Romantic City project moving fast

Posted on August 16, 2007


Yesterday I wrote of plans to develop a 3D interactive timeline/map of our city. It’s moving fast and there’s nothing like a good idea to get people excited and engaged. Interest in your surroundings is perhaps the first and most important step in sustainability so it is great to find a computing based project that seems to be ringing bells with so many people.


The Otago Daily Times has covered the project: Project to reveal romantic past

Yesterday I spent a very pleasant time with City Archivist Bill Sykes in his basement treasure trove. There he showed me collection after collection of stunning information: 1947 aerial photographs; rating books from 1857; all building consents from 1901…

City Councillor Fliss Butcher (and mayoral candidate) is behind the project:

This is a big and meaningful project and one that I would like to see at a later date DCC taking over to use for education community, planning, and urban design purposes. We believe this will be the first time such a project has been carried out and it makes sense for Dunedin to be the first city to have such a database as we have such a character-full city.

I also heard from Trevor Wills, retired City Engineer who asks if we plan to create a model of Dunedin’s streets in their undeveloped state? (yes). He points to the Dunedin Permanent Street Level plans created in the 1870’s. They show most or all of the streets inside the town belt including plan, original ground levels & cross sections, proposed street levels, longitudinal sections etc.

Norman Ledgerwood, a retired architect wrote with fascinating insights into Kettle’s original survey of the town and how the present day Octagon came into it. He has wonderful ideas about the background to Kettle’s thinking on the plan of Dunedin and how he was influenced by the current theories on planning and urban design in nineteenth century Great Britain.

Moira Jackson and Prof Ian Smith of Otago University’s Anthropology Department have also been helpful with pointing to sources and discussing matters of digital archeology, as has my old colleague Bruce McLennan of Information Science.

There is clearly a need for a platform for people to explore their heritage, and equally, a great number of people actively working in this area – be it formally or from a natural curiosity about their surroundings. Such curiosity is the foundation stone for sustainability. We are hoping that our work can both help such works and possibly provide a vehicle for their dissemination.

And on a lighter note but equally engaging, here’s my Dad’s take:

wow…that is amazingly interesting. You know how in google earth you can get down to a level before it effectively flattens all the buildings and features where you are at an angle that is like flying through a maze of streets…..and you know how the first star wars movie amazed everyone with the space ship travelling between buildings…well would you be able to do that for the various pasts…The present would be the first hurdle but at least you could use whatever technology would be needed to get the base record…eg real movie photography…or would it be simpler to use a bit of real photography and then create the city developing over the years like a computer game…..anyway…its an amazing project….whatever the possibilities…

This is the true worth of computing and its potential contribution to sustainability: “whatever the possibilities… “.