AGAINST MAPS IS A METHOD created to evaluate the effectiveness of space for people in a particular community.This method involves analysis of a distinct area in a temporary time frame, so as to develop site specific questions that will lead to an appreciation for the many detailed and organic individual parts that compose the whole. Following the analysis of a space, AGAINST MAPS does not attempt to create permanent structures. It is more interested in adding, subtracting or changing subtle ephemeral elements that impact the ambience of a place. By focusing on unique details and independent experience, a community can be developed and maintained from within.













This spring in Toronto, AGAINST MAPS will use this method to affect one city block for one week by referencing the ancient Indian medicinal/life practice of Ayurveda. The method presented below is the system that will be used to analyze the funcionality of Vaunaley St., just north of Queen Street in Toronto during the week preceding May 25. This is a work in progress. Feel free to examine and respond or use the information for you and your neighborhood.

If you are a neighborhood (or are trying to understand one) feel free to take the test below to determine your Dosha. Check your answer for each question, calculate how many checks you have for each number and email to find out what dosha your block is. (To be interactive soon!)


Jane Jacobs


How large is the block (how much space/potential is there for action)?
1. Small
2. Medium
3. Large

How densely populated is the block?
1. Desolate
2. Comfortable
3. Dense

Overall aesthetic:
1. Bare, Thin, Dry, Bleached out, Rough, Dark, Gray, Dusty, Forgotten, Temporary
2. Well used, Smooth, Shiny, Warm, Rosy, Looked after, Loved
3. Glossy, Thick, Rich, Cool, White, Pale, Ritzy, Pristine, Permanent

Foliage and grass:
1. Dry, Brown, Black, Knotted, Brittle, Scarce
2. Some weeds, Various colors of green, Uneven, Few bald spots, Manicured--possibly professionally
3. Thick, Healthy, Overgrown in areas, Lush green

1. Many cracks, Parts are missing, Wide, Lots of stuff growing in the cracks, Thin seams between slabs, Brittle crumbly cement, Writing in the cement is possibly vulgar
2. Medium width, Softer cement, Gaps and cracks are filled in, People have written in the sidewalk but there is no swearing
3. Bright white cement, Newly layed, No cracks

Drainage (gutters, sewers):
1. Some gutters broken or missing, Overflowing sewers, Bad smell, Lots of sitting water
2. Visible gutters and sewers seem to function, They are old, Some puddles or sitting water on roofs or street
3. All drainage systems are in place and working, No visible trace of them

1. Small, Sunken, Dry or dusty looking, Some broken, Some boarded up, Air conditioners installed in the winter        
2. Cleaner, Medium size, Blinds or shades visible, Bright colored plants, curtains, interiors and cats visible in many, Opened up to light during the day
3. Big, Beautiful, Blue, Sparkling clean, Can see reflections of block in the windows, Rarely open

Parked cars:
1. Dead, Rusty, Not used much, Dry and rough paint, Efficient cars, Old Station wagons, High mileage
2. Clean, Middle range, Well used, Decorations and cheesy license plates, Clean interiors, Bright colors, Decent finish, Mid to high mileage
3. Expensive, New, Waxed, Smooth, Polished, Luxury cars, Low mileage

Front doors:
1. Old paint, Used by many people, Gray/Black/Brown, Buzzer for doorbell, High security locks, fluorescent lights in entry way
2. Brightly painted, Medium grade locks, Doormat and plants near, Regular door bell, good lighting near
3. Fresh light glossy paint or lacquered wood, Shiny glass screen door, Alarm system and Intercom system, Minimal in decoration, Clean white light

Topography of block:
1. Flat
2. Tapering
3. Hilly

Quality of the road:
1. Potholes, Cracks, Light gray asphalt
2. Dark, smooth, flat asphalt, Few filled in cracks
3. Fresh new asphalt or rubberized ground cover, Clean new painted lines

Electrical services/ cable/ internet wires, presence of electronic media:
1. Many power cords crawling up building, Many satellites visible, Most homes have cable, Newest personal entertainment devices common (ipods, etc)
2. Power cords and power lines visible but not intrusive, but fewer, Cable internet and tv in most homes
3. Huge satellites for individual homes, invisible wires, wireless internet everywhere, Old technology used in homes (radios, record players)

1. Big apartments with many residents
2. Medium size houses, duplexes, small apartment buildings
3. Large single family homes

Stores and businesses:
1. One of a kind, owner operated
2. Moderately sized franchize
3. Big, national chains

Signage/ Advertising:
1. Infrequent, Homemade, Photocopied fliers with spelling errors
2. Smart, Well kept, Widely disseminated, Unobtrusive
3. Pervasive, Plastic, Obnoxious but successful en masse

1. Slender, Thin, Tall, Many residents or businesses, Multi-functional, All in one
2. Wider than tall, Can have more than one function, Can be an adaptation of an old building for a new function
3. Purely residential or commercial on entire block, Function and design are unified from birth

Quality of buildings:
1. Old, Needs work, Possibly grand in former life but is showing age
2. In use, Well maintained, If new- built without personality or unique detail
3. Everything is new, Built with high standards of design and craft

Goods being bought and sold on the block:
1. Irregular, Scanty
2. Extremes of high and low trade based on season or other change
3. Slow but steady

Goods being exported and consumed elsewhere:
1. Irregular, Sometimes a deli at most
2. Quick, Take out, Dry cleaner, Hardware store
3. Big business, Department stores, etc.

What products are being imported into the neighborhood:
1. Food, Candy, Technology, Disposables
2. Clothing, Appliances, Home needs
3. Expensive fuels, Apple products, High designed, Minimal objects and Art

Precipitation and hydration:
1. Changeable
2. Surplus
3. Sparse

Toxicity:  Waste removal OR elimination of crime and bad activities and their causes:
1. Garbage gets picked up by residents quickly,  Problems taken care of with people in the neighborhood by the residents
2. Some garbage visible, Most is well packaged and picked up regularly by the residents and the city, Not much crime
3.  Littering is infrequent, Complacence stops residents from cleaning, Mainly inactive residents complain about problems, Trouble makers dealt with by outside forces/ government, garbage is removed from block routinely by outside service

Physical Activity/ games and activities:
1. Hyperactive
2. Moderate
3. Slow

Newspapers/ publications delivered?  On sale?  How many two sided conversations visible? How much information is distributed and used?
1. Tons of newspaper stands, radios blaring, many conversations outside, daily newspapers of all kinds and languages delivered
2. Moderate amount of conversations audible or visible on street, some newspapers delivered- mostly of the same type and language, some magazines
3. More weekly and monthly publications delivered, fewer visible conversations on the street

What is the mood?
1. Fast paced, shifting, worrisome, anxious,fearful, observant, uncertain, anonymous
2. Moody, with extremes of happiness and anger, passionate, warm and communal
3. Calm, greedy, attached to routine, long time residents, stillness, infrequent change

Presence of religious symbols, places of worship:
1. Variable
2. Extremist
3. Consistent

Response of residents to stimulus:
1. Quick but faulty response, suspicious of intrusion
2. Accurate response, easy to engage in change or open to a balanced conversation
3. Slow, precise and stable perspective, less observant or impacted by change or influence

Recollection/ ability of residents to remember events of the neighborhood (requires extended residence):
1. Recent Memory Good, Remote Poor
2. Distinct memory of recent and past events
3. Slow and sustained, Good perspective of entire history of block within the scope of the greater area

Dreams/ Resident’s ideas of what the neighborhood could be (based on drawing survey):
1. Quick growth, Active imagination, Possible worries about future    
2. Fiery fast change, War, Violence.
3. Lakes and waterfalls, Slow natural evolution of neighborhood, Romantic

Sleep/ Does the neighborhood quiet down by 10pm and stay calm though the morning? Does activity begin early?
1. The block never gets quiet
2. Short periods of quiet, but sound diminishes during late late night and for short periods in late morning and early afternoon
3. Deep, Prolonged quiet from dusk until late morning

What is the quality of interactions with people:
1. Rapid, Unclear
2. Sharp, Penetrating
3. Slow, Monotonous

Are the residents investing their money back into the neighborhood?
1. Little spending on buildings, Much is up for rent or sale, No scaffolding, construction sites, or beautification projects
2. Spends Money On Luxuries, Swimming pools, Buildings added onto, Home improvements visible
3. Rich, Good Money Preserver, Visible attempts to preserve buildings as they are