00:01Our next speaker is going to be David Thorpe.
00:09This conference is like brain candy. It's like Halloween.
00:11You know, you knock on a door and there's some more goodies, and you knock on the next door and there's more goodies.
00:15I'm having a blast being here.
00:19I'm going to talk about fractals and urban forms.
00:21I'm a bit of a nerd and I like to think about how things relate and cross paths and cross fields.
00:27But before I get into that, we were talking about how geodesign is a young thing, that it's growing.
00:32It survived its infancy, right?
00:34When we're kids, we begin to exhibit behaviors and passions that are going to grow through the rest of our life.
00:40I didn't get on an airplane 'til I was 13.
00:43I rode the train around America, and it was a really cool experience, meeting people and seeing the landscape.
00:48But in fifth grade in Mrs. Tassa's class, I would draw little islands and do maps and make trains...
00:54...and I would design cities and mountains and rivers.
00:58And now I'm an illustrator and I illustrate transit-oriented development.
01:02These things grow, right?
01:04Well, I think that where we're going to go today is a place where geodesign might grow.
01:07We talked about how you can create models and let it run, see where geodesign will take you, create scenarios.
01:14This is a...where might this go in a few years?
01:20So the idea for this came from the fact, when I did my undergrad work, I studied leadership theory in part.
01:27And I saw this image.
01:28It's called the Mandelbrot set.
01:29It's an image of chaos.
01:30We'll talk a little bit about where these come from.
01:33But one day I was driving around Colorado Springs, and I realized that the looping pattern of suburbia...
01:36...kind of looks a lot like that image, right?
01:39So then I starting thinking, I wonder if maybe chaos explains how that image came to be.
01:43So I called a professor friend of mine, Jack Burns at Whitworth University, go Bucks, if anybody here's ever been there.
01:50And here's what I found.
01:51So these are some initial discoveries for how chaos theory might explain urbanism...
01:55...and how you can leverage chaos theory to create better urban places.
01:58In 1960, Edward Lorenz was a meteorologist and mathematician trying to figure out how weather worked.
02:04And he built this computer that was supposed out these, projections of the weather and they were all linear equations.
02:11But he lived in Boston and they have bad weather there, and he was looking out his window and realized that it didn't line up...
02:15...really, at all, and he wasn't sure why.
02:18So he started playing with things and looking at models and he came up with something called the butterfly effect...
02:23...which has infiltrated our culture.
02:24We've all heard tons about the butterfly effect.
02:26The basic idea is, changes in initial condition are amplified over time, and those can have profound impacts as iterations occur.
02:36So he created this image called the Lorenz attractor which, thanks to computers, which is the reason why we're all here...
02:42...is one of the first images of chaos.
02:45The Lorenz attractor is this, I nerd out about this all the time, no point is ever plotted twice.
02:52You don't know exactly where the thing is going to go.
02:54This is a projection of Lorenz's model of convection.
02:58But, you don't where it's going to go.
03:00But it kind of clings to the y axis.
03:02It's like it's held there by gravity.
03:05There's no bounds. There's nothing that's jamming it there.
03:07It's just...it's staying with what already exists, but it's also free will.
03:10It's free will and determinism at the same time.
03:13So hang on to that idea.
03:15Fractals have come after Lorenz.
03:17This is called the Julia set on the left, and as you zoom in on it over and over and over again...
03:22...you see familiar patterns, even if they're not identical, right?
03:26There's like a visual DNA built into these things that relates to a theme, relates to the equation that created it...
03:32...even if it's not identical.
03:34This is the Mandelbrot set.
03:35That's where it starts and where it ends up is what I showed you before, right?
03:40So that the patterns are there even if they're not identical.
03:44And this is the Koch curve.
03:45It's a really great idea for a fractal.
03:47A similar pattern repeated over and over and over again at smaller scales...
03:51...equilateral triangle, stuck on an equilateral triangle, stuck on an equilateral triangle, and you get these unbelievable details.
03:59Okay, so nature does the same thing, too.
04:01Ferns do it.
04:02Canyons do it.
04:03Broccoli florets as you zoom in on broccoli, it's a similar pattern repeated over and over again.
04:08Clouds do it.
04:10The book you should all read right now is called Leadership and the New Science by Margaret Wheatley.
04:15And I lifted this with my little Canon scanner from that book.
04:19The Grand Canyon is a perfect example of this.
04:22Equation for fractal in nature is water erodes the landscape on its way downhill, right?
04:27And you see this in infinitely smaller and smaller and smaller scales.
04:31The rocks in the foreground and the canyon in the background.
04:34So, here's my idea. This is where I'm getting, okay?
04:37This is where we get really nerdy.
04:38I think cities work like fractals, and the equation that created the image for a mathematical fractal, right?
04:45It's an equation that's repeated over and over again, we have in our cities as well.
04:50And that equation turns into a physical form, and it's our value system for the community, right?
04:56So in a suburban setting, this is an aerial photo of my home, Colorado Springs.
05:00We do sprawl, grade A sprawl.
05:04So, these are familiar pictures.
05:07They could be anywhere.
05:08These are sidewalks in Colorado Springs, just totally unpleasant.
05:13But as you zoom...there are values here.
05:15And it's not...we fight a lot about the laws.
05:17Should things be form-based code, or what should they be?
05:20But we don't have other values behind it.
05:22The values behind this that turn into the codes and turn into the laws are that, automobiles really are the best thing...
05:27...and we should use them.
05:28Boundaries between uses are important more than the connections between them, right?
05:33Private property a lot of times trumps public property and public space.
05:37That gets codified.
05:38That gets fractal growth, and it turns into these physical forms.
05:41Same thing is true in urban settings.
05:42This is Denver.
05:44I love Denver.
05:45Everybody's moving from Colorado Springs to Denver.
05:46We have growth problems now.
05:48This is Seattle. This is where I grew up, right?
05:50You see benches. You see parks.
05:52Those are repetitions of the belief that pedestrians are primary.
05:55The relationships are where we need to put our focus.
05:58And then you see it in Portland as well, right?
06:00Transit use...it's kind of default.
06:01If you value people, that grows fractal-like into transit.
06:06Okay. So the lesson of chaos is this.
06:08You can't always know everything.
06:10The world is unpredictable but you can expect familiarity if you write an equation with the right values in it.
06:16That kind of make sense?
06:18Okay. So let's write urban equations.
06:20I think it comes from the triple bottom line.
06:23People've seen this image before...the people planet profit, right?
06:26The idea is that real sustainability has got to be economically sustainable or you go broke, right?
06:31Builders won't build, everybody dies.
06:33Social...if you kill your neighborhoods, you kill your community.
06:35So you've got to sustain your neighborhoods.
06:37And you can't tap the earth beyond what it can handle, right?
06:40Well, that's why we're here.
06:41That's geodesign in three circles.
06:44So what if that became your city's code?
06:46What if, above all the existing stuff, you put an ethical overlay called the triple bottom line, right?
06:51And if that trumped everything else, what would happen to your city?
06:56I think it would create a gravity like the Lorenz attractor.
06:59Alright, there's still freedom.
07:00You can go wherever you want to go, but there's a solid, solid gravity that's drawing you to the core.
07:06And I think you would find that the easiest place to comply with the triple bottom line is a preexisting nodes.
07:11It's at your downtown.
07:12Our downtown is dying because public policy is killing it.
07:16So another element of this would be that public- and private-sector people all have to comply with the triple bottom line.
07:21It levels the playing field.
07:22It makes the private sector more inclined to do this stuff.
07:26It relates to what already exists.
07:27And I think it might actually repressure urbanized areas without urban growth boundaries.
07:32We have incentives in the Springs, and it doesn't work.
07:35We will never pass an urban growth boundary because we're very politically conservative.
07:39But this might just do it.
07:42So, we're working on a model of how this whole thing would work, and I'd love to explain to you but...all the details of that.
07:48But one little teaser is if you restructure planning commission to have some economic experts, some proneighborhood people...
07:55...and some environmentalists, a couple citizens at large, and then give them the ability to let these codes evolve...
08:01...you will probably see more Lorenz-like growth.
08:06So then, here's the challenge to geodesign.
08:09We've already talked about how we can make predictions and we can make models where we can see how things grow.
08:14But what if we could make geodesign give us an ethical overlay?
08:18What if we could see how changing these values will change the form of a built environment?
08:24Right? It's a simple equation.
08:26Now let's graph it, just like this.
08:29What we're talking about here is the big D design that we mentioned before.
08:32It's not just planning a site and tossing it out there.
08:35It's giving planners and political leaders in our city a tool that they can manipulate so that as they say...
08:42...well, what if we required a rule for neighborhoods that you have to have so many connections.
08:50You have to have so many transit options.
08:52You have to have so many price points for housing, and we give it a GPA, right?
08:57And you have to score 3.0 or whatever.
08:59Let the experts figure out the model, but what effect would that have on a built environment?
09:04And how could we model it with GIS and geodesign?
09:09So, I might be overly romanticizing the city, but I'm an artist, and art is what I do, so I apologize.
09:16But we respond to rules.
09:18We respond to codes and we either break them or we comply with them, but most of our codes are a box, right?
09:24Traditional codes, it's a box.
09:25You got to fit into the box if you want to build.
09:27Form-based codes are a heck of a better box, but in a lot of ways, they're still a box you got to fit in if you want build.
09:33But what if you could have a gravitational source that stuff just got sucked to, right?
09:38I think that's what the triple bottom line can be.
09:40And we know value changes work.
09:42You can see it in Dockside.
09:43Kudos to the folks from USGBC.
09:46Dockside is a project in Victoria, BC, where simple values were thrown out there.
09:51We want this thing to be sustainable.
09:53It's got to comply with the triple bottom line.
09:55And the whole thing is LEED-ND, the LEED Neighborhood Design, one of the first projects in North America.
10:00Fort Collins, Colorado, is also a really pretty conservative area.
10:02And this is the idea.
10:04It's got a great university.
10:05It's also got a lot of farms.
10:06It's diverse community.
10:08In '04, they put in a whole bunch of new values and little bit by little bit by little bit, the city has changed around it.
10:14So what a few of us were working on in Colorado Springs is what if we could create new values, pass that by our city council...
10:20...and see what happens to development.
10:24So, I think, as an artist, people respond to beauty, people respond to what's lovely.
10:34Give them values and let them engage with it.
10:36That's why I still have a job as an artist, because when I put a painting out there, people can engage with it, right?
10:41We're painting a picture of the city.
10:42We want triple bottom line.
10:44Now make it happen. Engage with it.
10:45Make it your own and innovate with it.
10:48So, as a conclusion here, you should read both of these books.
10:51This is where this came from.
10:53Leadership in the New Science is really more business and leadership oriented, but it's a great introduction to chaos theory...
11:01...and what's dubbed the new science.
11:03And then Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick.
11:06Wheatley refers to Gleick's book like every other sentence.
11:09They're both fascinating and a great introduction to the subject matter.
11:14And then, the book that I just read is The Twenty-One Balloons.
11:17It's a little children's book from the 1940s, I believe.
11:20I like to read kid's books because they keep you sane, you know, in a world where you're staring at computer screens, you know.
11:25They keep your imagination going.
11:26And, so the author says this, he's talking to a friend, "I don't suppose one thinks of one's hometown in terms of streets and buildings...
11:36...as much as one does of personal associations, friends, and relatives."
11:40It's relationships, right?
11:42That's what makes a good city.
11:43We know this intuitively, right?
11:45But, now what we're talking about is relationships between elements of the triple bottom line, right?
11:50What's the relationship there?
11:51Let's map that and let's use geodesign to do it.
11:54So, thank you for your time, and I look forward to answering any questions.
11:57If you see a black hole in this thing that I've just shoots a hole down in it...
12:01...let me know because I need to know that before I do too much more work on this.
12:06If you know how to make this thing happen, I also want to talk to you...
12:08...so let's play the card swap game and be like fourth graders with our baseball cards.
12:13So, thank you.
Fractals and Urban Forms: Using Chaos Theory to Reshape Cities
David Thorpe from J. David Thorpe Illustration and Design presents "Fractals and Urban Forms: Using Chaos Theory to Reshape Cities" at the 2011 GeoDesign Summit.
- Recorded: Jan 6th, 2011
- Runtime: 12:17
- Views: 33817
- Published: Feb 18th, 2011
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