Week 5 | Urban Informatics

Accessed from: http://www.australianscience.com.au/news/urban-informatics-interview-with-marcus-foth/ March 29, 2013.

The progression of information technology has been so quick that undoubtedly it’s opportunities and potentials are nowhere near fully understood. The last few years has seen a dramatic improvement of mobile technology which has opened up an unprecedented level of access to information and entertainment. At any time and in any place (obviously provided your not in the wilderness) smartphone owners can answer questions or pass away time by reaching into their pockets. While mobile devices and the internet in general offers obvious benefits, such as freedom, opportunities to learn or entertainment (to name a few) there are some arguable drawbacks. For example, some argue the popularity of social media is resulting in reduced face-to-face interactions as people spend more time communicating via a screen.

The earlier mentioned characteristics of freedom of information, entertainment, feedback, discussion, etc all have the potential to influence architecture in a unique way. A building is by nature a tangible construction, it exists in the physical world even though many characteristics of its architecture are intangible (e.g. programming, sense of place, etc). Often a great deal of a building’s success is in its relationships with its surrounds; its context, both macro and micro. Architecture has always had relationships with culture, with the community in which the building sits and it is along these lines that I believe the virtual world of technology can create interesting opportunities. Virtual networks and the communication of both information and between people, businesses, organisations can offer relationships with the building. People who may never even visit the site could interact with it. For example, a transport building may receive traffic condition updates from people sitting on roads; people who pass accidents and want to let others know. This information could then be displayed on the buildings facade for example.

Weather services could be monitored and the data could be used to inform mechanical devices within the building; adjusting openings, shading devices and the like to provide better climatic responsiveness. These are two quick examples of how the virtual infrastructure could provide a level of connection and interactivity between people and architecture. Technology continues to improve and as it does so will other uses become obvious and as the integration of technology and architecture will offer new and exciting opportunities.

Week 4 | Evolution of the site

QPAC history

The Glenelg St site as a part of the wider South Bank and South Brisbane area has seen its function and identity evolve greatly throughout its history. The area was first colonized by European settlers c. 1825; the main purpose being a convict settlement. This beginning marked a change for the low-lying swamp land that had previously been used as a meeting place for two tribes of aborigines (Turrbal and Yuggera) and some conflict between the new and old inhabitants ensued.

Twenty odd years later saw the progression from convict to free settlement. Development continued and the South Bank area played a major role as the port and business district for Brisbane; receiving ships and exporting goods produced throughout Queensland (e.g. cotton, wool). The 1870s – 1930s marked a boom period in the commercial and industrial activity of Brisbane and as a result of this, hotels, restaurants and pubs had established themselves.

Despite the positive growth of industry during this early period, the South Bank went into a period of decline during the 20th century and adopted a reputation for disrepute and undesirables. The CBD had since been moved to the North Bank to avoid flooding and despite the construction of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) in the 1970s the area remained in poor standing.

Expo ’88 was the turning point for this neglected site. This event began a transformation of identity and post-Expo ’88 plans for a parkland were considered from a few different architects. Southbank Parklands opened in 1992 and has continued to evolve in the years since to become a major entertainment and leisure centre which draws people from a variety of demographics. Educational institutions are also present as are some industrial elements (e.g. Pauls factory).

The South Bank area has evolved significantly since its early days; from convict settlement to booming commercial and industrial hub, to a rough and ready area of ill-repute, to a community based leisure precinct drawing both locals and tourists. The topography has shaped planning (flood prone areas were originally working class residences while higher land was home to the upper class) and given recent natural disasters the area will continue to evolve respective of these influences. This is a site with a rich history but one who’s current face reflects little of it’s past.

Southbank map