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Digital Modelling for Urban Design by Brian McGrath

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Chapter 3

Genealogy

The fly-through animation glides up Broadway from Lower to Midtown Manhattan. The ‘canyon of heroes’ of the financial district is familiar, with the Art Deco towers of Wall Street looming on the skyline. However, the buildings do not sit on the ground, but are floating in an empty void, with the ground of the island of Manhattan deep below. The on-line view travels along a temporal plane - 1950 - within a 3-D computer model where time is literally given a dimension. In the x/y/z Cartesian space of a 3-D modelling environment, time is here measured along the z-axis where one year equals 100 feet. Post-Second World War glass towers loom overhead, while the Art Deco limestone spires of Wall Street emerge from below. The fly-through not only travels through space up Broadway, but along a temporal plane within the gap in construction between the Great Depression of the 1930s and the post-war building boom which began in the 1960s.1

The transition from an archaeological to a genealogical modelling moves from an understanding of the discipline of urban design as a situated subject of historical knowledge, towards understanding the generation of urban design practice in relation to a larger discursive field within which urban actors and agents constitute themselves as subjects interacting in space.2 In the last chapters of this book, Schizoanalytical Modelling for Urban Design, we will learn to imagine urban designs in relation to internal, psychological forces as well ...

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