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Architecture interpreted on the move

The restless world of it appears always to be focused on the new, without ever quite digesting the previously new. Proliferation outstrips integration. Because novelty makes headlines. Because being first to market is important in it where imitation is relatively easy. Because integration often needs standards, which evolve slowly.

But integration is often where most benefits lie. For example in the integration of cad with online databases, of phones with mobility, of project management with it networks, of scanners and digital cameras with desktop pcs. An interesting piece of integration-in-the-making is the coming of maps to mobile phones/computers, which themselves integrate voice, Internet data, satellite location and, increasingly, display screens. When a map is part of a database, you can tie a lot of structured information to it, not just look at it. We have the makings of mobile interpretation centres.

Take Pevsner. There is the obvious wayfinding help from a device that knows where you are. 'Turn right here, it's 60m on the left.' And more could be made of Pevsner's walks - the townscape and the settings of buildings - by pointing to vistas and relationships where Pevsner focuses so much on the individual buildings. Audio commentaries (as in art galleries) and thumbnail images could be part of this informed looking.

Pace is another issue. Those who have survived a sag architectural tour of five countries in five days, stopping every hour for five minutes at a building, will know the problem. You have time to look at the building or look through the camera, but not both, then back on the bus - you have no control of pace. One of the potential pluses of the web is that you can be in control of the pace at which you draw on information. Historical or contemporary, spatial interpretation can have extra dimensions.

Barrie Evans is editor of www.ajplus.co.uk

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