Codes and Plug-ins for Architectural Research – Raul Kalvo as Visiting Researcher in Darmstadt

project–mo.de: Dear Raul, you are a visiting researcher at the Department of Architecture at Technische Universität Darmstadt. What is your reason to visit Martin Knöll and his team?
Raul Kalvo: Currently I am getting familiar with Martin Knöll and his team. One short term goal is to get familiar how they have implemented SpaceSyntax in case of estimating traffic volumes. In spring we are most likely exploring some new topics more related local context.

project–mo.de: And what is your work during your stay in Darmstadt?
Raul Kalvo: I have been working on couple of topics. One is getting familiar with SpaceSyntax methods and evaluating if it has correlation with traffic and pedestrian volume estimation. At the same time I have been exploring traditional traffic centric methods.

project–mo.de: How is that connected to your current research question?
Raul Kalvo: Our goal is to connect estimated traffic volume on any given street network segment without ground proofing. Currently we are exploring option on what could be best proxy for traffic volume (SpaceSyntax Integration, street category or something else).

project–mo.de: What inspired you to look into this topic?
Raul Kalvo: Earlier this year Tampere University of Technology was looking someone to perform country (Finland) wide street level computation and it seemed challenging task. I think I was more drawn to project from technical point of view.

project–mo.de: Which method do you use for that scientific work?
Raul Kalvo: I think there are couple of principle what I am following rather than methods. For example, I try to make sure all numbers in project have some real life counterpart. That should make also logical sense. Number of people per hour makes sense, but people times cars most likely don’t. Lately I have paid more attention also to intuition and sense. Probably it is due to nature of projects since I have been working mostly in urban and social context.

project–mo.de: You also use codes and plug-ins for your architectural research. Can you explain this way of working?
Raul Kalvo: It gives me freedom to combine different tools into workflows. Very often one needs to rerun some order of tasks over and over. Each step you could make mistakes and that brings one to previous step if not to the start. Best way to improve that is to join different tools into one workflow programmatically. If you know how code works it allows you to use more effecting, faster components. Sure, it is not going to be user-friendly but it is going to be quicker to implement and most likely cleaner. If you run into problem you could fix it directly in code. Another aspect of coding is building tools for other. Sometimes even simple extension can improve ones work from hours to seconds. In design field it means one can try out more options and implement changes much quicker.

project–mo.de: What do you think about the upcoming concept of “mobility design”?
Raul Kalvo: UX is most likely rising field and it seem interesting how this project is taking holistic look to mobility.

project–mo.de: Let’s talk more about the local situation. What is your preferred mode of transport?
If possible, I would prefer walking or cycling after that comes public transportation. Since I live and work in reasonable distance it is easy to use these transportation modes.

project–mo.de: Do you see differences as well as similarities in Darmstadt, Tampere and Tallinn?
Raul Kalvo: Tampere and Darmstadt seem to have strong university influences. Even thought Tallinn has couple of universities they do not play that kind of roll. All three cities are coming from different background. Tallinn for example has strong medieval background. From 1950–1990 there has been strong Russian influx. Architecturally there is many Soviet prefab neighbourhoods. I haven’t seen that kind of neighbourhoods in Tampere nor Darmstadt. Same time Tampere and Darmstadt has much more multi-cultural influx from last 20 year or so. Tallinn cultural mix hasn’t change that much in 20 year. Architecturally I sense Tallinn seems to be wild west compare to Tampere and Darmstadt, which both have much more coherent architectural language. Darmstadt is part of larger network of cities where Tampere and Tallinn seem to be bit more on their own.

project–mo.de: Which mobility design has impressed you most in the last six months?
Raul Kalvo: Hard to pinpoint anything radically new from last 6 months. Over and over again I see working pedestrian and cyclist friendly infrastructure models and do not understand why some cities are so against to implement more pedestrian and cycle friendly infrastructure. Maybe most I have most impressed (in a strange way) from ignorance by some cities who are still focused on cars.

project–mo.de: Raul, thank you very much for your answers. We wish you a pleasant stay here and also a save travel back to Tampere!

Further Readings

Knöll, M., Neuheuser, K., Cleff, T., Rudolph-Cleff, A. “A tool to predict perceived urban stress in open public spaces.“ Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science (SAGE Publications), Jan 2017. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0265813516686971.

Halblaub Miranda, M., Knöll, M., The Luisenplatz Study – The relationship between visual fields and perceived stress in a public transport hub. Proceedings of the 11th International Space Syntax Symposium Lisboa, 2017. http://www.11ssslisbon.pt/docs/proceedings/posters/192.pdf.

Knöll, M., Neuheuser, K., Li, Y., & Rudolph-Cleff, A. “Using space syntax to analyze stress perception in open public space.” Proceedings of the 10th International Space Syntax Symposium. London: UCL. Jul 2015. http://www.sss10.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/SSS10_Proceedings_123.pdf.

The interview was given in a written form and prepared by Yves Vincent Grossmann.