architecture

City archetypes

Composite map of Boston (Kevin Lynch)

Composite map of Boston (Kevin Lynch. Source: bostonography.com)

When Kevin Lynch conducted the research for a project called The Perceptual Form of the City, providing much of the material for his seminal work The Image of the City, he asked study participants to draw their mental models of the cities they lived in. Lynch then created composite maps generated from multiple drawings, resulting an archetypal, aggregate mental map of the city. He was able to identify five shared characteristics of the mental image people form of their environments: paths, nodes, districts, edges, and landmarks. While the individual interpretation of these five elements may vary, they form the vocabulary of what he called the imageable city.

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Metacities

With the proliferation of social networks we are already experiencing a new kind of city, a city augmented with location-sensitive information. While location in the past was largely an economic factor, many of the traditional reasons for geographic specialization have been erased due to the effects of technology. As a result, location is taking on new meanings, and the city is increasingly re-configuring itself as a vessel for the growing, interconnected and constantly changing social networks that form the basis of the contemporary urban experience.

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Observations on media and site

As sited media becomes more pervasive, it is also increasingly seamless. Integrated with architecture, it no longer appears as a singular anomaly or product, and instead as an interpretive layer—draped over the physical landscape and augmenting our experience of the concrete and tangible. Unlike location-aware mobile media, sited media has the potential to not merely reference, but rather create places.

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The boundaries of a development / 3 comments

Atlantic Yards boundaries

Atlantic Yards boundaries

The approval of the controversial Atlantic Yards development has renewed my interest in political and economic boundaries. At a pivotal point in Brooklyn, this project will dramatically transform the character of the area by drawing new business and creating economic growth. The development promises to create a sense of place from an urban void—the yards, which are inaccessible to the public, and currently separate four communities.

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Urban constants and variables

The urban environment is a container of information. Anything can be treated as information, in as far as it is quantifiable.

As Aldo Rossi points out in The Architecture of the City, the city consists of Urban Artifacts, the constants in the changing urban fabric. As an adaptive construct, the city contains both constants and variables. The constants, however large or small, tangible or intangible, provide a parametric framework through which the city defines itself.
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