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REAL-TIME CITY The city as an ambient interface

Workshop 19.04 - 26.04.2013 Achilleas Psyllidis | Bas Kalmeyer

Actualities Workshop AR01TWF020 | AR0155

REAL-TIME CITY Spring semester 2013 19.04 - 26.04.2013

Tutors: Achilleas Psyllidis Bas Kalmeyer

Workshop Syllabus

Contents _Introduction _The sites _The method + workshop structure _Deliverables _Brief workshop schedule _Timetable _References

Studio Roosegaarde, “Smart Highway - Dynamic Paint” (2012)

Introduction Cities are manifestations of multi-relational networks, which perpetually become far more complex as we experience a shift from an industrial economy to one driven by the forces of (digital) information and services. Two of the most critical phenomena that drive the proliferating complexity of the contemporary urbanities can, on the one hand be identified in the rapid global urbanization processes and on the other, in the perpetual pervasiveness of information technologies within the urban environments. This consecutive ubiquity of urban systems and networks utilizing digital technologies for their operation, generates enormous amounts of digital traces that reflect in real-time how people make use of space and infrastructures in the city. Industry-driven societies have, instead, been characterized by a plethora of visible activity patterns in the physical spaces of the city, reflecting the production streams (e.g. protruding factory chimneys in an endless production of smoke). But, as ambient technologies gratingly diffuse within the urban environments the “by-products” of human activity, in turn, become less and less traceable. These digital, invisible traces, which represent what Neil Leach has characterized as the contemporary city’s “pulse”, figuratively appear as an additional, intangible layer hovering above the urban fabric. Thus, contrary to the prevailing theories and predictions of the 90s that the physicality of the city will be diminished by the virtual domain, contemporary urban configurations are proliferating globally, while incorporating media technologies in a dynamic, hybrid state between the physical and the digital. In other words, they increasingly represent emergent inter-relations between people, activities, context and technologies. Yet, how can the perception of ICT media and the derivative ambient data as superimposed layers over the existing city drastically affect the urban layout? Does this overlaid ontology render digital information capable of shaping the urban space in the same way that built components do? Or does it presuppose the primary role of the built environment in constituting our everyday experiences in the city? Can digital information equally co-constitute these experiences? Embedded within such a dynamic context, the workshop aims at developing interactive urban systems, plugged in existing open public spaces, in the form of ambient interfaces. These systems are intended to serve as interactive platforms for both citizens and municipal planning authorities, that apart from harnessing and visualizing real-time diverse quantifiable data, derived from everyday urban activities, they would also be able to provide feedback-loop processes to, ultimately, influence the physical and behavioral patterns of the city. The workshop will focus on real-time systems that are perceived as integral parts of the urban environment and less on the development of specialized application or website platforms, which are conceptually as well as physically separated from the actual environment from which the data originate, thereby turning the urban experience into a virtual one. Further, the challenge for the systems proposed will be to create a relational model of the different parameters each platform is concerned with, so that the impact on the urban fabric will not only respond to individual parameters, but would rather refer to the repercussions resulting from a relation that can be established between different elements and attributes of the city (e.g. between people and traffic levels, between people and environmental conditions etc).

The sites The workshop utilizes as case area the city of Rotterdam. Different public spaces, equal to the amount of student groups formed, will operate as test-beds for the development of case-specific interactive urban systems. Two distinguishing aspects characterize Rotterdam as a challenging case study. Firstly, its multicultural diversity inasmuch as people from 173, mostly non-Western, different nationalities constitute half of the city’s inhabitants (in 2011, according to the Dutch Center for Research and Statistics) and, secondly, its ground-up reconstruction and re-habitation after the sheer devastation during World War II. Such a multifaceted context – which is also very willing to change – can establish an influential field to attain a trans-scalar understanding of the relational networks between people and space, utilizing the proposed urban platforms.

The method + workshop structure Students will familiarize themselves with relevant examples and already conducted research for reference and inspiration. Therefore, content-related reading and reference material will be provided, prior to the beginning of the workshop. Following the kick-off presentation (Friday, April 19th), a brainstorming session will take place, which will last no longer than three hours. At the end of this particular session, student groups – according to the assigned focus sites – will present briefly their first ideas and reflections on how they perceive an interactive urban system, its functionality and the way in which the system can potentially be embedded in the urban fabric. During the intermediary weekend, students have the opportunity to visit their assigned sites, so that they can collect relevant data material useful for the workshop process and have the opportunity for reality-testing of their draft concepts on-site. By utilizing their first ideas and on-site observations, students will directly begin to clarify their urban system concepts in further detail. Mid-term review will take place on Tuesday, April 23rd with invited experts. In the presentation, participants are expected to deploy a concrete methodological framework regarding each proposed ambient system. Further, they should be able to describe their following intentions towards the finalization of the project. Remarks and feedback acquired during the mid-term presentation will be further implemented in the development and final determination of each group’s proposal. Since we are aiming at examining how local changes can have a global impact on the wider-city level, on Thursday, April 25th we will also focus on potential ways in which the diverse proposal can be inter-connected in a relational, networked model that can result in larger-scale repercussions. Friday, April 26th late afternoon, the Final Review will take place, where all student groups will present their proposals to their fellow peers and invited guests.

Studio Roosegaarde, “Smart Highway - Interactive Light” (2012)

Achilleas Psyllidis - Collision studies of agents in urban networks; scripted in Processing (2012)

Deliverables The material participants will be required to provide during the workshop will briefly include: 1. What if…? Short description of the concept in regard to each urban system, which includes at least two quantifiable components/aspects (sensors) within an interlocking perspective. 2. How to harness data/What to measure? Axonometric views showing the nature of data measured, adjusted to each specific focus area. What kind of sensors will be implemented? How will the system be distributed in the urban fabric? 3. Functionality / How does it work? Series of diagrams (up to 5) explaining the methodological framework of each proposed system. These diagrams will then be animated in a .gif format. 4. How does it look like? Visual representations (street-view photoshop images) showing how the system will be embedded within the urban environment of each focus site. 5. Towards a relational model Each group will prepare a more advanced animated representation that apart from the system’s functionality will also reflect the group’s perspective on how people can be effectively engaged with the system. Ultimately, all individual proposals will be aggregated into a larger networked model that will reflect the potential repercussions that the inter-connected local systems can have on the global scale of the city. The end-results will be directly related to the “what if…?” section, as a form of concept proof.

Brief Workshop Schedule April 19th – April 26th 2013

Friday, April 19th: Kick-off presentation Distribution into groups and site assignment Brainstorming session First concepts & reflections on the objective Sat + Sun, April 20th – 21st :

Site visit

Monday, April 22nd: Methodological framework development Design proposal clarification Tuesday, April 23rd: Mid-term Review Guest experts: Mark Shepard (University of Buffalo NY) Martijn de Waal (, Uni. of Amst.) Nimish Biloria (TU Delft, Hyperbody) Wednesday, April 24th:

Proposals development

Thursday, April 25th: Proposals development Relational model of proposals Friday, April 26th: FINAL REVIEW Invited guests: Maarten Piek (Ministry of Infrastructure &Milieu) Willemieke Hornis (Ministry of I&M) Nimish Biloria (TU Delft, Hyperbody)

Studio Roosegaarde, “Smart Highway - Induction Priority Lane” (2012)

Timetable FRIDAY






12:30 - 13:30

17:00 -


[Zaal U] Developm Methodo Framewo

09:00 - 12:30

13:30 - 17:00



SITE VISIT Groups visit their assigned sites and collect data

17:00 - 18:00 [Zaal P] First Concepts and Reflections on the objectives

* Mid-term Review invited experts: _Mark Shepard (Assist. Prof. at the University of Buffalo NY) via skype meeting _Martijn de Waal (Writer, Researcher, Strategist, Founder of weblog) _Nimish Biloria (Assist. Prof. and Research Manager of Hyperbody, TU Delft) Final Review invited experts and Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment representatives: _Willemieke Hornis (Senior policy advisor, Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment) _Maarten Piek (Senior policy advisor, Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment) _Nimish Biloria (Assist. Prof. and Research Manager of Hyperbody, TU Delft)

[Zaal U] Design P Developm (Function diagrams system compone



ment of ological ork


Proposal ment nality s/









[Zaal U] Design Proposal Development


[Zaal U] Design Proposal Development

ents etc.)

17:00 - 18:00 [Zaal U] MID-TERM REVIEW with invited experts*

[Zaal C] Integration of Mid-term remarks


[Zaal U] Design Proposal Development (Axonometrics, Streetview Visualizations etc.)

[Zaal U] Design Proposal Development


[Zaal U] Development of the Relational Model incorporating all proposed urban systems

[Zaal U] Finalization of Proposals


15:00 - 18:00 [Zaal U] FINAL REVIEW with I&M Ministry Representatives and invited experts*


This is an indicative list of relevant reading material for reference and inspiration (more titles will be added): Aurigi, Alessandro. “New Technologies, Same Dilemmas: Policy and Design Issues for the Augmented City.” Journal of Urban Technology 13, no. 3 (2006): 5-28. Bilandzic, Mark, and Marcus Foth. “A Review of Locative Media, Mobile and Embodied Spatial Interaction.” International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 70, no. 1 (2012): 66-71. Biloria, Nimish. “Interactive Morphologies: An Investigation into Integrated Nodal Networks and Embedded Computation Processes for Developing Real-Time Responsive Spatial Systems.” Frontiers of Architectural Research 1, no. 3 (2012): 259-71. Dodgson, Mark, and David Gann. “Technological Innovation and Complex Systems in Cities.” Journal of Urban Technology 18, no. 3 (2011): 101-13. Dongyoun, Shin, Stefan Muller Arisona, and Gerhard Schmitt. “A Crowdsourcing Urban Simulation Platform Using Mobile Devices and Social Sensing.” In CAAD Futures 2011, edited by Pierre Leclercq, Ann Heylighen and Geneviève Martin, 233-46. Liege: Les Éditions de l’Université de Liège, 2011. Firmino, Rodrigo José, Fábio Duarte, and Tomás Moreira. “Pervasive Technologies and Urban Planning in the Augmented City.” Journal of Urban Technology 15, no. 2 (2008): 77-93. Greenfield, Adam, and Mark Shepard. “Urban Computing and Its Discontents.” New York: The Architectural League of New York, 2007. Kloeckl, Kristian, Oliver Senn, and Carlo Ratti. “Enabling the Real-Time City: Live Singapore!” Journal of Urban Technology 19, no. 2 (2012): 89-112. Kristian Kloeckl, Oliver Senn, Giusy Di Lorenzo, Carlo Ratti. “Live Singapore! - an Urban Platform for Real-Time Data to Program the City.” (2011). McCullough, Malcolm. “New Media Urbanism: Grounding Ambient Information Technology.” Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 34 (2007): 383-95. Moere, Andrew Vande, and Dan Hill. “Designing for the Situated and Public Visualization of Urban Data.” Journal of Urban Technology 19, no. 2 (2012): 25-46. Powell, Alison. “Wi-Fi, Resistance, and Making Infrastructure Visible.” In The Wireless Spectrum: The Politics, Practices and Poetics of Mobile Media, edited by Barbara Crow, Michael Longford and Kimberly Sawchuk, 172-86. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 2010. Robinson, Ricky, Markus Rittenbruch, Marcus Foth, Daniel Filonik, and Stephen Viller. “Street Computing: Towards an Integrated Open Data Application Programming Interface (Api) for Cities.” Journal of Urban Technology 19, no. 2 (2012): 1-23. Rutherford, Jonathan. “Rethinking the Relational Socio-Technical Materialities of Cities and Icts.” Journal of Urban Technology 18, no. 1 (2011): 21-33.

Sentient City: Ubiquitous Computing, Architecture and the Future of Urban Space. New York & Cambridge Massachusetts: Co-published by The Architectural League of New York & The MIT Press, 2011. Townsend, Anthony M. “Life in the Real-Time City: Mobile Telephones and Urban Metabolism.” Journal of Urban Technology 7, no. 2 (2000): 85-104. Vaccari, Andrea, Francesco Calabrese, Bing Liu, and Carlo Ratti. “Towards the Socioscope: An Information System for the Study of Social Dynamics through Digital Traces.” In The 17th ACM SIGSPATIAL International Conference on Advances in Geographic Information Systems, 52-61: Association for Computing Machinery, 2009.

REAL-TIME CITY: Workshop Syllabus