Plaza Life Revisited: Machine Learning for Public Space Research
Plaza Life Revisited: Machine Learning for Public Space Research – 广场生活回顾：公共空间研究的机器学习
SWA (Anya Domlesky, XL Lab at SWA) Plaza Life Revisited is a research project by XL Lab, SWA’s innovation lab undertaking practice-based research. The project reconsiders the writer William H. Whyte’s Street Life Project and seminal study The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces (1980). It seeks to understand how types of new public spaces have shifted some 40 years after he published his book and companion film, what has changed in how people use public realm spaces, and what makes well used spaces. The project looked at 10 plazas in Manhattan by 10 different designers, constructed or renovated in the last 15 years. The sites range from the type of bonus plazas Whyte was observing, to infrastructural leftovers, alleys, transit plazas, private campus spaces, and tactical urbanist interventions. The team used new analytical tools such as a machine learning algorithm (a type of artificial intelligence) that employed object detection and tracking on video footage of peak daytime use. These resulted in heat maps describing dwell time, frequent and infrequent usage, and preliminary pedestrian counts. The team also used some of the same techniques Whyte did—behavioral observations, site measurements, and hand tabulation. The goal was to identify common behavioral patterns, collective activity, programming, physical elements, and understand context across the sites in order to inform future public realm design. Findings and methods were published in a booklet called Field Guide to Life in Urban Plazas.
For the “Eyes of the City” of UABB, the research team is experimenting with an extension of the New York study using a different data input. Infrared video footage registers human and animal body heat instead of light, which allows for both evening site usage to be accurately captured and analyzed, as well as automatic individual anonymization. Two local SWA-designed sites are engaged: Shekou Coastal Promenade in Shenzhen, and Xiqu Centre in Hong Kong.
Credits: Anya Domlesky, Emily Schlickman, Tom Balsley, Chella Strong, Jen Saura, Hallie Morrison, Bill Tatham, Julie Eakin, Paul Wehby, Xiaoyin Kuang 邝晓茵.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.