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Posts tagged with: London

The Active City : Visualising cultural activity in London

Over the last few months we have been working on a series of visualisations representing the theme of an active city as part of our masters coursework in spatial analysis & visualisation at CASA, UCL.

Our group – consisting of myself, Rowan Blaik, Lyzette Zeno-Cortes and Agata Brok, chose to pursue this with the specific idea of cultural activity and interaction.

This post will summarize it all in one page, but a more comprehensive presentation & folio for this piece can be viewed via the website: cityofcultu.re

Below are some examples of the wide array of visualisations we produced to explore the topic, which covered global, regional, city and street scale.

Global Magnetism

Here we explored global migration to London through a static visualisation Processing, as well as a look into the magnitude of one of London’s many cultural attractors (the V&A Museum) using D3.

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Cultural Icons

These visualisations explored how data from monuments of individuals and events can be made more meaningful through crowd-sourced data from sources such as Wikipedia. In particular, we focused on English Heritage Blue Plaques, which have a strong presence in London.

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Plaque Explorer

The most exciting and challenging phase of this visualisation involved generating a browser-based London using threejs. Here we represented cultural phenomena in the form of metaballs in the city – which are divided by category and scaled by their proximity to their own type. The plaques were also included in this city, with their height increasing with amount of page views on their biographies in Wikipedia in the last 90 days.

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One of the advantages of using threejs was that it allowed us to add our own customization. One of these involved implementing the visualisation so it can be viewed with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. While this was a bit of a challenge, it proved an interesting, and of course fun, way to interact with the city in your browser. If you’d like to run this you will need an Oculus Rift with the Oculus bridge plugin running locally.

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Icons of reminiscence

This final aspect of the project involved moving to a street scale, which opens up ideas of how these can be represented in a augmented reality/wearable avenue. The people from the plaques were rendered nicely in Adobe After Effects and represented as portraits flying through the streets, with bubbles representing their page views again.

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If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below or tweet any of us at @oc_lock , @land_lab, @urbanjuicing, @cityremade.

If you’d like to learn how to do these kind of visualisations, take a look at these courses that CASA run.

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Gentrification in London continued…

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Observational analysis of the alterations of the social structure and housing markets of areas in inner-city London led Glass (1964) to coin the term ‘gentrification’, described as a phenomenon in which the social character of a district is transformed through the displacement of its working class inhabitants. Further research on gentrification has identified it to include factors such as the physical regeneration of housing stock and industrial areas.

Above is an example of the output of a function I have been developing in R to support quantitative research in urban planning. This function provides a tool to analyse weighted combinations of different variables and how they may have changed over time – suitable for identifying scenarios such as gentrification which have no clear single identifier.

The map aims to show concentrations of areas that have experienced a significantly high change in class, in dwelling stock and property value (dark blue) over the ten year period between 2001 and 2011. A number of clear areas have been identified in the inner-east and outer-east of the city.

Further information about this function and analysis of results to come.

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Re.Work Cities

Today I was fortunate enough to have attended a RE.WORK Cities conference at the stunning Tobacco Dock in London.

It was a great opportunity to meet people from fields as diverse as architecture, economics, data security, programming, planning, social work all with a shared, positive interest to make our cities better.

The conference covered topics as diverse as urban mobility, the internet of things, sensors, urban interaction design, synthetic biology and 3D printing.

While there were many highlights there were some topics in particular that stood out.

1) Getting there & shared mobility

Part of the conference included a voucher to use Uber. Uber, at first glance seems like a regular taxi service where one rings up, ask for a taxi, the taxi comes and takes you from A to B. However, experiencing it first hand makes you realise the difference. The whole process was seamless.

One simply opens the app, location is automatically detected, fare is calculated if you enter destination and all nearby drivers are mapped. Once ‘Go’ was pressed, I only had to wait a few minutes until an SMS arrived informing me of the sleek, black car waiting outside. The journey was minimal fuss – just a confirmation of destinations and automatically charged upon arrival.

This experience set the tone for the rest of the day. From this well-integrated process it was clear that some of the topics mentioned, such as driverless cars incorporated with car-sharing schemes, are not impossible future scernaios and are quite achievable with only minor modifications to this user-friendly, yet clearly comprehensive dispatch system offered by this application.

2) Heal-able materials

Erik Schlangen‘s self-healing asphalt and concrete ; not only reducing maintenance cost and time, but implemented on a much larger scale reducing transport disruptions and reduce cost in repairing buildings (such as affordable housing).

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Source : BBC

3) Drones

Earlier this year I was exposed to drone delivery through this news article.

China grounds world’s first CAKE DRONES over fears they might fall on someone’s head as novelty delivery service goes from sweet to sour

While this use of drones was a bit tongue-in-cheek, drones were brought up a few times in the conference.

For example for the creation of parametric structures and for assisted navigation.

4) Changing nature of work / Future Londoners

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The globalisation and Internet are changing the traditional notions of work and work hours. Work-life patterns changing and no longer fitting in the same paradigms. The Future Londoners project, for example, imagines some of these future citizens and how they live and work.

5) New approaches to sustainability

Collecting the carbon pollution and using it as a resource for cities – creating structures from thin air.


There were many more new ideas and projects that I would like to write about in future – hopefully a broadcast of the event comes out to be shared.

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