vrijdag 1 mei 2009

City pixels full of love

...To wander through the city , I chose to fly. I strapped my videocamera to 25 helium balloons and let it fly high in the city sky...

... When I was 8, I pretended i was sick for a week so that my father would take me to his office and I could play on the computer a game of SimCity...

.. Yesterday, I googled-map where you live. I ' m sorry. I had no reason. I was just curious if you like gardening...

I have always been fascinated by top views of complex systems. Their parts exposed to the viewer ready to be studied. From imaginative flights over the city with peter pan, to computer games and google maps, I' m fascinated by the possibility to view all as it is. For the assignment of liefde in de staad, i decided to follow this line of work and study the city. The city of Amsterdam.

But..What is the city?
A microcosmos bursting with life!
A cell colony that reached its population limit and has to find new ways to stay alive and co-exist.
Units here, units there, transit and efficiency in performance. A dense resseau of a multiplicity of systems that operate in various 24 hour rhytmes , 7 days a week, month in , month out.

Talking about the city as a system or a microcosmos we have to examine the entities that concist the system, in other words the elements that create the city.

For the city of Amsterdam I made 8 categories (image bellow) of entities:
residential zones, commercial and industrial zones, transportation, segregation and division as manifested into maps (invisible zones), cultural activities and free time amusement facilities, population ratios, animals in the city and vegetative life.

In a city simulation computer game, that I use as inspiration, these elements and they way they connect, support, interact with each other defines how successfull the city will be. Random events may occur but the basic layout of these elements stays more or less the same.
In real life, it seems that these elements also play an important role to the success of a city plan. Restauration projects and new developments will always take place but the main blueprint of a city area seems very difficult to change.

Mapping down these elements on a map and recombining the maps from all the elements offers a satisfactory understanding of the city scape of Amsterdam. This method is similar to the toggling between maps that is traditionally done with a computer game.
But while in the computer game, one can plan the city and follow up with building in the exact same pattern of his planning, in real life a multitude of physical obstacles predefine to a certain extend the way a city will be built and the plans have to comply.
In the case of the city of Amsterdam though, one can say that the city building followed the city planning rather than the natural limitations.
This is my inspiration for the liefde in de staad project.

For this project i would like to simulate the computer city simulation game and create new rules and methods for building up in the city of Amsterdam.

My personal wish for the city of Amsterdam is :
  • more flora
  • more fauna
In Amsterdam one can find more than 10.000 species of plants and animals some of which protected.

There are 10.000 species of plants and animals in the gemeent of Amsterdam some of which rare and protected.
(300 endangered species of plants, 30 different species of mamals and 143 species of birds)
Do you know where to find them?There is a map with their location and an "ecologische Atlas" with a lot of information over the different species.

The rarest of plants are to be found on the brickworks at the canals.
The rarest of the animals find refugee in the high trees in the dense 19th century parks of the city.
The city seems to be bursting from life and yet noone really knows !

My first though would be to find a way to reveal that secret world. In the Artis zoo, there is a good example of a glass tank with an imitation of the canals wildlife. Yet, i think that the place for it should be in town, where the actual eco system exists.

Would framing and registering the flora on the canals be an option? That would create a living archieve of the city's flora and fauna. A sort of museum within the city. The value of such a plan would be that it confronts you on a day to day basis. Its like opening the flora and fauna map and glancing at it on your way to work.

On a kind of similar way, the german shepherd that craves for outdoors space, decided to showcase himself on the window...

Which lead me to my next idea..

What if the "framing the flora and fauna in the city pixels" is not enough. What if the people deserve something new and fresh they can interact with?

There have been some projects in the aim of introducing more green, or finding new ways to play with animals in the city.

My idea would be to create a unit. Compact and self contained.
This unit would work in a similar way to a pixel garden element used for the city simulation game.

Just like a miniature greenhouse. Only in real size...

What i find appealing in this, is that you can build it independantly to the city planning. It is sort of a guerilla city planning element.

With the possibility of multiple elements connecting, a neighbourhood could create a larger unit and host animals as well a plants.

System: (from latinsystēma, in turn from greek σύστημα) is a set of interacting or interdependent entities, real or abstract, forming an integrated whole

Map: a collection of elements marked down and organised on a page

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