This is density: research on city services

Project year
2018 — 2019
Team
MLA+
Project role
Data scientist & urban designer
Client
MLA+ / Project Baltia Magazine
Challenge
To outline local centers and sub-centers all over Saint Petersburg through research of commercial and social services.

I got into this project by an invitation from MLA+ mainly as an urban data scientist with a skill of Python programming, but my urban design experience was also highly used in the later stages of the project.

This research was aimed at pedestrian-used services, so the borders of the research don't match the administrative borders of the city, but rather based on the idea of continuous pedestrian city routes.

The project is based on open data.
Interactive 3D visualization of service density in Saint Petersburg
The visual perception of the map is quite simple: light and low hex-towers represent less services, dark and high hex-skyscrapers — more services. Each hexagon is approximately 150 by 150 meters. If you're using desktop computer — right-click+swipe up to see 3d mode in full swing. Unfortunately, on tablets and mobile devices you can only see the birdview perspective of the map, but still in 3d. Map and data was updated on 05.03.2020
Exploratory analysis on the map helps estimate service density in each part of the city/neighbourhood, see continuity or voids in services through the city. Lack of services usually shows monofunctionality of the location, lower social control (meaning lower safety). On the other hand, locations with more service density usually show vibrant life around the clock, more eyes on the street and less need for outer mobility — people can get all they want in their neighbourhood. To see a standalone map with dynamic _ static legend, go to http://danielgorokhov.com/thisisdensity_gl
Workflow
At first MLA+ invited me without a fixed goal in mind. They knew their need to research urban data to get location-based results and I was the guy to come to with this kind of request. Together we had a couple of meetings, where we pointed out objectives and our plan to meet them. After that, I've put together a list of service types to download and approved it with MLA+ guys. Than I've downloaded everything with the help of Python (now my dear work friend), put all data into one file and threw it into QGIS.

After a few experiments on the size on hexbins for our research, we've stopped with 65x65 meters for understanding city center better — this size perfectly corelating with typical central block, and 150x150 meters for city-wide research and corelation with all other city blocks.

Having done the hexbin map, sanity check was in order, to make sure the data and research was going okay. There were a couple of topics I was curious about during the check, one of them being highly dense hexbins far from metro stations and far from city center. Looking at raw data in the form of points, I've found out that those spikes of density were hospitals, each of the departmnets showing as an individual point. Although I had a temptation to even this out by leaving one point for each hospital, at some point it came to me that hospitals are, in fact, local centers for many people, but common perception is different because of lack of other types of services and urban environment around.

Half a year after finishing the project, I've learned the art of making 3D data maps in Mapbox and couldn't help myself making this map in 3D. To top it off, I've done my own deeper research on services data in a form of Medium post — looking at various corelations like densiy of services and density of built environment.
Outcome
Originally, I've done the research with MLA+ for Project Baltia Magazine exhibition entitled Ideal/Normal, speculating on the topic of present and future of Saint Petersburg.

Exhibition was placed for a month at the main hall of Alexandrinsky theatre new stage building in Saint Petersburg and then for two weeks in Moscow during big architecture festival, both in 2018.

My personal research with 3D map and Medium post was mentioned in a number of Russian mass media, including Strelka's own media platform — Strelka Magazine.
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Contacts

+7 950 027 74 46
daniel.gorohov@gmail.com
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