THE CITY, ITS CONTINENTS, THE CONTAINER
The main goal of the component 4C of Progetto PAGUS, Virtual Museum, is to exploit the architectural-cultural heritage of historical centres and to increase the diffusion of partner cities’ images. This is done by creating a comunication integrated system that, through new technologies, will promote and favour the accessibility of people, ideas and means in historical centres.
To reach this goal the Operative Unit of Historical Centres of the Perugia Commune’s Environment and Territory Sector (scientific responsible: architect Sergio Asfalti) in accordance with the Division of Drawing and Architecture of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering of Perugia University (scientific responsible: professor Paolo Belardi) has activated two synergic actions:
- the realization of a multimedial informative system that promotes the cultural and physical access both to general information (public services, transport etc.), and cultural information (theaters, museums etcetera).
- creation of three “multi informative sites”, located in strategical junctions in the city (piazzale Umbria Jazz, piazza Vittorio Veneto, piazza dei Partigiani) that also are capable of requalifying the environment.
The first action experiments the idea of an interactive city intended as an exibition of the ongoing reality and a catalogue of the city’s contents. The supposition of this project, which purpose is to realize a virtual city that includes all necessary information of the local heritage (historic, artistic and cultural), is born by the integration of the “virtual museum” concept (a mixture of computer instuments and guiding supports which deepen the knowledge of the reality) and a digital library (fusion of the electronic catalogue and the telematic network). The idea of using the city as a palimpsest inside which users move, can be interpreted as a graphic index that is consultable at various levels where the user assumes information and follows logical paths without losing their orientation. To create a virtual space, in fact, doesn’t mean to deny digital phenomenons any form of reality, but that the reality of these phenomenons, even though this is not a physical reality, is based on a constituted model. Supposing that a virtual space that is provided with an own dimensionality represents a possible space, even though this space is equipped with different physical and geometrical laws, relations that are analogue to real space (distance, right/left, over/under) can be inserted in the virtual space. The target is not to offer a realistic vision of the city or a composition of buildigs, but to explore a world of information and to arrange a virtual city in which every piece information has a geographical location. The information is contained in the different buildings, streets, monuments, and can be recovered by various strategies that always follow the traveller’s logic.
It is important to analyze the tight relationship between the contained information and the architecture that contains it when considering the creation of informative systems that manage complex realities. Therefore the first task to solve is the internal organization (the logic space) after which the study of the external display must follow (the visible space) and finally the dynamic space which means the procedures that connect the system’s contents and present them to the user. There is also an interesting figurative parallel between the organisation of the system’s contents (the logic structure) and the architecture of the labyrint. There are three kinds of labyrints that can be put in relation with the hypertextual structure.
- the one lane labyrint in which one entry corresponds to one exit;
- the arborescent labyrint in which one entry corresponds to at least two exits;
- the cyclomatic labyrint in which the number of entries is equal to the number of exits.
For this project the arborescent labyrint was chosen, a decision based on the kind of information and the logic in which information is proposed to the user. Two kinds of information research systems have been defined for this multimedia project: one graphic that extracts information from the map, and one thematic that researches subject units organized in autonomic subsystems, but in tight relationship to the general project. Because of the wide spread provenance and education of the public that the project is destinated to, the study of the visible space has been determinant to optimize dynamic use. The visible space is here intended as the display of the organization of links and the amplifying of connections.
The work is still in progress and the results are currently illustrated in a simplified form that treats the cataloguing of the gardens inside the fortified city. The theme of this example is extreme simplification of the interface and clearness of the information, with the aim to avoid disorientation of the final user. As “the best place to hide a book is inside a library” (Umberto Eco), the best place to hide information is inside a tangle of other information.