The Art of Visualizing Activity and Space


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This Pecha-Kucha presentation is not exactly about the phenomena I’m studying in my PhD, but a reflection about the conditions where I’m producing my research. Although I’m located in a Engineering Faculty, I try as much as possible to leave space for Art in in my work activity.

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The Art of Visualizing Activity and Space

  1. 1. This Pecha-Kucha presentation is not exactly about the phenomena I’mstudying in my PhD, but a reflection about the conditions where I’m producingmy research. Although I’m located in a Engineering Faculty, I try as much aspossible to leave space for Art in in my work activity. 1
  2. 2. This building at the University of Twente campus is being retrofitted to host amedical imaging center. 2
  3. 3. Two different hospitals are going to share the facility, together with theUniversity. A workshop was organized with the hospitals to check the spatialplan, but there were many uncertainties about how the activities will use andshare space. A mean to visualize activity over space was missing. 3
  4. 4. After the workshop, this BIM Application was developed to visualize activitiesover space. It consists of a plugin for Revit which allows drawing the walkingpaths of people pursuing a certain action in the workflow. 4
  5. 5. The visualization technique was inspired by eye-tracking studies, which alsouses lines to trace movements and bubbles for stop times. 5
  6. 6. While developing the application I made many visual experiments following myaesthetical feeling. This experiment with random numbers for stop timeshelped seeing that transparency came to a great advantage for the bubbles. 6
  7. 7. After the activities were overlaid on space, came the question of time andcosts. I started experimenting with Navisworks to check what was possiblewith 4D simulation. In this one, it’s possible to see which facility is being usedby different functions, their operational costs and income. 7
  8. 8. I finally managed to import the paths drawn on Revit in Navisworks, so I couldmake a 4D simulation of them, using the walking time calculated by Revit. Thesimulation shows when each path is activated in a shedule. 8
  9. 9. Navisworks is mainly used for clash detection between construction elements,but here I used them for identifying clashes between activities on the schedule,for instance, contagious patient walking nearby another patients. Thesimulation detects the precise moment in the schedule when this can happens.Identifying events that depends both on space and time is very difficult withoutsimulation. 9
  10. 10. Looking for other approaches for visualizing activity and space I found SpatialSyntax theory, which underpins the visualization software DepthmapX. Itgenerates axial lines on the spatial layout and measures the connectivity of thelines, indicating by the color red the most connected parts of the layout and bythe blue collor the least connected. 10
  11. 11. An interesting finding is that the stop times (bubbles) defined facility designmatches the least connected places of the facility, what reinforces the SpatialSyntax theory. The theory says that usually people stay longer in the deepestparts of a building. 11
  12. 12. DepthmapX can simulate visibility across corridors and rooms. This could havebeen used to deal with the problem of patients that needs to undress and walkfrom the dressing rooms to the scanning room without being seen. 12
  13. 13. The agent-based simulator generate random actors walking across the facility.This is not accurate of real behavior, since people on the facility follow certaingoals, but it helps to consider paths that haven’t been thought about before,paths that doens’t follow a prescribed procedure. 13
  14. 14. Like in art, many of the experiments I make do not follow a clear goal, theyfollow my curiosity and aesthetical feeling. But I do have an overal goal. 14
  15. 15. My goal is to support healthcare expansion. The usual pattern is that spatialexpansion happens only after care capacity has been expanded to the limits atthe expenses of work conditions. My hypothesis is that by having tools forvisualizing activity and space it’s possible to adjust them to prevent worseningwork conditions. 15
  16. 16. With proper design tools, it is possible to intensify the dialectics betweenspace and activity, what we call dialectical designing. 16
  17. 17. We tested this hypothesis with facility design students and they started todesign space and activity together. The animation binds snapshots of differentmoments in the evolution of one student design. He changed space, changedactivities, then changed space, in a dialectical cycle. 17
  18. 18. Most students moved the reception closer to the entrance. The ambiguity ofthe original position can be seen in this 3D render made by the architect. Is thereception down the corridor or on the right side? The deep visibility provided bythe open corridor might lead to patients walking where they shouldn’t. Thisalso supports the axial analysis made by DepthmapX. 18
  19. 19. I also use visualizations to organize my own research. These maps areconcepts that I extracted from two books, one about Activity and the otherabout Space. The map on the right is a PhD thesis and the left, a philosophicaltreatise. The PhD thesis define clear categories and drill down to the specific,while the treatise have much stronger interconnections. 19
  20. 20. Last but not least, I want to show an example where an activity completlytransformed space by visualization. The abandonned building became “BigBear’s hotel” for my son. The vizualization was constructed through our playfulldialogue while we played there. 20