Three Short Urban Navigation Blogedankens

No prizes this time, but I do encourage you to leave comments if these exercises lead to any interesting answers...or more interesting questions. Click the links to see the inspiration for each thought experiment.

Blogedanken #1: Imagine that your city were like Venice; where would the Grand Canal be located? What streets would remain streets, and what ones would be sunken to form the city's canal network? Create a corresponding map. Does this map tell you anything about transportation and infrastructure networks in your city? How could such a map be used to plan transit lines, or a park system?

Blogedanken #2: If someone asked you to write a guide to your city for visitors that didn't want the tourist experience, where would you send them? Determine 5-10 places and/or experiences that you consider essential for the un-tourist in your city. Now create a walking-tour route that connects these spots in a way that creates a meaningful way -- a way that can direct the visitor's interpretation of your city. Compare your route to a map in a typical tourist guide. How do the two differ? What does this tell you about the way that you have experienced the city, yourself? What has your city taught you?

Blogedanken #3: Cities are very much about paths. Numerous networks of people, information, and physical infrastructure create a massive web often referred to as the urban fabric. Almost every city has one or two once-crucial cords in this web that have faded from prominence, or even disappeared completely. Imagine that you are creating a virtual guide, using GPS and voice recordings, to one of these defunct lines in your city. How have the areas around this forgotten path adapted since its decline? If they have not adapted particularly well, speculate as to why that might be. Based on what need the path and its surrounding infrastructure originally served, what currently vibrant paths through your city could become deserted or forgotten in the future? How might this be averted?

(Photo from Flickr user Damiel. The original full-color version can be viewed by clicking the photo.)

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