Tag Archives: urban

Urban redevelopment: building demolition, Tokyo style

OK, so it’s not quite so dramatic as the old-fashioned controlled explosion method, but it’s infinitely more elegant and high-tech: check out this amazing time-lapse video of the Kajima Corporation’s new method of demolishing obsolete buildings in crowded Tokyo:

According to Pink Tentacle:

Unlike conventional demolition that begins at the top of the building, Kajima

Crime stats as sculpture – Mount Fear

Another little gem spotted by the grinders: what would you get if you took the crime incident statistics for London and represented them as a 3D physical map?

Mount Fear - installation sculpture based on crime statistics

Mount Fear is what you’d get. In the words of its creator, Abigail Reynolds:

The terrain of Mount Fear is generated by data sets relating to the frequency and position of urban crimes. Precise statistics are provided by the police. Each individual incident adds to the height of the model, forming a mountainous terrain … The imaginative fantasy space seemingly proposed by the sculpture is subverted by the hard facts and logic of the criteria that shape it.

While it makes for an intriguing art project, Mount Fear surely presages a short-range extrapolation of geolocative mash-ups.

In other words, being able to call up the data used for Mount Fear and overlay it on Google Maps running on your mobile device would make your next flat- or apartment-hunting experience that little bit more reassuring.

Or should that be less reassuring?

The new celebrity is local

There’s an older guy who drinks in the same pub as a number of people in my social circle. He’s well known for his, er, colourful and lively opinions, which tend to emerge incoherently at the end of the evening to the great amusement of everyone else. This unintentionally hilarious character is immortalised and discussed in a Facebook group, where the occasional picture or transcribed rant will be posted, and notable encounters good-naturedly reminisced upon.

I probably shouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that this phenomenon is far from unique; the exponential splurge of social media has created maybe hundreds of these minor geo-locative celebrities. Most of them, we can assume, are people who do not use the web themselves, and who remain unaware that they are the subject of scrutiny and discussion and (in some cases) a kind of hero-worship.

But is this a form of exploitation? Are we unwittingly mocking someone who is less connected to modern media than ourselves, or simply performing an enhanced version of the urban legend-telling that is probably as old as urban life itself?

And as the number of non-users decreases, will the perceived celebrity of those still not connected to the web increase as a function of their rarity? Will every town have a digital shrine to the last person without broadband?

Urban mapping – prepare for the cartographolution!

SkyscrapersVia the one and only Bruce Sterling, here’s a post that’s remarkably bullish about the potential of web-reality mash-ups like Google Transit to revolutionise urban life:

“… once the knee-jerk paranoia passes, the benefits begin to sink in. With live-feed transit information, Google Maps and Google Earth could eliminate the need for standing on a windy or snowy street corner for twenty minutes, waiting for a late bus. Outside it could be pouring rain, but you’d know exactly when to leave the house to catch your train.”

But it just gets better!

“At City Hall a few weeks later, the general happiness trend of your neighborhood is noticed to be on the rise. Civic officials study the area to learn why this spike in aura has been occurring, and use this people-powered live information to liven up some less brightly-colored spots on the map.”

It’s interesting to see this sort of positive spin on matters, as opposed to the usual privacy FUD. Even so, utopias rarely work out the way they’re meant to – how would this sort of urban planning affect the disenfranchised and the poor? [image by eyeliam]

Welcome to Policetown, UK

police by church door Out in the rural peace of the Kent countryside lies Policetown, a mock-up English town used by London’s Metropolitan Police force for training purposes. [Via Subtopia]

The modern law enforcement specialist needs thorough training to cover all potential eventualities. So Policetown includes houses, pubs and nightclubs, fake train and subway stations … and even a faux airport, complete with truncated aircraft fuselage for simulating hostage situations. [image by FeelGuiltyInc.]

Leaving aside issues of cost and effectiveness, there’s something fabulously Ballardian about the idea of a fake town, for whatever purpose. I wonder how apparent its falseness would be if you were to accidentally drive through it on your way elsewhere? And I wonder how many other fake towns and buildings might be out there that we don’t yet know about …