Describe the City

Describe the City

The week 1 learning module titled- “Describe the City” consisted of 7 map drawing and basic drafting exercises. These exercises were intended to portray the city and the urban environment in a different manner, in an attempt to highlight various aspects of it.

Each exercise, the map that resulted as well as brief reflection regarding its potential use and application are displayed below.

Exercise 1: Urban Formis map of Toowoomba, QLD.

Urban Formis

Figure 1: An Urban Formis map of Toowoomba QLD- Developed areas are shown in grey while major roads are shown in yellow.

The Urban Formis map makes possible to highlight various zones within a built environment. The map highlights developed urban areas, grouping them together and illustrating them as one whole urban area. Smaller developed areas that surround this are disregarded if their proximity to the larger development is too large.

The Urban Formis map can be used by urban and regional planners when evaluating future development options for a specific area. The map indicates the size of the existing developed area as well as key transport routes and paths through it in a manner which is extremely simple, clear and easy to read.

Exercise 2: Conceptual Representation of Brisbane CBD and Fortitude Valley.

Brisbane CBD- Conceptual Rep

Figure 2: Conceptual representation of Brisbane CBD and Fortitude Valley.
Roads are shown in yellow, railway lines in red, Brisbane river in blue, key commercial buildings in green, retail areas in red and educational facilities in pink.

Much like the Urban Formis map, the conceptual representation is designed to highlight key features and aspects within a built environment and their relationship with one another.

The conceptual representation focuses on key natural features, such as rivers as well as important infrastructure such as roads and railway networks. This type of ma can be very useful for urban planners when evaluating the infrastructure of an area and can also assist in the future development of the area. Specific service based buildings can also be highlighted on the conceptual representation and this can help the designer to better understand the existing urban fabric.

The map also provides a basic layout of the city and can give an indication towards its past development, whether it was organic or planned.

Exercise 3: City Pattern map of Fortitude Valley.

City Pattern

Figure 3: City Pattern map of Fortitude Valley.

The city pattern map provides a clear layout of the urban area and its road networks.

The map gives an indication in the size and shape of blocks within the developed area as well as the origins of the development of the city. It makes clear that Brisbane was a planned city, following a grid pattern, however, this was altered to suit in some areas, due to the meandering nature of the river and the manner in which it cuts through the city.

Exercise 4: Figureground Map of Fortitude Valley.

Figureground map

Figure 4: A figureground map of Fortitude Valley.
Built structures are shown in black, roads in yellow and cadastre in grey.

A figureground map provides a great indication of the density of an urban area as well as the nature of the structures within in. 

Portraying all built structures as solid blocks, their size and density becomes immediately apparent, as does the layout of the area. The figureground map also highlights key routes through the space, which further indicates the layout of the area and the manner in which it is used. Some figureground maps also show the cadastre and land parcels which again enhances ones understanding of the planning of the area and its layout. 

Exercise 5: Nolli map of Fortitude Valley. 

Nolli Map

Figure 5: Nolli map of Fortitude Valley.

Much like a figureground map, the nolli map provides an easy to read representation of the layout of an area and the nature of built structures within in. One key difference however, is that the nolli map, highlights internal plans of key buildings which greatly enhances their contribution to the map and provides a better understanding of the space. 

The nolli map above focuses on the Howard Smith Wharves, and depicts them in a plan like manner. Due to the scale and size of the map however, this is possibly not as informative as it has the potential to be as details are not very clear within the image. 

A nolli map can be used to determine empty spaces within the urban fabric and spaces that could potentially be developed further. 

Exercise 6: Urban Section of Howard Smith Wharves 


Figure 6: An Urban Section of Howard Smith Wharves

An urban section is a key piece of information when attempting to understand the layout and natural forms within an urban area. The task was very useful, and highlighted the huge difference in levels between the wharves and the roads that run above them. It also illustrated the copious amounts of space beneath the Story Bridge, which create an unusual and interesting space.

Exercise 7: Street Section of Ann Street, Fortitude Valley.

Figure 7: The selected space portrayed in the street section.

Figure 7: The selected space portrayed in the street section.

Figure 8: A street section of Ann Street.

Figure 8: A street section of Ann Street.

I chose to do the section at the point that i did, because i found this to be an interesting space and the section conveyed the different levels on wither side of the street more effectively than a standard plan view. The street section effectively illustrates a huge difference in levels on either side of the road and even though this may be seen on a contour map, it is not possible to gain an appreciation for the space until it is viewed in a manner such as this.

Overall Reflection: As a whole, i found the task to be very useful as it helped to convey key principles and aspects of urban areas that need to represented and understood when evaluating an urban landscape. The tasks were fairly straightforward and to the point which i found very useful and each one helped me to gain a better understanding for the built environment.


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