Mapping for Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities 
This course provides an introduction to critical mapping theory and geographic information systems tools.
   
Description

We are in the midst of a technological revolution, resulting in seemingly endless amounts of data and the computing technologies to analyze it. From motion sensing to location tracking to GIS, much of this data is spatial, resulting in the ability to represent and understand the world and our relationship to in in new and previously impossibly ways. In response, our relationship to the spaces we inhabit and those that we don't has shifted: we are challenged to make sense of spaces we have never visited, and deeply analyze those that we frequent.

This course provides an introduction to critical mapping theory and geographic information systems tools. Of particular interest to Humanities students, we will address both historical and contemporary questions of space and mapping. Through the use of open-source GIS software (qGIS) and open data (OpenStreetMap) students will learn how to critically use mapping tools and geographic data for spatial analysis and representation. In addition to using existing data, students will also be able to create or bring their own sets of data and questions from other courses and will be able to work with these in our class.

Using a hybrid flipped-classroom/seminar approach, students will work through web tutorials and hands-on in-class exercises to gain a better understanding of how these tools and data can be leveraged to analyze, represent and study past or present urban phenomena.

 
Conflict Urbanism: InfraPolitics
This seminar focuses on infrastructure as a major force in shaping cities, as well as a medium through which the politics of urbanization is visible. 
   
Description

This seminar focuses on infrastructure as a major force in shaping cities, as well as a medium through which the politics of urbanization is visible. Our work will address historical comparison and the politics of mapping by focusing on three cities and three continents – Mumbai, Johannesburg and Medellin.

The cities have been chosen because they offer important ways to think about how infrastructure organizes social life, and its ongoing political effects. By exploring different histories of how space is governed, segregated, or utilized as a key economic resource, we want seminar participants to think about the significance of space and spatial regulation in structuring social relations.

Our work will be organized around a set of keywords: informality (Mumbai), apartheid (Johannesburg), and populism (Medellin)--that are entry points for thinking about the infrastructure of inequality. Each of the case studies uses a critical event as a point of entry for asking how land, capital, government, and the social relations of daily life structure, and are in turn structured by spatial order.

Visualizing and mapping thus form key techniques for linking urban history with contemporary urbanism, and for thinking about the materiality of spatial politics.

Note: This is the third in a series of multidisciplinary Mellon seminars on the topic of Conflict Urbanism, as part of a multi-university initiative in Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities.    

This year Conflict Urbanism is being offered in the Fall, and not in the Spring semester.

 
Project
Conflict Urbanism, Aleppo: Mapping Urban Damage
person role
Author(s): 
Laura Kurgan
Publication date: 
Sunday, January 1, 2017
Publication name, page number: 
AD / Architectural Design
Description (optional): 
One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on the planet, Aleppo now lies in tatters. This devastation of a designated World Heritage Site is a poignant example of the human and cultural cost of armed conflict – in this case the Syrian Civil War. The Center for Spatial Research has analyzed satellite imagery and reports from the ground to assess the damage in Aleppo. In this article, Laura Kurgan discusses the initiative and its sometimes puzzling findings.
Initiative: 
Intro text (homepage): 
In this article for Architectural Design, Laura Kurgan discusses the Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo project and its sometimes puzzling findings. One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on the planet, Aleppo now lies in tatters. This devastation of a designated World Heritage Site is a poignant example of the human and cultural cost of armed conflict – in this case the Syrian Civil War. The Center for Spatial Research has analyzed satellite imagery and reports from the ground to assess the damage in Aleppo.
Lead image: 
Author C4SR: 
Author Last Names for table: 
Kurgan
Publication short title (carousel): 
Conflict Urbanism, Aleppo: Mapping Urban Damage
Is Website?: 
no
dashboard_sort_date: 
Sunday, January 1, 2017
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Conflict Urbanism: Language Justice
This course focuses on how language is a major force in shaping cities, both through a theoretical lens and through fieldwork in linguistically diverse neighborhoods throughout New York City.
   
About

This spring, the seminar will focus on the role of language as a structuring principle of cities, highlighting the ways that urban spaces and the world are physically shaped by linguistic diversity, and examining the results of languages coming into contact and conflict. For this work we will use New York City as our laboratory. The New York City metropolitan area is the most linguistically dense city in the world, hosting an estimated 700 different languages.

To better understand this diversity, we will look closely at micro-neighborhoods such as Little Senegal (Manhattan), Little Korea (Queens), and Little Ramallah (Paterson, New Jersey). In thinking about the transnational and translingual nature of the city, we will consider structures from digital technology to remittances (small amounts of money sent “home”) and their role in language preservation and language extinction. Finally, through visualizing and mapping how language is situated in these micro-neighborhoods, we will begin to explore the cultures, languages, informal structures and architectures that migrants bring to the city.

Methods

Our work will be, by necessity, multidisciplinary across history, architecture, politics, law, literature and linguistics as related to the topic of Conflict Urbanism. Our work will also be multi-media. Students will create a web-based map as well as written reflections, incorporating analogue as well as digital media. No previous technical skills are necessary, and professors will set individual guidelines for each student based on their disciplinary expertise.

Course Topics

Conflict Urbanism, Environmental Justice, Linguistic Human Rights, Transnationalism, Multilingual spaces and borders, Urban language politics

Tutorial Topics

Carto, QGIS, MapBox, Data types, creation, and cleaning

 
Symposium on Conflict Urbanism Projects

To mark its inaugural year, The Center for Spatial Research will present its work on "conflict urbanism" in Aleppo, and Colombia. The event will engage participants in a discussion about the role of conflict in structuring urban space and the politics of representation in zones of discordance, disruption and violence as it contributes to the making and remaking of cities. Friday, October 7, 2016 at 1:30pm in Ware Lounge, Avery Hall.

Watch the recording of the event. 

The roundtable will feature Eyal Weizman, Professor of Spatial and Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London and Director of the Centre for Research Architecture and Enrico Bertini, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering as respondents to the work presented by CSR researchers and students: Laura KurganJuan Francisco SaldarriagaGrga BasicDare BrawleyViolet Whitney, and Michael Storm

The center point of Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo is an interactive web-based map representing the intensifying violence in urban Aleppo after five years of civil war in Syria. The map combines layers of high-resolution satellite images together with data gathered from multiple perspectives and sources to show the historic city from 2012 to the present. Using the logic of a typical geographic information system (GIS) map, the Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo project overlaps these layers, as it explores two kinds of evidence: evidence about the physical destruction of the city and evidence about how urban warfare is tracked and monitored from a distance.

Conflict Urbanism: Colombia traces the trajectories of Colombians who were forcibly displaced between 1985 and 2016 as a result of the decades long conflict between state and non-state actors. The project visualizes conflict at the scale of the country through a single government-created dataset that will shape transitional justice efforts. The visualizations that have resulted reveal the paths of more than eight million people displaced by war while critically examining how this conflict has been recorded. Conflict Urbanism: Colombia is a collaboration with the Masters on Peacebuilding at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.

News Archive
Title Initiative Category Date
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TUTORIAL
TUTORIAL
 
Project
Justice Atlas of Sentencing and Corrections
person role
Author(s): 
Kurgan, Cadora, Cummings,
Publication date: 
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Publication name, page number: 
Justice Mapping Center
Description (optional): 
The Justice Atlas of Sentencing and Corrections is an online tool for mapping the residential distribution of people involved in the criminal justice system. It uses aggregated address data to map the flow of people being removed to prison, reentering communities from prison, and the standing population concentrations of people under parole or probation supervision.
Intro text (homepage): 
The Justice Atlas of Sentencing and Corrections is an online tool for mapping the residential distribution of people involved in the criminal justice system. It uses aggregated address data to map the flow of people being removed to prison, reentering communities from prison, and the standing population concentrations of people under parole or probation supervision.
Lead image: 
Author C4SR: 
Author Last Names for table: 
Project Lead: Laura Kurgan
Publication short title (carousel): 
Justice Atlas of Sentencing and Corrections
Is Website?: 
no
dashboard_sort_date: 
Saturday, April 12, 2008
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Project
Port to Port
person role
Author(s): 
Juan Saldarriaga, Laura Kurgan, Dare Brawley, Jen Lowe
Publication date: 
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Publication name, page number: 
Spatial Information Design Lab
Description (optional): 
Ninety percent of all goods worldwide are moved by ship, but shipping is mostly invisible. More than 300 million Metric Tons of energy are shipped in and out of the United States each year, in 60,000 shipments. This project presents the ports and paths of the 2.7 billion Metric Tons of energy shipped through more than 90 US ports from 2002 - 2012. Using data assembled by Thomson Reuters, Port to Port maps global oil shipping routes as well as other forms of energy navigating ocean territories to and from the United States. Using D3 as an interactive web platform we designed a map interface that is scaled globally while embedded with local stories about energy movement from port to port. Data can be viewed across time, which reveal changes in patterns of movement as the geopolitics, price of oil, and conditions at specific ports change.
Intro text (homepage): 
Ninety percent of all goods worldwide are moved by ship, but shipping is mostly invisible. More than 300 million Metric Tons of energy are shipped in and out of the United States each year, in 60,000 shipments. This project presents the ports and paths of the 2.7 billion Metric Tons of energy shipped through more than 90 US ports from 2002 - 2012. Using data assembled by Thomson Reuters, Port to Port maps global oil shipping routes as well as other forms of energy navigating ocean territories to and from the United States. Using D3 as an interactive web platform we designed a map interface that is scaled globally while embedded with local stories about energy movement from port to port. Data can be viewed across time, which reveal changes in patterns of movement as the geopolitics, price of oil, and conditions at specific ports change.
Lead image: 
Author Last Names for table: 
Project Lead: Juan Francisco Saldarriaga
Publication short title (carousel): 
Port to Port
Is Website?: 
yes
dashboard_sort_date: 
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
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Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo
An evolving and interdisciplinary study of urban damage in Aleppo, Syria.
  • Browse by Initiative
   
 

Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo is the first in a series of interrelated projects as part of our multi-year year research initiative on Conflict Urbanism.

In January 2016 we launched the Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo interactive map, amidst intense violence in Aleppo more than five years after the start of the civil war in Syria. The map served as a research tool for the spring 2016 Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo seminar and as a new window into the conflict for the world at large. The map combines layers of high-resolution satellite images together with data gathered by human rights organizations and the UN to show the historic city from 2012 to the present. Using the logic of a typical geographic information system (GIS) map, the Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo project overlaps these layers, accruing two kinds of evidence: evidence about the physical destruction of the city and evidence about how urban warfare is tracked and monitored from a distance.

We are continuing to release additional case studies that shed light on the effects of the conflict on the urban fabric of Aleppo. We have combined several experimental methods in order to look at the conflict and the urban context of Aleppo in new ways: by cross referencing YouTube videos we have geocoded with bi-weekly change maps we created using low resolution and free Landsat satellite imagery we have been able to identify intense areas of damage on high resolution satellite images that have gone undocumented by the international human rights community, which uses other methods to look at these same high resolution satellite images. 

The project has been exhibited at the 2016 Istanbul Design Biennale (October 22- November 20, 2016) and has been the subject of several invited lectures and articles including in the Harvard Graduate School of Design Magazine, Architecture Design, and at the Unknown Unknowables conference in Copenhagen, and a Curating Data conference at Harvard. 

Project Team
Name Project Role
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