Image And Data Visualization – Floating City Of Kaunas

For this project we have to create a floating city, usually this assignment is based around Belfast although this year Conánn decided to mix things up a little. This year the two chosen cities of interest will be Kaunas, a city based in Lithuania and Rome, Italy. We have also been told that the module will be heavily based on Maya and statistics to give the creation logic which i am pretty excited for but also very nervous.

I was put into Team 4 so that meant i was allocated to the Kaunas team.

Team Mates –

For the project i have been pair with Samantha Dawn Quigley, Phoebe Long and Rosie Mullan. I am excited to work with these individuals as I find them all lovely and aspiring to be around!

Initial Inspiration For The City –

When we got together for the first time after being paired we decided to talk through what interests we had in common and that theme came to be, Sci-Fi. This brings us to our next fun research points, what links can we bring in to potentially be in our cities structure – without going too far we defiantly wanted Halo and Destiny to be our inspiration.

Promotional poster of Bungies game, Destiny
Promotional poster of 343’s, Halo 5 Guardians

Statistical Research –

On the first stage we were allocated numbers to the various statistic points we should research individually for the rest of the day then come back the following morning to update each other on what we gathered. Initially I was given Wildlife, Weather, History and Death Rates.

Wildlife –

Being a small country, Lithuania’s wildlife is pretty much scattered around equally meaning you have a chance of spotting any of its animals around the continent. Common and native Lithuanian animals consist of wild Boar, Elk, Europeon Bison, Deer, Beaver, Lynx, Mink, Weasel, Otter, Dormouse, Badger, Ermine, Polecat, Brown Bear, Wolf and Vole. Its pretty clear some of these creatures also appear in our home country of Northern Ireland, thankfully some don’t such as the Brown Bear and Wolf (Although Wolves are bloody cool and I am 100% for them coming to our country…!)

Their sea life is also blooming with Grey Seal, Dolphin and whales!

“Out of the land animals, the European minx, the brown bear and the garden dormouse are considered extinct, while on the endangered species list are the grey seal and the lynx.

Among the native bird species on the endangered list are the black-throated duck, the golden, the short-toed and the greater spotted eagle, the Peregrine falcon, the willow grouse and the Eurasian eagle owl.” – Animals of Lithuania 

Despite having all these beautiful animals, most of which are endangered or extinct to this day~ Rest in peace might brown Bear… You will be missed.

Screenshot from Wikipedia

 Climate –

Wiki sourced graph as example.
Kaunas climate is pretty stable compared of that to our home country of Ireland, i had spoken to a class mate briefly as she had originated from Lithuania and she had spoken how the weather was beautiful, summer weather was warm and crisp whilst the winters were cold and frozen. I decided to take her words and hit the web to see what i would find and stumbled across and article on Lithuanian weather as a whole”The climate of the country is transitional between the maritime type of western Europe and the continental type found farther east. As a result, damp air masses of Atlantic origin predominate, alternating with continental Eurasian and, more rarely, colder Arctic air or air with a southern, tropical origin. Baltic Sea influences dominate a comparatively narrow coastal zone. The mean temperature for January, the coldest month, is in the low 20s F (about −5 °C), while July, the warmest month, has an average temperature in the 60s F (about 17 °C). Average annual rainfall usually exceeds 30 inches (about 800 mm), diminishing inland. Rainfall reaches a peak in August, except in the maritime strip, where the maximum is reached two to three months later.” – Kazimieras MeškauskasSo after reading on the climate of Lithuania it seems that my classmates words are true on the country,

(not that I did not have my doubts but some research is always good to back up those statements no?)


Ethnic groups, languages, and religion

The official language of Lithuania is Lithuanian (Obviously). After reading  Kazimieras Meškauskas article on the Ethnic groups of Lithuanian city culture other most common languages spoken throughout consist of Russian, Polish, Belorussian, Ukrainian, and other languages are spoken in the larger cities, this would included Kaunas city as a whole. Yiddish is commonly spoken by the remaining Jewish community in Lithuania although it is uncertain exactly how many there are but the number is low.

*Fun fact but as i was reading through some articles I found out that Kaunas is actually the second largest city in all of Lithuania!*A quick Google search had told me the size of the city which turns out to be 157 km², i decided to search up the size of our home city Belfast which is 115 km², not too far away from Kaunas but still considerably bigger in comparison!


Death rate


 From the chart above you can see the death rate in Lithuania is gradually increasing over the years, seeing this death chart i decided to  look into what could possibly be causing the mortality rates to increase.

Food, food seems to be the common denominator that is gradually bringing the mortality rates up as people of Kaunas seem to die from heart attacks and brain clots suggested by a statistic website i had came across.

Looking further into this it turns out that i was right by the cause of death by food although looking at a PDF and related website, it turns out that the common deaths in Kaunas are circulatory diseases, these consist of the following:

  • Coronary artery disease. …
  • Atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis, and arteriosclerosis. …
  • Stroke. …
  • Hypertension. …
  • Heart failure. …
  • Aortic dissection and aneurysm. …
  • Myocardium and pericardia.

If you’re unfamiliar of any of these circulatory diseases and seem interested to read more on it then please treat your brain to some knowledge on the many ways some foods can cause these diseases can kill us!



The Rule Of The Russian Empire-

Kaunas Fortress

Constructed and renovated between 1882 and 1915 (Wiki source) the fortress was the largest defense structure in the entire country occupying a sixty five kilometer square radius. Its first taste of battle was in 1915 when Germany had attacked the Russian Empire (Risky move) withstanding eleven days of assault before being captured! Although, after the World War One the institution advanced in weaponry, rendering it it increasingly obsolete and was used as a Garrison.


Parts of the fortress during the World War Two were then used by the Nazi from Germany, mostly for interrogation or execution sadly. According to research, over fifty thousand people were executed there if not considerably more that we do not know of.

Kaunas Fortress, image from a good read

Meeting Up With Our Found Research –

After meeting up with my group we compiled our research:

Samantha’s Research


Population: 308,831 (2013), recorded by UNdata

( [Accessed 04/02/16]

The population of Kaunas seems to have been rising over the last couple of years – perhaps there are more jobs and/or educational facilities available which prompts more residents to stay, rather than migrate elsewhere?

Poverty Line

As of 2013, the poverty line of all of Lithuania lies at 20.6%. Unfortunately, I could not find a poverty line for Kaunas specifically despite how deep I tried to research. It seems so far it is not the most documented city despite it being the second largest city in all of Lithuania.

Source:[Accessed 02/02/16]


Source: [Accessed 02/02/16]

Kaunas seems to have a moderate-high rate of crime, with the highest documented crimes being corruption, bribery, vandalism and theft.


There are a number of schools dotted throughout Kaunas with different levels of education, most of them being colleges/universities dedicated to specific areas of study, such as technology and agriculture.

University of Technology [Accessed 04/02/16]
Vytautas Magnus University [Accessed 04/02/16]
Aleksandras Stulginskis University[Accessed 04/02/16]
Domeikavos Gimnazija (School)[Accessed 04/02/16]
University of Health Sciences [Accessed 04/02/16]
Karaliaus Mindaugo (Vocational School)[Accessed 05/02/16]


[All sites accessed 02/04/16]

During the 1990’s, Kaunas was well known for having aggressive gangs who acted like fashion policed. They harassed anyone who strayed away from the mainstream dress sense.

Kaunas’s overall fashion has a nice modern smart-casual trend which seems to permeate throughout all age groups, particularly teens and adults.

Politics [Accessed 02/02/16]
Political rules that apply to all of Lithuania.

Lithuania has been a democratic country since 1990 when it was free from the hold of Communism.

Left Wing vs Right Wing campaigns noted – common throughout democracies.

We then met up with all the other Kaunas groups to set topics around each other so as we could make more coverage with statistical research as possible, i myself was given Wildlife to look into. Samantha was given Education so we decided to have a chill day to do research together at her house! *Gets the hot cuppa and custard creams*

Extended Wildlife Research –

Extinct Animals:

I found a very informative article by Lukas who covers the extinct wildlife in Lithuania in depth, here are some of those animals that particularly stood out for me in his posts…

Brown Bear – Source image 


The Otter – Source image


The Lynx – Source image 


Whilst me extended search on the Lithuanian wildlife, I was surprised how Lithuania actually have wild Bison! Never knew Europe occupied wilder beast such as them. It was also pretty sad how a lot of beautiful animals such as the Lynx and Otter have gone extinct presumably although i remain wishful that they were out there somewhere in small numbers~

Its a shame we don’t have such exotic wildlife like Kaunas, I mean we used to have wolves and Lynx although they were sadly hunted to extinction by the stupid Irish men from the past! Though, it may be for the better as we are famously known for our livestock and farming and such predators like Wolves would hinder that production tremendously.

At this point we had realised that we actually had not looked into housing in Kaunas, Samantha seemed eager to do the research in that area so we had allowed her to do her thing and it certainly paid off. Interesting stuff may I add.

Seeing as we are going with a futuristic appeal such as Bungies Halo and Destiny, I decided to look into another video gaming franchise that used orbiting mechanical planets that hold lifeforms that do not originate from.

SEGA – Sonic Colors (2010)

Eggmans interstellar amusement park

This “entertainment” park consists of ten main areas that are explored throughout the video games story arc:


Whilst roaming Sonic Stadium I had found a beta design of the world map that SEGA had released for E3 2010.

I believe we intend for the floating city to have tiers as such for the people living within the settlement such as suggested in the sonic colours world map although I think the separate sections should be in layers inside a mechanical sphere so the inhabitants are safe and secure from potential danger in space or while in orbit.

“I was thinking something along the lines of a hierarchy system that divides the city, from the more affluent residents living in the top layer, and the poorer residents living within the lower layers. Business, education and entertainment will be closer to the centre of the structure, and the cores will be located at the very top and bottom.” – Samantha Quigley

I liked what Samantha had in mind for the floating city although I would like to think that the people would not need a hierarchy system as they will not need the likes of politics or leadership as the mechanical sphere will essentially be their main priority. Imagine if the Mechanical structure were to develop an A.I that would recognise that it could hold these people to their wills and make them work for the structure? Interesting…


Took this picture from Samantha’s blog although the source of the image is from BBC.

Halo 4 (2012, The Cryptum –

I think as a whole we have came to the conclusion that the city will in fact be enclosed in a giant mechanical sphere which is perfect because our group is full of the biggest halo nerds in our class and we all know what halo had lots of bright, blue, balls!

(Halo fans reading will understand that last part.)

Any who, there is a mechanical Sphere from Halo known as the Cryptum – a mechanical sphere that is used by the Forerunners for transport or protection, typically the forerunner culture would use these Cryptum to exile one of their own higher ranking Promethean’s if they were to dishonour their people or failing an important role. The high ranking Promethean would then be exiled to a suspended animation for thousands of years until released from their prison, this had happened in the Halo 4 video game when Spartan 117 John had released the Didact by accident thinking it was a terminal to help reach contact with his people outside of Requiem.

“A vault of ages. In search of wisdom, or to flee punishment, a mature rate might choose the path of endless peace. It is allowed only for the most powerful, whose punishment might prove troublesome to the Forerunner hierarchies.”
— Bornstellar-Makes-Eternal-Lasting (Halo: Cryptum) 



The traveller, Destiny (2014) –


Before I get into the Traveller, I really recommend you to read up the known lore so for the Destiny franchise its so good! Honestly one of the best lores I have read in a long wile regarding science fiction.

The traveller is a sentient being that has been around for a millennia roaming the universe gathering its mystery’s and knowledge, the mechanical being also has a magic property known as “light” or space magic known throughout the destiny fan base. This being also has some enemies that wish to take its knowledge and harness its power to take over the universe! Being the clever sentient the traveller is, it went to Earth and gave humanity the knowledge to advance our technology thus bring us to “The Golden age”.

Humanity discovering the Traveller. (Pre-Golden Age)

The Death Star, Star Wars –

“The Death Star was the Empire’s ultimate weapon: a moon-sized space station with the ability to destroy an entire planet. But the Emperor and Imperial officers like Grand Moff Tarkin underestimated the tenacity of the Rebel Alliance, who refused to bow to this technological terror…” – Disney Data Bank 

I don’t actually know much on Star Wars as I never really got into it as a child nor now when I am an Adult (The Force Awakens was a good watch though) but all i know is that Phoebe was right that the Death Star would be a good visual representation on how we want our structure to look like.


Cosmic Motors by Simon D (2007) Titan Books LTD –

Phoebe had got a book and brought it into class that shows a various collaboration of futuristic vehicles, ships and motors on how each machine would work. Truly inspiring and I feel this will help us give the creation more logic into how our floating city will function.

Went onto the website that has a good few articles of Daniel Simon talking about his futurism vehicles!


Smooth and aerodynamic, these designs are truly out of this world and only we could imagine what it would be like to be around when such designs come to life! You can see the designs are very geometric consisting of spheres and cylinders which would suggest it could be simplistic to achieve in Maya, we are also aiming for our creation to be geometric and simplistic in design yet able to speak what it is!

It is now that we will begin our concepts for the world…


During our constant doodling, Samantha took a keen interest in the Gyroscopes I had implicated into my drawings in hope to give the structure a power source, that being kinetic energy through the gyroscope moving and making vibrations to generate the power to keep the metallic city alive and running.

“Kinetic energy is the energy of motion. An object that has motion – whether it is vertical or horizontal motion – has kinetic energy. There are many forms of kinetic energy – vibrational (the energy due to vibrational motion), rotational (the energy due to rotational motion), and translational (the energy due to motion from one location to another). To keep matters simple, we will focus upon translational kinetic energy. The amount of translational kinetic energy (from here on, the phrase kinetic energy will refer to translational kinetic energy) that an object has depends upon two variables: the mass (m) of the object and the speed (v) of the object. The following equation is used to represent the kinetic energy (KE) of an object.”

Physics Classroom

Coffee Meet Up And Further Development –

I decided to attempt to make the gyroscopes more Gothic in appearance this time around but I wanted to have some visual inspiration to show through. In Bungies Destiny, there are these sentient beings known as the vex. A highly intelligent race that is also ancient just like the Traveller.

Their appearance is very robotic when first impressions come into view although they are not powered with oil, motors ect, they are actually made from organic liquid and are rumoured to used to be living beings that made the great leap into machines to being immortal, defeating death to speak.

Want to see their weaponry and other classes?

After some discussion we had decided that the structure will be powered by kinetic energy although Phoebe thought it would be a better idea for the gyroscopes to move through power and have kinetic flags on the outer rings of the gyroscopes to generate the energy as they would be moving more and making faster vibrations, I completely agreed with this so I went ahead and did what I think would be a plan on how the final design may look like.


For the design of the flags i thought it would be best to go with the visual representation of the Awoken ships from Bungies Destiny as they are light in weight but very strong, I only wish they gave out what material they’re made from but I would imagine it would be very strong stuff considering the speed of their ships!


I had been informed by Samantha as i was off Uni that we had changed the structure from being able to travel in space but more less a structure that floats in orbit or on a organic structure such as a volcano. Rosie then began telling us how the volcano could be made from magnetites.

Rosie’s Research – 

typical magnetite


What is Magnetite?

Magnetite is a very common iron oxide (Fe3O4) mineral that is found in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. It is the most commonly mined ore of iron. It is also the mineral with the highest iron content (72.4%).

Identification of Magnetite

Magnetite is very easy to identify. It is one of just a few minerals that are attracted to a common magnet. It is a black, opaque, submetallic to metallic mineral with a Mohs hardness between 5 and 6.5. It is often found in the form of isometric crystals. It is the most strongly magnetic mineral found in nature.

Magnetite as “Lodestone”

Normal magnetite is attracted to a magnet, but some specimens are automagnetized and have the ability to attract small pieces of iron, small pieces of magnetite, and other magnetic objects. This form of magnetite, known as “lodestone,” was man’s first encounter with the property of magnetism. Lodestone is easily identified because it is usually covered with small particles of magnetite and other magnetic minerals (see photo).

Pieces of lodestone suspended on a string served as the first magnetic compasses and were used in China as early as 300 BC. When freely suspended on a string, a small piece of lodestone will align itself with Earth’s magnetic field. –


Extract from website



From our chat I made these three designs that are from the latest change we made to the mechanical structure, the group seemed to like the two on the left rather than the right which I totally agree on! I like the top left one the most as it sticks to the list of stuff we are aiming for, futuristic, kinetic powered gyroscopes and organic spire. I personally don’t want the city to float above a volcano although the majority decided it would be a nice visual touch so I will trust their judgement and go with it, though we may need to make the volcano a fictional one that is not from Earth as there are no Volcanoes big enough in Lithuania to accommodate our structure.

If I have missed anything so far, be sure to check out my team mates as they have done so much and i would love to share all their efforts so far! Here are the links to their blogs below.

Samantha Dawn Quigley

Phoebe Long 

Rosaleen Mullan (Oscar)



The Material For The Sphere/Spire –

We now wondered what metal the sphere that holds the people of Kaunas city would be made of, very interesting topic for Rosie to bring up. Though it was Rosie and Samantha that took it upon themselves to research into the Rocks.

The next part is an extract from Samanthas Blog. 

After a little digging on Google, I discovered that the three most prominent magnetic metals are iron, cobalt and nickel. Here are images of the three metals below, in their pure forms:

Iron – ([Accessed 01/03/16]

cobolt ore specimen

Cobalt – ([Accessed 01/03/16]

Nickel – ([Accessed 01/03/16]


We now know the three strongest magnetic metals, but we also have to take into account their melting point. We will want a heat resistant metal if it will float atop a very active volcano. So I also dug around Google for this too, and here is what I found in terms of melting points for these metals.

  • Iron: 1,538 °C
  • Cobalt: 1,495 °C
  • Nickel: 1,455 °C

With these figures, we will want the sphere to be made out of iron, as it has the highest melting point.


There were some other metals considered, mostly by me, as I know two particular metals that are very strong and durable.

One was titanium. I light metal, but is very durable. I thought that the sphere could possible be made from this metal. Here is a photo of raw titanium below:

([Accessed 01/03/16]

Titanium also has a melting point higher than iron, at 1,668 °C

It would have been a good candidate, but unfortunately titanium isn’t good on the magnetic side of metal. Therefore it will not be a great metal for our Kaunas sphere.

The same can be said for the other metal I mentioned, which is tungsten. It is a heavy metal which is also very strong and durable. Out of all the metals I looked into, tungsten has the highest melting point at 3,422 °C.

While that is an excellent figure in my opinion, it also falls behind on magnetic strength, so the team and I had to disregard tungsten as well. Here is a photo of raw tungsten below:

([Accessed 01/03/16]

With that research out of the way, we all agreed that our sphere will be made from good ole’ iron.

The Finalized Model –

Finally completed our Floating city model! Collaboration by myself (Spire), Samantha (Gyroscopes), Phoebe (Sphere) and Rosie (Flags). This was so fun to make and I felt our team had such a great chemistry between each other! Now to tackle editing and add our statistics into a rendered video~

Visualisation Data –

What is visualisation Data?

“Data visualization is the graphical display of abstract information for two purposes: sense-making (also called data analysis) and communication. Important stories live in our data and data visualization is a powerful means to discover and understand these stories, and then to present them to others. The information is abstract in that it describes things that are not physical. Statistical information is abstract. Whether it concerns sales, incidences of disease, athletic performance, or anything else, even though it doesn’t pertain to the physical world, we can still display it visually, but to do this we must find a way to give form to that which has none. This translation of the abstract into physical attributes of vision (length, position, size, shape, and color, to name a few) can only succeed if we understand a bit about visual perception and cognition. In other words, to visualize data effectively, we must follow design principles that are derived from an understanding of human perception.”

Interaction Design Foundation

Phoebe is now sorting out the batch render, so whilst she is coding in the right settings for that me, Sam and Rosie will take on making the visuals for the final video. With Kaunas being a new city to the module rather than Belfast it was quite hard to find up to date information on the city on English websites, so with that some statistics may be from a few years ago at the least!

(I believe other Kaunas groups had this problem too from the last meet up.)

Samantha was kind enough to get us the information needed so I could go ahead and create the charts for said statistics.


I will now touch these up and make them more visually appealing for what we want which will obviously be futuristic, you will see that within the final video!


The Final Product –


With all great things a problem is soon to arise. We had came across an issue with the final render (a night before presentation) that the smoke Rosie had created seem to be in a short loop rather than play its full animation like on the timeline. After speaking to Phoebe and the Lectures it was apparent this was because we rendered on two separate computers rather than one as it ruined the timing for the smoke and was alot noticeable than the looping sphere and spire, we will re render the new version in the next few weeks just so we can have a cleaner version!

The presentation as a whole went great, it was a shame we only have six minutes per group to talk (we always go past the time mark) as we would love to had spoken more into what inspired us and why we went with these directions for the structure but I suppose that is what the blogs are for when people want to know more right?

If you wish to few the presentation, here is a PDF of it below.

Project KAUNAS – The Floating City

It was a lovely group and experience to work along with such lovely genuine people that forward and boosted my confidence with my ideas towards a project!


Here is a .Mov file of the rendered animation although due to time constraints i wont be able to add in the visual data until the end of new narratives, though I believe me and Rosie will be playing around with this file when free time arises!




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