"Interactive cities" excerpts

Finally got some time to read "Interactive cities" that was mentioned here a while ago. Some excerpts I found relevant to my work below: Editorial The editorial by Valérie Chatelet gives a good overview of the research questions at stake in urban planning/architecture with regards to ICTs.

"What are the implications of this new urban condition ? How do planning strategies make use of this technology ? Does the use of such technology simply enable people to improve projects or does it entail deeper changes ? What are the relevance and impact of organisational structures and the economic and social models linked to the growth of such technology ? (...) the integration of three kinds of information and communication technology (ICT) for town planning purposes : - as a tool for regulation and communication, this technology is now involved in the very functioning of towns - as a tool for measuring and examining a town. In this respect the availability of data, increased calculation capacity and advances in programming now mean that the scale of a district can be studied to the same extent as that of a town system - as a design tool, the use of digital technology means that the intervention of other players can be taken into account, along with changes and a constantly updated flow of data "

Sense of the City : Wireless and the Emergence of Real-Time Urban Systems (Carlo Ratti and Daniel Berry) In this chapter, Ratti and Berry describes some projects they're conducting about making explicit the usage of cell phone, to show patterns of activities in cities (the Mobile Landscape project). The chapter interestingly describes the added value of such information:

"Mobile landscapes could give new answers to long-standing questions in architecture and urban planning such as 1) how to map the origins and destinations of vehicles; 2) how to understand patterns of pedestrian movement; (3) how to highlight critical points in the urban infrastructure; (4) how to establish the relationship between urban forms and flows, etc. In this sense, the study of mobile landscapes could have a great impact on space syntax11, complementing and possibly substituting traditional pedestrian surveys in the future. (...) Mobile Landscape : Grazis thus a means of listening, observing, and reading the city, a tool that interprets the city as a shifting entity formed by webs of human interactions in space-time, rather than as a fixed and purely physical environment. On the one hand, it provides an analytical mechanism to further understand the urban condition in real-time. On the other hand, it provides feedback, allowing the user to change from being a passive/observed entity to an active participant. (...) initiatives that respond to the urgent need to develop new knowledge tools that mobilize these technologies to better understand the urban domain. In a certain sense, it can be said that the very technology that is changing urban patterns can be used to make them more intelligible. (...) Projects that engage the city in its present, technologically-enhanced state could begin to provide architecture and urban planning with new channels to intervene in the urban realm"

(Picture taken from the project website)

I'll get back later on the chapter by Huang and Waldvogel Why do I blog this? the two chapters I have quoted here are interesting to me because of my interest in the hybridization of the digital and the physical with regard to urban computing issues. Given that they had been written by architects, they are important because they provide some contexts to my research about what practitioners are interested in, what are the questions they want to address and what are the solutions they bring at the table.