On a recent late night internet video binge, I found some neat footage of late 1980s New York street scenes. The shoulder pads, of course, were comically large, but the most striking thing was that everyone was looking at each other, the street, the scenery (or wore a fixed blank "don't talk to me" death stare that's still in vogue). No one was texting, gaming, or otherwise absorbed in the vortex of a handheld electronic device. Designer and artist Ekene Ijeoma would like to bring the public back to that recent past using the very device that makes zombies of us all. Look Up is a participatory public art project, accessed through your smartphone, that asks New Yorkers to take their eyes up from their phones and out onto the street around them. Look Up from Ekene Ijeoma on Vimeo. Using NYC DOT Vision Zero data on crash injuries and fatalities, Look Up calculates an "energy score" for every intersection in the city. A higher score indicates that more crashes have occurred at the intersection, and the user, consequently, should put more of their energy back into the city. The app detects when you've approached an intersection using GPS and wi-fi data (if available), and becomes more agitated according to the energy score. At a recent demo, The Architect's Newspaper met up with Ijeoma to stroll the Lower East Side. As we approached Rivington and Essex streets, the Android phone Ijeoma had given me vibrated softly. On screen, an alert pinpointing my location popped up, along with two ocular orbs with flowing irises that glowed blue-green. The vibration did prompt me to look up: I made fleeting eye contact with a stranger, and noticed a small tattoo peeking about a woman's ankle sock. Right now, the app is only available for Android as a Live Wallpaper, an app that runs in the background so participants can use other apps concurrently. Users can set the app to activate at any intersection where there's data, at set intervals, or randomly. The settings can also be adjusted to accomodate the faster pace of a car or bike. The goal of the project is to "tear down digital walls" and foster engagement with fellow citizens, explains Ijeoma. Recently awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in Design/Urban Environments/Architecture for his humanistic treatment of data, Look Up advances the discussion around who has a right to public space. Ijeoma brought up the example of an app that allows San Franciscans to reserve local ballfields. What's lost when techies, for example, can "reserve" a public soccer field online while neighborhood kids organize their pick-up games on site? Face-to-face interaction, Ijeoma suggested, could go a long way towards resolving these disputes and making sure all parties have fair access to shared resources. Ijeoma emphasized that he sees Look Up as art first, app second. The project subverts the divide between digital and physical, he explained, by allowing users to be more present in physical space. Curious? Check out the video below to see Look Up in practice:
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iTunes, the description also notes how "'car/foot'" mode "provides a narrower but more detailed geologic map with detailed unit descriptions and metadata" compared to the wider strip of data found on plane mode. Now his app has found success, Loeffler says he wants to include an augmented reality aspect into the design. This would work in the same way night sky sky apps do (Google's Sky Map is a good example) just inverted, looking at the ground instead. One tip when using the app: make sure your phone has access to a power source when in use. The app is not a major battery drainer, but, for airplane mode, battery consumption is increased due to the use of GPS. So now, if you're dying to strike up conversation with the poor person sitting next to you, you can at least make a quip about how the desert you're flying over was once tainted with blood in the Crimean War or how that this forest was once home to Pterodactyl's . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BavywmbuHMFor the app's creator, flying provides the opportunity to see "planetary scale processes and the ways humans live around them." To locate areas of interest, the app cross-references the user's location with stored geologic maps from Macrostrat.org; fossil locations from Neotomadb.org and Paleobiodb.org as well as geo-referenced Wikipedia articles. Naturally, not all this information cannot all be stored at one time, so Flyover Country analyzes flight paths keyed into it. This allows it to cache (temporarily store) any relevant data that will be required, pointing out any significant locations based on where you are. Frequent journeys can be saved if necessary, for if you fall asleep on that outbound flight. Additionally, when not offline, the app factors in speed, location and direction of travel to predict what is coming up on your journey and notify you accordingly. Called "Navigation mode," this feature locks the screen to your position and orients the map using your phone's inbuilt accelerometer and compass. On
Technology is supposed to make design a more streamlined, efficient process. But as anyone who’s ever squinted at a tools palette of inscrutable icons can attest, it too often deters the creative process. To the rescue comes a smart selection of task-specific, nimble apps and programs. HI-MACS App LG Hausys Available for Apple and Android phones, this app’s clean design and linear sequencing makes it easy to explore. In just a few taps, users can find descriptions and specifications of the surfacing material—including water permeability, thermoformability, and heat resistance—as well as all the products and colors available. Brick It Pro Brick Development Association Brick It Pro is a reference guide for building professionals containing interactive brick tables, bond patterns, and joint profiles. This iOS app is particularly useful for anyone involved with designing, surveying, or constructing brickwork. PAC App Petersen Aluminum Corp. The PAC App is loaded with the entire library of PAC metal architectural products and technical information architects and roofing contractors need, such as literature, spec sheets, CAD drawings, testing documents, and BIM files. The high-definition app offers clear and simple visual navigation for quick reference, and all documents can be viewed, printed, or emailed. App updates are automatic. The app is ideal for field use because it does not require an Internet connection after installation. Rainbow Masonry Designer Holcim Since a brick or block façade is more than 20% mortar, today’s design decisions incorporate more than merely brick color. Customers and clients need to see the full gamut of masonry decisions for you to get the spec right the first time. Now there is a tool that illustrates your masonry vision and facilitates instant collaboration. The Rainbow Masonry Designer app allows you to choose brick colors, bonds, and 60 mortar colors. A complete palette is at your fingertips to explore, collaborate, and save your masonry selections before sending the specifications to your supplier for samples. Skylight Planner Velux To help clients understand and visualize residential skylights, this app lets users preview different sizes and configurations in either a model space or, with an uploaded photograph, in the homeowner’s existing house. Product information and an installer directory are also included. Total Protection Roofing System Owens Corning It takes more than just shingles to protect a home—it takes an integrated system of seven components and layers working together to help increase the performance of the roof—and to enhance the comfort and enjoyment of those who live beneath it. This app walks users through each layer, product by product, to help clients gain a better understanding of material and cost estimates.
So much to know, and so little time.... Here's a pocketful of design and construction apps that will put you in control of the facts on concrete calcs and lighting schemes to entry systems and steel data. Penetron App Penetron For Android and iOS mobile devices, this app offers numerous advantages for on-site work. It features instant access to product data sheets (for application instructions) and a solutions guide for a vast number of technical issues. Additional functions include a product overview, a technology summary, a QR scanner for Penetron codes, and a calculator to estimate product quantities needed for a job. You've Arrived Ellison Bronze This tablet app allows users to easily explore the scope of Ellison Bronze balanced entry systems. Tap-to-zoom photography and text, video playback, and interactive features give an inside view of the mechanics, intricate door assemblies, and design possibilities available from the manufacturer. VisionREZ 2015 for Revit ITW The latest version of this program allows builders to collaborate with the supply chain, convey accurate design intent to all vendors and trade partners, generate precise quantity takeoffs, and create construction docs directly from a live model. New features include a User Definable Content Ribbon Insertion Tool, an Automated Residential Roof Solver, and Editor and Roof Trim Insertions tools. Energi Advisor Lutron With just basic information (such as the number of fixtures and controls, and space dimensions), this app performs a lighting audit, and produces project proposals, bills of material, and projected Return on Investment. The app is automatically updated, ensuring the the retrofit solution created uses the latest Lutron product information and energy calculations, ensuring more accurate proposals featuring wireless Lutron light controls. I.D. Wood Double Dog Studios I.D. Wood allows a user to quickly browse more than 200 wood samples visually, by species name, or by common name for quick identification. Other searchable categories include application, durability, and sustainable status. Steel Shapes The Mobile Engineer Now with the latest AISC v14.1 library, this app gathers together decades of steel shapes—more than 18,000 entries, modern and historic—in a fast, easy-to-use format. Every structural shape property contained in the AISC database is illustrated, accompanied by geometrical and mechanical properties, design and detailing values, and more. Conversion between metric and imperial units is made with the tap of a button.
In the age of apps, we have seen basic human activities like eating, dating, shopping, and exercising be condensed into simple swipes and clicks. It’s a brave new world and one that has folded-in the complex process of financing, developing, and designing new projects. And in recent years, there has been a batch of new apps designed to help planners, architects, cities, and the general public create more livable cities. Here are a few of those apps that caught AN’s attention. StreetMix Imagine if you could redesign a city street in an instant—without the hassles of political approval, community input, or extensive planning. Sounds pretty nice, right? Well, an app called Streetmix lets you live that urbanist dream, at least in a two-dimensional, cartoony kind of way. In the Streetmix world, if you want a wider bike lane, you can go right ahead and build a wider bike lane. You want light-rail? All aboard. You want a wayfinding sign? Done. How about two wayfinding signs? They’re already in. It’s just that easy. Now, obviously, the app is not intended to be an actual data-driven planning tool. For starters, there are no implications if you, say, remove all driving lanes and mass transit options and replace them with trees and benches. And that’s the fun of it. Instead, Streetmix was designed as a user-friendly program that lets everyday citizens understand what's possible on a typical city street. Lou Huang, of Code For America, which is behind the app, told Next City that he hopes these people can then use this knowledge to better engage in their community's planning process. WideNoise and Stereopublic A neighborhood's lively mix of restaurants, bars, streets, and shops can be both its biggest draw and its most frustrating feature. All of that street-level action may signify a vibrant and livable slice of the city, but try living directly above it. Try getting some sleep with all of that constant chaos. For those who have to wear earplugs, and sleep alongside a white noise machine, there are two apps that may be able to help you out. The first is called WideNoise and it allows users to track noise pollution across an entire city. It’s part of a larger, open-source EU project called EveryAware which monitors all types of pollution. WideNoise is focused entirely on the noise side of things. “With WideNoise you can monitor the noise levels around you, everywhere you go,” explained the app's creators on its website. “You can also check the online map to see the average sound level of the area around you. Do you live in a ‘sleeping cat area’ or in a noisier ‘rock concert area’?” So WideNoise might not be a huge help to those currently living in a noisy area, but it could be a helpful tool when they try to escape it. A somewhat similar crowd-sourcing, noise-tracking app is the less-official-sounding Stereopublic. The app's creators describe it as "a participatory art project that asks you to navigate your city for quiet spaces, share them with your social networks, take audio and visual snapshots, experience audio tours and request original compositions made using your recordings.” OppSites and OpportunitySpaces Officially launching this fall is OppSites, an app that connects cities that want to develop with national investors who can make it happen. To do that, the platform allows cities to “promote their development priorities and share local knowledge” with interested investors. There is a free service that offers investors real-time market and civic updates on certain sites, but those willing to shell out a few dollars can get the premium level that provides visualizations of development opportunities. There is also a similar website with a similar name, OpportunitySpace, that offers a similar service: portals that visualize under-used or vacant sites that are all publicly-owned. The idea is roughly the same—connect developers, investors, and the public with information about cities, but the website is focused entirely on government properties that have seen better days. In June, the site’s cofounder and CEO, Alex Kapur, told CityLab that all the information they display is publicly available, it's just not publicly accessible.
Architecture and urban design apps are appearing so fast its hard to keep up with the latest new site to investigate city history and growth. But a new one—Archipelago Town-lines—is the result of a 3 year-long research on three key places: Berlin, Beirut, and Venice. It uses original photo galleries, video, and audio content and interactive data visualization features, as a guide for new urban geography, history, and lifestyle of these three very different cities. These places are then place holders for the analysis of contemporary urban trends, in order to propose a new possibility for growth. A second app second section puts forwards a new model for urban growth based on 9th century Venice and the figure of the archipelago whose archetype is to be found in a place built in the impossible like Venice, namely a place in which un-built areas have the same importance as built ones. The third section of the app features video interviews of prominent architects, urban planners, and academicians, specifically produced for it, that suggest imaginary path and different reading of the urban phenomenon stimulated by the app itself. Archipelago Town-lines has been released in English as an app for the iPad. In April, it will be available for Amazon Kindle Fire and all tablets operating on an Android platform. It's worth a download!
Two new apps are helping to change the relationship between architecture and technology, allowing architects and designers to sketch and trace and view augmented reality 3-D renderings right on their iPads. As its name suggests, the Trace app from the Morpholio Project allows users to draw—with a stylus or a finger—over digitized manilla-yellow tracing paper and sketch graphic concepts directly onto an iPad screen. Designers can add new layers of Trace, creating a timeline for the design process and allowing for easy sharing between colleagues. Once your design is polished and ready to present, another app, UrbaSee, can bring it to life through augmented reality. Available on iPads and smart phones, the software will be on display at the r'pure gallery in New York on October 25 as part of Archtober. The application turns mobile devices into viewing windows that reveals a digital 3-D scale model of a project when viewing the original plan through the screen, tethering the virtual image to the tabletop plan. By using georeferenced files and the device's GPS, UrbaSee can also display models on the intended construction location. After creating an account, users can upload and distribute their own digital models.
Steve Jobs would have been proud. So would Richard Neutra. The Neutra VDL House in Silver Lake now has its own iPad App. Developed by Sarah Lorenzen and David Hartwell, the app includes stunning new pictures of the iconic modernist house, tons of information about Neutra, an annotated historic timeline of the home, guided virtual tours, and information about the house's design, construction, and materiality. We especially love the 3d models, plans, and sections, which can be rotated on axis, giving you a new understanding of the house and providing some classic iPad fun.
Since Wednesday, an aluminum woman is joyfully resting in the grass of City Hall Park. Among her well-set figurative friends are a bronze giant, an octopus man, and a couple of luminous neon creatures. The new sculptures are part of The Public Art Fund's yearly exhibit in the park, an ongoing project for more than 30 years with the aim of making visitors experience art more directly. This year’s show, named Statuesque, brings together a group of six artists from four different nations. The ten works experiment with the sculptural tradition of the human figure, and are installed along the park's pathways and on lawns. “City Hall Park is really a great backdrop for this art,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at the opening. “The placement invites people to get up close and personal with these more contemporary figures and sculptures.” The featured artists are Huma Bhabha, Aaron Curry, Thomas Houseago, Matthew Monahan, Rebecca Warren, and Pawel Althamer. Never displayed together before, the pieces all tend towards abstraction over realism, and texture over refinement of finish––some exuberant, many robot-like and other almost gruesome. “It is unfiltered, it is memorable and it is immediate,” chief curator and director of The Public Art Fund Nicholas Baume concluded. New for this year is a free cellphone audio tour via an iPhone app.
Last fall, the Bloomberg administration launched NYC BigApps, a competition to design web and phone apps using a massive cache of city data. Dozens of developers entered, including the designer of this very blog, and we're to report that the mayor announced tonight that her team's Big Apple Ed came in third place overall. Granted a site all about school data may not be that useful to our readers—unless you've got kids in the city school system, of course—but the BigApps site is worth checking out because there are plenty of cool apps dealing with buildings, parks, and even one that lets you build a "walkability shed," determining how walkable various neighborhoods in the city are based on individual criteria. Other personal favorites include a landmarks app, a bike rack app, and one called BldgBeat. Any strike your fancy?