Estonian Academy of Arts student receives ESRI Young Scholar Award for mapping Turku’s mobility

The PhD student of the Estonian Academy of Arts Architecture and Urban Planning program, Damiano Cerrone, has received the Young Scholar Award from ESRI at the ESRI User Conference in San Diego. The prize was given for the maps he designed in the research project A sense of place commissioned by the City of Turku in Finland.
Damiano Cerrone is a founding member of the academic research collaboration SPIN Unit, which studies anthropic phenomena directly connected to the use and management of urban or rural space. Spatial morphology is analysed at scales where human interactions emerge and can be studied. Established as a human-centric discipline, their approach considers the alterations of spatial features that emerge from human actions and interactions. It also studies how the urban space influences humans and their behaviour.
Cerrone was given the ESRI Young Scholar Award 2015 for the study how Location Based Social Network data can be used for the urban and transportation planning. In case of City of Turku, this was done to discuss the current spatio-temporal dynamics in its city centre, indicating potentials for further development, and assessing how a new tram line that may be constructed would change the situation.
“The tasks were focused on exploring which streets and spaces in Turku’s city centre are more likely to attract people today and how the situation might change if a new tram line will be constructed,” explains Cerrone.
“We want to express our gratitude to the Turku Urban Research Program for supporting our research, the Architecture Department of the Estonian Academy of Arts for providing software infrastructures and academic support, to AlphaGIS for hosting me overseas and off course to ESRI to make me part of the Your Professionals Network,” says Damiano Cerrone.
The SPIN Unit also received the ESRI Most Unique Map 2nd place award.
Every year ESRI organises an international competition to select the most unique maps of the year. With over 900 submissions, SPIN Unit was awarded the 2nd prize for the Most Unique Map of the year with Accessibility and Instagram pictures in Turku, Finland. The map was also featured in XYHT Magazine in the September issue.
The methodologies behind the award winning research were displayed and put into practice at Urban Design London where the team was invited to talk about their work and organise a workshop in cooperation with Nordkapp to study the digital footprint of the new urban development of King’s Cross Railroad Yards in London – supported by IBM and UCL.
Damiano Cerrone and Helen Pau of the SPIN unit were invited to curate the TAB-Lab exhibition for the Tallinn Architecture Biennale with the goal to produce installations that were the results of a collaboration process between schools, professionals and the industry.
“Bringing together a selection of technology companies matched to architecture schools, TAB-Lab was a great opportunity for any student interested in architecture to see, which architecture schools excel in which areas,” say the curators.
The exhibition explored what the next industrial revolution means for architecture and the built environment. TAB-Lab showcased cutting edge designs and processes from different countries. Furthermore, it opened a forum for both creative and critical discussion on the social, political, economic and human dimensions of the current systemic transition and provided a great environment for the TAB Symposium held in the Kultuurikatel premises.
Damiano Cerrone was recently nominated Principal Researcher at TERREFORM Centre for advanced urban research in New York.
About SPIN Unit
Cities are places of opportunity, sources of innovation and surprise. The Spatial Intelligence Unit (SPIN Unit) explores the underlying spatial architecture and social foundations of these key urban qualities. Through the use of spatial intelligence, we can help create new opportunities, foster new quality practices, and envision new tangible spaces and innovative improvements of existing ones.
In order to tackle the complexity and dynamism of social and architectural urban features, a number of passionate experimenters – Damiano Cerrone, Helen Pau, and Kristjan Männigo gathered at the Urban Studies program at EAA. By combining art and science, SPIN Unit has coalesced into an international network of professionals. Born as an academic endeavour at the Estonian Academy of Arts, it has built on the varied expertise of its members to find new and creative approaches to urban design, urban studies, and advanced data solutions. Although based in Tallinn, SPIN currently has ten members spun around Europe.
About Urban Studies at the Estonian Academy of Arts
The Master’s program in Urban Studies combines rigorous academic research with intensive field-work. The program is situated at the trans-disciplinary crossroad of critical urban studies, urbanism and urban planning, architecture theory, sociology and urban ethnography. Integrating critical interrogation and experimental practice, the program has a triple focus on social uses, spatial programs and urban forms.
The distinctive mark of the Master in Urban Studies is its reliance on theoretically informed action in the field. We take students’ effort seriously: the program engages ‘real’ actors and create opportunities for public presentation, discussion and publishing of best works.
The Master’s program is fully in English and it has a strong international orientation. We cooperate with a network of partner institutions in Europe and we are connected to regional partners in Finland, Baltic countries and Russia. Students also participate in hosting the annual international conference Urban and Landscape Days in Tallinn.
The education prepares students to engage with urban issues at the intersection between design practice, political practice and theoretical knowledge. The program prepares graduates for further study at the PhD level.

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Posted by Solveig Jahnke