Category Archives: Public talk

Forwards to the past! Technology’s greatest triumph

WhatdidItellyou-HQ

Rick

There are so many reasons why what you have set out below is interesting. But I think I can take a different position to the one that you are developing.

My approach will be that, far from taking the human mind, behaviours, and cultural norms beyond where they have ever been before, the true value of modern technology, analytics and predictive capacity will be for cities and civilisations to recover the unbelievable sophistication that they once had. Continue reading

Anna Rose presents “CityScans” at the Harvard GSD

View and download Anna Rose’s presentation

On Tuesday, 5th April, Space Syntax director Anna Rose gave a talk at the Harvard GSD on the use of Space Syntax in planning and urban design. She began by describing Berlin’s spatial transformation during the 20th century, showing graphically how the connected heart of pre-war Berlin was then divided by the Wall and later reconnected with Reunification.

Anna then offered some thoughts on how the Potsdamerplatz development, including the Kulturforum, could be spatially replanned to better connect these important cultural and economic assets into the movement network of the wider city.

Finally, she showed how Space Syntax techniques work at the smaller scale of urban design, with the case of Old Market Square in Nottingham, where the design concept emerged from a spatial analysis of the site and its urban setting.
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Tuesday, 5th April 2011 at 1pm
Harvard Graduate School of Design, Portico Room 121
48 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Anna Rose is a German architect and urban planner and has led Space Syntax’s recent masterplanning work in Jeddah, Munich and Londonderry. She teaches with Colin Fournier in the MArch studio at the Bartlett, University College London.

Anna’s work is featured in the recent issue of Arch+.

She recently gave a presentation of the Berlin CityScans project at the Berlin Kulturforum.

Space Syntax & the future of urban planning software

Notes from a lecture given at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
23rd March 2011

View a summary of the presentation on YouTube

Opening comments

Good afternoon. I am delighted to have this opportunity to report on my progress as this year’s Lincoln Loeb Fellow. My brief today is in two parts: first, to describe my work as an architect and urban planner at the strategic consulting company, Space Syntax Limited; second, to say something about where I think my practice, and the field generally, is heading.

In doing so, I want to make special reference to new technologies and new methods of communication that have emerged in recent years.

A plan to transform an established business
“Space Syntax” is an evidence-based approach to planning and design, with a focus on the role of spatial networks in shaping patterns of social and economic transaction. First developed at University College London, it explains, scientifically, why the continuously connected city is a good thing and it exposes the risks that come from sprawl and disconnection. It has much to say about the benefits of density and the hazards of urban fragmentation. It gets us away from simplistic banners like “New Urbanism” or “Landscape Urbanism” by providing a detailed, forensic description of the city.

Space Syntax is best known in the UK but, over the last fifteen years, we have established a network of Space Syntax consulting companies to take the approach into a growing number of countries. Although not immune to the ebbs and flows of the market, we have a commercially successful operation.

Yet, in collaboration with UCL, we now plan to make it available at low or no cost, to as many people as are willing to take it up. More than that, we are about to open up the “source code” of the software to anyone who wants to get their hands on it. We are, in other words, about to publish the recipe for our secret sauce.

In my talk today I will argue that this can only be a good thing. Continue reading

Architecting the unexpected

“Serendipity”: it’s what cities have always provided but online environments only sometimes produce. Why “search” isn’t enough, hackers need to think like urbanists and the internet needs urban design.

It’s the start of a new semester at Harvard and there’s a real buzz about the place. I had breakfast with Nicco Mele and Chee Pearlman this morning and the Charles Hotel was a hive.

What a difference a day makes. Chee and I were in the same place yesterday and it was almost empty. On that occasion we were meeting Ethan Zuckerman who, like Nicco, lives much of his life and does most of his thinking online. He studies how people throughout the world use new media to share information and moods across cultures, languages and platforms.

Both meetings were in preparation for an upcoming seminar that the Loeb Fellows are hosting at the Graduate School of Design. Themed around “technology” this will be the first of a series of four events that aim to tackle big issues in planning and design, including food, extraction, waste and community activism. Continue reading

From landscapes of extraction to creative industries of organic matter & waste

​​Monday, 14th February 2011 at 6pm
Stubbins Room, Harvard Graduate School of Design, 48 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Participants
Pablo Rey, Basurama
Manolo Mansylla, Trashpatch
Robin Nagle, anthropologist of material culture (waste)
Scientist doing research in biomaterials (Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering/ Materials Research Science and Engineering Center – School of Engineering and Applied Sciences)

Moderator
Richard Forman
 
Abstract 
Technology has no limits. Science has no limits. Human creativity and imagination have no limits. The limits are imposed by matter. Raw materials are being extracted from the remotest of geographies and we are beginning to exhaust the last reservoirs of available minerals in order to perpetuate a production system based on disposability and the consumption of wholes, not parts; of large, not small; of new, not old; of multiple, not the one that is needed. In order to extract such minerals, we often deplete forests, along with the cultures that inhabit them, or contaminate river basins. Science and technology can produce brilliant responses to our environmental problems, but unless they take into account the source of the materials they consume, the counter landscapes of extraction, those of waste and slums (people get displaced as we render their land useless through monoculture or extraction), will continue to grow; setting off our good intentions to move towards a more sustainable future. Continue reading

Upcoming talk: “From highways to handshakes – taming roads for people”

Monday, 24th January at 6:00pm
Jimmy Mak’s, 221 NW Tenth Ave., Portland OR

A conversation with Tim Stonor of the renowned London-based planning firm Space Syntax

When it comes to transportation, planners use “science” for cars but more often “intuition” for pedestrians. Elaborate computer models have been developed to model traffic scenarios for vehicles, but when it comes to forecasting how people will move on two feet, it’s all observation and guesswork. In the 1990s, the London-based firm, Space Syntax, changed all of that. Mapping neighborhoods from a pedestrian eye-level and then applying relatively simple algorithms to model behavior, Space Syntax developed robust new computer predictions that led the way to successfully pedestrianizing such car-choked places as Trafalgar Square in London and Old Maket Square in Nottingham. Today, with 13 offices across the globe, the firm is leading the design and redesign of districts in cities as diverse as Jeddah and Beijing. Stonor will speak about the development of and the ever-expanding use of Space Syntax’s techniques and will offer thoughts on the relationship between the centre and the suburbs in Portland. Continue reading