warehouses next to skyscrapers, and so on. Even in their oldest and most uniform parts, they’re still way more expressive than most.

The result is a sort of diversity within uniformity. At best, this could be very successful – more interesting than the rigid uniformity of say Georgian London, and more coherent than the random placement that modernism often encouraged.

How should a contemporary city precinct like Central Park replicate that balance? Should there be one design hand or many? If many, should they be briefed to fit in or to stand out? The design excellence requirements for Central Park specified visual diversity. This was to be achieved by using a variety of local and international architects and urban designers…The creative tension that resulted is one of the secrets of Central Park’s succes

Two Padlet exercises:

  • Different or popular? – take a closer look at the town or city in which you live and locate an example of diversity (range of different architectural styles in one location; you’ll be lucky) or starchitecture
  • Iconic architecture (disappointing directory) – a symbol of a city, a statement about its history, ambition or how it wants to be seen; what buildings are iconic in your city or town; what make it a signature building? (how many are new, how many heritage)

The weekly summary highlights:

  • a green grid as an additional layer to urban design representing the ecology of the city
  • modern vs post-modernist approaches to ornament for buildings
  • the relationship between residents and green space, including the balcony plantings.
  • sensitivity and respect to heritage – what represents successful integration of old and new
  • the value and drawbacks of starchitects

Being green

Focuses on significant sustainability initiatives, on sustainable urbanism and the inclusion of nature into the city. It examines design innovations in green technologies, and environmental building services.

Being green is:

  • about integrating nature into our cities and constructing our urban habitat in ways that mimic natural systems and remembering that human beings are just one of the species that lives in the cities – includes renaturing the city, bringing more plants and green landscape elements into urban areas
  • involves using green building materials and technologies for better water management, reducing temperatures associated with the urban heat island effect, and remaking post-industrial sites to create new urban precincts for living, working, and recreation
  • as residential neighbourhoods get more dense it will be increasingly important for people to have access to nature, outdoor green space for exercise and recreation, and even views into green areas that provide visual relief – designed urban landscapes are cultural products that reflect shared social values and attitudes

“Landscape architects work basically on the horizontal plane. And architects are working on the vertical plane. The outdoors not the indoors, materials that change over time not static, natural not cultural”. More trees, water features and quiet places, obvs, but see also the landscape architecture padlet – it doesn’t have to mimic ‘nature’ in a tamed way. I’m thinking  the High Line, Central Park’s vertical gardens; and from my own experience the gardens in the Walkie Talkie and Copenhagen Towers in Ørestad. Last but not least, the Green Walkway (architects) behind Rigsarkivet, at the moment CPH’s most enchanting place for me.

Some comments re the absence of the sustainability word. Back to resilience, which feels rather less agenda driven and more multi-dimensional. The Gdn’s recent article on Vejle (“the Manchester of Denmark”), with lots of references to Rotterdam, highlights issues around social resilience with some stonking comments.

The weekly summary was perhaps a little on the defensive, stressing that “many different approaches will be required to implement ‘green’ planning, designing, and building for cities of the future” – I couldn’t agree more. A number of comments centred round cultural differences and the need for a “‘both and’ not ‘either or’ approach to culture” – ditto.

Technology in the city

What role does technology play in creating an enchanting liveable built environment? We will explore this question via our case study, the Central Park development, and look through the lens of industrial design and its connection with other design and planning professions.

There’s a section on 3D printing, but nothing on smart cities. Padlet activity: Identify your favourite product or object that you love and cannot live without. The product should have been designed for a specific purpose. Tell us why this product or object is indispensable for you.

More interesting, a section on the poetry of technology and “the role of technology in making cities beautiful”, which at Central Park consists of a wind driven public artwork called Halo, living walls and the heliostat. Activity: Identify a vital technology in your environment. It could be visible or hidden. Discuss what ways it enhances your life.

Largely skipped. The comments are going to be centred around Central Park being technology driven, there’s not going to be a meeting of the minds. It’s an important theme though – tech ain’t going away and we can’t wind the clock back. See the sections on re-storying nature from #FLremaking.

The weekly summary took the “technology embraces a broad sweep of topics and concerns” line, with an interesting point around technical obsolescence.  In Central Park the overall site (landscape), buildings and technological elements (Heliostat, Trigen and green walls) will all experience differing lifespans, of which the tech’s “no doubt” will be the shortest.

The human scale: the relationship between the inside and the outside

“In Week 6, Inside Out, we zoom to the human scale and talk to the concepts of the interior room vs urban room (exterior).” I was so excited about this, implying as it does that not everything has to be human scale (that’s anthropocentric talk!) that I got stuck in a week early. Inevitably it was a bit of a disappointment.

Three themes are central to interior architecture:

  • interiority – all the pieces that shape an interior and the way that interior coherently and creatively is ‘place-making’ through its setting of interior; the way we operate and live in these places; encompasses all the facets that unite to form great interior environments
  • human scale – a relationship created of people to purpose to rooms, and the appropriateness of a scale to a purpose; public space versus private space, a town hall versus a lounge room; the scale of a private place is usually more related to human scale and people at a fine-grain level, the way people engage with a space through the level of touch, and at a relationship of hand scale; public space is a scale that relates to cities or urban proportions, a much larger grain, large meeting places for many people
  • circulation – the patterns that people move along in life, and specifically how these patterns are crucial to the success of interior spaces that we conceptualise and design; also relates to scale and how people circulate vertically and horizontally in an effective and poetic way in our interior spaces

A discussion of the One Central Park apartments, interior versus urban, presents a view of the nature of scale and how the room is defined from the scale of people to the scale of a city and how these relationships of scale to ideas are utilised by interior architects as underpinning qualities of these rooms:

The corridors of One Central Park are an example of the way poetry is being used in the conceptualisation of the design. They build a drama and an enchantment to the way that people would experience those corridors as they move through them. The theatrical nature of the corridors of One Central Park have been used as a design device to really amplify the difference between the public spaces and the private spaces.

Passing over the “the approach of raw, organic luxury” and “high speed luxury design approach influenced by sports cars and yachts” in the apartments brings us to a Padlet exercise: “Thinking about your own home or an interior you like, the materials and finishes, describe the character that it represents. Does this space correspond to a raw, organic luxury like Koichi’s design, or the contemporary and sophistication of William’s approach, or something very different?” That’ll be the last then.

Moving on, a discussion of interior and urban rooms:

Each type is defined by boundaries. However, the interior room is about shelter, order and comfort, the urban room is about civic activity.

Padlet exercise: “Drawing on what you have learned, select a building with which you feel a close connection, and share the experience of moving across the inside-out threshold. Do you sense a change of scale? Do the materials and lighting influence the experience? What emotions does the circulation pattern evoke?”

Finally, how do we make hyperdense cities of the future green, liveable and poetic? Can you identify the parts of your city that are green, liveable and poetic, as you now understand these considerations in light of this course? What if you had the power and influence to change things, what would you propose to make your city more green, liveable and poetic?

Enchanted?

The course glossary (see week 1) highlighted issues of discourse. The content and hence tone of the course was different and wider than prevailing sustainability dogmas, leading to some discontent. But just what is enchantment?

The course team may have taken their enchanting inspiration from Jane Jacobs, who got a nod in week 1, but the rest of it certainly didn’t feel classic Jane. Some participants’ expectations of enchantment were not met, and many criticised the emphasis on one, rather gentrifying, site. For me the course challenged Gehlite Danish discourse in a refreshing way, although the end result did not enchant.

Enchantment is a recurring theme in UK place and nature writing as well, kicked off perhaps by Towards re-enchantment: place and its meanings (2010; The Ecologist).

In his essay in the book, A counter-desecration phrasebook, Robert Macfarlane calls for “a vast glossary of Enchantment that would comprehend the whole earth, that would allow nature to talk back to us and would help us to listen” (source), while in Landmarks (2015) he expresses his anxiety for the way that technology “has bequeathed to us an inadequate and unsatisfying relationship with the natural world, and with ourselves too”. Read him on Generation Anthropocene, and see The Big Interview with Adam Scovell.

David Cooper took issue with some of this on the Poetic Places launch event, and convened an event on Digital re-enchantment (Eventbrite) on 11 June to explore whether digital technologies can, for writers and readers, facilitate a re-enchantment with the world, looking at how landscape writers have drawn upon digital technologies in their creative practices. Examples:

  • experimental use of Twitter as a literary space, viz: take a photo of where you are in the Peak District – sum it up in one word – tag with #enchantthepeak – tweet
  • creative use of digital technologies to reimagine the Peak District

See also Richly Evocative’s review of the Balham Literary Festival. And, in another approach, can ‘gamifying’ cities help improve them?

#smwbigsocialdata: getting social at CBS

On 27 February the boffins at Copenhagen Business School (aka the Computational Social Science Laboratory in the Department of IT Management) opened their doors for Social Media Week with Big social data analytics: modelling, visualization and prediction. This was the second time CSSL has participated in #smwcph, with their 2014 workshop (preso) looking at social media analytics. See also my post on text analysis in Denmark.

Wifi access was not offered, resulting in only 19 tweets, but as many of these were photos of the slides I’m not really complaining. Also no hands-on this year, all in all a bit of a lacklustre form of public engagement.

Ravi Vatrapu kicked off the workshop with a couple of definitions:

  • What is social? – involves the other; associations rather than relations, sets rather than networks
  • What is media? – time and place shifting of meanings and actions

The CSSL conceptual model:

model

  • social graph analytics – the structure of the relationships emerging from social media use; focusing on identifying the actors involved, the activities they undertake, the actions they perform and the artefacts they create and interact with
  • social text analytics – the substantive nature of the interactions; focusing on the topics discussed and how they are discussed

It’s a different philosophy from social network analysis, using fuzzy set logic instead of graph theory, associations instead of relations and sets instead of social networks.

Abid Hussain then presented the SODATO tool, which offers keyword, sentiment and actor attribute analysis on Twitter and Facebook (public posts only, uses Facebook Graph API). Data from (for example) a company’s wall can be presented in dashboard style, eg post distribution by month.

Next, Raghava Rao Mukkamala explored social set analytics for #Marius and other social media crises. Predictions (emotions, stock market prices, box office revenues, iphone sales) can be made based on Twitter data.

Benjamin Flesch’s Social Set Visualizer (SoSeVi) is a tool for qualitative analysis. He has built a timeline of factory accidents and a corpus of Facebook walls for 11 companies, resulting in a social set analysis dashboard of 180 million+ data points around the time of the garment factory accidents in Bangladesh.

The dashboard shows an actor’s engagement before, during and after the crisis (time), which can also be analysed over space (how many walls did they post on). Tags are also listed, allowing text analysis to be undertaken.

Niels Buus Lassen and Rene Madsen then outlined some of their work with predictive modelling using Twitter. You have to buy into #some activity being a proxy for real world attention, ie Twitter as a mirror of what’s going on out in the market – a sampling issue like any other. Using a dashboard driven by SODATA they classify tweets using ensemble classifiers, such as iPhone sales from 500 million plus tweets containing the keyword “iphone” (see CBS news story | article in Science Nordic).

They also used a very cool formula I nearly understood.

Last up, Chris Zimmerman gave an overview of CSSL’s new Facebook Feelings project, a counterpart to all those Twitter happiness studies. A classification of 143 different emotions on Facebook, based on mood mining from 12 million public posts, yikes. “Feeling excited” was the most popular feeling by far. Analysis can be done and correlations made on any number of aspects of the data, with an active | passive axis in addition to the positive | negative axis used in sentiment analysis. Analysis by place runs into the usual issue – only 5% of data has locality data.

Overview slides currently available from the URL below…

#corpusmooc (and text analysis) linkage

Latest: Journalistic representations of Jeremy Corbyn in the British press

Updates: never forget – Sentiment analysis is opinion turned into code; see Stanford Named Entity Tagger, which has three English language classification algorithms to try, and a list of 20+ Sentiment Analysis APIs. Next up: Seven ways humanists are using computers to understand text, Semantic maps at DH2015Sensei FP7 project: making sense of human – human conversation (Gdn case study). Donald Trump’s tweets analysed. Pro-Brexit articles dominated newspaper referendum coverage.

Updates: just came across culturomics via a 2011 TEDx talk – no, stay…two researchers who helped create the Google Ngram Viewer analyse the Google Books digital library for cultural patterns in language use over time. See the Culturomics site, Science paper etc. Critique: When physicists do linguistics and Bright lights, big dataEMOTIVE, sentiment analysis project at Lboro…Laurence Anthony reviews the future of corpus toolsSentiment and  semantic analysisanalysing Twitter sentiment in the urban context and againWisdom of the crowd, research project from inter alia Demos and Ipsos MORI, launches with a look at Twitter’s reaction to the autumn statementThe six main arcs in storytelling, as identified by an AI

Aha, a links post…I’ve got links on text analysis and related all over the shop – see the category and tags for text mining and sentiment analysis on this blog for starters, in particular #ivmooc 4: what? and #ivmooc 2: burst detection, plus Word clouds for text mining. Here’s a broadly corpus related haul.

Projects:

Tools:

Corpora:

There’s no shortage of cases. Here’s a selection with particular appeal, either due to subject matter or methodology:

Blogs, Twitter…The dragonfly’s gaze looks at computational approaches to literary text analysis, with a nice post listing repositories and exploring file formats.

Ebooks, tweeting about reading

Update: could do with updating this page, but for now here’s a link to PhDer Alastair Horne (@pressfuturist).

Digital literature offers new forms of interaction between author, work and reader:

Why ebooks:

Bloggers:

How tos and tools:

Mainly in HE:

Free stuff:

Publishing platforms:

A post on ebook platform accessibility addresses the what is an ebook? issue.

Reading:

Denmark:

Singles/longreads are a thing:

I have no luddite prejudice against new technology; it’s just that books look as if they contain knowledge, while e-readers look as if they contain information.

Julian Barnes, quoted by @currybet.

Anouk Lang in reading as/and performance on the micro-narratives of reading:

  • what role does Twitter play in the reading lives of individuals?
  • a presentation of self, esp in relation to books which already have high cultural value, eg via prizes, book clubs
  • in tandem with one’s reading habits as a platform to broadcast one’s own sophistication:
  • for quoting favourite excerpts
  • critical pronouncements, negative reactions providing insights into the background knowledge and expectations with which readers approach a book, using the vocabulary of creative writing classes
  • desire for discussion with others to help with one’s own processing of a book (familiar to those who study reading in offline spaces)
  • articulations of pleasure, some of which give insight into the location of reading and the immersive power of a narrative
  • (comment):  showing an unfolding relationship with the book that is not part of typical literary analysis or even less formal reviewing. It’s more viewing than re-viewing!

See also her burst analysis on #canadareads, and #1b1t: Investigating reading practices at the turn of the 21st century.

Social reading:

Danish Twitter census 2014

(Post copied from Danegeld blog, 4 Feb 2015.)

The latest Danish Twitter census was launched on 8 May. Couldn’t attend, but here’s the gen, from the 60 tweets at #twittercensus, 129 at #tcdk. See also my report on last year’s census, on page 7 of my 2013 Social Media Week diary (PDF).

  • number of Danish users of Twitter doubled since last census at 222,5o5 (SE: 641,746, NO: 406, 250, FI: 153,746)
  • still few ‘active’ –  39,963  Danes (18%) tweet at least once a month (SE: 38%, NO: 29%, FI: 34%)
  • very active (tweet at least once a day) – 6245 (3%; SE: 13%, NO: 8%, FI: 6%); falling
  • 64% of all Danish twitter users have only posted between 1 and 9 tweets
  • an average Danish twitter user has 64 followers (208 globally) and follows 89; low figures may be due to the rapid growth
  • techsome segment isn’t growing, but teen segment is
  • individuals are driving Twitter use in Denmark, not brands
  • only 30% tweet location
  • @bavnhoej: “mon der en dag kommer  kvalitativ analyse af hvad der bliver sagt på twitter. Vildt spændende værktøj #tcdk , men fokus er igen på kvantitet” – see @tagsterdk and @anders_boje

Project #marius and infostorms

(Post copied from Danegeld blog, 4 Feb 2015.)

Update, 28 Feb 2015: I gave #SMWZOOSHITSTORM a wide berth as it would just make me cross, although the CBS team commented at another Socal Media Week CPH event that the story keeps on giving. The event did yield up:

Updates: 2 April 2014: story in Berlingske on the research, plus perspectives of the day from Denmark and RoW. The CPH Post, who had their own Marius fool, reported that the Jobindex spoof was pulled at around noon due to complaints, but it still seems to be there…9 April: the Zoo’s comms guy tells his story…a peer reviewed article on the saga, Marius, the giraffe: a comparative informatics case study of linguistic features of the social media discourse, was presented at the ACM’s CABS 14 conference (abstract)

A team at Copenhagen Business School has taken a look at the use of social media around Copenhagen Zoo’s recent giraffe story:

See also Tableau visualisations and the timeline of events.

Research questions:

  • how did the conversation amplitude evolve?
  • where did negative sentiment originate and how did it evolve/spread?
  • who were the main actors – for some #sna see slides 20-23; Twitter bios showed a lot of vegans, activists etc (slide 19), well organised on #some
  • what types of posts and events instigated the issue online?
  • how did CPH Zoo handle the event on social channels and how did the social media storm affect their presence? – posted both in English and Danish on its Facebook and very successful in terms of check-ins, likes etc, but commentary very negative, mainly English (slide 24-26)
  • how did other organisations deal with the crisis?

Over 80% of the data came from Twitter. Highest buzz rate: 332 posts/minute, with a second short lived spike at 20K tweets/hr re the second Marius. 50% of tweets were retweets – a reflection of sentiment?

Twitter offered a more direct reflection of events, in terms of volume and sentiment, and also demonstrated a more drastic reaction to network prestige factors from activists and celebs. Discourse on Facebook was different –  a more closed environment, with feelings expressed to family and friends and maybe the Zoo.

95% of the global conversation was in English, with Danish detected in only 2,220 posts. Differences in the Danish subset are particularly interesting (slide 11) – Twitter and Facebook only share 50% of the conversation – does mainstream media play a larger role in Danish society? Fewer RTs – #some used more to express oneself than to share information? But sentiment is also more neutral (slide 17), with more negative sentiment on Facebook (apart from that viral photo in support of the Zoo; ?Twitter penetration in Denmark lower, large subset of politicians, media etc).

Radian6 used for analysis, but came up short – pretty hopeless for the Danish data subset, and its automatic sentiment coding was “either super safe or super crap” (slide 16), neutral heavy, often failing to detect negative sentiment. 50 corporate communications students at CBS hand coded some data with rather different results. Much discussion over what is positive or negative in this case. Now starting to analyse YouTube comments.

Was #marius an infostorm? Infostorms, a new book from two researchers in Denmark (one chairman of the Danish Nudging Network), explores whether #some “amplifies irrational social behaviour and can manipulate minds and markets” (see press release).

Denmark’s utilitarian approach towards animals is out of step with the English speaking world in particular. Some rather less robustly scientific articles have been sighted lately, and this is a topic it will be interesting to track in the future. Here’s my collection of notable #marius stories for the record:

An image in support of the Zoo’s Director went viral on my Facebook timeline at least, and an ill advised tweet from actor Pilou Asbæk, one of the hosts for Eurovision 2014 in Copenhagen, went viral on Facebook (traces of both now deleted), but it is to be hoped that organisations representing Denmark are sensitive to the issues:

Copenhagen’s visitor card