I’ve just returned from the 5-day CitySwitch Architectural workshop in Newcastle organized by UTS lecturer Joanna Jakovich. The participants were asked to choose between four teams, each looking at architectural interventions of one kind or another. As well as team participation, I directed some energy into creating an online live map of the event, as an extension of my current research.


Renew Newcastle

This particular CitySwitch was conducted in collaboration with Renew Newcastle, which works to temporarily populate empty shopspace with galleries, teahouses, etc. to aid revitalization of the area. They work with a fascinating legal arrangement, non-threatening for property owners, which sets up a 30-day rolling “license to use”. The temporary occupier pays $20/week to cover insurance and minor upkeep. It is a framework that could possibly translate to spaces in Sydney.


The Teams

Team A: “Coal Tea Room” (run by Kiyoshi Kametani and Toshinori Esumi)

Created a Japanese-style Tea room in an old McDonald’s building, and incorporated a tea ceremony into the presentation.


Team B: Marking the City (run by Jun Inokuma and Kei Kaiho)

Attempting to find and emphasis a property of the city. This was the time I worked with, and we looked at the strong wind from the ocean. We went through a number of prototypes, looking at creating sound, but eventually chose the spinners. I had my doubts at times, but the final work was elegant and worked very well to transform the space.


Team C: Urban Performance (run by Takao Nishizawa, Satoru Yamashiro and Jin Hidaka)

This team was split in two to create a project proposal video. One half worked on the ideas, and the other on the visualization. The final video looked very fresh and used a visual technique of speeding up hand-drawing of overlays. The video should be up on the the Team site shortly.


Team D: Sticky Streets (run by UTS students)

The UTS team proposed using tape art and a freeze mob to alter the street (using Melbourne artist Buff Diss and SydneyFreezeMob as their references sources). Personally, I was underwhelmed by their proposal, which pointed towards copying rather than seeking a point-of-departure. As this was the most publicly visible project, it would have been nice to see something more inspiring.



I had originally intended to create a real-time mapping system that would be visually appealing and dynamic enough to be projected on the closing day. The idea was that as visitors visited, photo-documented, and tweeted about the interventions, the map would update with their contributions. This plan was changed when it seemed unlikely that enough people would be using the keyword taxonomy, or even any of these services. The design changed to accommodate a time-line, with the use geared more towards archival and replay of the entire event. The final map will be able to grow as documentary photos are posted, and social networking chatter continues in the afterglow. I initially seeded the map via the CitySwitch Newcastle Flickr photostream, geocoding and tagging images as they were uploaded.



Proto-type map using Google Maps, with test video captured on the second day; the first video worked out very well, but it proved impossible to interview other venue owners in the short timeframe.



The current version of the map is served from a service called Dipity, which collects sources together in a number of time-space depended visualizations; including a timeline, a flipbook, and a map. This seemed perfect, however some experimentation the speed of update and limitations of Flickr source sizes means it requires more work. The Dipity Help forum contains unanswered questions older than a year: disappointingly abandoned. I will experiment with creating RSS feeds in Yahoo Pipes, that allow more than the 200 image limit.



I had a chance to do some documentation and 3D reconstruction of the interventions, and the results are initially a few PhotoSynths. I will add more as I process them, and may work on the pointclouds themselves when I get a chance. Note: to view the PhotoSynths, you will need the Silverlight browser plugin (available from the Photosynth pages).

Queens Wharf Tower