Distributed Agency Between 2D and 3D Representation of the Subsurface

Distributed Agency Between 2D and 3D Representation of the Subsurface

Fransje Lucretia Hooimeijer (University of Technology Delft, Delft, Netherlands) and Ignace van Campenhout (Municipality Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/IJ3DIM.2018040102

Abstract

Although severely altered, the urban subsurface is the base of the natural system, and is crucial for a stable, green, healthy, and liveable city. It is also the technical space, the engine room of the city where vital functions such as water, electricity, sewers, and drainage are located. This hybrid state needs to be recognized when designing resilient and durable (subsurface) infrastructure within urban renewal projects, so as to properly employ the parameters of both natural and technical systems. Interdisciplinary work is needed in order to be able to link natural systems (a) the water cycle, (b) soil and subsurface conditions, (c) soil improvement technology, and (d) opportunities for urban renewal (e.g. urban growth or shrinkage) in an efficient way. The importance of implementing “boundary spanning” when doing interdisciplinary work that deals with the effects of climate change is a widely recognized method, and has been an object of study in the city of Rotterdam in the past decade. The particular need for a “distributed agency” became clear during several research projects dealing with climate change, because it enables different actors to contribute to the development of the project at different phases. The representation of the city as both a natural and technical construction has been tested through the use of 2D and 3D information, which has played a significant role in enabling designs to incorporate the dimension of the subsurface. 2D and 3D information needs to anticipate different scales of specific planning and/or design phases, and they must also address various topics of the subsurface. For each phase of urban development, the distributed agency between 2D and 3D information is investigated and reflected upon. Conclusions are then drawn on the relationship between 2D and 3D information, and how it could relate in a productive, boundary spanning act that is inclusive of the subsurface. Based on these potential connections, the design of a new concept which implements boundary spanning as a facilitator is presented.
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1. Introduction

Although severely altered by human interference, the urban subsurface is the base of the natural system, and is crucial for a stable, green, healthy and liveable city. It is also a technical space, the engine room of thr city where vital functions such as water, electricity, sewers and drainage and tunnels are located. This hybrid state needs to be recognized when designing resilient and durable (subsurface) infrastructure within urban renewal projects, so as to properly employ the parameters of both natural and technical systems. Interdisciplinary work is needed in order to be able to link natural systems (a) the water cycle, (b) soil and subsurface conditions, (c) soil improvement technology, and (d) opportunities for urban renewal (e.g. urban growth or shrinkage) in an efficient way (Norrman et al., 2016). This is an urgent issue that can be tackled in order to deal with both the ill effects of climate change and energy transition in spatial planning (Hooimeijer and Tummers, 2017). It is because of these threats that the urban systems of cities need to adapt to a rapidly changing climate by accommodating pluvial, fluvial, and coastal flooding. Cities need to also implement green strategies that control their microclimate in order to reduce health problems related to heat stress; new urban systems need to be implemented, as energy suppiles and demands change and new technologies in dealing with sewer treatement are introduced. In all these issues, the subsurface plays a crucial role in future urban development, and its inclusion both a natural and engineered space will bring about innovation in both the urban development process and the construction of urban systems (Hooimeijer and Maring, 2018).

However, due to the heterogeneity of surface and subsurface characteristics, a large number of various experts (such as planners, designers, traffic specialists, economists, socialists, geologists, archaeologists, hydrologists, civil engineers, and geotechnicians) are involved in urban development, and all have their own specific perspectives, knowledge, concepts, language, and instruments. This issue of heterogeneity has been part of the main question which has guided several research projects in Rotterdam - how could communication between these different fields be facilitated in an effective manner? The main conclusion of these researches was that it could be done by using “boundary spanning” or “knowledge brokerage” which are methods specifically aimed at building, bridging, and connecting fields of different natures. In relation to the processes regarding spanning boundaries, Garud and Karnøe (2003) argue that this method is necessary in order to be able to create innovation due to the need for “distributed agency,” a process in which different actors contribute at different phases of a project’s development. However, human activity in the digital era is dependent on communication to increase knowledge sharing capacity and creates a condition for information integration, but is unfortunately often neglected and replaced by digital tools and platforms. The human side of “knowledge sharing” is defined here as “direct” or “binding” boundary spanning in which trust, respect, and shared responsibility (or distributed agency) is key (Van Campenhout et al., 2011). It is because of this that the visual representation of data and the ability to generate necessary synergy between the design of the surface and subsurface is the focus of this paper. These ideas are not necessarily new, as the field of architecture already has centuries of experience in representing technical projects in a stakeholder setting of different disciplines and actors, but this paper intends to push interdisciplinary work and design to a new level of understanding how and when to use 2D and 3D instruments.

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