From Rural to Urban

This project focuses on visualising rural-urban migration patterns. It uses real data as a starting point and Iceland (my home country) has open data sets about its population dating back to the 1800s.

One initial concept was to represent a system of rural areas with a central urban area and the migration between them by making stackable layers of the same country – with the urban area increasing in size as its population grew. A few ways to represent this were tested by making physical and computational prototypes.

After reading about cellular automata, I decided to make a generative system that evolved by itself, opposed to using existing data. This consisted of constructing a set of rules and then giving the initial state. Rules were set up for general factors such as births and deaths and factors that come into consideration when people decide where to live, such as schools and jobs. An initial state of three rural and one urban area was given, stating the number of inhabitants in each.

To visualise the development of the system, a layer was drawn for each year. Each area was represented by a circle and each person moving from one area to another shown with a line between the two areas. The strength of colour for each area is dependent on the size of its population. The urban area gets darker with each decade, while the rural becomes lighter – the smallest one almost disappearing towards the end. The final product, a poster, depicts 10 layers, each 10 years apart.