4th ISUFitaly

Bari, 26-28 September 2018

4th ISUFitaly International Congress: READING BUILT SPACES.
Cities in the making and future urban form

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The city is an “organism in the making”, an entity in constant transformation, not a complex of immutable elements. The city represents the entire human experiential field of the world, considered as expression of a “fundamental movement of existence” in its completeness and historicity, expressed by the formative structure of tissues and building types, by the urban hierarchies, by the relations with the territory, by the social relations, and by the values and criticalities.
The conference’s aim is to propose a dialectical comparison between scholars of Architecture, Urban Planning, Urban History, Restoration, Geography, on the theme of urban morphology with an interpretative perspective based on the concept of “operating history”. Search for a multidisciplinary syncretism that eludes single analyzing techniques and aims to the complete reconstruction of the urban phenomenology in its totality and concrete essence, through the study of the changing and inflexible condition of ‘fluidity’ hinged on the world’s events. An integrated thought based on the critical concept of ‘making’ that constitutes, phase by phase, the signifying element of each present, explained through the relationship between the before and the after: that is the research perspective of ‘being’ that announces the notion of transformational process.
Therefore, the projection in the future of the urban form is the central theme of the conference that proposes to stimulate the reflection on the issues as: recovery (not only of the historical city), re-use of existing urban spaces, regeneration, ex novo design in peripheral and peri-urban areas and natural spaces. All that, without neglecting the issue of sustainability, not considered with the strabismus of those who surrender to the “technique” pre-domain.



1. Urban form theories
The research on urban form has reached today a particularly significant level of scientificity, especially in the field of “urban sciences” that deal with anthropic phenomena that produce, in the current situation, even very complex mutations. The purpose of the topic is to deal with different methods and visions of reading and design in order to establish a dialectical and multidisciplinary comparison.

2. Urban form between identity and spatial semantics
The city, as it appears today, is a consequence of cultures that have stratified in a place and have left the “sign” of their passage in the urban form. Many urban realities, in fact, still show today the distinctive feature of their movement that is expressed, in many cases, in the persistence of strongly identitary characters. Today, however, in a phase in which very complex spatial semantics are being defined, urban space does not seem to be identifying with culture anymore. The aim of the topic is to research the different ways in which identity is expressed, and at the same time to understand the current dynamics in those places that show a different and unprecedented semantics, as multi-faceted as -in many cases- too daring and/or contradictory.

3. Contemporary urban spaces between form and process
Contemporary urban space is often characterized by being inorganic and without precise hierarchies. However, a more careful observation shows that, often, behind the apparent disarticulation there is not the total absence of homogeneity but there is an understandable structure that is able to explain urban phenomena through the use of adequate analysis techniques that explain the evolving mechanics of anthropic structures. From this point of view, spontaneity and critical action become the emblem of a behavior model that contemporary space seems to manifest in all its range.

4. Urban form between architecture and landscape
If the walled city has long demonstrated a clear distinction with the cultivated area and, in general, with the landscape, after a few decades of ruthless consumption actions, today the urban form seems to want to recover a different relationship with the territory, which is explained also as an effect of the different conception matured in today’s cultures. No longer conditioned solely or strongly by the economic-working condition, the landscape becomes a place in which the urban form finds a different dimension that must do not be preponderant because it should prevail an animus that seeks the right organic interaction without disfiguring it barbarously.

5. In making structural or timeless paradigm?
Among numerous methods of investigation that look at urban phenomena in their concrete evidence, two positions emerge that produce results – although not opposed – certainly very diversified. On the one hand, the theoretical vision that considers the “in making” through a structural component that implies a critical recourse to the notion of continuity and historical process. On the other hand, the idea that reality, constructed or just drawn, past and present, is able to reveal a series of cases that can become – to the interested gaze of those who selectively search for them – paradigmatic examples to be used in the project by suspending their temporality.


1. Form and structure of the historical city
The historical city always expresses an urban form that underlies a settlement structure, which is the result of diachronic changes occurred over time. Investigating it in its constituent elements means understanding the structure of relationships that is established between residential and specialized building types, fabrics, paths, hierarchies, connection spaces (nodes and poles at different scales), etc. Of particular interest is the multidisciplinary research of urban phenomena of the historical building, both to establish a dialectical relationship between the different scholars-operators, and to produce hypotheses of intervention in which the projection in the future of the historical city can find adequate answers also in terms of updating.

2. Urban morphology and settlement process
The urban morphology, as law that investigates the structuring nature of settlement systems, is a synthesis of the different components that contribute to it and of which it is an expression. Studying urban morphology means understanding the process in the making by researching temporally variable settlement methods that are a concrete expression of the relationship between anthropic phenomena and the shape of the city. Of great relevance is the theme of the relationship between “urban form and limits of development” that are sometimes not congruent to a certain vocation that is found in the structure of the city.

3. Relation between periphery and natural space
The periphery, conceived now according to a broader meaning of its original sense, presents some reading difficulties mainly inherent in its dilated depth, in the growing distance that separates the consolidated fabric from its limits, in the discontinuous development and for distinct parts that prevents its identification as an accomplished urban form. Periphery as a transition area between the urban settlement and the space of nature, in which the main dysfunctions of the contemporary city are concentrated.

4. Structure of the informal city
The phenomena linked to migration and to the marginalization are the basis of specific spontaneous logic of organization of the anthropic space, tending to reflect the building culture of the social groups involved, often origin of conflicts with the planned plots of the city and the territory. The study of the “informal city” requires interpretive tools that are able to grasp the hidden structure and the characters that lie behind its apparent disorder in which, however, they intersect – sometimes spontaneously, sometimes critically – the characters of types that often arrive to hybridize.

5. Metropolis and megalopolis in the making
The settlements that extend to invest the regional dimension can be read as specialized territories in which different “city ideas” conflict, where infrastructural systems constitute the plot that links the individual parts, where iconic projects represent hierarchical nodes of an additive development often lacking of a recognizable structure as shape.


1. Today’s city and future shape
The city interpreted as set of systems, integrated or in conflict with each other, is the incipit of those projects that look to history as a field of critical orientation in which the existing with its laws, but also with its contradictions, urges interventions able to update urban text, investigating the relationship between type and process and highlighting unexpressed aspects – or unpublished – of its stratified identity. In this context of conceptual and operational choices there is also the critical question of the urban form sustainability.

2. Urban restoration and post-trauma re-construction between conservation and innovation
Protection, conservation and enhancement of built heritage are topics linked between them that urban design investigates according to two interacting paths: that of the restoration, extended to “urban environment”, and the reconstruction of aggregates or entire settlement organisms, which introduces further problems due to historical, artistic and cultural “instances” that an urban ensemble represents, compared to the characters of the place and context that helps to identify. In both cases the project is the synthesis of theoretical questions between preserving (what, how) and innovating.

3. Fringe belt riqualification
The limit is a condition that can be summarized in two extremes among which there are multiple gradations and relationships: on the one hand, there is a threshold that clearly distinguishes city and landscape, typical of the less transformed consolidated urban nucleus, or which have suffered a slow and constant evolution; on the other, there is a discontinuous margin, place of oppositions between the speculative fabrics that distinguish suburbs. Two polarities among which can be placed redevelopment projects that in the first case reinterpret the limit as confirmation and updating of stratified morphological characters, while in the second they aim to give formal meaning to fragmentary fabrics that in their syncopated growth include natural spaces, countryside and abandoned areas.

4. The urban project between city and nature
City and nature: two autonomous or interacting conditions? A question that unavoidably invite to focus the urban design issue towards new challenges: to assume the dilated condition of the natural space as pretext to experiment an idea of city made by autonomous parts that undermines the notion of urban fabric; or to assume the nature as pretext to seek a new dimension of urban compactness through a structured inclusion of the green within the tissue.

5. Ecological urban environments
The design of so-called “green spaces” within the urban environment conceived as opportunity to critically interpreting the structural dimension of the ‘urban void’. In other terms, with respect to those projectual pratices aimed to mere ‘urban greening’ actions, the invite is to reflect on those design themes that assume the green condition as pretext to re-define (by updating) hierarchies within the urban tissue.

The organizers invite participation by interested academics and professionals. Proposals for papers should take the form of abstracts of papers. They should be prepared in the following format: title of paper, author(s) name, affiliation, full postal address, e-mail address, telephone number, 3-5 key words, conference topic/scale and a 250-word abstract, in a MS Word file (.doc) using the abstract template available on the website (font: Times New Roman). Proposals should be uploaded on the conference site after registration.

Main deadlines:

Abstracts must be received before the 30th of March 2018 (NEW DEADLINE 15th of April 2018)
Notification of whether abstracts have been accepted will be provided by the 28th of April 2018
Once abstracts have been accepted will be required to pay a registration fee by the 12th of May 2018 in order to have their papers included in the conference program. The registration fee of €180 (students: €100) includes conference cocktail and coffee breaks.
The final papers (not exceeding 4000 words) should be received by the 9th of June 2018. Authors should consult the notes for the guidance of contributors to Urban Morphology, available on the ISUF website (http://www.urbanform.org), or in recent copies of that journal, before preparing their papers. All the papers will be published after the conference with ISBN or ISSN. The official conference language is English.