Viewing the Emergent City and Its People



“The future has already arrived, its just not equally distributed yet!my favourite quotation from my favourite author William Gibson aptly describes this 4K Time-lapse Film by Karl Davies. There are no words or any commentary – see and think for you self what this means!

Landscapes of consumption


Water-wise Gardening – Where are we?

A great post by

Marijke Honig. Published in The Indigenous Gardener, February 2017



As a landscaper, I feel we pay lip-service to water conservation in the landscape industry. Despite the liberal use of the word ‘water-wise’ on plant labels at nurseries, and during design presentations, the fact is that many gardens and landscapes are watered at least twice a week, and often three times.

While some indigenous and water-wise species are indeed adapted to drought, the way that we water (too frequently, not deeply) prevents them from developing strong, deep root systems. Instead of ‘making rain’ with our irrigation systems – giving a long deep watering – we wet the leaves, mist the atmosphere and moisten the top few centimeters of soil – only to have most of it evaporate soon after. Crazy, isn’t it? When one considers that most gardeners are using treated potable water on their gardens, it becomes even more incomprehensible. Imagine emptying 500 bottles of mineral water in one area of your garden – this is the typical water-use of ONE station of shrub sprayers.

Clearly, it is time for a major rethink.

What is a water-wise garden?

Is a water-wise garden one that is watered once a week, or once a month during the dry season? Or not at all? Or since rainfall varies widely across the country, should it be a relative measure?

There is currently no benchmark in the industry for a ‘water-wise garden.’ It is a vague relative term that implies ‘less than usual.’ Personally, I think this is not good enough! Fourie Petersen suggests water-wise landscaping should be based on a philosophy of sound ‘water management practices’. And ‘management’ requires measurement. Imagine if all landscapers always installed a water meter and rain gauge at each site, and organized weekly data to be collected and submitted to a regional/ national database? If we measure the amount of rain and water applied to landscape, we will have an accurate record and understanding of water-use, and be able to develop a benchmark over time.

Our relationship with water

Is it fair to say that water restrictions help to increase general awareness and appreciation for water? I think so. Switching off automated watering systems has brought us closer to our gardens: we are now tuning into plants and their needs and having to make tough decisions which ones are going to receive the grey water. My pots have never looked better since I’ve put a plastic basin in the kitchen sink for rinse water – it provides a few liters several times a day. In the days when I still had a bath with my young son, and it took me ten full buckets to empty it, I realized that even a shallow bath used a hundred liters. Needless to say, we have been showering since!

Saving and storing water

As landscapers in the Cape, we are often faced with the question of whether to install water storage tanks. This has led to healthy debate when one considers the following:

  • The Western Cape experiences a long dry season – often 4-5 months with no rainfall

  • One irrigation cycle can require 5000 -10 000 liters for a medium to large garden, so one can empty a full tank in one watering cycle

  • Tanks require space and have a visual impact

  • Water is pressurized with a booster pump, so electricity is used

  • Tanks are made of plastic, which has a significant environmental footprint

Looking at the above, it would suggest the value of storage tanks is questionable in the Cape. However, it is predicted that as a consequence of climate change, rainfall will be more erratic and less sharply seasonal. This summer in Cape Town seems to be a case in point: we received a big rainfall event in December and another downpour a month later – very unusual for January.  If gardens were properly zoned into water-use zones, a full tank could last much longer, when used judiciously for selected high and medium water-use areas. Watering will make the difference between Scadoxusflowering, for example, or barely surviving during a long dry summer.


Storing rain water has another less tangible benefit: it brings us closer to the weather and rainfall and increases our appreciation of water. Recently I visited my friends who had put a 200-liter plastic drum under a gutter in their courtyard. It seemed so insignificant compared to the 2 x 5000-liter storage tanks they already had, but Pat pointed out it was enough to make 200 liters of foliar feed for his veggies. He requires unchlorinated water to make activated worm compost tea, so the rainwater is valuable. This experience has shifted the way I think: even small water storage tanks are worthwhile.

Understanding water in the soil

In his excellent book The Water-wise garden’ (Penguin Australia, 2008) Jeffrey Hodges explains how plants use water and the way water is stored in the soil. I found his book fascinating, and the chapter on ‘How water works in your garden’ has transformed my watering practices. Understanding the physical aspects of water and soil has changed the way I look at water. He describes that ‘when water falls onto the ground, either by irrigation or natural rainfall, soil scientists divide it into 3 categories’ (notice only a small portion of it is actually available to plants):

  • ‘Run-off water is water that washes off the surface without soaking into the ground. It may cause erosion and is unavailable to plants.

  • Gravitational water is the water that soaks in and drains away into the subsoil – not available to plants.

  • Capillary water is the water that remains ‘stuck’ in the smaller pore spaces of the soil – this is the water which is available to plants.’ This water which surrounds the soil particles is what root hairs and mycorrhizal threads (mycelia) can absorb.

It is worth noting that the free capillary water keeps moving up, towards the surface, as water evaporates into the atmosphere. It is as if water is constantly sucked up through the soil. This is why a thick layer of mulch really helps because it cools the soil and slows down the upward movement of soil water and loss to the atmosphere. Hodges explains that ‘as soil dries out, the moisture films around soil particles become thinner and at a certain point the root hairs cannot ‘extract’ the water, because of strong attractive forces holding the water to the soil particle.’ At this point – called permanent wilting point – the plant goes into water deficit.

Above: Sketch from ‘The Water-wise Garden’ by Jeffrey Hodges Raindrops that fall on bare soil damages its structure. Covered soil remains undisturbed and the water soaks in where it falls.


Where The Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak Remembered

Nicole M. Cleary

Where The Wild Things Are - Cover Where The Wild Things Are – Cover

Maurice Sendak, most notably the writer and illustrator of the children’s book Where The Wild Things Are, passed away today. There were many books I loved as a child, Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss, Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, and of course Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Like the other author’s on my list, Mr. Sendak dared to do something different with his writing. He created a world of imperfect heroes, creepy characters, and dark story-lines.

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The Treasures of Satan — Jean Delville

“The Hunter Gracchus,” a short tale by Franz Kafka


“The Hunter Gracchus”


Franz Kafka

Two boys were sitting on the wall by the jetty playing dice. A man was reading a newspaper on the steps of a monument in the shadow of a hero wielding a sabre. A young girl was filling her tub with water at a fountain. A fruit seller was lying close to his produce and looking out to sea. Through the empty openings of the door and window of a bar two men could be seen drinking wine in the back. The landlord was sitting at a table in the front dozing. A small boat glided lightly into the small harbour, as if it were being carried over the water. A man in a blue jacket climbed out onto land and pulled the ropes through the rings. Behind the man from the boat, two other men in dark coats with silver buttons carried a…

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Windsor, May 1829 — Walton Ford


Radical chic: Avant-garde fashion design in the Soviet 1920s

Funky design layouts – I especially like the fabric designs

Sunday Mural

Favela Painting Project

Vertical horizons of Hong Kong by romain jacquet-lagreze

Ghostly Condos of New York

“I’ve seen Kelly Ripa there. Two little kids were playing with Legos on the treadmill next to her, and there was nobody else.” — NYT

If you thought China or Dubai are the only places where you enter a multi million dollar condominium just purchased for that unruly son / daughter or a mistress, or laundering money.., hold on… Why is that all sold out prime luxury condo building in New York only occupied 10% with concierge, room service and all?

From Archinect

Progressive Geographies

bus-map-b-12-07-16At Territorial Masquerades, Teo Ballvé discusses this remarkable graphic of bus routes between West Jerusalem and Israeli West Bank settlements. I took the bus from Kiryat Arba on the outskirts of Hebron back to Jerusalem quite late one evening to the surprised looks of the driver and passengers.

This is one of several produced by Visualizing Palestine – Teo links to a few more in his post, but there are several that are worth a look. While many have political messages that are important, I was most struck by the cartography of the bus routes, and this second one on the typologies of roads within Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. Typologies of SeparationIt’s intended to demonstrate the way that different licence plates lead to different access rights, but it links to some of the work done by Eyal Weizman and others around the control of space in the West Bank, which is…

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Some nice color pictures of Paris at the turn of the century. I thought they might be useful for those of you that work on Paris, urban space, etc. Here is the link:  Paris 1900

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World map by Ranulf Higden, British Library

Recently, in my ongoing researching of maps, I discovered that before the 15th century, the word “map” did not exist. Instead, what today we consider to be maps were referred to in the centuries preceding the 15th, as “diagrams”. This makes a great deal of sense because cartographic accuracy was less important than the graphic depiction of spatial relationships between not only geographic features but between social, cultural and religious values and symbologies. During the Medieval period maps were produced to depict a particular event or occasion unlike our contemporary notion of a ‘generalised’ map of a territory. Medieval maps included written descriptions and were often accompanied by written itineraries on scrap pieces of parchment that often listed the successive places/sights along the route. These maps were narrative in nature, and combined history, memory and experience to diagram place. This format of mapping…

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Add your thoughts here… (optional)

Add your thoughts here… (optional)


Ric Stultz lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in a little house with his girlfriend and dog. Other than working in the studio his favorite activity is gardening.  Stultz days are mostly spent in the studio working on client projects and painting. The style of his illustrations are hand drawn images with bright colours and hard edge line work.
The artist prefers to create most of his work by hand and use the computer only for output and minor adjustments. Using traditional tools and techniques such as: paints, brushes, paper, ink, gesso, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop .

A beautiful festival of geography, lines and colors painted with gouache & ink on paper.


“Men read maps better than women because only men can understand the concept of an inch equaling a hundred miles.” Roseanne Barr

Manimal Portraits
Fallout of Urban
Photo and Illustration
A slap in the face

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What we hear when we see? Do we think we understand?


Kim Dingle, Maps of the U.S. Drawn from Memory by Las Vegas Teenagers, 1990

Do maps create or represent reality? And what is the reality that they purport to either create or represent? Is reality truth or is it perception? And, how much does perception affect what one knows to be the truth? Is a map a figment of the imagination? Do maps lie or do they make the truth visible? A mental map is map that describes an individual’s own internal map of their knowable world. It may be local (as local as the area inside a house), regional, national or international.  Mental maps draw upon a person’s memory and their point of view. They are not practical; they simply show a cartographer’s perceptions of their surroundings and the way they live in and move through physical and psychic space. Therefore, mental maps are personal and idiosyncratic and are…

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Paris: People, Places and Bling

By Theadora Brack

Open-air market shopping in Paris can look pretty intimidating, even to a shopping fanatic like myself. In fact, I used to stick instead to the safe predictability of the supermarché aisles.

But I’ve changed! I have seen tomates, aubergines, and haricots verts in a natural light, and I’m not going back to fluorescent. So to help out, here are a few tips. Grab your list and shopping bag. Let’s hit the stalls!

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New York, New York! Historic Photos From the NYC Municipal Archives

The New York City Municipal Archives just released a database of over 870,000 photos from its collection of more than 2.2 million images of New York throughout the 20th century. Their subjects include daily life, construction, crime, city business, aerial photographs, and more. I spent hours lost in these amazing photos, and gathered this group together to give you just a glimpse of what’s been made available from this remarkable collection. [53 photos]


Sunlight floods in through windows in the vaulted main room of New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, illuminating the main concourse, ticket windows and information kiosk. Photo taken ca. 1935-1941. (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) 

Aerial view of New York City, looking north, on December 16, 1951. (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

28th Street Looking east from Second Avenue, on April 4, 1931. Google map streetview today here.(Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Meeker Avenue Bridge under construction, looking south, showing Brooklyn approach, on June 29, 1939(Joseph Shelderfer/Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Shadows are cast beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, seen from a stable roof, on May 6, 1918.(Eugene de Salignac/Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

A worker on the Brooklyn Bridge, on November 19, 1928. (Eugene de Salignac/Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Markus Mercury Wheel Club, Flushing Race Track, bicyclists ready to race in June of 1894. (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Original City Hall subway station, IRT Lexington Avenue Line, in 1904. (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Coney Island looking east from Steeplechase Pier showing Sunday bathers, crowd on beach, on July 30, 1922.(Rutter, Edward E./Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

A two-horse team street cleaner, with sprayer, squeegee, and roller at rear. (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

An experimental exposure made on the Queensboro Bridge, on February 9, 1910.(Eugene de Salignac/Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Italian vegetable sidewalk stand, on Bleeker Street, near Church of Our Lady of Pompeii, in August of 1937.(Bofinger, E.M./Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Lower Manhattan skyline at night, seen from either the Staten Island Ferry or Governor’s Island, in February of 1938.(Bofinger, E. M./Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Hayden Planetarium, American Museum of Natural History, West 81st St, between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West.(Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Red Hook Swimming Pool, Clinton, Bay & Henry Streets, Brooklyn. Bathers as far as the eye can see.(Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Queensboro Bridge under construction, on August 8, 1907. (Eugene de Salignac/Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

The Queensboro Bridge, showing reconstruction of tracks looking east, on November 22, 1929.(Eugene de Salignac/Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

A one-legged newspaper boy and other “newsies”, on Delancey Street, on December 26, 1906.(Eugene de Salignac/Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

New York Police Department evidence photo, homicide scene. Jos Kellner, 404 East 54th Street, murdered in hallway, on January 7, 1916. (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Powell House at 195th Street and 58th Avenue North, Queens, on May 20, 1941 (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Times Square theaters by day, in New York City. The Times Building, Loew’s Theatre, Hotel Astor, Gaiety Theatre and other landmarks are featured in this January, 1938 photo. (Bofinger, E.M./Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

An aerial view of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, on January 27, 1965. (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

A view from the Williamsburg Bridge, looking west, showing congested traffic in Manhattan, on January 29, 1923.(Eugene de Salignac/Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Painters suspended on cables of the the Brooklyn Bridge, on October 7, 1914. (Eugene de Salignac/Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

A Hooverville in Brooklyn, ca. 1930-1932. The area is now Red Hook Park in Brooklyn. (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

New York Police Department Evidence photo. Homicide victim – overhead view, ca. 1916-1920. At the corners, note the legs of the tripod supporting the camera above the body. (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

A Subway Road Comes up for air in Brooklyn — in background, a view of Manhattan from subway elevated tracks, 8th Street, Brooklyn, New York, on March 21, 1938. (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Yankee Stadium, Yankees on the field during a game, ca. 1935-1947. (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

A man reads a newspaper on New York’s 6th Ave. and 40th St, with the headline: “Nazi Army Now 75 Miles From Paris.”, on May 18, 1940. (AP Photo/Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

New York Fire Department demonstration of a steam pumper converted from horse-drawn to motor-driven, at 12th Avenue and 56th Street. (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Men cut ice from Kissena Lake in Queens, ca. 1860-1900. (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Children and adults with herd of sheep in the Sheep Meadow in Central Park, New York City, ca. 1900-1910.(Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Part of the superstructure of the under-construction Manhattan Bridge rises above Washington Street in New York, on June 5, 1908.(AP Photo/Eugene de Salignac/Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Manhattan Bridge, under-construction, seen from the roof of Robert Gair Building, showing suspenders and saddles, on February 11, 1909. (Eugene de Salignac/Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Aboard a police boat on October 10, 1934, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia hacks away at confiscated slot machines about to be destroyed and dumped into New York harbor. (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

A view down an alley, as rows and rows of laundry hang from tenements ca. 1935-1941. Seen looking west from 70 Columbus Avenue or Amsterdam Avenue at 63nd Street. (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

A crowded street market under New York City Rail Road tracks, looking south on Park Avenue from 123rd Street in June of 1932.(Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

A night view of Midtown Manhattan, looking south from Madison Avenue and the 50’s, ca. 1935-1941.(Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Amid road construction, the Hudson Diner advertises “Tables for Ladies” on November 20, 1929, on Marginal Street, looking east from 125th Street. (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Ninth Avenue El trains with passengers on 2 levels of tracks, 66th Street El station in background, in October of 1933. Photo taken on Columbus Avenue, northwest of Lincoln Square & 65th Street. (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

The S.S. Normandie, seen from a Staten Island ship steaming through upper bay on its way to a river pier built for it, ca. 1935-1941.(Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

A view of the city from the Brooklyn Tower of the Brooklyn Bridge, on April 24, 1933.(Eugene de Salignac/Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

A view of the city from the New York tower of George Washington Bridge, 168th Street & Hudson River, on December 22, 1936.(Jack Rosenzwieg/Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Fire Boats fight a blaze at Grace Line Pier 57, West 15th St, near the National Biscuit Co. building.(Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Members of the New York Fire Department attend to a fire victim. (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

The “Well”, US Signal Corps Army Base Terminal, Port of Embarkation. Ration cases from crate cars are hoisted to warehouse bins for storage, ca. 1945-1946. (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Water from firefighters’ hoses freezes on the side of adjoining buildings. (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Interior view of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) subway powerhouse, 58th to 59th Street, ca. 1904.(Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

42nd Street, looking west from 2nd Avenue. Chrysler Building at top right, “News Tavern” “Goblet Bar” at lower right, ca. 1935-1941.(Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Brooklyn Bridge painters at work high above the city, on December 3, 1915. (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

Aftermath of a collision on an elevated rail track. (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

The Queensboro Bridge, leading to Manhattan, seen on May 1, 1912. (Eugene de Salignac/Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 

A motorman operates a trolley cars near Williamsburg Bridge, on September 25, 1924. Signs advertise almonds, cold remedies, mustard, and stove polish. (Eugene de Salignac/Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives) # 



Libros híbridos y realidad aumentada

Special Issue about “Cartographies of Fictional Worlds”


The quarterly published Journal “The Cartographic Journal” is this time (Volume 48, Number 4, November 2011) dedicated to the Geography of Literature. This volume was guest-edited by Barbara Piatti (literary studies) and Lorenz Hurni (cartography) and gives an impressive overview and insights into exiting interdisciplinary projects.

»A literary-geographical reading can change our
understanding – not only of books, but of the world we
live in. It creates knowledge. Through literary geography,
we learn more about the production of places, their
historical layers, their meanings, functions and symbolic
values. If places emerge from a combination of real
elements and fictional accounts, then literary geography
and literary cartography can work as a very effective eyeopener.«

Barbara Piatti and Lorenz Hurni: Editorial, pp.218-223

»This special issue of the Cartographic Journal on
‘Cartographies of Fictional Worlds’ is made up of fascinating
stories, exotic places, original concepts, and a series of
media that ranges from…

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