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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Assignment two

UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture
Environmental Design Program (ENDS)

ENDS 221: DESIGN - Sustainability by Design. Making our Cities Healthy for Humans and Other Living Things.

Winter Term 1, September to December 2011
Professor Patrick M. Condon        -          11 AM to 12:30 PM 

Assignment 2:  More statistics than you ever wanted.

This project will give you a chance to see how deep and rich is the data used to describe the city. Your job is to turn this raw data into knowledge, and to draw conclusions about the physical city based on information that is not in view.  This is intended to be another fun and simple project with a main ambition of exposing you to the data rich way of looking at our communities, and to begin to use that information to draw conclusions about how sustainable an  area is. You will be asked to look at census information for either the City of Vancouver or your own home town if that town is within the Vancouver Metropolitan region. We will ask you to analyze and to draw conclusions about both the city and a much smaller census tract area within that same city.

Learning objectives.
1     Demonstrate an ability to see the city as the embodiment of measurable but often invisible statistical phenomenon.
2     Write a clear text to describe (i.e. produce an analysis) a location as the statistics reveal it, including age, income, travel mode, tenure type, and how much is spent on housing.
3     Depict this information in a graphically clear way with maps and photographs.
4     Demonstrate an ability to draw conclusions (i.e. produce a synthesis) from what you have observed.
5     For those with no familiarity at all with geographic information systems (GIS), to gain same.

First go to this web site:

It's not exactly user friendly so a few step by steps to get you started.  

1.   When you get there you should be looking at a map of Vancouver. If you are not you can zoom out to the whole country map by clicking on the notched scale bar (this works the same as Google maps). Then click on the "pan" button to get the ability to click, hold, and move the map to where you want to be.

2.  When you have the whole city in your view, click on the tab called "layers one" along the bottom of the map. There you have a lot of so called radio buttons to choose from. They set the scale at which the information is displayed. We are now, and almost always, interested in the "census tract" scale. So click that one. Some additional lines should show up. Those indicate the census tract areas. They are various sizes, but in Vancouver are often about 20 to 50 blocks in size. Maddeningly they usually use the major arterials as the dividing line between two tracks. Yet another indignity for arterials which are really the center of worlds, not the edges.

3.  Now the real fun begins. One of the tabs on the bottom is called "thematic maps". Click on that one. A new menu window opens u p down there. If you click on the arrow on the right a bunch of options open up. Woah! Lots of options! And they concern a lot of the things we have already talked about, and that we will talk a lot more about as the term progresses. Things like density, age demographics, how do you get to work, how much of your income do you spend on housing, one and on. To get used to it, click on the top one, the population density. The map changes colors. This is expressed in people per sq K. But if you divide by 100 you get this in terms of people per hectare, which is closer to the way we have talked about density in class. If you want to think of it in acres, just divide this number by 2.5 (2.47 for the very precise among you) to get people per acre. To get units per acre take this number and divide by 2.2 to get the units per acre. Remember that we think of 10 dwelling units per acre as the magic number for sustainable movement.

4. Play with the other map options, with particular attention to housing cost, age, transportation choices, changes in density, and over 65.

5. Finally, to dig into the information even deeper, click on the button on the right called "identify". After you do that it will let you click one of the census tracts and open up avenues for more information. Try it.  When you do that it should make one of the tracts a different color. This lets you get "additional data" from the additional data tap at the bottom. Click on that tab.

6. That should now show options that include "census tract profiles". Click on that. Woah again! A chart comes up with tons of detailed information about income, age, transportation, job types, education. On and on.

Please explore this page, including print functions, until you feel comfortable with the way this works.

Specific project requirements.

1.    You are to analyze both the city and one census tract.
2.    You are to find places in the city that are denser than 10 dwelling units per acre, and those that are less. Provide a map illustration and 200 words of text that explains that.
3.    You are to find out if there is any pattern of affordability in our city, i.e. any parts where housing generally consumes less than, or more than, 30 percent of a family's average income. Provide a map illustration and 200 words of text that explains that.
4.    You are to find out if there is any pattern in the ways that people get to work, and you are to try to explain that, based on what you know or what you have learned in this class. Provide a map illustration and 200 words of text that explains that.
5.    Now we want you to hone down on one census tract within the larger city. Please choose one based on how well it demonstrates sustainability (affordable housing, use of transit, a wide range of ages housed, etc). Then mine the data for that one tract as indicated above. Provide an aerial photograph of this area from google maps, and three photographs taken on site (put captions on each photo). Provide a 500 word set of conclusions (synthesis) describing why this census tract is more sustainable than others.

Submit this project on no more than five pages. On paper not electronic. Composition counts. Do this project in a similar graphic style as the first assignment. No format sheet is provided this time. You are flying on your own now!

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