atNight, designing the city at night

atNight Barcelona

Charles Eames stated once “The same stars that shine down on Russia shine down on the United States. From the sky our cities would look much the same.” Contrary to this universal tone, atNight project aims “to constitute a first step towards the construction of nightscape image, a contribution to the (re)definition of the nigh-time identity.” Eventually, seen from the sky, cities don’t look pretty much the same.

The research project uses open data from several agencies/companies namely: Agència d’Ecologia Urbana de Barcelona, Àrea Metropolitana de Barcelona, Cartobcn, Ajuntament de Barcelona, OpenData BCN, Ajuntament de Barcelona and Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona and also uses social web data with geographical information appended and containing the tag Barcelona from: Flickr, Instagram and Twiter.

The project is being led by a team of researcher, architect and engineer, respectively: Mar Santamaria i Varas, Pablo Martínez Díez, Jordi Bari Corberó. The visible part of this project is the 16 maps that show Barcelona under a totally new light.

The project aims to answer lots of questions: Do Park Güell, Rambla and Sagrada Familia design the shape of the city? What defines the city image? Is the continuity between the several parts of the city during the day broken by other points of interest during the night? How close is Barcelona city image to citizen’s use of it? Do citizens perceive the city in the same way? How relevant are main streets and intersections in the art of inhabiting?

Constellation Barcelona – mapped geolocated information stored on Flickr, Instagram and Twiter revealing the uniqueness of certain areas which are represented by a higher density of points, which have been superimposed according to different grade of opacity.

Constellation Barcelona

Barcelona is Barcelona – mapped geolocated information of images and messages stored on Flickr, Instagram and Twiter containing the tag Barcelona shows the key to understand the interdependence between urban form and citizens’ perception.


The image of the city – Barcelona iconic places revealed as well as the raise of the anonymous sites resulting of personal geographies.


Barcelona night and day – mapping geolocated information of images stored on Flickr and Instagram parsed by hour (night in blue, day in orange), reveals that the city visible structure matches its physical support. However, during the night, the continuity between several parts of the city is cut off as urban form is generated from multiple focuses.


Two cities, night and day – Using Flickr and Instagram images to map Barcelona’s visible structure to compare it to most registered locations from twitter parsed by hour.




Uniqueness versus Identity – Day perception is based on the uniqueness of certain central areas while at night city takes the form of multiple focus which apparently could seem anonymous places in a map, but actually uphold urban identity. Nightscapes are built upon presences and absences, the latter understood not as gaps in the mesh of the visible but as the basis on which the visible is based.


Barcelona sentiment, night and day – These maps were obtained from georeferenced messages stored on Twiter parsed per sentiment and hour trying to build an abstract representation of the city with no streets or reference points it is still visible the rough shapes of urban activity. Urbanity changes throughout the day, from the center to the periphery; the city boundaries become the place for positive sentiment as night represents the time of socialization beyond productive hours.







Visible City, living city – mapping the image and experience of the city by superimposing geolocated information of images stored on Flickr to most registered locations obtained from Instagram and Twiter parsed by hour and block. They show us that Barcelona is used evenly – most visible areas fade away. Visible city becomes the living city.


Movement versus Density – llustrates how street and private space relate to each other within the framework of the living city. The mobility flow -layer generated from geolocated itineraries from Barcelona taxi fleet- contrasts with the population density per block (data source: OpenDataBcn).


Taxi night and Day – Mobility flows also resume urban form. By representing geolocated itineraries from Barcelona taxi fleet, they identified certain interference between mobility performance from night to day (blue and orange respectively). While day-time itineraries outline a city based on homogeneity, a new hierarchical order appears within the road network during night-time.


Bicing night and day – Citizens experience the city at different speeds. Besides displaying main routes that connect various parts of the city, we aim to represent the activity generated around Barcelona bicing stations in the lapse of stop and exchange. These areas of influence, mapped from the availability of bikes per hour, design a pattern that emphasizes places of greater or lesser relevance within the city (night and day overlap or alternate in each case


Collective versus Individual – Mobility spaces and flows become collective places. As a kind of arteries and veins, the metropolitan transport fuels Barcelona through input and output channels that dilate expand according to passengers flow. Collective vs. Individual superimposes the number of users per line from Night Bus network (data source: Àrea Metropolitana de Barcelona) to geolocated messages from Twitter social web service in order to identify points of contact between collective and individual behaviour.


Fiesta Food and Safety – Night may acquire several meanings. Since symbolizing the encounter between man and nature to incarning fear and danger, nocturnal hours have embodied the values of evil and sin – in contrast to day as time for victory and goodness. Nowadays, even if night is still the context for forbidden feelings and crime, we celebrate our nocturnal hours. Night is synonymous of dream, carnival and eagerness. Fiesta & Food Safety maps recreational areas and zones under surveillance by overlapping georeferenced activities obtained from Google places web service parsed by type of establishment and hour.


Night time – The city has a “double life”: one under the sunlight and another under cars headlamps, neon advertising and street lights. Night offers nowadays an unusual and unforeseeable light show. We could affirm that nocturnal landscapes are shaped by elements such as sodium vapor lamps transforming beam city colours or bright lights from store windows invading the sidewalks. Night time shapes Barcelona by overlapping activities georeferenced in Google places web service parsed by type of establishment and hour.


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