Animations allow vast amounts of information to be visualised and communicated in a very short space of time. As such they are ideal for conveying information on the historical evolution of the urban landscape. They are also an important tool for understanding how long-term development patterns relate to planning issues today and how our urban landscapes could look in the future.
The London Evolution Animation
The London Evolution Animation was built at CASA in 2012 by Flora Roumpani for English Heritage’s exhibition ‘Almost Lost’. It was commissioned on behalf of English Heritage by Polly Hudson Design and brought together thousands of georeferenced historical street network records. These were generously supplied by some of the key producers of historical spatial data for London: Dr Kiril Stanilov (CSIC University of Cambridge and CASA), Museum of London Archaeology. English Heritage (now Historic England), The Institute of Historic Research, The Centre for Metropolitan Studies, and The Historic Towns Trust. The animation has received over 350,000 hits on YouTube to date also demonstrating its pop- ular appeal.
4D Local Evolution Animations
Experimentation with 3D models animated through time, has been carried out by Steve Evans (3figs.com/UCL Energy Institute) and Polly Hudson (Polly Hudson Design/CASA, UCL) over the past decade. Though extensive archive research is required for the construction of this type of model these can then can be used to visualise multiple narratives relevant to a wide range of sectors.
Initially developed in 2004, in collaboration with The Building Exploratory for use as public information tools, evolution models are hypothesised to be of growing relevance to those working in energy consumption, planning policy, and urban resource conservation.
Collaborators & funding contributors since 2004 include The Building Exploratory, The UK Green Building Council, The Wates Foundation, The Centre for the Historic Environment (Kellogg College, University of Oxford), The Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage. A sample narra- tive for the which the model was used is available at
4D evolution animations are also designed to complement 3D digital city models which are likely to play in increasingly important role in planning in the future. Research is currently underway at CASA to create a 3D interactive model for London, reviving the unit’s earlier research in this field. Such models will allow the building stock to act as a vast filing cabinet into which metadata can be inserted, visualised, accessed, manipulated and connected.
Extending audiences using vectorised historical data
In the Tower Re-viewed we experimented with vectorised historical data as a way of engaging new audiences in the planning process. Attention is paid to colour, line, music and movement rather than chronology, narrative or analysis.
Datasets show street networks in the City of London, and around the Tower of London, from Roman times to the present day. Roman networks are represented in green; Medieval/Tudor in orange; Victorian in purple; Edwardian in pink, and roads today are shown in red. These were produced to explore the extent to which anicient networks survive in the area today, and impact of modern road interventions on the centuries old relationship between the River Thames and the City delicate mesh of medieval streets.