The Smart City – Week 5

” A really ‘Smart City’ would probably build zones of some kind for us: the maximum-ineffeciency anti-smart bohemias.” – Bruce Sterling

In this lecture we looked into the ‘Smart City’ and how technology is becoming the forefront of the designs and developments to the new and future city plans.

The Internet has massively assisted  the pace of technology increase since it was created in 1969. At present day, across the world now more and more people and companies rely on the internet to be able to sustain a living. It is often a misconception that the internet is this untouchable and nonphysical object that ‘just’ works but in fact has a large physical presence which is needed to connect countries (online) all around the world.

Internet Map

This map shows the different internet routes that have physical cables travelling around the world, connecting the world together. It is interesting to see where there is more dense Internet activity seems to relate with wealthy and powerful countries showing their demand on needing it for their infrastructure. You can see clearly how well both the East and West coasts of North America are linked up compared to Africa which has a much larger population.

24 hour Internet activity

This is another graph which shows the internet usage used across the world over a 24 hour period. As you can see it it relates the other graph showing Europe and North America having the highest demand followed by Eastern Asia and South america. With the same point as before, Africa has nowhere near the same amount even though having a much larger population.

Another topic discussed was how the top electronic companies across the world are now planning and developing their own ‘Smart City’ plans. These companies Include IBM, Siemens and Cisco.

The demand of sustainable living as our world population grows has seen these large companies take their own approach at creating sustainable environments by creating their own cities. Songdo, South Korea, created by Cisco is a new ‘Smart City’ designed to be an International Business District that is eco-friendly with the use of high technology to become a sustainable city for the future. The project cost $35 billion to create.

Another new ‘Smart City’ is Masdar City, created by Masdar and located just out of the City Abu Dhabi it is designed to rely only on solar energy and other renewable energy resources. The city was designed by the British archietect firm Foster and Partners with the intention of becoming a hub for ‘Cleantech’ companies. Siemens have built one of their regional headquarters there. The ‘LEED Platinum’ building, which is the most energy efficient building in Abu Dhabi. It was designed with the intentions of using 45 percent less energy and 50 percent less water than typical office buildings.

Siemens (Middle East) HQ, Abu Dhabi

All these future designs and proposals seem to look like the ideal solution to our to date issues in cities but that isn’t necessarily the case. These cities are taking on the personality of our current cities of a throw-away society and instead of coming up with designs and ideas to better our current cities, new ones are being built. I see this as avoiding the problem and not finding a solution but an alternative, and the alternative needs to be challenged to see if it is better.

Adam Greenfield, an American writer and urbanist challenged these companies by exploring their statements of what a ‘Smart City’ is and what their new smart cities aim to offer.

IBM’s statement to what they think a Smart City is:

“Technology that synchronises and analyses efforts among sectors and agencies as they happen, giving decision makers consolidated information that helps them anticipate problems [and] manage growth and development in a sustainable way that minimises disruptions and helps increase prosperity for everyone.”

Greenfield deciphers the text and shows how these large companies like IBM, Siemens and Cisco all focus on collecting ‘BIG DATA’ to then form and improve well being, but to who? These companies seem to say this should assist sectors, agencies and decision makers etc. This to me sounds like giving this power to the elite.

In the reading What’s so smart about the Smart Citizen? – Mark Shepard & Antonina Simeti the same topic is covered showing that these ‘Smart Cities’ are designed ‘Top-down and centralising’ which doesn’t have the citizens at the forefront. I personally find this a scary idea because as a society we rely on technology more and more. Giving the control and power to a higher authority to all means the opportunity to being controlled becomes more of an option.

Alternative ideas have also been approached. Having ‘Smart Cities’ that are ‘Bottom-up’ relying on the citizens role to input and communicate to adapt things for the better. Using technology to participate in reporting problems and conditions to let others be aware.


A good example of this is the London underground update services. It is a live feed where TFL and citizens report in issues so that it can be publicly communicated to let others aware of the different lines status. This then gives the opportunity for others to adapt their route of commuting if needed to still be able to be on time.


The Crystal Exhibition – Week 4

‘70% of the worlds population to live in cities by 2050’

When approaching ‘The Crystal’ you can see the unique structure pointing out from a far distance as it lays settled in between the modern area of Royal Victoria and the Emirates cable car Airline. My first impression was that this modern structure was very aesthetically pleasing. The building consisted of lots of angles, points and i shinny metallic window pains: resembling some sort of ‘crystal’ form to state the obvious.

the crystal

Throughout the exhibition there is a large amount of information and statistics about the current world we live in and what the near future has in stall. The first thing to experience when entering the space was the small theatre space which had a showreel of the many components cities rely on to functional and progress. This was key in the introduction of the exhibition which showed the issues wrong with our current infrastructure and attitude towards sustainable living. This was backed up with interactive digital displays showing many statistics about life expectancy and population growth which could be compared to other areas around the world.

By 2100 average life expectancy and population:

  • South America – 84 years – 440 Million people
  • North America – 88 years – 523 Million people
  • Europe – 87 years – 674 Million people
  • Africa – 77 years – 3.5 Billion people
  • Asia – 84 years – 4.7 Billion people

I found this statistic really interesting and just with these simple figures you are able to decipher differences and comparisons, which starts to show patterns when relating them back to the cities we have studied.

The second stage of the exhibition is showing the attempts countries, companies and organisations are already making to change our current state in global warming and improving. With another interactive digital screen there was the ‘Green City Index’ which was split into 8 categories to see how much of an effort cities were making to improve across the world. It enabled the opportunity to compare different cities showing a simple graph to see where one excelled over the other.

The greenest city at this current time in Europe is Copenhagen, which aims to be carbon neutral by 2025 and with the stats shown was excelling on all 8 categories with small waste produce and energy usage. When compared to London, Copenhagen was coming out a lot better but one key feature missing within these statistics was the population and demand on the cities themselves. All these stats don’t take into consideration the other elements like climate and financial status which can severely differ the outcomes.

Siemens, who created the crystal also took the opportunity to show of their own creations to improve our current situation.


The Siemens Smart Chopper is made from new and recycled materials and is fully electric and can do 60 miles on a single charge. I understood Siemens motive with the vehicle and to showcase it at the exhibition but didn’t see it as a positive alternative but a move forward in thinking to improve.

The last part of the exhibition featured information about ‘The Crystal’ itself which is ‘One of the World’s Most Sustainable Buildings’. Architect firm Wilkinson Eyre designed the building and came up with the use of solar panels and ground source heat pumps to come up with its own energy.  The building is electronically controlled to adapt to different weather patterns and uses water drainage systems to collect its own water.

The Mega City – Week 3

The Mega City:  a Metropolitan area with a total population in excess of 10 million people.

That is today’s criteria of what defines a mega city. In the 1980’s it was 5 million people and in the 90’s, 8 million people. This bench mark has rapidly increased within a short period of time showing our quick demand of the city’s growth all around the world.

With in this lecture we looked at the different mega cities evolving around the world and how they were split into different categories:

  • Immature Mega cities – uncontrolled, slums, quick growth.
  • Consolidating Mega Cities – Steady growth, less slums, more controlled.
  • Established Mega Cities – Slow growth, mainly urban, no slums.

One Mega city we focused on and looked into detail was Lagos, Nigeria. This Mega city has a unique character of its own which fell into the category of the ‘Immature Mega City’ and is one of the most rapidly growing cities. The city is made up of lots of slums and busy highway roads.

The dutch architect Rem Koolhaas who took a real fascination to the city said ‘Lagos inverts every essential characteristic of the so-called modern city but yet it is still…a city; and one that works….it is a developed, extreme, paradigmatic case-study of a city at the forefront of globalizing modernity’. (2001).

From my understanding of what we learnt, i think Koolhaas is talking about the cities own personality. The visual characteristics of the city look dysfunctional and messy not relating to the criteria commonly known to a city but it has its own unique way of working and becoming functional. One example of this is the Oshodi rail-road intersection.

Oshodi Railroad intersection

This intersection in 2008 was at its peak of population when it was the heart of the cities trading and was one of the largest informal markets in the world. It shows the dysfunction clearly but was depended on by so many people on a daily basis of making a living through unplanned, informal transactions and trades, giving it a sense of purpose and functionality. The downside was that it had high crime rates and poor sanitation and it needed to be adapted to make it better.

In 2009 Lagos State Ministry of Environment took control and brought in a special task force to clean it up, get rid of any illegal activity or structures. It was been replaced with a new indoor structure built by the government as a replacement with 64 cctv cameras in operation. This was one of the first major steps taken in the city to change and turn it round into a more habitable place for the local people.

oshodi 2008oshodi 2015

Over the last 10 years lagos has taken undergo a huge adaption to the city with new buildings, structures and land being built. From further research it showed that lagos has taken a more European and Western approach into turning the city into a modern organisation. I personally found myself in a split mind over if it was a good or bad thing that was happening to Lagos. I felt the original character we found within the city was being taken over by this new industry which is conveyed as making it better, but i questioned who for?

The local people who have lived there over the last century are the people who created the place, with their own culture and personality reflecting. This ‘New’ lagos isn’t for them and hasn’t been created by them which makes me feel that the place is somewhat getting taken over and taken away.

The visionary City – Week 2

For the second week of our Urban Futures project we learnt about the different cities that artists, architects, designers and theorists had all come up with as a virtual creations oppose to the current cities that surround them on the earth. Many of these designs and ideas swayed away from reality and gave more of a theoretical purpose to help communicate a deeper message of the negatives and positives of our current cities: illustrating a change.

garden city diagram

When looking at the various designs and ideas put across for alternative cities i found it very interesting to see the differences in them depending on the period they were created. A key example of this was the ‘Garden City’ by Ebenezer Howard 1898. Howard had a utopian idea for a new city scape which involved lots of greenery and clean suburban homes combining the city and country into one.

This was influenced by the philanthropist John Ruskin who’s idea of a perfect city would be one with “…no festering and wretched suburb anywhere, but clean and busy street within and open country without, with a belt of beautiful garden and orchard round the walls so that from any part of the city perfectly fresh air and grass  and sight of far horizon might be reachable in a few minutes’ walk.” (1868)

Within in this ideology for a new type of city there were flaws as the plans had a lot of dependants on using motor vehicles for transport to get around the city. When this idea was created the motor vehicle was a new and interesting technology and hadn’t yet been explored enough to understand its bad pollution and environmental Impact which contradicts the original motive of the ‘Garden City’.

Another movement emerged in the 1920’s the “Functional City’ mainly expressed by the group CIAM (Congress Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne). This was a group made up of modernist architects which focused on a more industrial utopian city which was designed to improve efficiency to create and grow. One member of the group Le Corbusier had a strong imaginative idea of renovating the layout of the city of paris (Plan Voisin [1925]). This was more of an alternative reality oppose to utopian as the group saw it as a possible solution to the current cities’ layout and to improve.

Plan Voisin

I personally think that Le Corbusier’s vision is far to strong in creating an alternative reality as only certain aspects have been take into consideration. Paris to this day is renowned for its beautiful architecture and scenery and with Le Corbusier’s vision this would be lost. His vision consists of repetition and clean geometric structures which i think would be getting rid of the uniqueness of paris.

Although i don’t agree with the idea of the renovation of paris I do like the modernist style approach Le Corbusier has taken which has also influenced other cities in the design of their layouts such as Barcelona and New York, Manhattan Island which follow the approach of the grid lock system.

What is a city? – Urban Futures

For the contextual and Theoretical studies of my course this year at LCC I am currently looking at the subject of Urban Futures.

Within the first lecture we learnt and discussed what characteristics cities have oppose to other destinations such as towns, villages etc.

We also looked at graphs and statistics of different cities around the world identify interesting differences and comparisons between. I found this really interesting as it furthered the groups discussion of what some of these stats may be.

The lecture was not about a specific definition of what is a city? but was about seeing what each others ideas where. We also looked at different theorists who had made their own definitions of what cities were and how they swayed in difference.

Max Weber – The City (1911)

  • Defined the city as the existence of commerce and trade.
  • Also, some form of fortification against attack, civic participation.
  • For Weber, the city is above all a ‘political entity’.

The task we were set was to take a photograph in the coming week which we thought expressed our view of what a city is.


This is the photo I took in Waterloo station in the late afternoon. It is a peak time of rush hour for mainly the daily commuters who come to the city of London to work and are on their return journey back to their homes.

I think a city is a destination which has been made gradually over time a place for functionality of a working society. It is a place which offers opportunity in varies ways that draws humans through excitement and the option to move towards something and better themselves.

We also learnt about the 4 C’s that are discussed in Urban theory.

  • CULTURE (systems of belief, built environment, contents/means of communication, and cultural production, popular culture).
  • CONSUMPTION (of goods and services, the nature of exchange and means of production).
  • CONFLICT (visible/physical violence, less visible struggle for resources, social class, interest and status groups).
  • COMMUNITY (all aspects of social life, from size of populations and distribution, demographic make-up and change over time).

When discussing what a city was in the lecture, one of the questions was what intrigued us all to come to London? We are all studying here which is one answer but something else must have been a motive for the decision to move which I thought deeper into. To my knowledge we have all moved to London to progress, a means of learning more and gaining a better life for ourselves. It may be only temporarily, but we see the city as a place to do so. A city offers more because there is more.

Andrea Mason’s lecture – Language as Material: Materiality and Method

In this lecture we explored further from Mason’s previous lecture ‘Holding Text: (Un)creative Writing in the Digital Age’. This lecture analysed how language and text can be turned into a different means of material and theme encouraging playfulness.

We looked at examples of different forms and movements promoting creative writing. The main aspect seem to revolve around expressional poetry. Concrete poetry forming around the 1950’s was a common format used to express the layout through the context attempting to emphasise the narrative creating a strong bound for the audience to understand.

panda poem

This is a piece of concrete poetry i found on Jason Lin’s WordPress account. I thought this was a great example of introducing the creative layout approach to emphasise the text. It is easy to see the context through the over all image and helps bring a structure and meaning to the piece of writing.

We also looked into the ‘Oulipo’ movement which was a means of constraining the poetry to write without the letter ‘E’ throughout. Putting a constraint on the text created a task for the artist to become more creative and think further into how they would write the text to get the same viewpoint across.

We were then asked to take part in a task to produce our own creative text taking influence from other examples we had learnt. We were encouraged to try our own approach. I decided to use a digital element of online language translation.

uncreative writing 1

I took edits from a current text and then typed that phrase into a translation software. I then took the new translation and converted it again into another language. I did this a few times before then translating it back to the original language. My experiment was to see if words were lost in translation and with a sense of the game ‘Chinese Whispers’ give me a misinterpreted meaning. From my results i found words and phrases to become shortened and extended creating a new context.

Harriet Edward’s lecture – LEFT BRAIN, RIGHT BRAIN, RIGHT SHAME

Within this lecture we discussed further from the previous lecture we had from Edwards ‘Memory & Lines’  and analysing the functions of the brains two hemispheres. In a reading from ‘The Master and His Emissary’ by Iain McGilchrist, 2009. we found out that in the 19th century it was believed that the two hemispheres were severely different and were identified with using different skills from our brains in different situations. The left side was identified for being more logic and using literal skills, and the right side was associated with being the more creative and visual side of the brain.

It later emerged that this ideology was incorrect and in fact the two hemispheres process the same things but in different ways. Although they cooperate there seemed to be a power struggle as McGilchrist explained therefore resulting in the possibility of determining why people may be more creative than others, and the same applies with literal and logical aspects. I personally saw this a very possibly hypothesis and helped prove the aspect of the humans individuality.

I found these two advertising posters from Mercedes Benz which i thought were interesting and fitted in with the topic. As you can see they have the assumption that the right brain is the creative hemisphere and communicate it through these two poster designs.

left brain mercedes 2 left brain mercedes 1

We later discussed another hypothesis from McGilchrist’s reading that we live in a world that in society the left hemisphere takes a dominative role. We were asked to discuss and give our own opinions on this matter. There was a disagreement throughout the group on how much a designers role can influence this to individuals. I personally think through the thought process that you can directly influence individuals using certain psychological tactics. I did find this topic interesting and with more time i would like to research the psychological element further finding out other hypothesis expanding my understanding of how the mind works.

Adriana Eysler’s lecture – First Things First

In Adriana’s lecture we discussed the ‘First Things First’ manifesto, learning how it has been involved over the recent history of the Graphic Design profession. The Manifesto introduced ethics and values that should be followed and considered when taking the responsibility of a designer.

first things first 1964The original edition was published in 1964 by Ken Garland and was backed by over 400 graphic designers and artists. It was created to expose what had become part of the design industry. The corporate elite businesses used the design industry to advertise and promote their products forgetting the earlier ethics of the Bauhaus era ‘form after function’ and ‘building for the future for everyone’ (not just the elite).

This formed a major influence in other activist groups to then be created later. This created other more specific campaign groups targeting particular corporate companies and exposing them to the public. This was seen as disturbing the corporate group’s image, which they relied so much on.

Activist group Adbuster took influence to then later create their own updated version in 1999 of the original ‘First Things First’ manifesto to update issues in the present day that designers where campaigning against.

Adbuster are a well known activist group that have been renowned for taking on the most famous corporate identities and exposing them for their wrong doing of using design for their false image. The tactics they use are known as culture jamming.

BP logo

Greenpeace took influence and created their attempt boycotting the image of the company ‘Petroleum industry company’ formally known as ‘British Petroleum’ or most popularly ‘BP’. Greenpeace created their own Spoof Ads of the ‘BP’ logo showing what it really stands for. BP’s logo of a green and yellow flower graphic gives the impression of a innocent eco-friendly company which in fact is the opposite of what their company actually stands for, which is the sale of petrol for cars. Greenpeace then created a graphic of the original logo and edited it to show black liquid (representing oil) dripping from it, giving a clear message of what the real intentions of the company are.


Dene October’s Lecture – After a Fashion

In the ‘After a Fashion’ lecture i learnt the means of physiological techniques used in advertising, particularly fashion, in which has played a crucial element for decades.

Within the fashion industry they use the medium of a catalogue to present and advertise their product. We learnt how this is linked with the designers role of creating the layout to be used as a form of communication to address to the desired audience the importance.

The aim of this was to make the audience idolise and crave the product. Because they weren’t yet aware of what was to be idolised it left the designer the opportunity to choose for them and manipulate what they should want. By creating hierarchy it automatically forced the reader to view the page presented in a certain order.

ʺNothing beats leafing through the pages of the latest thriller – especially when it’s a posh clothing catalogue.ʺ – Lauren Laverne

This backs up the idea of the companies creating a product for which people would crave and look forward to.

One of the first companies to introduce this was Kay’s catalogues which displayed clothes for both males and females. They grew over the 20th century and were the main influence for many other fashion catalogues throughout that period and to the present day. 1920's dungarees  noels pants

A simple structure still follows today with having various items being shown whilst having numbers or letters located next to them and with descriptions and prices listed either along side or below. This allows the audience to easily understand what price and text belonged to each product.

Having different categories by grouping similar products together also is used to help make it easier to navigate. This generally comes in the format of a small title or subheading with possibly a colour to associate it with.

Catalogues then became either seasonal or monthly editions promoting their new clothing keeping at the top of the game with competing companies and brands.

In the modern fashion world there has been a large movement towards the cataloguing due to the internet becoming a primary resource. Magazine catalogues are still widely available but the online cataloguing has taken over a huge amount of marketing becoming even easier to navigate threw and purchase products.

This is an example of the clothing company Urban Industry’s online website. The selection of options to choose from to find the desired object has become a common very easy to use tool prevent long searches for a desired product.

urban industry