Upcoming course: Mapping Urban Data


Mapping Urban Data” will be the first in a series of video courses dedicated to exploring and visualizing data about cities. The course is coming soon on Morphocode Academy and will provide you with all the necessary skills to create web maps, work with data and explore urban insights.

You will learn how to collect and use geospatial data, as well as how to style and publish your maps on the web. “Mapping Urban Data” takes a hands-on approach to data visualization through a range of New York City–based case studies covering topics such as built density, energy consumption and mobility.




Exploring the City: Case Study NYC

New York City is exemplary for its thorough use of data in urban analytics and policy evaluation. The success of large scale projects such as the reconstruction of Times Square; Green Light for Midtown and NYC Plaza Program is largely due to the data-driven approach applied by city departments. Currently, the Big Apple’s open data portal provides public access to over 1,500 datasets from various agencies, making the city a great starting point for data explorations.



The course will introduce you to interactive web mapping through one of New York city’s most valuable datasets –  PLUTO. Containing detailed information on the tax lot level, PLUTO was first released to the open data community in 2013 and was considered a huge win. We will use PLUTO and a handful of other interesting datasets to explore urban insights and create interactive maps from the ground up.



Key Takeaways

“Mapping Urban Data” will guide you through a series of practical examples. You will start with a raw dataset, explore its attributes, design a map, add interactivity and finally publish it on the web. You will gain understanding of data formats, information design principles, cartography fundamentals and the coding skills required to finish the project.

The course is designed to be beginners-friendly and is suitable for architects, designers, urban planners, journalists or anyone genuinely interested in the topic. We will cover the following topics:


Learn how to handle open data sets and common data formats such as CSV, GeoJSON and Shapefiles. Work your way through data fields, types and file formats.

Information Design
Create beautiful maps and data visualizations. Learn the fundamentals of information design, color scales, qualitative and quantitative maps.

Transform data into maps. Handle map projections, inspect features, modify data attributes and style geometries.

Web Mapping
Export your visualizations for the Web. Learn the fundamentals: raster and vector map tiles, Web Mercator, zoom levels, feature collections.

Provide additional levels of interactivity. Handle user interactions and design a functional interface for your visualization.

Learn JavaScript, HTML5 and CSS and bring your data to life. Combine data, map and story into a single web page and share it with your friends.




The Big Picture: Data and the City

Rapid urbanization and advances in Information and communication technology are the most pervasive processes shaping the course of contemporary culture and society. “Data & The City” video series is about the intersection of these two global trends. As mobile devices become ubiquitous and spatial information even more abundant, data visualization allows a critical evaluation of active policies and city services by transforming otherwise hidden patterns into visual arguments. The act of transforming raw data into an interactive map creates visual narratives and opens up new possibilities for context-sensitive analysis conducted by urbanists, civic organizations, journalists and policy makers.




The course is launching in the beginning of 2017 with special discounts for subscribers to Morphocode AcademyYou can subscribe in the form bellow and we will notify you when the course is available.

Morphocode Academy

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Morphocode in the Best American Infographics 2015


We are extremely happy to be included in the 2015th edition of The Best American Infographics. The third volume in the series captures the finest visual representations of data from the last year. Our project Urban Layers has been selected among the top 10 interactive infographics in the book and is featured in the “Interactive” section curated by Simon Rogers — Data Editor at Google and founder of the Guardian Datablog.

Under the vigilant editing of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Gareth Cook and with a thoughtful introduction from Brain Pickings’ mastermind, Maria Popova, the book is already a bestseller. It features a great variety of works on topics, from sports and cinema to drones, health and politics, organized in four sections. The diversity of topics, visual techniques and approaches to information design makes the book just as suitable for a genuine curious mind as for design professionals.


The Best American Infographics 2015

Urban Layers is an interactive visualization that we published an year ago. The project allows you to navigate through historical layers of Manhattan’s built environment, revealing hidden patterns and preserved fragments. The visualization was featured on CityLab, FastCodesign, gizmodo, curbedNY and was selected by Google Maps Mania among the Top 100 maps of 2014.



The Best American Infographics 2015

In March, Gareth Cook approached us with the news that Urban Layers was selected among the Best American infographics of 2015. The full selection in the “special interactive section” of the book features works by The New York Times Graphics Department, the Washington Post and Fathom.


“I chose these works because it felt to me that each illustrated some of the new approaches, from the established media houses to the newest of the new.”

Simon Rogers


Here is a short overview of the 10 best interactive infographics as they appear in the book:


The Wizards’ shooting stars

The Wizards’ shooting stars

Authors: Todd Lindeman and Lazaro Gamio — Washington Post

The Wizards’ shooting stars is a visual data analysis of the team’s shooting performance. The visualization makes a statistical breakdown of how well each player shoots from various distances and illustrates how data metrics can improve scoring efficiency.



Inside the Firewall: Tracking the News That China Blocks

Inside the Firewall

Authors: Sisi Wei, Lena Groeger, Mike Tigas and Yue Qiu — ProPublica

Inside the Firewall tracks the news censorship in China. The website-blocking policy used by the Chinese government is often referred as the “Great Firewall of China”.




Colors in motion - Fantastic Mr. Fox

The colors of motion

Author: Charlie Clark

This interactive infographic explores the use of color in moving images, with a focus on film. The average color of each frame is extracted and presented as an interactive poster.




Urban Layers

Authors: Greta Dimitrova and Kiril Mandov — Morphocode

Urban Layers explores the structure of Manhattan’s urban fabric and lets you navigate through historical fragments of the city. The visualization allows you to interact with more than 45 000 buildings directly in the browser.



NYTimes - Interactive - Derek Jeter swings

A Career at Bat

Authors:  Shan Carter, Joe Ward and David Waldstein — New York Times

A Career at Bat is an interactive visualization answers the question “How many times had Derek Jeter swung a baseball bat in his professional career?”.



The Best American Infographics 2015 - A Map of every satellite

A map of Every Satellite

Authors: David Yanofsky and Tim Fernholz — Quartz

This interactive graphic allows the reader to sort and explore the entire satellite ecosystem, from milk-carton-size microsats to school-bus-sized spy satellites.




A day in the life of a Taxi

Author: Chris Whong

This web infographic animates the route and activities of a single random New York City taxicab over a single day. The animation shows pickups and drop-offs, passengers, approximate routes traveled, and fares earned.




Born Here, Died There

Authors: Maximilian Schich, Mauro Martino, Kerri Smith, Charlotte Stoddart — Nature

This video animation tracks over 100.000 births and deaths, showing where and when notable people were born and where they died. The visualization identifies intellectual hotspots and tracks how empires rise and crumble throughout history.



What the world eats

Authors: Xaquín González Veira, Jason Treat, John Kondis, Alex Stegmaier — National Geographic / Fathom

This graphic shows country-by-country patterns of food consumption and how they change over time. The results, based on data from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, demonstrate trends and tell interesting stories.




NYC Henge

Authors: Andrew Hill, Sergio Alvarez and Javier Arce — CartoDB

NYCHenge is an interactive map that allows the viewer to explore the angle of the setting sun for any evening of the year and see what streets in New York City align with that sunset.




We would like to thank Gareth Cook — for reaching out and starting this amazing series and Simon Rogers — for appreciating our work and placing it in the top ten interactive infographics of the year!



Learn more

The Best American Infographics was published in October this year. You can find it on on AmazonB&NBAM and Indiebound.

More information about Urban Layers can be found in the post “The Making of Urban Layers“. We are currently working on our long-awaited video course Data & the City that will discuss how to find, analyze and visualize spatial data to better understand urban dynamics. More on that in Morphocode Academy!


Visiting the MIT Senseable City Lab / Singapore

We recently visited the MIT Senseable City Lab at the SMART research centre in Singapore. It was a long journey – more than 9000km (6000 miles) separate Europe from Singapore.

Singapore is a sovereign city-state and island country situated in Southeast Asia with a population of about 5.5 million. It is among the biggest ports in the world and has the best quality of life in Asia according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

In the recent years Singapore has become a vibrant Research & Development hub bringing together local and international research teams. This process is largely supported by the National Research Foundation – an organization established in 2006 by the Prime Minister’s Office in effort to develop the research and development capabilities of the country.





In 2007 the National Research Foundation of Singapore and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) joined forces to establish SMART — MIT’s first research centre outside the United States. The SMART headquarters are located in the CREATE campus – an innovation hub hosting multiple leading international research centers. The Campus was designed by Arup and was named ‘Laboratory of the Year’ by R&D Magazine in 2013. Berkley, Cambridge, ETH Zurich, Technische Universität München are among the top universities that carry out research in the campus collaborating with a network of local researchers.

At SMART, the Senseable City Lab investigates how digital techologies change the way people interact with the city. It focuses on improving the efficiency of urban transportation systems by using new models and tools for the planning, design and operation of future urban transportation. The Lab is directed by Carlo Ratti and brings together an interdisciplinary team of researchers, data scientists, software engineers and interaction designers.



Live Singapore

Live Singapore! is one of the main initiatives of the Lab. It focuses on making urban real-time data available to citizens. The project initiates public discussions about better planning and city management through the use of urban data.

In 2012, the Lab exhibited Visual explorations of urban mobility – a project exploring the digital traces left by the citizens as they travel across the city with public transport or by car. Touching Bus Rides and Data Lenses are two of the prototypes developed for the exhibition:




MIT Data Collider Screenshot

Data Collider

DataCollider is the latest project coming out from the MIT Senseable City Lab / Singapore. It is a tool that allows you to easely create beautiful data visualizations.

The project grew out of the lab’s efforts to simplify the process of analyzing and visualizing big amounts of data. It was developed in-house for about 2 years and was recently announced to the public.

DataCollider works by allowing you to upload, process and visualize your data. Internally, it uses Hadoop to process the data and a combination of d3.js, Three.js and Cesium.js to create the visualization.

In a way it is similar to CartoDB and Mapbox’s Tilemill. However, DataCollider comes with a set of unique features such as the ability to transform data by visually defining data operators. To do that, you place your operators on a canvas and connect them together to form a workflow – similarly to how VVVV, Grasshopper3d and NoFlo.js work.

Currently, the project is in beta. You can request an invitation to start playing with it. The team have put together a nice Guide to get you started.



Data Drives - Interactive Installation by the MIT Senseable City Lab

Data Drives

Data Drives is an Interactive data visualization based on Data Collider recently exhibited in the National Museum of Singapore. It allows you to rotate and zoom the data visualizations by interacting with a large touch-enabled display powered by Microsoft’s Perceptive PixelIt was quite fun playing with it while visiting the Lab.




Decoding the City

Learn More

Decoding the City is a recent publication coming from the The MIT Senseable City Lab. The Editorials Carlo Ratti and Dietmar Offenhuber present a collection of essays and research papers explaining how urban data can be analyzed and visualized to better undestand the processes taking place within the city.



Rabbit 0.4 released. Now without limitations.

We have just released Rabbit 0.4 – the latest version of our plug-in for Grasshopper. The new release is the first step in the process of open-sourcing the plug-in.


No Limits

Rabbit 0.4 no longer have expiry date. This release also removes the maximum grid size limit, so that you can fully explore cellular automata. As usual, Rabbit is freely available for download on our site.

Get it here


Join us on GH

We have created a new user group on Grasshopper3d. This will make it easy for you to get updates about Rabbit and the latest tutorials in Morphocode Academy.

Join the group


Urban Layers: What’s next?

We recently announced our latest project Urban Layers – an interactive map that explores the structure of Manhattan’s urban fabric.

The project is a part of an ongoing research focused on the intersection of open data and urban planning. In that sense, visualizing historical data marks the begging of a long-term initiative.
At that point we’ve used open data and some of the latest mapping technologies to render more than 45000 buildings and allow user-interaction with the map.

We are happy to trace and track all of the positive feedback and shout out a big “Thanks” to everyone who shared the project!



In the Media

We were happy to see Urban Layers gain some attention as it was named Map of the week by Gmaps Mania.

” Urban Layers is an incredible new mapped visualization of Manhattan’s building history. The map uses building construction data from PLUTO with Mapbox GL to create a highly responsive and interactive tool to explore the history of building construction in central New York.”

Mapping the History of Manhattan’s Growth
Keir Clarke — GMapsMania


Michelle Young — founder of @untappedcities published a great article about the project:

“A map tool that opens with a quote from Rem Koolhaas’ Delirious New York? How could we resist?”

Explore the Phantom Architecture of NYC’s Past


The map was also published on FastCodesign, gizmodo, curbedNYLesEchos.frLumieres de la villeArkitera and featured in a video by France24.

“Morphocode has done their fair part in decoding the building hullaballoo with Urban Layers, an interactive map that allows users to scroll through different decades while it depicts how development spread across the city.”

See How Development in Manhattan Spread Over 250 Years


On Citylab

Urban Layers ultimately made it to the front page of Citylab where it became the most popular story.  Make sure to read the full article written by Kriston Capps.


“Seeing when those buildings were constructed at the parcel level with a simple slide of a rule is a real advance in data mapping”

Mapping the Age of Every Building in Manhattan




On Twitter

The response on twitter was great. Here are some of our favourite tweets:



What’s Next?

Urban Layers is a work-in-progress. We have just scratched the surface of what is possible in terms of dynamic urban mapping and we are looking forward to:

Add more ‘Data Layers’
PLUTO – the dataset used in Urban Layers contains various information for each building: year built, footprint, height, ownership, etc. The ‘year built’ data is arguably the most inaccurate field and we are planning to add the rest of the available data to the map.
Adding more data fields and the ability to filter and cross-reference layers will provide a more in-depth look into urban dynamics.

Add more Cities
Adding the rest of NYC, as well as other cities is also something that we are excited about. Amsterdam and Chicago are great candidates for that since they already provide various open data sets.
Do you want to see a particular city/community featured? Drop us a line and let us know.

Fix Bugs
There are a couple of bugs related to the WebGL renderer that prevent to see the map in detail with some hardware configurations.

Better Mobile/Browser Support
We would like to improve the support for touch-enabled devices that support WebGL.



Support the project

The guys at Mapbox were kind enough to provide us with a one year standard plan and we are looking forward to use its full potential. Thank you Eric & Matt!

For anyone else willing to support the project or interested in any kind of collaboration – feel free to contact us !

Hope you’ve enjoyed Urban Layers. Thanks for spreading the word!


Rabbit for Grasshopper going open source

Rabbit – our beloved plug-in for Grasshopper will soon get an update! The most important thing is that we will open source the plug-in.

Rabbit is written in C# and is based on the Rhino & Grasshopper SDK. The code will be published on github so that anyone will be able to contribute and help improve the plug-in. We will also remove all limitations related to the grid size.

Adding more features is also on the todo list, so if you have any specific requirement in mind – share it in the comments bellow or on the Rabbit page.

Open sourcing will happen gradually as we need to review the current codebase and update it for the latest versions of Grasshopper and Rhino. Stay tuned for updates!


Parametric Design Workshop in Sofia

We are happy to announce that Morphocode will teach a two day parametric design workshop in Sofia, Bulgaria.
The participants will learn new tools and techniques for design and digital fabrication using Rhinoceros, Grasshopper and Rabbit.

The event will take place in Fabrica 126  on 17th & 18th of may 2014. 


There are no seats left for this event.

Want to participate, but cannot attend?

We’ll publish the workshop contents online. Subscribe for Morphocode Academy now  and we’ll notify you when the course becomes available.

Subscribe Now.

Morphocode Redesigned

We are happy to announce that we’ve redesigned our website. It now looks and works better than ever.

Some of the  improvements are:


Our newsletter features some of the most interesting resources that we find around. These include learning materials, best practices, useful tools, news, etc.  Make sure to never miss them. Subscribe here:

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Rabbit Download

The Facebook like is no longer required to download Rabbit. You can now get it after a simple registration. We have also grouped the basic tutorials in a Getting Started with Rabbit Course.

Responsive layout

Our new theme is based on the Foundation framework and leverages the fluid grid system. This makes it look good on any mobile device.

Better typography

We are now using a Google font for the main text.

Contact Form

You can now contact us via our contact form.

Updated About Section

Check out our new About Section and learn more about Morphocode’s spacialties.


Last, but not least. We were working on a new project called Morphocode Academy: an on-line training platform for architects and designers. Check it out.

Hope you like the new design!