Archive

Cartography

Here’s a first run at a poster I made trying to simplify Germany in order to memorize the provinces and the capital cities. I learned a while ago that maps are more understandable when corners and lines (or complex shapes) are minimized, so I used only 90 and 45 degree angles and simplified shapes and fonts. The map is part of a 1-poster-a-day project I’m trying to do over the next 100 days.

Poster 160528-01

Advertisements

Header

Cities are built on networks of streets that move us through urban space, while also providing spaces for us to shop, hang out and observe. In today’s world however, the history and nature of the street is closely tied to the automobile.

While automobiles have allowed us to quickly travel long distances and easily transport heavy materials, there have still been negative effects resulting from their use. Cities around the world must accommodate pollution and smog caused from fossil fuel use in automobiles. As well, cars produce high amounts of noise which reduce the quality of life for people living near high-traffic roads and highways. Cities mitigate these negative effects with speed limits and other forms of control.

With this in mind, I wanted to see how the Berlin was organized based on its speed limits. I drew the following map of Berlin’s street network:

Article 1 - Speed Map-01

Unlike many North American cities that I’m more used to, Berlin has an irregular, quasi-radial street network with a half-completed ring road – all of which are remnants of Berlin’s tumultuous history.

For example, many larger avenues were based on the 17th century region’s urban structure, where Berlin was a small walled city surrounded by a constellation of small villages. As the city grew beyond its walls, these well-used roads were solidified as thoroughfares. During the Cold War and in the divided city, West Berlin invested in building heavy automobile infrastructure, including wide highways, tunnels, bridges and overpasses to build a ‘car-friendly’ city, with the hopes that the ring would be completed after reunification. In today’s Berlin, we see more and more suburban developments growing, requiring slow roads or even private local roads and the rise of semi-gated communities.

These histories are reflected in the speeds of the roads that one sees in the map. Large mid-speed avenues grow out from the old city center in all directions. Former West Berlin’s spine is demarcated in dark grey – a fast set of autobahns that slice through the city. On the fringes are wide blocks with extremely slow-speed roads reflected in a light grey – evidence of the suburban nature of these spaces.

In today’s Berlin, I found it somehow striking to see the concessions needed for certain roads. The map of Berlin seems like a constant struggle between speed and quiet living. Many neighbourhoods throughout the city are strongly hierarchical in their street structure: moving from fast arterial streets step-wise to slow residential streets (many featuring traffic calming mechanisms like speed bumps and cobblestones). Furthermore, the highways trace through areas that are strongly industrial or otherwise follow already-present rights of ways (ex. train lines, canals, etc.). The complex decisions associated with trying to accommodate cars in order to build a car-friendly city are ever-present, and become more interesting the deeper I dig.

As I continue to learn about this city that I call home now, I am drawn to the roads and the thoroughfares – maybe because of my close connection to them when I lived in Toronto.

(see a high quality map here: PDF, 9.8MB)

Edit – added a creative commons licence to the maps, as well as my name! 

160209 - Mid Canada Corridor Header
(As part of me learning German, I’m trying to practice writing. If you found this interesting, like it, and if you found any errors, feel free to comment!)

Der mid-Canada corridor ist eine sehr große Landschaft, zwischen den größten Städten Kanadas und der nördlichen Baumgrenze (the Boreal Treeline). Innerhalb dieser Region findet man viele natürliche Ressourcen rund um die kleinen Dörfer, gewaltigen Urwälder, Schützgebiete und Reservate.

160209 - Mid Canada Corridor

Aufgrund des Ressourcenreichtums, wurden 1971 Pläne für eine nachhaltige Regionalentwicklung vorgestellt. Es gab Entwicklungs- und Planungsprobleme, zum Beispiel: Wie könnte Entwicklung in dieser Region vorankommen, sodass Arbeiterdörfer nicht abhängig von der Bergbau- und Erdölindustrien sein werden? Schon damals kannte die kanadische Regierung das Problem der ‘Mining Ghost Towns’.

Die kanadische Regierung hatte aber nur wenig Interesse an den Pläne und sie gerieten fast in Vergessenheit. Hin und wieder werden die Pläne diskutiert wenn es um die Zukunft dieser nördlichen, ressourcenreichen Landschaft geht. So gibt es viele Probleme in einer Stadt wie Fort McMurray in Alberta, die Arbeiterhauptstadt der Oil-Sands-Industrie. Trotz des höchsten Einkommensdurchschnitts in Kanada sind die Bewohnern immer noch unzufrieden und nicht daran interresiert, dort zu bleiben. Jetzt gibt es auch wirtschaftliche Probleme. Wegen des niedrigen Ölpreises hat Alberta im letzten Jahr über 100.000 Arbeitsplätze verloren.

Ähnliche Herausforderungen existieren in Deutschland mit den kleinen Siedlungen und Dörfern, die für die Arbeiter gebaut wurden. Bekannte Beispiele sind unter anderem das Arbetierparadies in Halle-Neustadt, Teile von Leipzig und Dresden und die Städte des Ruhrgebietes. Im Ruhrgebiet wird aktuell diskutiert, wie die Städte attraktive gemacht werden können, damit mehr Menschen ins Ruhrgebiet ziehen. Nach mehereren Phasen starken ökonomischen Strukturwandels, verursacht durch züruckgegangene Nachfrage für Stahl und Kohl, sowie Deindustrialisierung, musste die Region etwas tun, um sich über Wasser zu halten. Hier war die Internationale Bauausstellung Emscher Park (IBA) gut für die Region. Sie brachte viele neue Ideen, neue Gebäude, Fahradwege, Parks und Einrichtungen, sowie Kulturindustrie der Industriekultur.

Obwohl die IBA einen gute Einfluss auf das Ruhrgebiet hatte, ist dieses Model nicht übertragbar auf den mid-Canada corridor – diese ist vielleicht zu unterschiedlich. Der Corridor ist immer noch wenig entwickelt, und viel größer als das Ruhrgebiet.

Riesige, wenig entwickelte Regionen sind typisch für Kanada. Viele neue Städte entstanden im Urwald oder auf der Tundra mit keiner oder weniger Verbindungen zur anderen Städten. Es ist ein modernes Problem. Wir haben die Werkzeuge, über unbewohntes Land zu fliegen. Wir studieren, entdecken und nutzen es für unsere ökonomischen Ideale. In vielerlei Hinsicht ist die Idee des mid-Canada corridors auch ein Stück Modernismus. Zusätzlich gibt es aktuelle Probleme auf Reservaten, wo Menschen wohnen mit schlechten Wassersystemen, ohne Strom und unter prekären Wohnsituationen. Der mid-Canada corridor hat noch viele Schwerigkeiten zwischen heute und dem schönen urbanischen Zukunftstraum.

Literaturehinweise:

Van Nostrand, J. (2014, September). If We Build It, They Will Stay. Walrus Magazine. http://thewalrus.ca/if-we-build-it-they-will-stay/

Grescoe, T. (2013, November). Big Mac. Walrus Magazine. http://thewalrus.ca/big-mac/

Hussain, Y. (2015, December). Oil industry to lose 100,000 jobs by the end of 2015 as policy uncertainties, low prices decimate sector. Financial Post. http://business.financialpost.com/news/energy/oil-industry-to-lose-100000-jobs-by-the-end-of-2015-as-policy-uncertainties-low-prices-decimate-sector?__lsa=063f-22d7

151024 - Reading Header

This was really a tough book to read partially because it was quite philosophical, and, well, it was also in German! Still, it’s amazing what you can accomplish with some patience. I thought I’d write some of of my thoughts on this book in German as well.

In diesem Buch geht es um vier großen Themen bezüglich Raums: Kultur, Medium, Politik, und Wissen. Es ist eine sehr gute Einleitung von vielen sehr wichtigen (Raum)theoretiker wie Harvey, Castells, Lynch, und viele mehr.

Eigentlich war es sehr schwer zu lesen, außer den Texten, die ich schon gelesen hatte. Zu der Grammatik war die Satzstruktur in vielen diesen Kapiteln sehr kompliziert. Die Autoren dieser Kapitel nutzen die passiv Formen der Verben und vielen sehr lange Sätze. Der übersetzte Texte klingt auch inrgendwie seltsam.

While there were many insights that the book provided, in a more general sense it was amazing to see how many different disciplines these theories extend into, as well as showing how the question of the understanding of space has remained a hot topic for centuries. Theories range from the 16th century to present day, showing that there is still a need for many disciplines to understand how space works or how it relates to different disciplines.

Es ist schwer zu sagen, was eigentlich meine Meinung über dieses Buch ist. Es gibt vielen kleinen Kapitel, jeden mit einem neuen Rahmen, durch den man Raum sehen könnten. Statt einer Rezension, liste ich die Bücher und Autoren, die ich jetzt noch lesen will!:

Kognaitive Karten und Verhalten im Raum – Roger M. Downs/David Stea (1973)
Die Straße und die unendliche Ferne – Johannes Linschoten (1954)
Nicht-Orte – Marc Augé (1991)
Raum der Ströme – Manuel Castells (1996)
Eigenschaften der Soundscape – R. Murray Schafer (1977)
Orientalisierung des Orients – Edward Said (1978)

151024 - Reading

151110 - Stadtklang

A map I just came across today is this one – the Stadtklang map by the German Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung and Wissenschaft im Dialog. The map is part of the German government’s science year programming, this year’s theme being The City of the Future (Zukunftsstadt).

The map is an interesting way of trying to get people to submit and collect the sounds around them. Part of the map is actually an upload section where you provide the sound recordings you’ve made. What I found interesting was the flow of the site – in order to hear the sounds, you follow a link on the front page. This takes you to a list, where you can immediately input your postal code (PLZ) to hear sounds nearby. Within these audio entries, there is a smaller link saying, “see on map (Auf Karte ansehen).” I think this is great because the flow matches people’s general tendency with maps to hone in on their home first and foremost. Once a person has their bearings, they can decide to let their eyes wander and explore the map. I am often a fan of these situations where the map ‘knows its place’, so to speak.

Link (to map): https://www.wissenschaftsjahr-zukunftsstadt.de/stadtklang/mitmachen/mein/sound/23360.html

BVG

A perennial problem in Berlin, for some reason, is figuring out where the city’s transit zones start and end. A seemingly simple question, but somehow so difficult to find answers to. The city’s transit operator, the BVG, has the map locked up in strange locations on the website, making it difficult to find the map.

I thought I’d do a service and post files here (as of May 2015):

ABC BVG Berlin Transit Map Karte (PDF 244 KB)
ABC BVG Berlin Transit Map Karte (PNG  940 KB)

with a bunch of common searches: ABC Berlin, ABC map Berlin, ABC Karte Berlin, ABC BVG, BVG Karte Berlin, BVG map Berlin, Transit map Berlin, plan BVG,

Accessibility doesn’t only mean putting information online – it has to be easy and quick to access too! Check out the bvg’s website here:
http://www.bvg.de/

Since moving to Berlin, I’ve been reflecting more and more on my ‘hometown’ Toronto. For all its foibles, it really is a great place. However, as I’ve left most of my Toronto books back in Canada, and while my Berlin book collection is continuously growing, I’ve sought the advice of friends and colleagues on what their favourite Toronto-related books are.

Here is the growing list:

  • In the Skin of a Lion – Michael Ondaatje
  • Historical Atlas of Toronto – Derek Hayes
  • Fugitive Pieces – Anne Michaels
  • What We All Long For – Dionne Brand
  • The Edible Woman – Margaret Atwood 
  • Smart Address – Alec Keefer
  • uTOpia – edited by Jason McBride and Alana Wilcox
  • GreenTOpia – edited by Alana Wilcox, Christina Palassio and Jonny Dovercourt
  • Local Motion – edited by Dave Meslin, Christina Palassio and Alana Wilcox
  • HTO – edited by Christina Palassio and Wayne Reeves
  • Stroll – Shawn Micallef and Marlena Zuber
  • Everyday Law on the Street – Mariana Valverde 
  • Making Toronto Modern: Architecture and Design, 1895-1975 – Christopher Armstrong
  • The Ward – edited by John Lorinc, Michael McClelland, Ellen Scheinberg and Tatum Taylor
  • Concrete Toronto – Edited by Michael McClelland and Graeme Stewart 
  • Full Frontal T.O. – Patrick Cummins and Shawn Micallef
  • Toronto Modern – various 
  • No Mean City – Eric Arthur 
  • Shape of the City – John Sewell
  • Shape of the Suburbs – John Sewell 
  • Unbuilt Toronto I and II – Mark Osbaldeston
  • Some Great Idea – Edward Keenan
  • Accidental City – Robert Fulford
  • Toronto’s Ravines and Urban Forests – Jason Ramsay-Brown 
  • Toronto: Part 1 – Elaine Benwell
  • Toronto: Biography of a City – Allan Levine
  • Toronto: Transformations in a City and Its Region – Edward Relph
  • The New Urban Agenda: The Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area – Bill Freeman
  • The Toronto Carrying Place: Rediscovering Toronto’s most Ancient Trail – Glenn Turner
  • Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story – Robyn Doolittle 
  • How We Changed Toronto – John Sewell 
  • Toronto, The Belfast of Canada – William J. Smith
  • The Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore – Ron Brown
  • Lost Breweries of Toronto – Jordan St. John
  • Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood
  • Fifth Business – Roberson Davies
  • The Incomparable Atuk – Mordecai Richler
  • How Should a Person Be? – Sheila Heti
  • Lie With Me – Tamara Faith Berger 
  • Paying for It – Chester Brown 
  • Headhunter – Timothy Findley
  • Lost Between Houses – David Gilmour
  • All My Puny Sorrows – Miriam Toews
  • Madame Proust and the Kosher Kitchen – Kate Taylor 
  • King Leary – Paul Quarrington 
  • How Happy to Be – Katrina Onstad 
  • Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel 
  • Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town – Cory Doctorow
  • The Chaos – Nalo Hopkinson
  • Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto – Shawn Micallef
  • Army of Lovers: A Community History of Will Munro, the Artist, Activist, Impresario and Civic Hero Who Brought Together Toronto’s Club Kids, Art Fags, Hardcore Boys, Drag Queens, Rock ’n’ Roll Queers, Needlework Obsessives, Limpwristed Nellies, Stone Butches, New Wave Freaks, Unabashed Perverts, Proud Prudes and Beautiful Dreamers – Sarah Liss 

Thanks to people for the suggestions/ideas on Facebook and Twitter – if you have more suggestions, tweet me or send me an email at sheraz24@gmail.com. I hope to grow the list and perhaps start an international Toronto book club – to be decided!