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Digital Regionalism Digital Regionalism:

How to sustain regional

and cultural aesthetics in architecture through digital design technologies?


Hannah Theodorou Greenwich University Student Number : 000609208 Word Count : 6,971


Contents Abstract 2-3 Methodology 4 Diagram 5 Introduction 6-13 Africa 16-23 Asia 24-32 Middle east 33-35 Australia 36-37 South America 38-39

Digital Technologies 40-43

Conculsion 44-47 Bibliography 49-57 Image Referneces 58-64

Digital Regionalism

1.


Fig 1 Diwali: Festival of lights - India - 2012

Mali, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau. Festial.

Digital Regionalism

2.


Abstract With the rise of globalization the idea of locality and place conveyed through designs seems to be dwindling. The conflict between the ideas of space and place, global and local, homogeneity and heterogeneity, still persist (Auge, 2009). In response to this decrease in locality, Kenneth Frampton, a theorist associated with the theory of Critical Regionalism, states that a universal culture cannot exist due to site variation (Frampton, 1992). The increase in using digital software in architectural design brings the designer closer to a virtual space rather then a regional, realistic environment. Those viewing a digital model can only employ the visual sense; materiality is glossy and there is no account for material irregularities (Willis and Woodward, 2010). This dissertation will explore how we, as designers, can overcome the limitations of digital software and help sustain and preserve cultural and regional aesthetics in non-western countries (Fig 1). A number of architectural projects across the continents will be discussed: Africa, Asia, Australia, South America and the Middle East. Digital Regionalism refers to a digital renewal of the theory of Critical Regionalism. The term has been used by Dimitris Papalexopoulos in his book 'Digital Regionalism' (2008), and mentioned by Mark Garcia in a symposium. This essay will explore options for architects to overcome the barriers and limitations of modern technology to sustain ideas in a new theory of Digital Regionalism.

Digital Regionalism

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Methodology Case Studies

To gain a greater understanding of how digital design technologies have influenced our design decisions it is necessary to compare a range of different types of projects built or proposed in non-western, continental regions. The selected case studies embody or oppose the ideas presented in Digital Regionalism. The analysis of these case studies together should allow for the genesis of a 'true' meaning of what will be required for real, Digitally Regionalist architecture. The political, social and economic context of a place was assessed for how it affects the uptake, use and advancement of digital technologies. This research makes a comparison between not only the architectural projects and design but also the wider socio-political and economic cultures of the selected countries. It should be noted that differences will surface between the social and economic background of each area. These socio-cultural and economic issues may be what prevent the ideas of Digital Regionalism manifesting in current projects. One disadvantage of the research method employed by this study is that the evidence is from secondary sources. The sites discussed have not been visited by the author. One of the advantages of this research is that Digital Regionalism is a new field of theory and design in architecture and as such there is a gap in learning within this growing field that this research can attempt to address. The ideas addressed here are relevant to wider issues in architectural design theory as it interacts with various other related disciplines (such as fine art and design) and topics such as multiculturalism, postcolonialism/recolonisation, politics, social sciences, economics, computer sciences, business and management, media studies and globalisation.

Digital Regionalism 4.


DIGITAL REGIONALISM Architecture Critical Regionalism

Digital Technologies

Virtual Reality

Phenomenology Place

Software Non-Place

Identity Technological Advancement

Postcolonialism Multiculturalism

Technological Colonialism Futurology

Colonialism

Globalisation

Economics

Politics Sociology


Introduction

Definition of Digital adjective 1. (of signals or data) expressed as series of the digits 0 and typically represented by values of a physical quantity such as voltage or magnetic polarization. Often contrasted with analog. • 2. Relating to, using, or storing data or information in the form of digital signals: digital TV

a digital recording
 • 3. Involving or relating to the use of computer technology: the digital revolution. (Oxford Dictionary definition) Definition of Regionalism noun 1. The theory or practice of regional rather than central systems of administration or economic, cultural, or political affiliation: a strong expression of regionalism. (Oxford Dictionary definition)

Digital Regionalism

6.


Digital Regionalism derives from Critical Regionalism, which itself stems from the post-modernist theories of phenomenology. Phenomenology revolves around the tactility of architecture and the atmosphere of a place. This does not only require experience in the visual sense but an engagement of all of the senses. Norberg-Schulz (1976) a theorist of phenomenology in architecture argues that Genius Loci (the spirit of a place) should manifest itself in our everyday interaction with the world. Orientation is the key to having an understanding of a place and unlike modern architecture orientation just serves a practical function to help identify the environment. For instance, unique road sign's, shop signs and billboards can all allow a person to understand where they might be rather than the layout of city streets or monuments to mark a significant point or view. The modern world allows less space for designs that reflect cultural or regional individuality and specificity. Digital Regionalism 7.


Critical Regionalism first emerged as a reaction to a category of Postmodernist architecture in the early 1980's. A principle tenet of the theory is that it avoids reverting back to vernacular architecture whilst embracing a modernist approach, in some ways it is a critique of regionalism and postmodernism (Frampton, 1983). Kenneth Frampton argued modernism brought abstractions increasing the void in architectural place making. In his essay "Towards a Critical Regionalism: six points for an architecture of resistance" he states, "Modern building is now so universally conditioned by optimized technology that the possibility of creating significant urban form has become extremely limited" (Frampton, 2002, p17 Anit aethstic). This statement describes how the use of new technology has altered design decisions and the aesthetic of architecture has become conformist to the idea of a mass culture. In many parts of the world we can no longer tell by observing local architecture where we are, due to the architectural aesthetic of many cities beginning to merge into one another (Davis, Monk, Corser, R. (ed.) 2010, Proto, F. (ed.) 2006, Auge, M. 2009). The ideology of globalisation is at the centre of the world's social, political and economic infrastructure. Institutionalized conformity between nations has resulted in the diminishment of distinct cultural values resulting in a uniform mass culture (Lefaivre and Tzonis and Stagno, 2001, Bryant & Pollock, 2010). The built environment is becoming ever more homogenous with oversized glass skyscrapers, scaffolding for advertisement and linear city formats. Urbanisation is evolving at a rapid speed. Cities like Dubai (fig 2) which were originally barren desert have now become holiday destinations. The glitter of globalisation can also be said to blind us to the sprawling of London into suburbia (fig 3) and New York's (fig 4) endemic underdevelopment leading to financial districts neighboring the equivalent of a 3rd world district (Auge, 2009). Digital Regionalism 8.


Fig 2

Fig 3

Fig 4

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Through the employment of modern software, can the designer become conscious of the predisposed aesthetic it creates? The uses of technologies such as computer aided design (CAD) and computer aided manufacturing (CAM), have radically increased efficiency within the industry, but at what cost? The majority of computer aided design (CAD) software on the market is American, due to their monopoly of the global market. Examples of this software are Autodesk, Rhino and Adobe. This has resulted in CAD tools not being regionally specific. To use local, regionally specific, materials one would have to user input the unique and specific data, however generic materials like concrete and steel already exist. If a company were supplying software in places such as Asia, would they then create a tool simulating bamboo or other local materials? If the tool isn't present in the software does it hinder designers from using local materials or styles? Technology is now so advanced that software corporations claim that reconstructing a city, with all of its ecological and topographical features is "easy" and becoming "easier". It seems now that there is no form that is impossible to achieve. It is clear that the role of economics plays a large part in limiting designs. Fig 5

Digital Regionalism 10.


"Realistic virtual environments" can now allow anyone to visually experience a place before it has even been constructed, every fine detail of a building can be inputted and shown (Fig 5) (Willis & Woodward, 2010). Certain kinds of software that use Building Information Modelling (BIM) enable the user to design not only a building but also the water and electric system and if any of these elements clash, it is flagged and can be changed. Rendering software can give the impression of uniformity in materials when in reality materials have natural imperfections. Additionally, specific construction and craft techniques achieved by manual labour are quixotic and difficult to simulate by computer. The illusion of virtual space can become unrealistic and increase the distance from place. Leading architects have become international superstars (Auge, 2008). Companies like Fosters & Partners, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) (Fig 7) and Zaha Hadid Architects may set out to create projects that have local and regional justification yet when they reach a built form are usually just a spectacle placed on the global stage. There are architects who create projects using digital technologies that still relate closely to place for instance Kengo Kuma (Fig 6), Tokamarch architects and Magnus Larsson. These architects have all proposed projects that relate closely to a place be it through design, materials or social issues. The battle to maintain the uniqueness of locale is again rising with entire cities like Dubai and Las Vegas created with complete disregard for their local typographies and typologies (Davis, 2007). Entire non-western cities are becoming monuments to consumerism and western, neo-liberal ideals.

Digital Regionalism 11.


Fig 6

Fig 6

Fig 7

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As architects are part of a global system, rather than conceding, they should aim to diversify digital design decisions to embrace locality. The use of digital software is extremely beneficial in communicating ideas and making built forms more fluid, (for example 'blob' architecture) enabling the manipulation of materials. For instance, in the last 10 years we have begun to see projects that would have been impossible without digital technology. Digital Regionalism intends to explore how to harness the utility of digital tools to retain culturally distinct design. Though such design tools can stunt creativity, maintaining the use of technology is paramount for its development. Digital Regionalism offers an alternative way of designing using advanced digital technology that embraces the ideas of cultural and regional place making. Digital Regionalism assists in understanding the architectural identity and the conflict of cultures. Recently cities in Asia and the Middle East have increased in high-tech modernisation and commercial architecture for economic gain. The research gathered illustrates that countries that have more economic power and who resisted colonial influences have had more time for cultural growth (such as in Japan). This allows these countries to push for technological advancement, while allowing prominent aspects of their culture to continue harmoniously with their idea of globalisation and wealth and power while simultaneously permitting the rejection of unwanted aspects of western ideologies. On the other hand there are countries (mainly in the African continent) that have been colonised continuously by Europeans and due to precious minerals; they are denied real national and regional empowerment. "The expected sequential organisation of the built environment is very much culture bound and it changes over time as culture changes" (Lang, J. T., Desai, M., & Desai, M. (1997), p3). This research aims to review how these changes can affect the aesthetic of a place and explore how architects have become disconnected from their environments and political and social situations. Digital Regionalism 13.


Case Studies


Africa

Fig 8

Historically Africa has be colonised by various countries. Udo Kultermann in his book 'New Direction in African Architecture' says "As a result, there is no common culture within regions or countries" (Kultermann, 1969). The continent of Africa is a 3rd world and the majority of the population have little to no exposure to the rich minerals of their land. A study done by the charity Achieve in Africa show "40% of Africans over the age of 15, and 50% of women above the age of 25 are illiterate" (achieveinafrica.wordpress.com -30/11/2012). Low employment rates across the continent make it unlikely for people to get work therefore professionals may feel it necessary to continue working where they have studied, abroad.

Digital Regionalism 16.


The Sahara Desert is a vast barren land, "1 billion grains of sand come into existence in the world each second" (Magnus

Larsson: Turning dunes into architecture, TED.com, 1:18, 30/11/2012). Magnus Larsson is a student who came up with the

idea of using a bacterium called bacillius pasteurii, which solidifies sand into sand stone. Through his research in Sokoto, North Nigeria he sates "dunes here move southward at a pace of around 600 meters per year, that's the Sahara eating up 1 meter per day" (Magnus Larsson: Turning dunes into architecture, TED. com, 3:35, 30/11/2012). He continues by referring to the social implication of 'desertification', "... the 60's and late 70's brought a drought leaving 3 million people dependent on emergency food aid and resulted in 250,000 people dying" (Magnus Larsson: Turning dunes into architecture, TED.com, 2:13, 30/11/2012). Desertification can uproot entire towns and the current solution that involves planting trees along dunes to act as sand catchers, is limited as poverty in surrounding areas means trees are used for firewood.

Fig 9 Digital Regionalism 17.


The design proposal is a beautiful solution to an ugly situation. 'Turning Dunes into architecture' (Fig 8,9) proposes a 6,000km wall that stretches across the entire desert, made from a material that is ever increasing in any desert, sand. Digital technology has enabled Larsson to design shapes related to "...a cavernous rock structure..." (Fig 11) he discovered in Sokoto during his research "...that formally ties the project back to notions of aggregation and erosion." (bldgblog.blogspot.co.uk/2009/04/sandstone.html - 30/11/12). The form would be inconceivable without the hi-tech software, yet fitting so well within the landscape it brings no form of "abstractions" (Frampton, Prospects of a Critical Regionalism, 1983). Larsson himself sates at the end of his lecture that his design may bring many complications not only physical but also social and economic. This proposal is methodologically Digitally Regionalist as it uses local materials and is realised by digital and genetically engineered bacteria technology (Fig 10,12).

Fig 10

Digital Regionalism 18.


Fig 11

Fig 12 Digital Regionalism 19.


Ghanaian architect David Adjaye; has won a competition with his proposal for the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington. The $3 million project will take to the global stage in 2015. The façade makes references to craftsmanship of African Americans and Adjaye states that the main entrance is based on traditional Africa headdress (Fig 13,14). (www.dezeen.com/2012/02/20/smithsonian-museum-of-af-

rican-american-history-and-culture-by-david-ad-jaye-and-fab/ - 30/11/2012 and www.archdaily.com/220462/update-smithsonian-national-museum-of-african-american-history-and-culture/ 01/12/12). Adjaye's book 'African Metropolitan architecture' documents photographs from over 50 cities and shows the variety of the continent's architecture (Fig 15,16). City layouts, historical and modern architecture are presented, giving the outsider a realistic view of current African architecture. This being said, Adjaye may take elements from African design and implement them into his, however, in their built form they become hard to recognise.

Fig 13

Fig 14

Fig 15

Fig 16

Digital Regionalism 20.


Fig 17

Fig 18

David Adjaye has collaborated with artist Chris Ofili of Nigerian/British decent who is known for his paintings generally referred to as being quintessentially African. The British pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2003 was called 'Within Reach'(Fig 17). It contained sensual paintings of 'Afro-lovers' displayed in colours of black, green and red used throughout to represent skin colour, natural resources and African blood. "The neo-classical pavilion was redesigned into obscurity in the spirit of anti-colonial protest" (thisistomorrow.info/viewArticle.aspx?artId=531 - 01/12/12). The pavilion was redesigned as a statement for British-Africans. The colours used employ an idea Ofili has about creating a flag of the 'Union Black' (Fig 18) rather than the Union Jack (Ofili, C., Victoria Miro Gallery., & Biennale di Venezia. 2003). Although Ofili's work has cultural and regional influences rooted in Africa, it is a painting and cannot be processed in a digital program. Current technology does not allow for printing in oil paints or elephant dung (Chris Ofili infamous material) due to the specific nature of the materials and texture however, it could become possible in the near future. Nevertheless, fine artists see certain importance in their art coming from them and their hands which in many ways mirrors the intent of Digital Regionalism. Digital Regionalism 21.


Another African artist, who is particularly architectural and urban, is Bodyz Isek Kingelez. Reconstructing African metropolises out of cardboard, plastic and paper, using an African colour scheme Kingelez gives the observer an abstract look into African cities. An interesting example is his sculpture built in Burkina Faso, West Africa, in honour of African filmmakers (bombsite.com/issues/101/articles/2954 - 04/12/12). Some of his other works like Ville Fant么me, 1996 (Fig 19) and Kimbembele Ihunga, 1994 (Fig 20) are an eye-opener into Kingelez future projections of what African cities might be.

Fig 19

Fig 20

Digital Regionalism 22.


Fig 21

Fig 22

It seems few scholars have tackled the topic of African urban planning. 'African Fractals' a symposium given by Ron Eglash, is specifically digital and resonates within town and cities across the continent, explaining how unconsciously and consciously fractals can be related to African town and city planning. For example circles within circles overlapping one another to the people of the village seemed to protect them from the elements as well as the fact that it 'looks very nice'. However some villages seemed to use fractals as a system to understand how to plan out a village's social and spiritual needs or build fences. Dr Eglash asks the question 'Is it just intuition?' (ted.com/

talks/ron_eglash_on_african_fractals.html- 23/01/2013)

fractals were not understood until 1970. An example of these villages is Ba-ila in sothern Zambia (Fig 22).

Digital Regionalism 23.


Asia Asia is a vast and expansive continent. In the 1900's parts of Asia were colonised by Europe, India (British), Indochina (French), East Indies (Spanish), Goa and Macau (Portuguese), places such as Thailand and parts of China where never colonized. After WW2 nearly all countries were given independence. (en.wikipedia.org/

wiki/History_of_Asia#Modern_period_.281500.E2.80.93present.29 - 01/12/12). These countries are rich in culture, with many

significant historical buildings, each country varies when it comes to traditional architecture for instance in China there are Hutong streets (criss-crossed streets allowing access from one side of the city to another) and Siheyuan (traditional chinese courtyard homes), the style of these houses had great influence over other countries such as Japan and Korea (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_ architecture - 01/12/12). In India however, it is harder to find a traditional Indian architecture that is carried through to today. As a result of near constant invasion by different nations who put their own architectural imprint on India, it becomes a challenge to find modern Indian architecture with postcolonial identity. After the Second World War, America compelled all "losers to democracy", leaving Japanese cities transposed to "radioactive rubble" (Koolhaas, Project Japan, 2011). Rem Koolhaas writes that the Metabolist movement began in the 60's and continued into the 90's, "Japan's architects, free from associations with the West, offer defining alternatives to Western aesthetics" (Fig 23,24,25) (Koolhaas, Project Japan, 2011, p14). The Metabolist movement was the last movement specifically cultivating a Japanese aesthetic (Koolhaas, Project Japan, 2011), the members of the movement where transfixed with merging the traditional with the modern. Now Tokyo is the capital for pioneering technologies within a city, with some of the tallest buildings in the world and the elevated expressways giving the city a futuristic feel, rather than having regional relevance. Kyoto however is a very different place, with many historical buildings remaining (at one point Kyoto was Digital Regionalism 24.


the capital of Japan). Although the city has still developed in a similar way to Tokyo, Kyoto has sustained cultural and historical buildings. While there are still architects who pursue the Metabolist ideals they now do so with digital technologies like Kengo Kuma, Toyo Ito and SANAA.

Fig 23

Fig 24

Fig 25

Digital Regionalism 25.


Kengo Kuma, sates that transparency and nature are closely linked to Japanese architecture and he attempts to frame them within his work. His use of natural materials and awareness of the 'sense of place' that his architecture promotes supports this view (Bongnar, Material Immaterial, 2009). An excellent example of Digital Regionalism resonates in the Culture Tourist Information Center in Asakusa (Fig 28). The building has clearly been realized in a digital program due to its complex shape, and it uses natural materials (timber and bamboo) throughout the interior as well as the faรงade. The projects Cottage in Sengataki (Fig 26), Aluminium House and Restaurant Bar "Nomad" built in the 70's (Fig 26), up until the 90's have a lightness of touch that relates back to traditional Japanese architecture. His current work still relates back to iconic images conjured up by the Metoblist group, although the use of digital programming has obviously allowed Toyo Ito and Associates to create effortless form's they have veered somewhat 'off-road' with projects like the Belle Vue Residences and the (Fig 29) Motomachi Chukagai Station (an underground train station). A running theme amongst most practices when building commercial buildings is that they're constrained by the client's needs to express their company's ethos, however, residential projects seem to enable architects to embrace their styles more freely as usually the home owner has sought them out.

Fig 26

Fig 27

Digital Regionalism 26.


Fig 28

Fig 29

Digital Regionalism 27.


Mariko Mori is a Japanese artist who manages to sustain a cultural identity through her work. By layering photographs and digital images Mori uses traditional Japanese tales and objects warped by western elements. An example of this work is the "Dream Temple", carried out through digital software and employing hi-tech materials such as moulded plastics and light and video displays. The "Dream Temple" (Fig 30) has an aesthetic similar to a traditional Japanese teahouse but is clearly of the digital era. Her other works such as "Pureland" (1996), "Burning desire" (1997) and "Pratibimba" (1998) (Fig 31), are an exemplary example of how to incorporate culture into artwork and architecture. Mori's current exhibition at The Royal Academy of Art is a range of works "evolved around a fascination with ancient cultures, among them prehistoric Jomon (c.14,000 - 300 BC) in Japan and Celtic traditions in Europe." (http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/ exhibitions/mariko-mori/ -23/01/2013). Although the work is different from her previous years she expresses "...through emerging technologies and digital media [allowing these] tools to be harnessed in order to reconnect with our environment..." (http://www.

royalacademy.org.uk/exhibitions/mariko-mori/ -23/01/2013). Fig 30

Fig 31

Digital Regionalism 28.


Currently the majority of architectural fabric in China is the high-tech and effulgent but there are a small number of projects and proposals that relate to Digital Regionalism. An illustration of this is the XishuangbanNa Residence (Fig 32,33), Designed by Tokamarch Architects, the skyscraper's structure is made from bamboo and gives a solution to the current housing issues in China. Sudden economic growth meant the country's rapid growth led to homogeneity through necessity, this proposal combines "... the living space and the natural environment is in a harmonious, compatible symbiosis." (archdaily.com/276346/xishuangbanna-residence-tokamarch-architects - 02/12/12). The project was accomplished digitally through necessity as without digital software the complex structural engineering would be questionable and potentially prone to human error.

Fig 32

Fig 33

Digital Regionalism 29.


Heading south from China to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia are the Petronus towers (Fig 34,36) designed by Cesar Pelli and Associates. These towers are 452 meters tall with 88 floors and was once the world's tallest building (from 1998 to 2004). (Yangsquare.com/petronas-tower-in-detail - 02/12/12). The floor plans of the towers are based on Asian and Islamic, mandals and geometries (Fig 35). Although the towers are an iconic symbol of power and wealth, they do have some cultural significance. However, in their built form it can be argued that they simply reverted back to being primarily a status symbol. This is evidenced through their focus and perhaps overuse of detail ultimately inconsequential against the grandeur of the 'product'. These schemes serves as an example of how architects can potentially take inspiration from particular regional and traditional cultures and through digital technologies re-materialize them into modern works of architecture.

Fig 34

Fig 35

Digital Regionalism 30.


Fig 36

Digital Regionalism 31.


Architectural identity in India has been a question asked by many scholars over the years. Colonised by the British from as early as 1612 to independence in 1947, (wikipedia.org/wiki/British_ India - 02/12/12) this "...inevitably created situations of confrontation between foreign and indigenous values and ultimately between tradition and modernity." (Lang, J. T., Desai, M., & Desai, M, 1997 Architecture and independence p - 2). Due to conflicting ideals that continue currently in India about what the desired aesthetic should be or represent, the issues are outline in the book Architecture and independence: The search for identity, India 1880 to 1980. In the book Lang, Desai and Desai state, "The need for a self-identity is universal but its importance and manifestations vary from culture to culture."

(Lang, J. T., Desai, M., & Desai, M, 1997 Architecture and independence p - 7). As an individual we're aware of our own

identity whatever that may be, however in a country that had no choice but to accommodate another nation, this transposes into conflicting ideals of what Indian identity is. India is a home of many differing religions, The Lotus of Bahapur (completed 1986), is a Baha'i place of worship designed by Fariborz Sahba, an Iranian-Canadian architect who also follows the faith (Fig 38). The lotus flower shaped building is one of the most famous modern buildings in India. It is clear that the building has been realised digitally. It has a strong relationship to its surrounding gardens and does more than embrace nature through its form alone (Fig 39).

Fig 38

Fig 39

Digital Regionalism 32.


Middle east From 1962 when the United Arab Emirates was known as Trucial States, Abu Dhabi made its first cargo shipment of crude oil. Due to wealth derived from oil production, the United Arab Emirates has become the ironically rich state it is today. "Dubai is capitalized just as much on cheap labour as it is on expensive oil" (Davis, M. Evil Paradises, 2007, p - 67). Currently Dubai is a top holiday destination; with shopping malls open 24hours, theme parks and the most luxurious hotel complexes, however this comes with a price to pay as labourers are treated unfairly and live in sub-standard accommodation, also the carbon footprint generated by having a millionaire's playground in the desert is excessive to say the least. Dubai now transcends "Las Vegas, both in sheer scale and spectacle and the profligate consumption of water and power" (Davis, M. Evil Paradises, 2007, p - 50). Through an analysis of projects built or proposed, it is evident that buildings within the United Arab Emirates aspire to be out of place. In a vast barren desert land, no proposal has begun to think of a way to be less damaging to its surrounding or to incorporate a culture that is not consumerism. In his essay Sand, Fear and Money in Dubai, Mike Davis relays a quote from the Sheik al-Maktoum "Anyone who does not attempt to change the future will stay a captive of the past" (Davis, M. Evil Paradises, 2007, p 68), although looking to the future will enable us to move forward, it is entirely unreasonable to forget the pasts abundant qualities when the end product is to indulge capitalist consumerist ideals with no regard to the lessons of history.

Digital Regionalism 33.


Burj Khalifa (Fig 40) situated in Dubai, designed by SOM (Skidmore Owings and Merrill) is the tallest man-made structure in the world, at 829.8 meters (Bianchi, Stefania; Andrew Critchlow, 2010). SOM took inspiration from "the geometries of the desert flower and the patterning systems embodied in Islamic architecture" (http://gulfnews.com/business/property/burj-khalifa-towering-challenge-for-builders-1.561802 -22/01/2013). Similar to the Petronus towers, this gigantic structure does not allow the mind to retreat to the ideas of desert flowers (Fig42,43) as the sheer scale of the edifice in combination with the chosen building materials detract from these proposed tenets.

Fig 41 - View From Burj Khalifa

Fig 42 Fig 40 Fig 43

Digital Regionalism 34.


An interesting proposal for the National Museum of Afghanistan was released over the summer of 2012 (Fig 45,46,47). Although proposed by Tuscon, Arizona practice Line and Space, they have truly captured an original aesthetic, "...inspired by the basin and range of geology of Kabul and incredible archaeology..." (archdaily.com/29386/national-museum-of-afghanistan-line-and-space - 21/11/12), it relates back to the land and provides a link to surrounding areas.

Fig 45

Fig 46

Fig 47

Digital Regionalism 35.


AUSTRALIA Europeans first discovered Australia as early as the 1600, the first instance of colonisation in Australia was in January 1788, the east coast Botany Bay (now Sidney) then became the Penal Colony (Lewis, 2006). The indigenous population of Australia known as the aboriginal people, suffered greatly from the arrival of the British with diseases such as small pox, influenza and measles killing a large amount of the indigenous population (Blainey, 2004). The aborigines still make up a minority of the Australian population and aboriginal art is widely celebrated. The art is based around ceremonies dedicated to life and land; it can be traced back almost 30,000 years ago (Environment.gov.au. 08/07/2011). Currently native Australians live in small communities removed from main towns and cities. Architectural students from RMIT University, Australia have attempted to address the issues of aboriginal health. The aboriginal male has a life expectancy of 59 whereas for the white Australian male it is 77 (architecture.

rmit.edu.au/Projects/home_away_from_home.php - 07/02/2013). The project proposed an 'Aboriginal remote community health facility' (Fig 48) for the 400 people in the Ampilatwatja Community. The community is renowned for its art (Fig49), mostly created by the women and "the medical centre owns 40 of these paintings and intends to incorporate them within the new building"

(architecture.rmit.edu.au/Projects/home_away_from_home.php - 07/02/2013). The students employed sensitivity to the cultural

values of the community which can be seen in the plans that seem to embody the spirit of the artwork produced by the Ampilatwatja people. Although the design is simple, it deals with social issues within the community and the wider issues of aboriginal health and social exclusion. Fig 48


The National Museum of Australia was designed by ARM architects an Australian practice (Fig 50). The building symbolizes the story of Australia through intertwining 'knotted ropes'; considered a digital masterpiece, it is composed of forms that are heavily reliant on the use of digital technologies. The aluminium cladding is engraved with brail (Fig 51) that consists of common Australian sayings as well as more contentious phrases that attends to recompense for the obliteration of the native aboriginal people, for example such phrases as; 'Sorry' and 'forgive us our genocide', they have now been concealed (Devine, Sydney Morning Herald, 2006). The colour scheme of the building is based on tones of aboriginal art, the knot formation on the roof of the building links to the ideas of interwoven stories. ARM explains that the use of 'controlled natural light' connects the exhibition spaces to the gardens outside. This coincides with values presented in Critical Regionalism (www.a-r-m.com.au/projects_

NMoA.html - 06/02/2013).

Fig 49

Fig 50

Fig 51 Digital Regionalism 37.


SOUTH AMERICA The South American continent, consist of 13 countries. From as early as 1500 BC, large parts of South America were colonised by the Spanish and the Portuguese, as well as the Dutch and the French. The 20th century brought revolution and rebellion against the colonizers. Similar to many other non-western countries in the continent they engaged in a production revolution. A large majority of the population are suffering in poor living conditions due to overcrowding and economic failures. Culturally the continent has retained its cultural identity however due to the economy this is rarely shown though architecture. Londrina, Brazil (founded by British settlers) is home to the Palhano Ecomarket, designed by Guilherme Torres, a studio based in S達o Paulo (Fig 53). The building is constructed from local materials and the designer has made use of natural light and ventilation (www.archdaily.com/185869/palhano-ecomarket-studio-guilherme-torres/- 06/02/2013). Conforming to strict sustainability requirements, the design encompasses ideas of locality and a market is a large part of social interaction within the community. Torres went so far as to employ the colour yellow to uplift the occupants spirits (Fig 52) (inhabitat.com/mercado-palhano- 06.02.2013).

Fig 53

Fig 52 Digital Regionalism 38.


Mauricio Pezo and Sofia von Ellrichshausen, recently published an article about their method of working in their practice based in Chile, Pezo von Ellrichshausen. The article was featured in the Architectural Design publication, Human experience and place: Sustaining identity (2012), many of their buildings consist of simplistic geometrical reinforced concrete structures. 'Fosc House', designed in San Pedro, Chile, is a true example of the method referred to by the architects as 'the liquid concrete', executing certain repetitive decisions similar to "a kind of fluid in search of stability, of consistency and unity" reflected in "the fragile balance of our developing South American society" (Pezo, von Ellrichshausen, 2012). It is clear from this statement the architects are consciences of their social surrounding. 'Fosc Houses' (Fig 54,55) concrete walls are coated in a water resistant copper oxide, a benefit for the raining season. The interior of the building captures natural sunlight; built on the highest point of the site the building captures beautiful views of the surrounding environment (www.archdaily.com/38655/fosc-house-pezo-von-ell-

richshausen-architects - 08/02/13).

Fig 55

Fig 54 Digital Regionalism 39.


Digital Technologies Analysing the various case studies and there digital format leads to a critique in digital software and technologies. "Advances in digital design and fabrication must now be placed in the broader context of architectural theory and criticism." (Dan

Willis and Todd Woodward, (2010), p.203).

There are some architectural projects that would cease to exist without the aid of digital technology, for example, the contemporary art museum in Austria, Kunzthaus Graz (Fig 56,57) by Peter Cook and Colin Fournier and the Czech National Library proposal by Future systems. This architectural design is a monument to digital technologies, not only because of their form but for example the Kunzthaus Graz "pains to engage with the street life" with an interactive screen playing messages to passer-bys (http://www.crab-studio.com/graz-kunsthaus/ 20/01/2013). Due to projections of the future in films, comic books and television, it is understandable how the link is made between these "organic" forms and the future of architecture. However high the appraisal of these projects are, they're the minority of buildings that accompany the mundane city backdrop. Furthermore, they detract attention from place and the environment, and transfer the onlooker into "alien" abstract space. GIS is a site-specific model of space and time, linking data of topography, bathometry, vegetation and road names. Previous to ortho-rectified imagery (Google earth, satellite images, GPS) (Fig 59) drawn maps of areas would provide the information in GIS, however now with information attainable form Internet sources it is much easier to recreate environments realistically and genuinely. Using statistical analysis and database technology, it becomes possible to input large amounts of this data in order to understand an area's political, economic, social and environmental climate. However, using this technology hasn't brought Digital Regionalism 40.


architecture much closer to the ideas presented in Digital Regionalism, although it seems as though a designer would be more conscious of their surroundings it requires a change in ideology towards, locality, materials and place.

Fig 56

Fig 57

Rapid-prototyping is now possible, with the advancement of 3D digital printing; a structure or faรงade can be created physically within a day. An exceptional example of this method is a project by Philip Beesley named "Reflective Membranes" (Fig 58). In his book 'Digital Architecture Now; A Global Survey of Emerging Talent', Neil Spiller explains how the method of rapid-prototyping helps Beesley create "a physically responsive, adaptive and self-organizing sculpture system." (p.46, 2008). It is not only the collaboration of 3D printing and CAD/CAM that empowers projects like this, GIS , scripting, generative design and even mobile phone application like 123D Catch (Fig 60) (created by AutoCad) can all merge together to create a precise interpretation of reality and designs. With the emergence of these technologies that aid architectural design is it possible for them to further aid design choice to become more aware of place, regions, materiality and tactility? Digital Regionalism 41.


It is paramount that architects continue to use new technologies, without them architecture would become static and new breakthroughs like Magnus Larsson's "Turning dunes into architecture", which deal closely with environmental and economic issues would be impossible. The future of architecture should become more connected with the way in which digital technology is changing design. Future predictions of merging of technologies give the impression that the virtual world will become more realistic however, currently the technology does not allow for realistic imperfections along with data being taken from web resource that could potentially be unreliable. It becomes clear that the critique of digital technologies has been pushed aside (Willis and Woodward, 2010) while fully embracing technologies, it is unclear whether or not they hinder some aspects of design. Architecture should not only view their buildings as bricks and mortar but an addition to a local place with its own context history and indigenous materials. For example, material choice and imagination in some examples seem to be more experimental, however to state that the 'city' is becoming more homogenous is undeniable.

Fig 58

Digital Regionalism 42.


Fig 59

Fig 60

Digital Regionalism 43.


CONCLUSION Globalisation, although a modern term, has been a long process involving thousands of years. Historically, people have migrated and as a result shared ideas, cultures and countries. The evolution of globalisation has brought huge change to social and economic bounds and now has the power to exclude individuals, countries and even whole continents (M.B Steger, 2003). It is clear from the case studies provided, involving countries within Africa and some parts of Asia, that the wealth and power of countries in the West is disproportionate in comparison, and their architecture suffers as a result of being denied access to digital technologies. Ziauddin Sardar's book "Rescuing All Our Futures: the future of future studies" (1999) highlights the faults in the discipline of future studies that have become "synonymous with Western interests... to maintain the homogeny of the West" (p.12). The critique of future studies shown in various essays enables the reader to understand how technology merging and advancing can be to the detriment of culture. In the essay "Future Studies and the Future of Art", Sean Cubitt states "we must be prepared to abandon the concept of art in favor of the concept of culture", (Rescuing All Our Futures, 1999, p.208) recognizing the importance of sustaining culture through an artistic aesthetic, in a world of media conglomerates. Throughout the research, the prevalent issue of identity demonstrates how globalization and neo-liberal views have begun to break down the way in which people and designers identify with their local environment. Manuel Castells suggests in his book, "The power of identity", a 'resistance' identity, for "large segments of people that are economically, culturally and politically disenfranchised around the world do not recognize themselves in the triumphant values of cosmopolitan conquerors" (2010, p.11). The media, television, radio as well as advertising can be seen as 'Western' examples of what our identity should consist of, be it a commodity or a personality trait (Sadar, 1999). Digital Regionalism 44.


"To see traces of utopian impulse everywhere {it is} to imply that it is somehow root in human nature" (Jameson, 2005,

Archaeologies of the future: The desire called utopia and other science fictions, p. 26). It is clear there are conflicts with

particular concepts of identity, however Jameson (2005) refers to the complex nature of personal projections of utopia. Sardar (1999), Cubitt (1999) and Castells (2010) illustrate how the amalgamation of cultures leads to a loss of identity. The case studies provided show that architects are bound economically and politically, yet it is possible to use technology to harmonize the local environment by means of materiality, form and social engagement. The research presented here suggests the world is becoming more homogenised through the ideology of globalism. Those who support Digital Regionalism posit that the careless use of digital tools along with an uncritical outlook on "abstract" designs with no site-specific relevance may result in the rise of Digitally Regional buildings at the cost of local and cultural aesthetics. The case studies provided illustrate how it is possible to use design technologies to develop a connection to a place through materials and extensive site analysis. The ever-increasing power offered by contemporary, high-tech software gives the architect freedom to explore forms, places and other architecture more than ever before. However, unlike in other disciplines of art and design, many architectural projects outside of Europe seem to lack cultural relevance or any site relationship. Mariko Mori, Bodyz Isek Kingelez and Chris Ofili are artists that truly capture their culture through fine-art, Mori is able to convey her art through digital means showing it is possible for architecture to do the same. Buildings like the Petronus Towers and the Burj Khalifa, claim to take inspiration from their regional surroundings, however the grandiose nature of the designs and built forms detract greatly from their purported genesis; that of Islamic patterns and flowers.

Digital Regionalism 45.


The case studies provided vary on the spectrum of Digital Regionalism. A typical example of the variety within Digital Regionalism is highlighted by "XishuangbanNa Residence", designed by Tokamarch Architects. This project embraces local materials and addresses the major social issue of housing in China. The proposal would be nonviable without the help of CAE (computer aided engineering) software, to structurally understand the tensile strength of a bamboo tower. A number of these projects take inspiration from surrounding influence, for example local plants or regional patterns. These projects, when built, did not embody the true meaning of Digital Regionalism as they failed to employ regional materials or endeavour to solve social issues through their design. Few concepts and projects have been developed in Africa due to their economic and social climate. The project "Turning dune into architecture" shows how developments in biology can influence designs. The project also addresses social issues of housing and the desertification of the Sahara desert. African artists are able to convey a strong identity of culture, yet the photographs taken by David Adjaye of African towns and cities show a continent that struggles to express an African identity in architecture. If architects in Africa adopted the ideas presented in Digital Regionalism, it would become possible to express the quintessential African style, along with adopting cost effective local material choices. In conclusion, it is apparent from the research provided that there are few projects that incorporate Digital Regionalism. Currently, with the need for profit and efficiency in the property market and with varying technological advancement in different regions, it has become a challenge for architects to employ Critical Regionalism in a digital form. To enable the progression of Digital Regionalism there needs to be an increase in awareness within software companies, practices and clients regarding why and how Digital Regionalism can be more relevant and accessible. Digital Regionalism 46.


"Genius Loci" (Norberg-Schulz 1976) should manifest itself within design to create a resonance with nature, reality and the topography of a place where it is desired or required, for example, building regulations. Contemporary, high-tech software can evaluate a place scientifically yet only human beings can truly experience a place, is it possible to unite the two harmoniously with current technology? This author has argued it is desirable, possible and to be encouraged.

Digital Regionalism 47.


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Cover Images - Top left going clock-wise 1 - http://i.istockimg.com/file_thumbview_approve/11367072/2/ stock-illustration-11367072-chinese-pattern-seamless.jpg - 10/02/2013 2 - http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/japanese%20pattern 10/02/2013 3 - http://us.123rf.com/400wm/400/400/krishnasomya/krishnas omya1210/krishnasomya121000005/15904361-indian-pat tern--detailed-and-easily-editable.jpg - 10/02/2013 4 - http://s2.favim.com/orig/34/aztec-aztec-pattern-black-blue -colorful-Favim.com-273240.jpg - 10/02/2013 5 - http://www.aspexdesign.co.uk/rangoli/rangoli3.gif 10/02/2013 6 - http://aboriginal-art-kangaroo.coloringpagezz.com/images/ indigenous-gallery-1.jpg - 10/02/2013 7 - http://farm1.staticflickr.com/220/492386301_66e9a76e93_z. jpg - 10/02/2013 8 - http://image.shutterstock.com/display_pic_with_ logo/540934/540934,1317429674,8/stock-vector-tradi tional-japanese-seamless-patterns-with-geometric-and-na ture-themes-85806211.jpg - 10/02/2013 9 - http://s2.favim.com/orig/34/aztec-aztec-pattern-black-bluecolorful-Favim.com-273240.jpg - 10/02/2013 10 - http://lokkomotion.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/africanfrac tal.jpg - 10/02/2013


Image Bibliography Fig 1 - http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/i/tim/2012/11/13/13-

AP767945034358_1_620x402.jpg - 05/12/12

- http://www.westafricadiscovery.co.uk/guinea-bis sau-mali--senegal-cultural-festival-holiday.html - 05/12/12 - http://www.jnto.go.jp/tourism/en/images/f019.jpg - 05/12/12 Fig 2 - http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c1/ Dubai_night_skyline.jpg - 29/11/2012 Fig 3 - http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mbpmymbnV91r1hn 0uo1_1280.jpg - 30/11/2012 Fig 4 - http://www.flickr.com/photos/acmace/4695470276/- 05/12/12 Fig 5 - http://www.architecturalimaging.com/images/013-2-432. jpg - 05/12/12 Fig 6 - http://www.designboom.com/architecture/kengo-ku ma-associates-yusuhara-wooden-bridge-museum/ 21/11/2012 Fig 7 - http://www.som.com/node/589?overlay=true - 05/12/12

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Fig 8 - http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_0iuZB9WJe0o/S9CX5ROFbxI/ AAAAAAAACDk/ie4Pq6zbN3Q/s640/sand+dune.jpg - 05/12/12 Fig 9 - http://images.ted.com/images/ted/132181_389x292.jpg - 05/12/12 Fig 10 - http://www.popsci.com/files/imagecache/article_im age_large/articles/sandsculptor.jpg - 05/12/12 Fig 11 - http://desertmonster.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/111. jpg - 05/12/12 Fig 12 - http://technoccult.zippykidcdn.com/wp-content/up loads/2009/12/dune2.jpg - 05/12/12 Fig 13 - http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2009/04/15/arts/ design/20090415-smithsonian-slideshow_4.html - 21/11/2012 Fig 14 - http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2009/04/15/arts/ design/20090415-smithsonian-slideshow_2.html 21/11/2012 Fig 15 - http://www.planet-mag.com/2011/home/adam-sher rett/african-architecture-slideshow/ - 05/12/12 Fig 16 - http://www.planet-mag.com/2011/home/adam-sher rett/african-architecture-slideshow/ - 05/12/12 Fig 17 - http://assets.flavorwire.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Within-Reach-Install299F28.jpg - 23/01/2013

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Fig 18 - http://venicebiennale.britishcouncil.org/media/5/chris_ ofili_within_reach_2003_installation_shot_t.jpg - 23/01/2013 Fig 19 - http://www.africansuccess.org/docs/image/89.jpg - 23/01/2013 Fig 20 - http://fengtongyan.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/2460_ q2.jpg - 23/01/2013 Fig 21 - http://userwww.sfsu.edu/art511_j/emerging2003.f/trey master/trey.proj1.f/SpiralLounge.htm - 23/01/2013 Fig 22 - http://csdt.rpi.edu/african/african_fractals/ba-ila.jpg - 23/01/2013 Fig 23 - http://funnelme.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/mush room-valley.jpg - 23/01/2013 Fig 24 - http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_oIa9uH7EPfM/SpGSeUOej6I/ AAAAAAAABNw/zfPlogEwMxw/s400/Section2.jpg - 23/01/2013 Fig 25 - http://dprbcn.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/kur1.jp g?w=600&h=364 - 23/01/2013 Fig 26 - http://www.gimmii.nl/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Pic ture-351.png - 23/01/2013 Fig 27 - http://www.toyo-ito.co.jp/WWW/Project_De script/1980-/1980-p_07/1-800.jpg - 23/01/2013 Fig 28 - http://openbuildings.com/buildings/asakusa-cul ture-tourist-information-center-profile-44017/me dia?group=image#!buildings-media/8 - 23/01/2013

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Fig 29 - http://www.creativehomex.com/wp-content/up loads/2010/09/Belle-Vue-Residences-03.jpg - 23/01/2013 Fig 30 - http://www.artnet.com/Magazine/features/itoi/Images/ itoi11-20-1.jpg - 23/01/2013 Fig 31 - http://static.perrotin.com/oeuvre/photo/Mariko_Mori/ mariko-mori-15651_1.jpg - 23/01/2013 Fig 32 - http://blog.buzzbuzzhome.com/wp-content/up loads/2012/10/XishuangbanNa-Residence-Tokamarch-Ar chitects-lead.jpg - 23/01/2012 Fig 33 - http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-OAiS8qqdaf8/UGtxLz6SW5I/ AAAAAAAAGUA/9ns_GUR_6hM/s1600/Picture+21.png - 23/01/2013 Fig 34 - http://www.etawau.com/Geography/KualaLumpur/KLCC/ PetronasTowers/PetronasTowersDrawing.jpg - 32/01/2013 Fig 35 - http://www.yangsquare.com/petronas-tower-in-detail/ - 21/11/2012 Fig 36 - http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_coILCAwJ1tg/SmwsgpnZYkI/ AAAAAAAAEdg/xEV702ubH8M/s1600/petronasTowers.jpg - 23/01/2013 Fig 38 - http://www.indiantravelchannel.com/lotus-temple-new- delhis-bahai-house-of-worship.html - 23/01/2013 Fig 39 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Interior_of_Lotus_tem ple.jpg - 23/01/2013

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Fig 40 - http://beta.dubaicity.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/ Burj-Khalifa-SSS.png - 23/01/2013 Fig 41 - http://onebigphoto.com/uploads/2012/09/view-from-the- burj-khalifa-skyscraper.jpg - 23/01/2013 Fig 42 - http://www.meva.de/cz/referenzen/entries/2009_05_ vae_dubai_burj-dubai.php?listLink=1 - 23/01/2013 Fig 43 - http://blog.miragestudio7.com/is-burj-dubai-world-tall est-skyscrapper/976/ - 23/01/2013 Fig 44 - http://www.turkeytravelresource.com/pub/article_imag es/istanbul1.jpg - 23/01/2013 Fig 45 - http://www.archdaily.com/293861/national-muse um-of-afghanistan-line-and-space/ - 23/01/2013 Fig 46 - http://www.archdaily.com/293861/national-muse um-of-afghanistan-line-and-space/ - 23/01/2013 Fig 47 - http://www.archdaily.com/293861/national-muse um-of-afghanistan-line-and-space/ - 23/01/2013 Fig 48 - http://www.architecture.rmit.edu.au/Projects/Images/ health/remote.jpg - 09/02/2013 Fig 49 - http://www.deutscherandhackett.com/sites/all/themes/ dh/images/artworks/large/91244.jpg - 09/02/2013 Fig 50 - http://www.colourfultrips.com/photos/Aerial_shot_-_ Canberra_ACT.jpg - 09/02/2013 Fig 51 - http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/71/Na tional_museum_of_australia_entrance.jpg - 09/02/2013

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Fig 52 - http://adbr001cdn.archdaily.net/wp-content/uploa ds/2012/04/1334625858_1321836927_ecomercado_pal hano_05.jpg - 09/02/2013 Fig 53 - http://kienviet.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/23282 1321835998-main-image-1000x747-500x250.jpg 09/02/2013 Fig 54 - http://raddblog.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/1256218116 fosc-07-constr-636x900.jpg?w=720 - 09/02/2013 Fig 55 - http://ad009cdnb.archdaily.net/wp-content/up loads/2009/10/1256217898-fosc-03-528x385.jpg - 09/02/2013 Fig 56 - http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/74/ Kunsthaus_Graz.JPG - 10/02/2013 Fig 57 - http://www.graztourismus.at/cms/bilder/63804/80/0/0/ c2895096/Kunsthaus_Nacht_Werner%20Krug_5.jp g?H=518 - 10/02/2013 Fig 58 - http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4137/4913111903_5e488156 85_o.jpg - 10/02/2013 Fig 59 - http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/audio/ video/2012/12/6/1354790057033/Cloud-free-night-time- vie-015.jpg - 21/01/2013 Fig 60 - http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-uWV1JSzza4U/TtxrOPmqICI/ AAAAAAAAJWc/_CBFY28Kfrc/s1600/123d+catch.gif - 21/01/2013

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Digital Regioanlism