Geographic Design: Earth Primer App Lets You Move Mountains and Shift Seas

The Angry Architect The Angry Architect

Architects — particularly those who advocated the omnipotent potential of modernism — are often accused of possessing some kind of God Complex, believing in their ability to shape whole landscapes in accordance with their unshakeable utopian beliefs. If that is the case, then the new Earth Primer App should have us all salivating: The self-described ‘science book for playful people’ allows users to get under the skin of the planet with a simple swipe of the touch screen, allowing for landscape manipulation on a biblical scale.

Developed by game designer Chaim Gingold, the App is broadly intended to increase our knowledge of the earth’s geological makeup, offering visual lessons in plate tectonics, the formation of mountains, seas, volcanoes and glaciers, and the long-term effects of wind and water erosion on our natural environment. Promoted as a tool primarily for children and young adults, Earth Primer is a classic example of purposeful legerdemain: It is pure education disguised as play. For now, the software only scratches at the surface of these complex phenomena, but the primer is packed full of potential for further development to add theoretical depth and detail further down the line.

Even as it stands, though, this app is likely to appeal to a much larger demographic than just the children (and their parents) amongst us: After all, who could resist the ability to sculpt canyons with a sweeping arc of your finger, or erupt a volcanic with a firm tap on the glass?

Via Earth Primer

In a world now dominated by tablets and smartphones, Gingold has harnessed touchscreen technology to bring a fresh level of interactivity to this academic realm, not to mention a healthy dose of sensory pleasure: The promotional video above encourages us to ‘sculpt mountains’ and ‘paint with wind,’ bringing forth the empowering practice of world-creation to accompany the science.

Via Wired

Learning about the earth’s composition on a macro scale may seem a little disconnected from the contextual issues that architects must consider, designing in locations that are invariably characterized by local environmental and geological peculiarities.

However, gaining a greater insight into the fundamentals of certain geological features and phenomena certainly wouldn’t hurt students, or indeed, practicing professionals: The mechanics of erosion, conditions that give rise to landslides, and topography that increases the risk of flooding are three such areas that architects and urban planners would benefit a great deal from learning more about, just for starters.

Via The Next Web

The overview perspective, tiled landscapes, and painterly graphic qualities bring to mind classic ‘God’ games such as Populous and Civilization, with satisfyingly soothing sound effects to accompany your every move. Earth Primer appears to bring the best creative elements of those games to touch screen devices, with only two key elements missing: architecture and people.

Now, as someone who is both an architect and a person, I can assure you, this fact is not necessarily a bad thing: just for once, focusing on the dynamic landscape that surrounds us might be enlightening, as well as educational. Far from reinforcing our putative God Complex, it might just provide a moment to remind us how small we all are before we get back to building again. Who would have thought — a slice of humble pie, set in the earth’s crust, in the form of fun-filled app.

I, for one, will be giving it a go: There is nothing like raising the Rockies on a quiet Sunday morning…

Yours tectonically,

The Angry Architect

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