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Under the Radar:


Under the Radar: Cychameleon

Cychameleon: itinerant adaptations of the urban colourfield
Katrina Simon, Paula Wilkinson, Scott Greenhalgh, Graham Ussher, Leslie Haines

This proposal identifies, redistributes and augments lizard habitat
within the Auckland region by a technique of map rearrangement, celebrating the inherent variability and complexity of the urban fabric.

Auckland 1:50,000 lizard habitat map 1-existing 2-sorted 3-rearranged by gradient


A digital 1:50,000 scale map of the Auckland region has been generated specifically to highlight lizard surrogate vegetation, volcanic geology and the cycle/walkway network. This map is cut into 2km square patches along the lines of the map location grid. These patches are sorted according to the particular combinations of landscape conditions already present within them and coded by colour, (topographical, vegetative, circulation indicators etc).

These patches are then re-assembled to identify patterns of similarity and difference which emerge from the field, in order to extend lizard-friendly vegetation/geology/cycleway conjunctions into areas hitherto devoid of lizard populations. Like combinations are identified and grouped. Their new arrangements include some patches which are similar and already adjacent, but also those which are similar yet widely geographically separated.

The initial rearrangement is based on a series of gradients of lizard-favouring combinations of vegetation and geology, in combination with cycleways, pathways and council-owned open space. The optimum gradient moves from bottom left to top right of the rearranged map, with lizard ‘deserts’ of sea and relatively unvegetated urban areas grading to the top left and bottom right. The gradients are highlighted through the use of a chromatic tint. Groups of like conditions are nominated as specific zones of varying potential for the enhancement of lizard habitat. these range from zone 1 (urban intensive), with a high degree of lizard habitat conditions, up to zones 4 and 5 with thinly scattered opportunities.

These tinted patches are then rearranged back into their original geographic location so that the implications of this new lizard zoning can be considered. The distribution of patches provides focus for new lizard research intiatives and wide scale planning opportunities. These include establishing habitat corridors to link rich patches together, and alerting councils to possible lizard-enhancement programmes in the design of public open space. This new zoning can also act to increase communities' awareness of their own proximity to potential lizard habitat, and encourage the creation of habitat in private gardens.

click to view a series of maps as a popup

The process can be repeated, centred on different patches, creating different variations. Once multiple permutations have been generated, the decision to add or modify vegetation, paths or other landscape elements in any given place can be considered in the light of the impact at both large and small scales. Thus some interventions are highly localized and still effective, while others benefit from spatial continuity and extension, all contributing to the evolving mosaic of a lizard-loving city.

(To get printable versions of various Artweb images go to the download page)