New Era, New Criteria for City Imaging

By Fattahi, Kaveh; Kobayashi, Hidetsugu | Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management, August 2009 | Go to article overview

New Era, New Criteria for City Imaging


Fattahi, Kaveh, Kobayashi, Hidetsugu, Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management


1. Introduction

Our society's modalities of communication are rapidly changing. Large panel displays and screens are being installed in many public and private spaces, ranging from open plazas to private houses. The space around us is going to be instrumented with sensors and displays, and it tends to reflect a diffused need to combine together the information landscape of the Internet--infoscape--with the urban landscape of the city. Therefore; computation and sensing are moving from computers and devices into the environment itself.

In the other hand, according to the Independent Commission for Worldwide Telecommunications Development, recently, use of information and communication technology (ICT) has been exponentially increased all over the world (Yamaguchi and Kawaguchi, 2006) is global digital network is not just simply a delivery system for e-mail, web pages or online games. As Mitchell pointed out in his trilogy, it is a whole new urban infrastructure, one that will change the forms of our cities as dramatically as railroads, highways, electric power supply, and telephone networks did in the past. "It's an old script replayed with new actors. Silicon is the new steel, and the internet is the new railroad."(Mitchell, 1999) With the emergence of such fluid, responsive, kinetic, data-driven worlds of infoscape and its combination with urban landscape, architecture faces a radical reshuffling of a number of its principal underpinnings. For this reason, many researchers suggested repeatedly that these legacies of the industrial era, and of ever earlier times, will require transformation--in our term evolution- in order to function effectively in the future. However; surprisingly nearly fifty years after the publication of Kevin Lynch's landmark volume (Lynch, 1960), urban designers still grapple with ways to nurture "good city form" (Lynch, 1981) with the same criteria. But, city imaging increasingly is supplemented and constructed by exposure to visual media, rather than by direct sense experience of urban realms. In the hyper-visual contemporary city (Boyer, 1996) where new technology is called as an extension of man (McLuhan, 1964) and with emergence of Bodynet (Mitchell, 2003), the whole question of city image and city imaging warrants renewed scrutiny. This paper aims to identify the effects of these new digital actors on city images, especially landmarks as described by Kevin Lynch. Within this evaluation process several characteristics of such new infrastructures and their effects on landmarks are explained.

2. Literature Review

Our job is to design the future we want, not to blindly follow its predetermined path. Therefore; architects and urban designers might have to deal with both the physical and the virtual aspects of the living environments, and should seek answers to one of the most interesting questions for twenty-first-century urban designers, as William Mitchell has put it: "How should virtual and physical public space relate to one another?" (Mitchell, 1999)

Much research and experimentation needs to be done in that direction in order to give us the vision for not to be shocked suddenly by facing such an era where everything is re-ontologized according to emergence of ITentities (Floridi, 2008), ICT and media enhanced technologies. For this reason, in recent years, theorists from all areas of science and technology have been trying to come up with a logical projection of what the future Information Age would look like. Most scientific interest has focused on the virtual aspect of the future--including theories of Noosphere (Vernadsky, 1998), Bitsphere (Mitchell, 1995), Cyber City (Boyer, 1996), E-topia (Mitchell, 1999), Cybiont (De Rosany, 2000), Information Marketplace (Dertouzos, 1997), Infosphere (Floridi, 2006) and many others. With most theories, the virtual world of the future is referred to as an immaterial and dimensionless environment (e.g. the Internet) that has little to do with the existing physical space while this paper will attempt to look at the future cities as physical representations along with virtual spaces affected by data wind (Vande Moere, 2005). …

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