Hey, is it real, virtual or both?


Case study:

It is possible that in the near future spacial planning will have one more “e-dimension”.

(Gdańsk Science Park)


by Adam Rodziewicz











In front of our own eyes we are watching a revolution that is taking place in the domain of technology, institution and evaluation. It is just this full of inner connections trio that rules transformation of modern world. It reshapes itself and develops global village of interacting regions. Technology, institution and evaluation is creating electronic world of information. They change way of society is functioning. Social behaviors, expectations and systems are experiencing real earthquakes.

Information and Technology have become the driving force of change in the modern world. They have altered our economic structures and the ways we communicate. They have even changed how we relate one to another. Information and technology, even in small amounts help developing nations and communities to overcome convention and tradition and to take leaps forward. In time when style of life and business are related with information about new ideas and knowledge, about concrete surplus and demands, society is changing like tribes. There will survive these, who have their own unique ideas, better technological solutions and smoothly information flow.

Twentieth century was an age of money, power and electricity. Twenty first century is an age of information and technology. Information is The most valuable in present time. It is a carrier for technology, new ideas and potential source of wealth.



Our brains are modern gold mines but the biggest source of information about almost everything undoubtfully is the Internet. Moreover the biggest problem for the humanity is that every man has his own limit of taking in and understanding the unending stream of incoming information.  Huge amounts of unabsorbable information and chronic lack of time are the beginning of twenty first century illnesses. It is obvious that scientists are looking for brand new methods of receiving flood of information but until they discover anything we are trying to:

1.       extend time we can spent on receiving information,

2.       develop better usage of already known methods,

3.       make anything more comfortable and portable.

When we combine these three points into one we will get portable Internet available by device that include e-ticket, e-wallet, cellular phone, GPS, organizer, camera and e-key. Next step is converting this into some kind of wearable PC by which we will experience surrounding space. Enhanced ears and eyes doesn’t have to mean that we hear or see better (sharper, louder) - it also can be understand as to hear or see more and not only existing things. “Brains, eyes, voices, ears” as it has been written in TAN3. Nowadays humanity knows such devices as HUD in airplanes or combat radios that allow hearing besides orders, sound from surroundings. People are using all this as separate parts of equipment but in the near future it will be one device with all functions included.




Easily imaginative is situation when some elements of our present urban space exist only in virtual reality and people walking on the streets, sitting in a park or in some sort of public transport are using a kind of electronic devices to see additional layer of “reality”. Multimedia techniques allow to absorb more information in the same time. Portable devices allow to download information and “read” it in free time e.g. waiting for a bus or in the grocery. So bringing converted Internet “to streets” opens possibilities for getting to know with information all time around.

When any information has a concrete value one of more important problems could be possibility of delivering fast, cheap information. The easiest way for fixing this is to give people individual receivers and transmitters with double range –short– to other people in the neighbourhood and localization sensors, –long- with servers. People will receive signals from surrounding via electronics attached to their senses. This allows to send to them additional information. The best example of such situation are tourists visiting New Zealand National Park of Tongariro on Northern Island. They will be equipped with palmtop and GPS option in it and also software that provide map of park. When somebody is interested in something particular it is just one “click” on the map. When someone is not aware where he or she is right now - just takes a look on the screen. Such device can be used anywhere to see additional information e.g. who lives in a building in front of us, what direction should we go, what the weather forecast is, what is happening three corners from here and so on. It will be our personal HUD system. It is also a good medium for news, advertisements, global warnings, reminding to buy something when we are near the shop or even if in next shop isn’t that product cheaper. E-mails aren’t waiting to be picked up and can bring information that is influencing our next step just few seconds after it has been sent.

These information can be displayed depending what or in which direction we are looking at and that is the time when we will build virtual space as an addition to existing one. We will have then cyber cities that might have their localizations in the real world but might be as well attainable from everywhere. Not far from that is modifying the picture of a city. So called customization of a world. For what we should build signs, adds and so on when it is cheaper to put it into virtual e-layer or even when being bored with the color of your home elevation – “let’s make it blue today”.



            In time when we will have possibility to support reality by common unlimited virtual reality all these systems will always have one unpredictable factor – human. Even nowadays when all technologies, which have been mentioned here, are in early development stage, people are discussing problems connected with our brain. Will we be able to recognize differences between real and virtual? Won’t we lose ourselves in only virtual layer and lose care of things from real world? These two questions are most common when it takes to this topic. At the beginning of technological revolution, in time of steam and railway there were also voices predicting that humankind will go mad. Now using a computer hardly any one is afraid of being paralyzed by electric or electromagnetic shock. We are not able to forecast that people in future will even see a necessity of separating real from virtual.

There are always insane individuals or people with bad intentions. Now we have nerds, addicted ones, phrecers, hackers and they will be in a future.

Combining two sources of information, received by senses from real environment and virtual world can be treated as normal thing for future man with enhanced body or specially equipped one. For people used to such way of seeing the surroundings, world may seem to be incomplete after turning off virtual part. As always was during all ages of technology evolution the balance is a key. People should find golden center by deciding what is important in real and virtual layer.



            In such circumstances we can be sure that city will look different. Urban space will change its character. It is a big threat that buildings will be all in grey colors because the full palette is available in e-layer and that’s cheaper. Elevations will be with out any additional decorations, squares and streets will look like drawn with straight, simple lines. All can be dull and boring. Why to build something more then simple cube when it can be displayed as a great castle with the very stylish look. Such disaster can   be avoided by using special law regulation and educational processes. Decoration will have new meaning as a reflection of wealth and splendor. When something is more expensive it is a better luxury product. It is sure that major institutions would like to prevent from people using some fancy virtual skin on their building. If it isn’t regulated enough early by special articles it may cause many conflicts or even trials. Spatial planning should be one of several law regulations that should aim to prevent this. Probably it should regulate what kind of information can be delivered to the pedestrian walking in certain area. Furthermore it may bring zoning of net level access, zoning of private virtual spaces and corporate ones. It may declare where and in what layout different type of information should be displayed, especially advertisements. Information should be divided to five groups:


type 1 information that have to be placed on the e-layer,

type 2 that is allowed to be placed there (sometimes under certain regulations),

type 3 that is forbidden to be there,

type 4 that should be in real and either don’t have any regulations about virtual or only recommendations,

type 5 other, not included above.


The first group should contain street guiding signs, traffic signs and all sorts of warnings, any information concerned with emergency situations, health threats, disasters or military terms. The Second group these are all of other kind except from these carrying unmoral or offensive contents which have been rated as the third type. Fourth are real doublers from point one, all which because of technological reasons can’t be virtual and are in any way important, as well as all additional signs placed for infrastructure service or situation of the net shut down. There also will be needed exact rules how type 1 information should look like, what are canons of its designs.

Related to infrastructure there should be regulation about all electromagnetic waves (EMW) emitters. Scientist still aren’t sure how EMW are influencing human body. Many symptoms of this probably will occur after decades of observations. Moreover amount of useful frequencies is limited by physics rules and some of them are just too dangerous to be used worldwide.  Spatial plans will regulate how many emitters can work in the area, what frequencies are allowed, how many net providers may work there, and maybe how many private layers could be allowed.

KIS gives another wide possibilities in our urban domain staring from three-dimensional designing of space throughout executing of spatial law to space managing.

            Gdańsk Science Park is being proposed as testing site area. In this kind of institution possibility of quick exchange of information is very important. Every activity must be lead with resilience and with taking full advantage of whole human resources and their creativity. In this case big area for showing off is adequate designing of space, also in aspect of mentioned topics. One of the biggest problem that should be solved is such designing, that served information is clear and legible. In association with this It is a must to determine the right level of information, which is coming to person in certain time. Also it is a must to define such space, on which, when it is looked at, minimal amount of date is being displayed and also such where bigger or the highest amount is needed. The easiest to define are informations about what is going on in certain building and where this street or that sidewalk is leading. So we have to describe communication routes and buildings. The most intuitive is describing building objects by footnotes directed to their entrance doors. It could be putted as short entry with additional pulled down menus. After entering building, there is further level of information as references from inner space. That means where corridors and doors are leading. Firms can, in this way, show basic information (like www sites) on their doors. Also we have the need of specifying, which space (3-dimensional space) can be ascribed for an information applied to certain buildings, objects and spaces.

Additionally interesting is that libraries can have form of green parks or empty halls where bookshelves are located only in virtual layer. Walking in the park we are having a tour across knowledge, and searching some information we can drag to ourselves or see it highlighted where it is stored. It is obvious, that sometimes information is needed on a desk in an office, but also there is need to find place for teaching, learning or studying data. Lonely places such as park alleys or meadows seems to be ideal for this. Problem comes when quite often a student needs to go and find next book or consult something with someone. Such possibilities are available with described e-layer. Having in one point the access to any information, chat and discussion list we’ve got the phenomenon of portable concentration.

Concentration than have a meaning not connected with certain place in reality, but in virtual space. This also brings next accent on proper planning of virtual space. In this situation we can boldly say that there is no such case as the ”loss of concentration” as it is stated in title of the session number 3 of this year IsoCaRP Conference. There is only the situation of moving it to virtual layer of reality. The accent is taken from a place to a human being. The concentration in the real space is losing its meaning to virtual one.



            As always, basic question should be answered – is it worth of all that work that should be done or not? What are advantages and disadvantages of that? All SWOT (strenthnesses, weaknesses, oportunities and threats) analisis should be taken into consideration before developing such systems into the fully living and growing city. Before all the above possibilities will be reachable for usual pedestrian it needs a lot of testing and of course funds are needed.






good direct information flow

all information flow can be just switched off


quick warning system

as good is a tool as for worsen purpose it can be used – new security technologies are needed


free exchange of ideas

gossips and slanders can be spread quicker then ever and in an uncontrollable way


good KIS

possible fall down of civilization in area because of lackage of power supply


good tool for enhancement of local cooperation and relations between neighbors

threat of negative phenomen concerned with small communities


it is cheaper to make a virtual advertisement, sign than a real one

all new technologies need time to be adopted by ordinary people


electronic version of information is easier to edit and keep it up-to-date

all informations should be verified


electronic version of information is spreading much faster then conventional one

relations between people might change in not a positive way


e-layer could be a new type of media



Really strong argument is that it is potentially cheaper solution for accessing information with out any limit concerned with time and place. And what comes after that, information itselves will probably become cheaper. But to achieve such level of information access ability firstly it is ought to invest such amounts of money, which are often not available, or invent cheaper technical solutions. As we can see in above table there are also a lot of threats that should be avoided. There will be needed special educational program. We will have to establish brand new institutions for managing global or communal virtual space system.

It is hard to assess if change of concentration will occur as a right step in human development. However, looking back as technology was coming to our private lives, such changes are highly probable. 


Virtual space have to be treated as new but similar to reality area of space design. Spatial planer during his work have to take into consideration that there are no rules of gravity. Also it is important to take more attention for 3-dimencional thinking. Furthermore there isn’t such thing as bottom in virtual space. Only human mind is creating this because of its habits. New spatial plans will be created as 3D CAD projects with direct links to LIS (local information system). When we decide to use virtual space as a carrier for information all designing regulation should aim for receiving clear and legible data.

For me it is sure that spatial planning will expand to virtual space and we will have to confront problem connected with interaction between real and virtual space. In Gdańsk we are starting project of Gdańsk Science Park and we will try to deal with that problem.




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