Tag Archives: urban space

Swiss population density versus that of cities

The Swiss population has grown more or less steadily over the last decades:

With a current growth of about 1%, the Federal Statistics Office has forecast that Switzerland should have welcomed the 8 millionth inhabitant at some point this summer (jeez, I remember learning at school that Switzerland has 6.5 mio. inhabitants – you can check above where that puts me on the graph).

Now, Switzerland as a country is relatively heterogeneous, topographically speaking, with the Alps in the south. So it would be hard to spread out built-up areas evenly:

Yet, as an experiment I have taken data about some well-known, diverse, international cities and have computed the area that would be needed to house the entire Swiss population of 8 millions (give or take) at the cities’ population densities. Lo and behold, how compact, in fact, Switzerland could be (if we only wanted hard enough;  or click here for a pdf in A3 format or here for a bigger graphic:

Switzerland as a City State?“: How big an area would be needed to house the population of Switzerland, at population densities of various cities around the world (click to view high-resolution image)

Eric Fischer: Mapmaker, artist and programmer

The Atlantic Cities has a nice portrait of Eric Fischer: Mapmaker, artist, or programmer?. If you have been following information visualization and geovisualization news online over the recent years, I bet you have come across Fischer’s work. A few examples:

See something or say something: In this piece Fischer has overlaid georeferenced tweets (blue) and georeferenced Flickr pictures (orange). White areas have been posted to both Twitter and Flickr.

Locals and tourists: In this piece Fischer has coloured georeferenced Flickr images depending on if they were taken by tourists (red) or locals (blue). Pictures whose author’s origin was ambiguous are coloured yellow.

Race and ethnicity: Map of racial and ethnic divisions in Chicago, based on US Census 2010 data. Each dot represents 25 residents, red dots represent white people, blue dots represent black people, green represents Asian, orange Hispanic and yellow other origing.

“Ultimately, almost everything I have been making tries to take the dim, distant glimpse of the real world that we can see through data and magnify some aspect of it in an attempt to understand something about the structure of cities.”

“When the maps succeed, I think it is when they can confirm something that the viewer already knows about their neighborhood or their city, and then broaden that knowledge a little by showing how some other places that the viewer doesn’t know so well are similar or different.”
– Eric Fischer

What I like most about Fischer’s projects is that they are often crowdsourced (from Flickr or Twitter), data-heavy and employ often, not always, quite simple analysis or visualization approaches, but to great effect. In the end it’s all about the ideas behind the visualizations and Fischer doesn’t seem to be short on those.

Eric Fischer, formerly programmer at Google, is currently artist-in-residence at a San Francisco museum, where he will hopefully continue to produce interesting maps and visualizations. It’s probably indeed safe to respond to the Atlantic Cities article’s title that Fischer is all: mapmaker and artist and programmer.

Time-lapse movie of shipping up to New York

Another New York find: If the evolution of the NYC skyline and street grid interested you, you might also fall for this time-lapse movie by H. Caesar of his arrival in NYC by ship (click on “vimeo” in below player to watch the video at bigger size):

A nice idea, to shoot time-lapse from a moving yet quite stable plat-form.

(via digitalurban)

Evolution of NYC

Interesting for history/urbanism/New York buffs:

The evolution of the New York skyline

Evolution of New York skyline


The evolution of the New York street grid (review of a book):

The Commissioner’s Plan of 1811, the map and surveying scheme that set the blocks at 200 by 800 feet all the way up the length of the island, was an audacious gamble on growth. From 1790 to 1810, the population of New York had tripled, and the commissioners predicted that by 1860, New York would have almost the same population as Paris, then home to half a million people. (They were wrong, of course — New York would top nearly 800,000 by then.)

(via Swissmiss)


Esri buys Procedural

Hot from the press: Esri announces the acquisition of Procedural. The Switzerland-based company specialises in procedurally (i.e., rule-based) constructed 3D city models and is known, for example, for its reconstruction of ancient Rome. Procedural’s approach, embodied in its software CityEngine, allows for very fast modelling of urban scenes.

Esri’s move will considerably strengthen its stand in the 3D realm and maybe we will at some point see BIM (Building Information Modelling) by Esri? Spatial Sustain points out correctly that Esri hasn’t usually grown by acquisitions, but steadily by its own activities. Before that background, Esri’s move into 3D via Procedural seems rather outstanding and meaningful!

Head past the break for some rather captivating examples of Procedural’s products. Continue reading

Urban Earth: Photo-mapping urban spaces

A Geography enthusiast at The Geography Collective (image by The Geography Collective)

The Urban Earth project by The Geography Collective aims at representing humanity’s habitat by walking across some of earth’s biggest urban areas. The motivation is critical of media and their portrayal of our living environments:

The media distorts the way we see our world(s) with stereotypical images highlighting the most extremes of places. Urban Earth aims to expose what our cities really look like away from the bias and spin of commercial agendas.

(This reminds me a bit of the distorted body image in the media and, for example, Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty. For an ever-astounding short film [1:15 mins] click here. End of short side-track.)

The Rules

The recipe of Urban Earth is very simple: Walk across a city taking a photograph every 8 steps (roughly) and put them together sequentially into a movie. Photographs are always taken looking forward, without focusing on specific landmarks or ‘nice’ parts of the cityscape. The thing about an Urban Earth walk is that it tries to find normality within each city:

Geography is more important than many people think. A random route across a city may expose many things, but an Urban Earth walk is special because it attempts to reveal what a city is like for the people who live in it. Urban Earth is not about following the tourist trail or tracking down the most extreme places… it is about finding normality.

Continue reading