Thursday, 9 September 2010

Acorn Trail

Things are beginning to jell but other ideas remain separate like the routes that people take around the town centre. Here's 67 journeys combined into one image. Then there's the Acorn Trail.

Thursday, 2 September 2010


Using iconography to describe something quickly without referring to details is a great way to communicate a message. Think of a toilet sign. It is also a clever way of helping people describe something complex by explaining the essentials eg man or woman. Applying this to the buildings around the town centre may hopefully give people the visual language to be able to see things in a new light, to remember them and to describe them better later on. Events throughout the year and historically could be represented by a symbol which some people would recognise and relate to.

Accrington Icons

Since rendering a 3D map I have been thinking about how to add character to it. Many centres have an illustrated map viewed from high, looking down on finely drawn buildings, nicely coloured in. But I want to take this project further. It was interesting that in the survey nobody described the fine architectural detail in the Town Hall or at the front of the Market Hall (apart from a couple of very knowledgable people). Even though I've been past them many times and admired them I couldn't actually describe them. I perhaps, like many people have become visually blind to what is around. Further to this many people who lived in Accrington didn't like the town centre and yet people from outside the area, and it was a surprise to us how many there were, liked shopping in Accrington more than their "home" town. So perhaps we need to look differently about what is here. If there was a dark tall modern building in reflective glass instead of the Town Hall then people would be able to describe it because it would be a big monstrous, ugly box but because the Town Hall is elegant, well proportioned and finely decorated then it's difficult to sum it up in one entity.

3D Map

Part of the problem with creating a map is how to give life to it. Linear roads and rectangular building shapes are how graphic designers decide how to render a town centre perhaps because their tools, vector drawing programs such as Adobe Illustrator, are best used in this way. It's so easy to take a screen shot from Google Maps then plot lines around it. I've walked around the centre to get a feel for the vertical height to see how that affects people and the shops below. It's great to see people resting in the sun in the centre of Broadway or out-side one of the cafes at the front of the Market. I've rendered the town centre in 3D to get a feeling for the scale. Unlike many towns and cities it has no overpowering tall building so light gets through either on one side of the street or the other and, where the buildings have been sandblasted, the light reflects from the palish sandy-grey stonework. Most are Victorian apart from the shops around the Arndale Centre so the townscape has a unity (in scale) and if you look up you can still see Victorian rooftops and chimneys and be aware of where you are by the church spires. I would also like to study the topography but this may not be possible but the thought is there.