May 8, 2008

Millennium Development Goal Responses 2

Developing a Global Partnership for Sustainability with regard to Somalia:

This was one of the honors presentations given in lecture. I found it to be very interesting, not because it was amazingly good, but because some of the things they presented just seemed completely ridiculous. The idea of giving every child in Somalia a laptop for their education, for example, seemed pretty far-fetched. Even though the lap-tops were relatively cheap ($100), it seems like the money could be much better spent in other places, providing text books, teacher training, school supplies, even school buildings themselves or improvements to them. Providing primary school students with laptops that are programmed to only perform a certain way, and are navigable with pictures seems strange. Many of these students can't read yet, and therefore can hardly use a computer to its full functional capacity. Furthermore, these computers are equipped with wireless internet ports, but wireless internet, and even cabled internet, is something that is very rare in Somalia. These computers, while they're a nice thought, and might be a good idea at some point in the future, mostly seem like a big waste of money and effort because all of these energies could be much better focused somewhere else. Unlike with wireless internet, wireless phones in Somalia are more common, since land-lines are essentially non-existent, and are far more difficult and expensive to install than picking up a mobile phone. Still, even though mobile phones are the most popular form of phone, only six percent of the population has them. However, that percentage is rapidly increasing as service areas increase and the prices of the phones and the services decrease. Equipping Somalians with mobile phones seems like a better idea than equipping the children with computers, since mobile phones enable a quick means of communication instead of sending mail, which may or may not arrive, or going in person. These mobile phones have the potential to change the Somalian way of life to make it easier to communicate between people who are far away, since this is a very large issue when family members and close friends move apart. However, such a technology also has the potential to change Somalian society negatively, because it is so different from traditional Somalia. It is never wise to force a new technology (or anything, really) on people. Although they are helping people get connected to one another, it is not really developing a global connection, either. In order to develop a global partnership, Somalia would need more communication and information from outside sources, something that it does not seem to be receiving at the moment, although that too is increasing. The development is present, but it is not moving along as quickly as the UN Millennium Development Goals specify, nor as quickly as most people would like.

Millennium Development Goal Responses

Eradicating Poverty and Hunger in Ethiopia:

I was very surprised by some of the facts that the group presented, such as that 23% of the population of Ethiopia lives on less than $1 per day. That seems really low. I know that things are cheaper there, but it still is quite shocking, and I know that I can't even begin to imagine what it's like. However, it looks like progress is being made on the goal, since the percentage has decreased by 8.3% overall, which is pretty substantial. There is clearly a long way to go, though, until poverty is eliminated in the country. A lot of it clearly had to do with the amount of arable land they have and how they use it and care for it. Also, there are probably a lot of underlying problems that exacerbate existing, clear problems that are even more difficult to get to the root of than simply providing people with money. Stimulating an economy is a difficult process, both in planning and implementation, and doing so in a country that isn't entirely stable is another story altogether. Targeting the surface of the problem will also have no long-term effects. The roots must be targeted in order to really achieve much of anything, and this is going to be very, very difficult, even to just figure out what the roots are, specifically. The same sort of thing is true for hunger. Providing food is not enough. It will, of course, satisfy in the short term and people will be less hungry for a while, but the true quality and standards of their lives won't improve, and in truth, they might get worse, since they will be relying on outside sources for food and, in that sense, be failing the people that they should be supporting, which is pretty degrading to the spirit. Again, the root of the problem should be targeted instead of just providing a bandaid to patch things up temporarily. Granted, temporary solutions are necessary to alleviate the temporary problems, but while these problems are being helped temporarily, work should be happening to safeguard against the roots of the problem. With hunger, for example, there should be education programs about farming methods, crop rotation, irrigation, how to prepare and sell crops, how to make food last longer, etc. And indeed, some of these things are being done, particularly in the sense of Design for the other 90%, since they are providing long-lasting products that make life easier, and thereby allow more time for education and development. They are using design to target the problems that Ethiopia faces, and it seems to be working well, since they are helping to decrease both poverty and hunger through both their simple aid efforts and educational efforts. It's truly amazing what kind of tool education can be in lifting people above their current situation, and, if the story in Ethiopia is any indication, much of the world can be changed and improved through the implementation of relevant and solid educational programs.

April 2, 2008

Cover Pages

Pakistan 3.JPG

This was the first one I did, and it is certainly not my favorite because it doesn't look that great and it's difficult to read.

Pakistan 2.JPG

This cover page is acceptable, I suppose, but it's nothing special.

Pakistan 1.JPG

This cover page is my favorite because it is the most dynamic and interesting, and also shows an actual school in Pakistan, as well as the impressive landscape of the country.

March 12, 2008

Presentation/Documentation Styles

1. Powerpoint


Probably the most overused format ever. Everyone makes powerpoints (or the equivalent) for everything. I like slideshows as much as the next person, but generally, boring. They're ok when people spice them up and add something other than text and images, and when they don't have obnoxious transitions

2. Essay


Who wants to read an academic essay?

3. Website


This could be fun and interesting. Interactivity is always nice because then people can look at what they want and skip over parts as they so choose.

4. Flash Presentation


Flash is Fun. That's why they both start with 'F.'

5. Silent Film

silent film.jpg

Everyone loves Charlie Chaplin.

6. Old Fashioned Slide Show

slide projector.jpg

This would be sweet because no one does them any more, except for my lighting professor who has been at the U since the 60s.

7. Interpretive Dance

dance 2.jpg

No one would ever understand it, so we could basically do what we want.

8. A Play


Theater: hammer or mirror? No one really knows, but maybe this would make people THINK, because I hear that theater is supposed to do that because it is ART.

9. Museum Exhibit


We could really attract the intellectuals.

10. Panel Discussion


People could ask the questions to which they want to know the answers. Interactive so no one falls asleep.

11. Straight-up Speech


All words, all the time. No frills.

12. Musical Composition


I've heard that music speaks the things that we can't say/don't have words for, so we could say more with music than we could with anything else.

13. Series of Artworks.


A picture is worth a thousand words. A series of pictures would be quite the essay.

14. Photojournalism Story


This is why we all love National Geographic; why not give it a shot?

15. Hypnosis


Make people really understand, and feel, what's going on.

March 6, 2008

Effects of the Built Environment

The built environment that I am most familiar with is the University of Minnesota.


The campus provides the framework for the places that I inhabit and move through every day. I tend to take similar paths to the same places almost every day. For example, every time I go to Mariucci, I walk down the mall on the west side and then cross in front of Northrop, but when I go to WIlliams, I cross the mall in front of Coffman and head down Church Street. However, when I am heading back from either of these places, I take different paths each time.

I am uncertain as to how this affects me, but I think that it is an interesting habit and worth noting, because it seems strange when I think about it. There must be some underlying reasoning as to why I always take the same route to a certain place, but even though the two places are very close, I take a different route to each, but never the same route back.

There are many specific places and structures on campus that I identify with and that affect who I am and the way I think. The first of these is the Washington Avenue Bridge.

08 02 Random 033.jpg

I walk across this bridge several times each day, and these times are usually some of the best parts of my day. I get plenty of time to be alone with my thoughts and reflect on things that are happening, or to have a good conversation with a friend, or maybe to call my mom just to chat. Even when it's 40 below zero, or storming or really late at night, I never think about riding the bus across the bridge, because walking is just so much better. These times compose the in-between times and they have as much effect on who I am as any. I learn a lot by walking across this bridge all the time, not to mention the fact that it's always lovely and thrilling to walk over the Mississippi, and I am sure that it is something I will dearly miss next year when I live on the East Bank.

Another part of walking across the bridge is seeing the Weisman. This year, I seem to have become slightly obsessed with it. Uncertain as to why. I've actually only been inside of it maybe twice, and one time was just to obtain some free snacks after a football game. I love the exterior of the Weisman. I know a lot of people see it as a hideous eyesore on the campus, and maybe it is. I don't know, especially because sometimes I like ugly things just because they are ugly. I find the Weisman extraordinary, though. I love how it shifts throughout the day(s). Sometimes it looks like it's an ice cube and sometimes it looks like it's burning up. How's that for opposition?

Weisman copy.jpg
Weisman as Ice Cube

Weisman 2 copy.jpg
Weisman Burning Up

I used to kind of hate the Weisman. Last year, I thought it was an eye sore just like everyone else. But then sometime this year, it began to fascinate me with the way that it constantly changed with the movements and patterns of the sun, clouds and moon on its face. I'm really intrigued generally by the idea of transformation over time, so this really appealed to me. I also like the contrast present between the different moods of the building. I suppose the way that this really affected me was that it made something that I used to not like into one of my favorite things on campus. It made me think about it in a different way and appreciate it for something that I hadn't seen before. It just goes to show that everything deserves a second look.

Another building that really intrigues me at the U is William's Arena (aka THE BARN).

The Barn

Not only does it have one of the only raised courts in the nation, but it has a very intriguing structure overall. Since it's connected to the Sports Pavillion on the other side, I had always wondered how they connected, but I learned recently that there are about 12 feet of empty space between the buildings and it is just covered by a roof. Granted, there are some structural elements in place between the building, but it's not a functional space, and the buildings don't just ram up against each other, as I had previously thought. This building affects me because so many awesome and excellent happenings take place there, and because it continually surprises me, like when I discover that the steps and floor and whatnot are made out of wood and not cement and when I discover what's really between it and the Sports Pavillion. It makes me think twice before assuming things, which is probably good.

Rapson also is interesting, but mostly I like the giant fish. Walking through the fish is a great experience, because it is a strangely shaped space that is much smaller than the great expanse of the atrium. It is really cool to come out of the fish and into the atrium. It makes me think about how space affects the user and how contrast can be the most interesting way to get people to notice things. Walking through the fish also makes me really happy, which is a good effect to have.

07 11 Illinois 063.jpg
Playing the Rouser in Rapson also makes me happy.

Finally, and most importantly, there is Cyrus Northrup Memorial Auditorium, the greatest and most magnificent building ever.

07 10 NDSU + Pumpkins 025.jpg

08 02 Random 057.jpg


07 11 Illinois 060.jpg

08 02 Random 024.jpg

Every time I go through Northrop I learn something new and/or discover something interesting. To begin with, it's enormous (213,399 square feet!), which, of course, leaves a lot of space to check out. Northrop is full of hidden surprises. It has so many secrets, and I am continually learning more of them. I have come to love and respect the building for all of its uniqueness and beauty. This building has affected me in so many ways. It makes me excited, I learn from it, both from the building itself and the events that take place within it. It has made me more appreciative of beauty when I come across it. It has made me more curious and adventurous and escalated my quest for knowledge. It has given me comfort and safety and an excellent place to nap when I need one. It has so much to offer, but it is so underappreciated, which is too bad, but then I can have more of it, and there are fewer people there, which is nice. Northrop, more than any other building on campus, has affected who I've become since arriving at the U. It defines my time here, since my educational career will both begin and end there. There are so many memories contained in Northrop's wonderful brick walls, and I know that Northrop will continue to affect me as I continue my education.

northrop plan.bmp

February 28, 2008

No Constraints

Prompt: If you were completely released from the constraints of the 'architecture school' program, what would you do architecturally, artistically, bodily, lyrically, etc that would still have an impact on your environment. Describe a real or imagined place which might allow you to do this. Explore through images and text.

Without the constraints of the architecture school program, I would learn about everything that architecture classes don't allow me to learn about. I would take lots of math, science (especially physics), music, English, German, psychology, art history, film, linguistics, philosophy and engineering courses, and probably a bunch more as well. I would learn about acoustics, Buddhism, theatre, binary code, materials science, photography, computer programming, cooking, screen printing, patents, knitting, string theory, music, Islam, optics, the stock market, LEDs, grammar and all of the other things I'm interested in.


I would stop worrying about how I am going to stay in Marching Band, Hockey Band and Basketball Band until I graduate, because architecture classes would stop interfering. I would have more tea parties and also fly more kites.

07 10 NDSU + Pumpkins 044.jpg

I would spend more time making stuff. I have this defunct futon in my room right now waiting to be made into a sweet table and it's been there all semester because I just haven't had time to deal with it. I would finally get around to becoming an origami master, and also making lots of fabric containers, because they're neat. I would also make lots of lamps, because I like making lamps, and also jewelry, even though I don't wear any because I'm too lazy for that when I get up in the morning. Unless watches count, because I wear one every day. I've never understood why the watch business is dying. Seriously, I don't know how people can live without a watch. It's horrible not knowing what time it is.


I would also do loads of research, because I love research. I would do lots of research on architecture of the Big Ten, because educational architecture is fascinating, and the Big Ten is the best ever. I would also like to research Islamic/Middle Eastern art/architecture/culture because it's wonderful. I went to Bosnia one time and now I have these Muslim prayer beads and they're about my favorite thing ever. I also like it because it's so different from here and I like differences and changes.

07 07 Bosnia 271.jpg

I would spend way more time volunteering places and organizing and planning things and helping out generally, because I really don't have enough time for it right now. I have lots of ideas, but no time to implement. Too bad.

I would also travel a lot, money permitting, of course, because going places, seeing stuff, doing things and meeting people is without a doubt the best thing a person can ever do. So much to learn. Marvelous. I would currently very much like to go to Pakistan, South Africa, Australia and/or Turkey.

07 07 Zagreb-Plitvice 086.jpg

I think that the best place to do all of this is right here at the University of Minnesota, because it's my favorite place in the whole world. Every time I leave and come back I love it more. I would be able to take loads of great classes, do lots of research with interesting professors, and all kinds of things. There are a million opportunities and cool things happening. And so many excellent adventures to go on.

08 02 Random 047.jpg


February 21, 2008

Develop a Global Partnership for Development

Propose a set of images, quotes and a playlist of songs that influence your values with regard to your selected research project Millennium Development Goals.

How to develop a global partnership for development:
-Develop further an open trading and financial system that is rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory, includes a commitment to good governance, development and poverty reduction— nationally and internationally
-Address the least developed countries' special needs. This includes tariff- and quota-free access for their exports; enhanced debt relief for heavily indebted poor countries; cancellation of official bilateral debt; and more generous official development assistance for countries committed to poverty reduction
-Address the special needs of landlocked and small island developing States
-Deal comprehensively with developing countries' debt problems through national and international measures to make debt sustainable in the long term
-In cooperation with the developing countries, develop decentand productive work for youth
-In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries
-In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies— especially information and communications technologies


un mgd 1.jpg
The logo for the 8th MDG: Shows a general idea of what a global partnership would be.

un mgd 6.gif
Guidelines for Sustainable Development: These are the things that need to happen before global sustainable development can occur.

un mgd pop.png
Relative Size Map of Population: Foundation information for understanding what needs to be done where. For comparison's sake.

un mgd 8.jpg
Map of Pollution Production: Sustainable development and pollution do not work well together. The countries with the most pollution have the most work to do.

un mgd internet.png
Map of World Internet Use: One of the goals within this goal is to have more interconnection throughout the world. An easy way to do this is by using the internet (assuming people stop chopping up the undersea cables), but there are still a lot of places that have no internet access.

un mgd debt.PNG
World Debt Map: Even though the US has the largest debt, sometimes the smaller countries have a harder time dealing with it.

un mgd health.jpg
Map of Health Care Responsiveness: Development can't occur without proper health care. Health care systems need to take care of their people, because focus on development and growth can't happen when people are constantly worrying about their physical or mental health.


The Sustainability Song
An interesting song from Florida Atlantic University about sustainability. Things like this help to get the word out in an easy-to-swallow manner.


Achieving sustainable development is perhaps one of the most difficult and one of the most pressing goals we face. It requires on the part of all of us commitment, action, partnerships and, sometimes, sacrifices of our traditional life patterns and personal interests.
-Mostafa Tolba, Chairman of the Commission on Sustainable Development
However fragmented the world, however intense the national rivalries, it is an inexorable fact that we become more interdependent every day.
-Jacques Cousteau, quoted in "National Geographic"
There is a sufficiency in the world for man's need but not for man's greed.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi
Sustainable development is...development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of further generations to meet their own needs.
-World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future, 1987

They say it better than I can.

February 14, 2008

Urban Parks

Find a social design issue here in the twin cities.
Document it.
Become and advocate for it.

The creation (and destruction) of parks in our cities has been becoming a more prominent issue, especially in Minneapolis, with new funding for parks getting closer to becoming reality. While Minneapolis has a pretty good system of parks, the value of urban parks is being rediscovered and people are beginning to appreciate parks more, for being able to get away from the toils of city life and head outside and relax and enjoy being, without having to drive far out of the city, as a resource to improve the health of citizens through trails and open spaces for organized activities and as a gathering place that helps to develop a sense of community. Outstanding parks will also attract tourists and people who might otherwise not be in that area, bringing visitors to surrounding businesses and maybe even making people more interested in moving to the area, creating growth and improving the economy. Parks also offer opportunities for plant and wildlife habitats, giving people who might otherwise not have the chance to see these things in their natural habitats to visit them and observe. There are certainly many benefits to having parks in the area.

Funding for parks is a big issue, and in recent history, the government has been primarily responsible for finding funds for parks, but in Minneapolis, private citizens had a lot to do with the founding of the park system. The cost of maintaining parks is also high, and of course, there is argument about whether the benefits outweigh the costs. In my opinion, they do, especially when considering the health benefits of the parks, which could lower health costs. In the long run, the parks will do a lot for the city, and not only in monetary terms. Parks create character and community in the city. In looking at New York City, Central Park is one of the most iconic things about the city and it is a huge draw of people doing all kinds of things. If the parks are created, people will use them.

Since the government is not being proactive about creating parks (probably because it's all bureaucracy anyway), private citizens have begun funding parks in the Minneapolis area, such as the recently-opened Gold Medal Park near the new Guthrie. Parks such as these, which are highly designed and in central locations in cities not only offer the basics of a park, such as the opportunity to spend time outside, a place to walk or relax or sit and talk, but they also offer quality design that could be studied and compared. I feel that this new trend of privately funded parks will take off, not only in Minneapolis, but in many places, because people are indeed recognizing the need for them.

February 13, 2008

First Day With Achieve!

Today was my first day working with Achieve! at South HS for my service learning part of class. I just had my orientation, so I didn't do a whole lot.

I got lost on the way there because I took a wrong turn coming out of the Light Rail station, but it was cool because I got to explore a little bit, and it seemed like a cool area that I would go back to someday. I eventually got to South, and I was a little creeped out because of all of the talking we've been doing in class and in the readings about how schools are designed like prisons (or prisons are designed like schools, and that certainly says something about the prison system that's different than what we talked about with regard to the education system, and I think that perhaps that is more true than the other way around, but anyway...) because the school really did look like a prison. It was all dark and gloomy looking and there were hardly any windows. It was a very stark contrast from my high school, which has lots of windows and a courtyard and does not look like a prison much at all. Inside, however, it just felt like a normal high school, except I had to sign in at the front table and there was only one door people could go in and out of (at my high school there were about 25) and every time one of the students came or went they had to swipe their ID card.

There was a lot going on inside. The students were doing 'singing telegrams' for Valentines Day, and they were really cute, and they all sang really well. Allison, the coordinator, later told me that South's focus is on the arts, which is sweet.

I was given incorrect directions to get to the career center, but I eventually found it. Anne and Allison gave me some information and a very brief school tour. It was pretty basic. Then we looked at some of the computer programs and websites their students use to prepare for after high school (which were awesome, and I wish I had had them in high school), and then we talked some more, set up my next visit (next week) and then I went home. I think it will be a good experience and I will like working with the staff and students at South. I'm looking forward to next week!

February 2, 2008

Movement and Mapping Within the City

Prompt: Inspired by Andy Goldsworthy (and our discussions today), document and investigate, through text and image, this idea of energy, flow and transformation through the city.

I. Theory of the Dérive

When first presented with this prompt, I immediately thought of Guy Debord’sTheory of the Dérive. This is a Situationist idea that is a “technique of rapid passage through varied ambiences.? During a dérive drop all of their “usual motives for movement and action? and travel through an area by letting themselves “be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there.? One thing the derive is not is a game of chance. Often people think that the dérive is just aimless wandering, but the theory is based off of the idea of Psychogeography, and that there are “constant currents, fixed points and vortexes that strongly discourage entry into or exit from certain zones.? The dérive is used to discover the principle paths of movement through cities and their pivotal areas.

Guy Debord studied the dérive primarily in Paris. Throughout his years of work there, he developed his psychogeographoc map of Paris. This map, pictured below, displays Paris, divided into sections that Debord experienced to be distinct from each other in some way. The space between the sections conveys the mentally-felt distance between the physical areas. The red arrows indicate the most frequently used passages between areas.

Derive 1.bmp

In my life, I take this Theory of the Dérive to mean walking around without a map and turning and going down another street or in a different direction because something over there looks interesting. In my travels, this is often how I choose to explore a new city, rather than obtaining a map and locating the places I want to go and visiting them in an organized, planned way. I just go walk and figure out where I am later, and unfailingly, I find interesting places, people and things. Another important part of the dérive, for me, is walking. Walking is the best way to see a city; it is a much better method of exploring a new urban environment than taking a car or bus or subway to the place I want to go. All vehicles are designed to get people from place to place in the quickest way possible, but when I’m actually trying to understand a new city and learn my way around, that is precisely what I don’t want. I want to be able to spend time, wander, explore and discover, and walking allows me to do just that.

In a related situationist study by Chombart de Lauwe in 1952, over the course of a year, de Lauwe mapped out all of the movements of a student in Paris’s 16th Arrondissement. The spaces she visits through the year are surprisingly limited, and center on her house, her piano teacher, and her School of Political Sciences. The map de Lauwe made is below. The goal of this study was to reveal “the narrowness of the real Paris in which each individual lives . . . within a geographical area whose radius is extremely small.?

Derive 2.bmp

This narrowness is not only true in Paris, however. I find it to be applicable to people living just about anywhere. While it is probably true that people today have a greater radius of movement than people in 1952, most people still live only within a small area and rarely venture out of this area. In my own life, I often find myself walking the exact same path to class several days in a row, even though there are many paths that would get me there just the same and I do try to switch things up to keep life interesting. People drive the same roads to work everyday. They visit the same grocery stores and department stores all the time, not bothering to find new and different ones. Humans are creatures of habit.

The Theory of the Dérive helps humans to break the habit of being habitual and only doing the same things all the time. It forces people to look around them, to notice their surroundings and walk in different directions, visit new places, meet new people and do new things. It moves people outside of the comfortable, small radius that they live in for years.

II. How Movement in the City is Affected by the City

The dérive, however, is not without restraints. Because each city is unique and was designed (or not designed) it is own way, every city necessitates that people view it in a certain way. Some cities (Boston, London) are easy to get lost in; others (New York) are not. All of this depends on the way the city is constructed. Sometimes, the nature of the city exists because of the way the city streets intersect with one another and the way the layout was designed. The location and site of the city also make a difference. Some cities are coastal (New York, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong), some have large, important rivers running through them (London, Minneapolis, Paris), some are in mountainous or hilly regions (Denver, Sao Paulo), etc. The city must be designed around all of these landmarks.

Looking at maps of different cities:

North America:

Map of Manhattan.bmp
New York

Map of Boston.bmp

Map of Minneapolis.bmp

South America

Map of Buenos Aires.bmp
Buenos Aires

Map of Sao Paulo.bmp
Sao Paulo


map of london 3.gif

Map of Rome.bmp

Map of Paris.bmp


Map of Beijing.bmp

Map of Hong Kong.bmp
Hong Kong

Above, I have grouped the maps by their geographical location. If I were to group the maps by the types of city layout, the straight gridded cities would be New York and Buenos Aires, and probably Minneapolis. The cities that have a grid to some extent would be Beijing, Rome and Sao Paulo. The cities without a grid would be Boston, Hong Kong, London and Paris. It is somewhat curious that geographical boundaries have almost no bearing on whether the city has a grid plan or not, and, it would seem, neither does age. Buenos Aires is older than Boston, and Beijing is older than everything. So what causes these differences? Natural landmarks? Individual planners? Redevelopment? Perhaps, but I really have no idea, so it’s probably good that that’s not really the point of what I want to discuss.

I have been to all of these cities and have varying degrees of familiarity with each of them. Generally, I find that the Dérive (my sort of it) works much better in cities without grids than cities with straight grid layouts. This is probably because part of the joy of the dérive lies in not knowing exactly where you are and what the quickest way to get from point to point is. There is excitement in getting lost. It’s basically impossible to get lost in a grid, especially in one like Manhattan’s, which is essentially streets and avenues numbered sequentially. I might even go so far as to call it boring. I’m not saying that Manhattan is boring (I actually find it to be quite the contrary), but the grid plan takes away from the joy of discovery inherent in the dérive. It is also interesting that Paris is one of the cities in which there is no grid plan, and Paris is the city in which Guy Debord and his theory were developed and experimented with, which is probably why the dérive worked so well there.

The city of the listed cities that I have the most experience with is London. I spent several weeks basically walking aimlessly around London, seeing what I could find. I got lost almost every day, but I always managed to find really awesome and amazing things through following my intrigue to different locations. I also always managed to get home because of their excellent tube system, which is another story.

III. Underground Transportation Systems in the City

Here are maps of all of the discussed cities’ subways (and Minneapolis’s Light Rail, because it’s not cool enough to have a real subway system).

North America

New York Subway.gif
New York

Boston Subway.gif

Minneapolis Light Rail.jpg

South America

Buenos Aires Subway.gif
Buenos Aires

Sao Paulo Subway.gif
Sao Paulo


London Tube Stylized.gif

Paris Subway.gif

Rome Subway.gif


Beijing Subway.jpg

Hong Kong Subway.gif
Hong Kong

When comparing these maps to the real maps of the cities (I would have put them next to each other, but I can’t figure out how to do that using this platform), it is very apparent that most of the subway maps portray a very different city than the actual city layout. Some of them (like Minneapolis) have more accurate maps than others, but most of the time, the subways connect different areas of the cities and then create maps that have distorted distances and directions. Some are more accurate than others, of course. This presentation of the city often creates slight confusion in the mind of the user, because they then are not actually aware, geographically, of where they are currently or where they are going. Below is London’s Underground map, the highly stylized and conceptual version, compared to the realistic geographical version.

London Tube Stylized.gif

London Tube Real.png

The differences between the two maps are very clear. Utilizing this mode of transportation through the city will create a very different schema of the city in the mind of the user than walking through the city using the dérive will. Using a car, bus or a bike will develop further different schemas. This is also dependent on whether the transportation is above ground or below ground, and upon whether the user operates the vehicle on his own. The ideas and concepts that people develop about the cities in which they live, work and visit are entirely dependent on their mode of transportation through the city.

IV. Another Way of Mapping the City

Other than the dérive, there are lots of interesting ways of looking at the city. Christian Nold, an artist, teacher and cultural activist who lives and works in London, developed a project he calls Bio Mapping. Bio Mapping is a community mapping project that attaches a device that measures emotional arousal to a person, who then walks around the community and their emotional arousal levels are connected with their location to determine which areas are areas of high and low arousal. The goal is to “show the areas that people feel strongly about and truly visualise the social space of a community.?

Some of his maps:

Harrow Emotion Map.jpg
Harrow Emotion Map - 10 Participants

Huddersfield Emotion Map.jpg
Huddersfield Emotion Map - 14 Participants

Kensington Emotion Map.jpg
Kensington Emotion Map - 39 Participants

Some of his projects, such as the Greenwich Emotion Map, are very large, with many participants, and also record the various stimuli that create arousal. Below is a detail of the Map.


This is a very interesting idea for portraying the energy of people throughout the city. It is a unique mapping concept, that, with further development, will probably be a source of information about urbanism and how people react to their surroundings.

V. In Summary

There are a lot of different ways for people to move through cities, and there are many different ways of mapping out cities. With each different method comes different knowledge, understanding and ideas. The layout of the cities themselves contribute to the way that the city is understood, but a lot of it has to do with the people in the city as well. Since cities change over time, the ways that people move through them also change over time. In the future, new methods of city planning, transportation and mapping will undoubtedly be invented, and they certainly will continue to change the idea of the city itself.

January 31, 2008


So there's still no assignment to actually write about, but this picture is kinda neat.

January 23, 2008

The Start of Something

Purpose: Architecture 1701 Assignments

Timeline: Weekly (more or less) posts throughout Spring Semester 2008

Goal: Find neat stuff. Talk about it.