Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Complexity and spatial policy

I'm going to the Regional Studies Association conference in Leuven soon, so thought I'd post briefly on the topic I'm presenting on (with Prof. Cecilia Wong from the University of Manchester). It's all about the complexity of spatial policies and the difficulties of monitoring them. So, a very quick example.

The two images below show migration and commuting raster surfaces for the South East of England. The first shows migration, where red is lots of out migration and blue means in migration. The second shows commuting, where red means lot of in commuters and blue means lots of out commuters. The black lines are regional boundaries. So, lots of complex spatial processes operating at inter and intra regional levels. This is just one quick example of how monitoring what's happening in one place is linked to lots of other places and to lots of other issues.



Friday, 20 March 2009

Spoke too Soon

Further to my last post about Google Maps street view, where I said that it wasn't available in the UK - just this week it has become available, to much hype and hysteria. Twenty five cities in all, including where I live now (Sheffield), where I used to work (Manchester), where I used to live (Liverpool) and where I went to university as an undergraduate (Glasgow). I've hunted around for people I know, but no luck yet... For now, just some images of places I know - note that you can navigate these within the blog!

Housing Market Renewal Area in Liverpool

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Raining in Manchester? Surely Not...

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Tenements in Glasgow

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Thursday, 12 March 2009

Google Street View - Lille

Very short post today. I'm going to Lille soon and wanted to do some exploring beforehand. Thanks to the good people at google anyone can visit places before they go there with google maps - street view. I recorded this short video with screentoaster. No coverage in UK for now, but it will arrive soon I'm sure... For now though, that's all. If you want to view the video in full screen, just click in the bottom right of the smaller version below.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Colourful Fruit and European Spatial Planning


A quick post today on the topic of bananas. What on earth am I talking about? European spatial planning of course. Let me explain....

Geographical metaphors and images are popular ways of presenting concepts in spatial planning. In 1989 a group of French geographers led by Roger Brunet published a report for DATAR, the French spatial planning agency (since updated). The report was about European cities and spatial planning and took a comparative approach, hence the title: Les Villes Européennes: Analyse Comparative.

Basically, they identified a strategically important area roughly stretching from the southern midlands of England to northern Italy, taking in parts of Belgium, northern France, the Netherlands, southern Germany, Luxembourg, Austria and Switzerland along the way. The edges are somewhat fuzzy since it was only really supposed to convey the general idea of a European megalopolis.

The group of French geographers (RECLUS) named the area the dorsale (or backbone) since they said it signified the core European area in terms of population and productivity, with around 90 million people. When they presented their work at DATAR, the planning minister of the time (Jacques Chérèque) asked what the banana shape was on the map (it was coloured blue). This was overheard by Josette Alia, writing for French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur. A few days later there was an article with 'la banane bleue' in the title and an icon was born.

Since then we have had the 'bunch of grapes', the 'golden triangle' and the 'yellow banana'. There are even more bizarre fruit and vegetable references out there if you want to look. The point is this: spatial metaphors help us understand spatial development and can be very powerful in shaping understandings of how places are connected (or not).

The original blue banana article can be found on the web pages of Le Nouvel Obs, the magazine that first published it. I've done the legwork for you - the PDFs are in separate pages, so here's page 74, 75 and 76, from May 18, 1989.