Mapping with Fusion Tables

This is my first stab at using Google Fusion Tables to present area-level data. In this case, it’s just a simple map of the Greater London Authority constituencies, coloured according to the results of the 2012 GLA elections. Fusion Tables are one of the easiest ways to host and publish data online – especially maps.

The boundary data comes as a shapefile from UKBORDERS. It’s then a case of converting the shapefile into a set of KML files – one KML for each constituency – which can be imported into individual rows within a Fusion Table, along with attributes contained within the shapefile’s related dbf file, like constituency name. All this can be done using the web-based tool shpescape. Then it’s just a case of adding data to the Fusion Table, such as the election result for each constituency, along with some adjustments to the map style to display each constituency in a certain colour according to the winning party.

This is quite a boring map. Ultimately I want to map more interesting things – ideally, things other people haven’t mapped yet.

 

Easterhouse

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Location: Glasgow
Lifespan:
 1950s-

The Easterhouse estate sits on high ground 6 miles east of Glasgow city centre, bounded by two motorways, a loch and open countryside. Plans for a substantial estate to rehouse the residents of Glasgow’s inner-city tenements were held up by the war, but building work finally got underway in the early 1950s and by the time of the 1971 census, the former farmland of Easterhouse was home to over 56,000 people. Although some high rise dwellings were built, the majority of the estate consisted of houses and flats up to 5 stories, mirroring the low-rise principles of the garden city movement. But as with other estates built on garden city ideas, the spatial benefits of a peripheral location were outweighed by separation from the jobs and amenities of the city, compounded by poor public transport links and low levels of car ownership. By 2001 only 26,000 people remained at Easterhouse, and despite extensive regeneration the effects of population decline are clear today: half-demolished rows of housesstreets that wander aimlessly into fieldsempty spaces where schools once stood. All this stands in contrast to the situation just the other side of Bishop Loch, less than a mile away, where the former Gartloch Hospital is being converted into a luxury village.

Maps © Crown Copyright and Landmark Information Group Limited (2012). All rights reserved. Made available by the superb Digimap service, run by EDINA at the University of Edinburgh.

Dines Green

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Location: Worcester
Lifespan: 1950s-

Estates A, B and C share a few things in common: built in the 60s and 70s, architecturally quite pioneering, consisting of a small handful of large, communal blocks and located in an urban environment. This picture of inner-city high rise is the sort of thing the word ‘estate’ tends to bring to mind, but not all estates share these features. Built in the late 1950s, Dines Green is made up of two-storey houses built literally on the edge of Worcester. The city’s administrative boundary runs right through the back gardens on Tudor Drive, which lead directly onto open countryside, reminiscent of estates such as Speke in Liverpool and Wythenshawe in Manchester – minus the airports. Given that ‘the edge of the city’ is a notion blurred by decades of piecemeal suburban development, Dines Green is one of the few places in the UK where it is possible to draw a definitive line between ‘city’ and ‘country’.

Maps © Crown Copyright and Landmark Information Group Limited (2012). All rights reserved. Made available by the superb Digimap service, run by EDINA at the University of Edinburgh.

Coverdale Crescent

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Location: Manchester
Lifespan: 1972-1993

Known locally as Fort Ardwick, Coverdale Crescent was system-built using a similar method to the one that produced the ill-fated Ronan Point in Newham. Just two years after its completion, Fort Ardwick was already attracting ire from its inhabitants: local MP Gerald Kaufman reported to Parliament in 1974 that, during a conversation with residents, one of them had proclaimed that “if Labour wins the election, it ought to do two things: abolish the House of Lords, and demolish Fort Ardwick.” By the mid-1980s Fort Ardwick’s skin of interlocking, pre-cast concrete panels was failing to keep water out, and the estate was demolished in the early 1990s along with Fort Beswick, built in a similar style a mile north. Coverdale Crescent was built when plans were still in place to extend the M67 motorway into Manchester city centre: the wide grass verge between the estate and the Hyde Road was left empty for this purpose, and is still a green space today despite the fact that plans for the motorway have long since been shelved.

Maps © Crown Copyright and Landmark Information Group Limited (2012). All rights reserved. Made available by the superb Digimap service, run by EDINA at the University of Edinburgh.

Broadwater Farm

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Location: London
Lifespan: 1973-

The 12 blocks that make up the Broadwater Farm estate took six years to complete and are named after Battle of Britain airfields. They sit on top of the River Moselle and occupy a former allotment site. One of the external walls of Debden block is the canvas for a huge waterfall mural, completed in 1991 in the midst of efforts to transform the estate after it was gripped by rioting in 1985. The regeneration of Broadwater Farm since the riots has significantly reduced crime rates and stemmed what had become an outward tide of residents. Tenants, who had been actively organised on the estate since the early 1980s, were central to this regeneration, carving out a space for grassroots influence over the management and design of housing that would be mirrored in later years on a number of other estates.

Maps © Crown Copyright and Landmark Information Group Limited (2012). All rights reserved. Made available by the superb Digimap service, run by EDINA at the University of Edinburgh.

Alexandra and Ainsworth

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Location: London
Lifespan:
 1978-

The Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate sits right up next to the mainline tracks coming out of London Euston. The apartments facing the railway line are stepped outwards to shield the rest of the estate from the noise of passing trains, and the building’s foundations are built on rubber pads to reduce vibrations. The huge complex of 520 apartments, a school, playgrounds and parkland was designed by architect Neave Brown to recreate the terraced house in a modern form – an experiment he first tried on a smaller scale in the late 60s on Winscombe Street.

Maps © Crown Copyright and Landmark Information Group Limited (2012). All rights reserved. Made available by the superb Digimap service, run by EDINA at the University of Edinburgh.

County Hall Island Block

John Bancroft’s 1970s extension to the former Greater London Council’s headquarters lay empty for exactly twenty years before being demolished in 2006 to make way for a hotel. Sitting in the middle of a busy roundabout at the southern end of Westminster Bridge, the County Hall Island Block was an early example of open-plan office space and could only be accessed from the outside by pedestrian subways. The building was inhabited for twelve years before the Greater London Council was abolished in 1986 and the Island Block was abandoned.

Mancunian Way

The Mancunian Way opened in 1967, putting a highway on stilts round the southern half of Manchester city centre. Two years later the road gained an award from The Concrete Society, but the most famous feature of the A57(M) is its slip road to nowhere. This would have sent eastbound traffic north into town along Upper Brook Street, which is one way in the opposite direction. Either the contractors failed to realise this, or there were plans to make Upper Brook Street two way that never made it off the drawing board. Nowadays the slip road stub makes a handy refuge area for anyone unlucky enough to break down on such a busy bit of road.

Maps © Crown Copyright and Landmark Information Group Limited (2012). All rights reserved. Made available by the superb Digimap service, run by EDINA at the University of Edinburgh.

West Cross Route

The West Cross Route was one of the few short sections of the London Motorway Box to make it off the page. First conceived after the war, the Motorway Box was part of the London Ringways scheme, which mirrored plans in other cities up and down the country to build new, fast, orbital and radial roads to ease the urban gridlock caused by rocketing private car usage. By the mid 1960s comprehensive plans had been drawn up to run four concentric orbital Ringways around London. The West Cross Route would have formed the western section of the innermost Ringway 1 or Motorway Box, and was built in 1970 as the M41. Less than a mile long, it was designed to continue north east and become the North Cross Route (never built), and to be met from the south by the westernmost point of the South Cross Route (also never built). The roundabout stubs at the road’s northern end indicate where it would have continued.

The West Cross Route was one of only two sections of Ringway 1 to be completed, the other being the East Cross Route/Blackwall Tunnel Approaches between Hackney and Kidbrooke. The Greater London Council produced a leaflet in the mid 1960s, showing detailed plans for this part of the Motorway Box. The leaflet refers to the rest of the Ringways scheme as still very much a firm plan, but within ten years the entire project had been scrapped as Londoners began to witness first hand how urban motorways would transform their city.

This change in public opinion began at the Westway, a six-lane elevated road that meets the West Cross Route at its northern end and carries traffic east towards central London. Building the Westway had necessitated the demolition of hundreds of houses and was met with widespread public outcry which ultimately convinced Labour to drop plans for the Motorway Box when they gained control of the Greater London Council in 1973. The scale of the Westway, and the impact it had on the lives of those displaced by it or left living in its shadow, led to broader opposition to the London Motorway Box and was part of a sea change in public attitudes towards road building in general which would culminate in the protests at Newbury, Twyford Down and Leyton twenty years later.

Maps © Crown Copyright and Landmark Information Group Limited (2012). All rights reserved. Made available by the superb Digimap service, run by EDINA at the University of Edinburgh.