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The Structurodetic Survey is a project concieved by Rosalynn and Adam Rothstein. The intial work was funded by a Kickstarter campaign in 2012, and the project went live in November 2013.

Quick Links

Detailed Tutorial & Downloads
Database Portal


What is the Structurodetic Survey?

The Survey is for thinking about spaces, and sharing these thoughts with others.

It is different than just talking about space. The Survey is a means for recording people’s subjective responses to environments and architecture in a formulaic way, such that the records can be compared in a single method, to glean as much insight from these subjective responses as possible.

The creators understand the Survey in this way: whenever we stop to look at some space in the world, we react in many ways. We might take a picture. We might comment to a friend about the view. We might choose to write something down about what is seen, either at the time or at a later date. We might be inspired to make art in response. We might simply have some fleeting thoughts. While all these individual methods of responding to the environment are great in their own ways, we wanted to develop a single, programmed approach. The goal is exchangeability. This way, anyone visiting the same Survey space as other people can record a response using the same Survey as those who came before, and those who will come after. Using the Survey, all their responses can be saved and compared. And furthermore, anyone using the Survey method can compare Survey data between entirely different sites. The Survey, unlike a poem, a painting, a thought, or a view, can extend in a singular way across space and time.

What does “Structurodetic” mean?

It is a play off “geodetic”, which is the process of measuring the toplogy of the surface of the earth using trigonometry. Those circular metal benchmarks you see riveted to the ground in sidewalks, in concrete anchors, and other places? Those are the points that are used to triangulate an approximate shape of the surface of the earth. The Structurodetic Survey uses a similar set of three points around a particular site, but rather than measuring in just quantitative distances and angles, also measures a person’s response to the various social, emotional, aesthetic, and other structures at play around the site.

How can I take part in the Survey?

Join us! The Kit you need to do the Survey are free to download under Creative Commons license. You might need some other equipment, but we’ll get into that in the tutorial. If you want to do your Survey site on the data-network grid, a standard smart phone should have just about all the tools you’ll need.

How does the Structurodetic Survey work?

Here’s the tutorial, which has all the equipment, the Kit, and the process fully explained.

How can I get the Structurodetic Survey Kit?

You can download it all on the tutorial page. Printed versions were made in a limited edition for our Kickstarter backers. All the materials are Creative Commons licensed, so you can print it yourself. If you really want to buy a nice printed version, send us an email. We’ll judge demand, and let you know how much it would cost and how long it would take. (If you do want to buy a set, you should get together a bunch of friends that all want to buy them too, and we can do a group printing. Our goal is not to sell this as a kit, but just to make the project a reality. That said, we’d be happy to organize a small production run at some point.)

How can I access the Structurodetic Survey database?

Here’s the database portal. There’s a Google Doc that you can limit by option boxes, and a cool Google Map that plots all the Survey points (downloadable as a map layer in KML format). We are working on making the photos display in a nice way, that should be coming soon. Also, downloading the Database data in various formats should be coming soon.

How do I submit my Survey results to the database?

The spreadsheet template is available in ODS and XLSX format on the Database Portal page. Fill out as much of the information as you can, and then email the file to us. We’ll plug them into the database. It only takes a minute.

To ask questions or to otherwise contact us about the project, please email us.

Historical Info and Development Pages

Updates for our Kickstarter backers (and other interested folks) about the project development:

  • First Update and Outline
  • Southern California Trip Narrative
  • Presenting the Kit
  • Presenting the Cards
  • Presenting the Data
  • Next Steps
  • Rewards and Going Live

  • Our introductory essay, explaining the origins of the project and the original vision.
  • The Youtube video, produced for the Kickstarter.
  • The original Kickstarter page.