Modeling Movement: Visualization of Inhabited Space


Team Members Participating:

Burcak Ozludil
Instructor; Interim Associate Dean (Honors College); Coordinator, Accreditations, Digital Platforms, Media (College of Architecture and Design)

Augustus Wendell
University Lecturer and Coordinator of Digital Design Program in CoAD at NJIT

Project Summary:

Our project is an extension of the temporospatial reconstruction of a nineteenth century Ottoman mental institution, Toptasi Asylum, within the digital platform SpatioScholar that we have been developing over the last two years. The specific project we propose for “3D and (Geo)Spatial Networks” is modeling the movement of Asylum habitants using agent based modeling tools.

As a platform for temporospatial scholarship and analysis, SpatioScholar benefits from a number of features: the juxtaposition of temporal changes to space, the organization of primary sources in relation to space, and the annotation of space. We think that the Summer Institute is an important opportunity to develop a theoretical framework and test implementation of an agent based simulation toolset in art/architecture history.

What makes this project interesting in terms of art/architecture historical questions and a particularly fruitful one as a digital project is the fact that it is not a purpose-built asylum. In other words, the building itself is not necessarily a “masterpiece” in its genre, and, accordingly, its significance does not manifest itself formally as it would in a more conventional art historical approach. The significance in terms of Ottoman modernization and medical modernization as embodied in architecture becomes apparent when one tracks the changes the Asylum went through (e.g. construction, building additions) and the way the building was reprogrammed by a specific reorganization of time and space. By visualizing transformation of the building over time, it becomes possible to demonstrate how a sixteenth century Ottoman building was modified significantly to respond to the perceived medical necessities of the nineteenth century. By reconstructing and visualizing the movements of its occupiers (patients, doctors, and staff), the platform will allow a better understanding of the medical treatments and daily routines (eating, cleaning, sleeping etc.) that took place. These activities were considered crucial components of the healing process at the time.

The SpatioScholar platform initially evolved from Dr. Ozludil’s dissertation project, “Madness and Empire: The Ottoman Asylum, 1830-1930,” but given its intentionally flexible setup, we think that in the near future it can serve other scholars that approach the space/building/location as a lived place that reflects its social, cultural, and political milieu. The space in question can be as small as a room or as large as a city. So are time intervals: one can collect and visualize activities in a location over a day, over decades, and if the case calls for it, even over centuries.

We are working towards making the platform open, accessible, and scalable for those engaged in projects including but not limited to art historical, architectural, and urban research as they tackle broader questions. This larger objective is outside the scope of the proposed project for the Summer Institute.

External Link(s):

Project website:
Link to a previous published article:

Presentation Slides (PDF)