Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Foursquare - Location Based Gaming


Gaming at large scale with the city as the play field has gathered pace with its community adapting new tools and technologies in the social networking domain. The likes of Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare are offering platforms additional gameplay ideas can extend upon.

In the past year or so a number of such a add ons to the Foursquare location based social networking platform have been developed.

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Image taken from worldoffourcraft.com / At sign up choose your home team.

World of Fourcraft is a New York based game that uses a NYC as a battle ground for borough teams to battle the grounds and fight over ownerships for territories. It is based on Foursquare check-ins and with each check-in territory can be gained.

The players sign up via a Foursquare and choose the borough they want to play for. After that each check-in counts towards the boroughs count of check-ins in a particular area. The area belongs to the team with the most check-ins.

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Image taken from worldoffourcraft.com / The battle map of World of Fourcraft NYC. The different colours indicate the borough ownerships.

You can always check the battle map to keep up to date on how the grounds are won and lost. Its a bit like the strategy game Risk where territories can be won in battle. On this one it would be great to see a timeLapse on how the game board has developed over the past few month. Check out more on Mashable.

Oust.me is a platform to transform your places and check-ins into territories and defend them against invaders. The platform is run by a small team based somewhere in the Slovenian region and draws location data from Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places.



Oust.me user Matija wrote a Short Guide how to build territory in 4 easy steps. You will need your mobile phone with your favorite check-in service: Foursquare, Gowalla or Facebook Places, a pair of walking shoes and some time.

Check your neighborhood in Oust.me (if there is already any territory)
Be sure that distances fits into 2km area between two locations
Start walking (use sports-tracker app for measuring distance)
Check-in into the locations on your way - or create new interesting ones
Voila - you have a territory in Oust.me

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Image by Matija taken from Oust.me blog / Creating a territory on Oust.me using Foursquare check-ins in four easy steps.

In this manner I created my territory around Gatwick Airport with some m20 checkpoints and a total area of 1.08 km2. Of course there are a handfull of people invading near, but Oust.me keeps me up to date on their moves and send me a message if they are invading my territory. I am not quite sure how exactly the shapes are created and sometimes they can have some detached extensions (like my Basel, Davidsboden territory), but generally the area looks pretty good.

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Image by urbanTick / My territory of 1.08 km2 around Gatwick Airport created with about 20 check-in points and multiple check-ins.

Less of a game but a useful tool for gaming is the crosspost service. It offers to transfer your check-ins from one service to another. If you check-in to a location on Foursquare it will automatically be transfered to your Facebook Places and you are checked in there too. For the games platform this can be quite useful as you get double check-ins.

Enjoy the games, happy gaming. Also check out the earlier post on gaming, as forexample using London Oyster card data on Chromorama, Map Attack and Street Grab or Urban Defender and more.

Monday, 19 December 2011

What Makes the night?


The daily cycles of day and night influence the experience in a number of ways. The main visual information is, beside the amount of light, the quality of the light. There are very different temperatures from morning to midday to evening.

Generally from the light quality the time of day can be guessed quite accurately. These shades are of course heavily influenced by weather and time of year. This can lead to a confusion with heavy dark clouds pulling up in the afternoon and it can give a sense that time has jumped and it might at two o'clock like it is half five. On the other hand if spent a few hours indoors, in a dark corner of your house, and as you step out into the sunlight the quality of light can be confusing in terms of time of day.

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Image taken from philipperahm.com / A rendering of the interior, above the night zone in blue and below the day zone in yellow.

The light is identified by scientists as an important factor to set the body clock or circadian rhythm. This has been tested in experiments where participants spent weeks in caves with no daylight. The human body is able to maintain the cycles without the daylight reference for a long period. It does not depend on it as essential, but it provides a guidance to keep on track.

With this background, the architect Philippe Rahm has proposed a café that mimics the light quality of different times of the day. In essence Split Times Cafe proposes a 24 hour coffee place where you can have day or night at any time of day. The different areas recreate daytime light and night time light quality.

split time café
Image taken from philipperahm.com / A rendering showing the cafe in context.

It is possible to dring the morning coffee in the night light condition area and have a beer in the bright daylight zone. The day light zone is showing the characteristic yellow light indicating bright sunshine. The night zone on the other hand is fulled with blue tone light referencing the blue dark moon light. The cafe also offers a third place that is proposed in clear glass and therefore being filled with the actual quality of the light at that very moment.

The light quality is achieved through the use of coloured glass. Yellow glass for the day and blue glass for the night. To support the atmosphere the furniture is distinct in the are the architects make use of the furniture. The day zone is organised horizontally where as the night zone's furniture is oriented vertically.

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Image taken from philipperahm.com / The plan showing the three different zones.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Book - Architecture and Violence


Space for place defined by practice, where people live and breath is always contested. It is not just, it is to be made, remodelled and reshaped constantly through negotiation. The result is a mix of interests, desires and statements.

Aspects of violence as part of the social structure becomes an element of the process. With its imposing and shattering presence violence marks the territory, cutting lines and burning patches. It eats into the construction of place imposing its own kingdoms of subcultures.

Architecture as a form of spacial geometrification with functional provisions can be a driving ground for violence. Often architecture is the stage for violence, but it can also be a driving force in that it can be violent in itself. Violence might be part of architecture since it is always set in a cultural context which in turn is based on the same negotiation process.

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Image taken from enroute / B 018, a bunker or bomb shelter night club at the fringe of the city of Beirut in the Quarantine district. The project is discussed in the book by Elie Haddad on page 93.

Bechir Kenzari has edited a new book Architecture and Violence with a selection of texts by a range of architectural theorists. It is published by ACTAR with contributions by Libero Andreotti , Annette Fierro , Elie Haddad , Dorita Hannah , Sarah Treadwell , Andrew Herscher , Bechir Kenzari , Donald Kunze , Nadir Lahiji , William B. Millard.

From the back of the book: From propaganda exhibitions to suburban residential complexes, from slaughterhouses to jails, from illegal settlements to governmental palaces, from separation walls to concentration camps, and finally, from actual, material environments to image-architecture performing through flickering media screens, not only is architecture able to sanction and legitimize violence, but also to give it a spatial ground to thrive.

Have a preview here at issuu:



Kenzari, B. ed., 2011. Architecture and Violence, Barcelona: Actar.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Fires of the World


NASA satellites are observing the wild fires around the world. From satellite images the occurrence and spreading of bush fires are clearly visible. In a summary of the fires over the last ten years

The visualisations show fire observations made by the MODerate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS, instruments onboard NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites. The data on fires is combined with satellite views of vegetation and snow cover to show how fires relate to seasonal changes. This is really the interesting part. The visualisation beautifully shows the change over a long time period and the movements in the landscape based on the shift, growth and burning of nature. Even though bush fires are devastating disasters the visualisation shows ohw they integrate with the other elements.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Hic Sunt Dracones - Mapping, what ever


For a lecture and some tutorials I visited the University of Lichtenstein today talking to a group of master students at the Institute of Architecture and Planning. The input lecture did focus on the topic of mapping and the implementation of mapping as a practice but also as a methodologies. The input is closely linked to the term projects the students are working on, the mapping of the country of Lichtenstein under specific aspects.

Lichtenstein is tiny with only some 35,000 inhabitants. The small territory constantly confronts one with the questions and expressions of distinction in order to sustain itself. A constant feature is the fact that one sees beyond the country borders. Where ever you are the reference of the other side is always present rendering this here and there relationship very complex.

Flora Danica
Image taken from akpool / An old postcard from Vaduz showing the Castel on the upper left hand side.

The task for the students is to develop representations in the form of maps that summarise their individual investigations. It all starts with a walk, a stroll and unfolds between the steps tripping stones and barriers. In thesis sense quite a dynamic and explorative setting.

The input on mapping under the title Hic Sunt Dracones - Mapping, what ever. the lecture developed a rather descriptive methodology of mapping in the context of mapping as a tool, mapping as a practice and mapping as a visualisation. The focus is on topics and characteristics rather than context and specific project.



The developed approaches range from memory mapping and interview as a tool of spatial investigation to more obvious topics of distance, sound and land use and more narrative driven proposals developed around a fictional roman soldiers who lived 2000 years ago by uncovering buried layers of remains and the refolding of processes or the discover of a 49th orchid species based on environmental conditions.

Chamorchis alpina Malaxis monophyllos Flora Danica
Image taken from ebitki.com / Three of the more rare orchid species that can be found in Lichtenstein: , Chamorchis Alpina, Malaxis Monophyllos and Flora Danica .

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Book - Studies in Temporal Urbanism


Its here, the urbanTick book is out, published by Springer. It brings together the edited work from this blog as well as external experts introducing specific topics. Its a big collection of thoughts on temporal aspects of the city, including projects, research and theory.

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Image by Springer / Book cover, Studies in Temporal Urbanism: The urbanTick Experiment.

This book is very much about what the name urbanTick literally says, about the ticking of the urban, the urban as we experience it everyday on the bus, in the park or between buildings. It is about the big orchestrated mass migration of commuters, the seasonal blossoms of the trees along the walkway and the frequency of the stamping rubbish-eater-trucks. It is also, not to forget, about climate, infrastructure, opening hours, term times, parking meters, time tables, growing shadows and moon light. But most of all it is about how all this is experienced by citizens on a daily basis and how they navigate within this complex structure of patterns. The content of this book is based on the content of the urbanTick blog. Blogging about this topic brought together a large collection of different aspects and thoughts. It is not at all a conclusive view, the opposite might be the case, it is an exploratory work in progress, while trying to capture as many facets of the topic as possible.

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Image by urbanTick / Book Studies in Temporal Urbanism: The urbanTick Experiment. Some example spreads. Editor Fabian Neuhaus, published by Springer.

The publication Studies in Temporal Urbanism: The urbanTick Experiment is structured in seven chapters with each being introduced by an invited contribution in the form of an essay. The chapters are: Cycle Study as Basis of Adaptive Urbanism (con Jeff Ho); urbanMachine; Memory: Collective vs. Individual Narratives (con Zahra Azizi); timeSpace; Body, Space and Maps (con Sandra Abegglen); bodySpace; Urban Narratives of Time Images, or the Drift of Alienation (con Ana McMillin); urbanNarrative; Mental Maps: The Expression of Memories and Meanings (con Matthew Dance); Location Information; From UrbanTick to UrbanDiary; UrbanDiary; Footprints, a Regeneration Process (con Luis Suárez); Review. This is wrapped up with a Bibliography and a complete Index covering all chapters.

On the back cover Professor Mike Batty introduces the book in his words with:
That cities pulse and resonate like the human body is an old idea which until recently has remained just that. But in this pioneering book, Fabian Neuhaus shows how we can begin to make sense of the myriad of rhythms and processes that make up the city, by combining new technologies available on smart phones with our intuition expressed in mental maps to generate a new understanding of how cities function. This book stands in the vanguard of new work about temporal cycles that define the city and it is mandatory reading for all who profess to understand how cities work and for everyone who wants to discover how we, ourselves, make the city work. Michael Batty, Bartlett Professor of Planning, CASA, University College London

Its great to finally have it available as a printed version. A lot of thanks go to the contributors for the essays, but also to all the people who granted publication rights for the many illustrations in this publication. Of course thanks also go to a number of people who helped in one way or another with input for the blog or support for the publication.

The publication is available as printed version, as e-book or also accessible on the Springer website directly as pdf.


Studies in Temporal Urbanism Cover

Neuhaus, F. ed., 2011. Studies in Temporal Urbanism: The urbanTick Experiment 1st ed., London: Springer.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Stay on Top - Little Printer


Paper is dead and everything is digital these days. Not quite, it was the big promise twenty years ago, but we are still nostalgic about the use of paper. Having something physical in the context of all this fast changing content and information battle.

Into the mists of the storm comes a promis of a little gadget that potentially bridges the gap and links the digital online world with the physicality of your paper. Its tiny and could soon be your best friend. Berg presents the Little Printer.

Berg Little Printer
Image taken from Engadget / This little box is your new best friend and keeps you uptodate with the lastest buzz. Little Printer by Berg.

Its a small printer, printing receipt size role paper with anything you feed it via a mobile phone or a Wi-Fi connection, via Wired. Berg has started to implement some news sources as well as enabled RSS feeds. It is even possible to send messages to other printers directly.

Berg Little Printer News Summary
Image taken from Berg / You can print a summary of the latest news are for example from Foursquare.

Berg have earlier started to look into the topic of information feeds and ways to integrate the feeds poeple consume on their small mobile phone screens with oder media. There were ideas integrating billboards, train table messaging boards, train tickets and so on. See a summary HERE. With this new gadget that is announced to be available in 2012 Berg introduce a whole family of possible gadgets summarised as the Berg-Cloud. This is good marketing!