Issue # 30 | Spring/ Summer 2022 |The Epiphylogenetic Turn and Architecture: In (Tertiary) Memory of Bernard StieglerVol. 16 No. 1 (2022)
Footprint 30 explores the work of French philosopher of technology Bernard Stiegler (1952–2020) to critically rethink the built environment in terms of a constructed yet emergent existential niche. Foremost concerned with technics, the purchase of Stiegler’s thinking and conceptual apparatus is to be found in the proposition of a novel theoretico-methodological turn towards epiphylogenetic processes. Yet to be embraced by discourses on architectural and cultural technologies, the notion of epiphylogenesis implies a kind of recursive path-dependent co-evolution of living systems with non-living means, especially technics. This sympoietic vision – of how culture-shaping technics and technical ensembles like cities (trans)form us – urges us to rethink how environments re-shape ontogenetic processes. The contributions to the issue call for a radical recasting of the architectural discipline by reconsidering the ‘what’ of technicity as constitutive of a (post)human ‘who’.
Issue editors: Robert A. Gorny and Andrej Radman
Issue # 29 | Autumn/ Winter 2021 |The Architecture of Populism: Media, Politics and AestheticsVol. 15 No. 2 (2021)
This issue of Footprint questions the complex concept of populism, explaining how, in recent debates, it has more and more often been related to architectural issues. Partly based on the analysis of political philosopher and historian Jan-Werner Müller, our understanding of the term reaches to both ends of the political spectrum. Yet rather than simply aiming to provide a clear definition of populism, this issue sheds more light on a debated concept, showing its multi-facetted aspects in relation to space and aesthetics. Through the categories of media, politics and aesthetics, this issue also shows the logical progression between the different pieces included. Acknowledging the complex nature of the word populism is essential for the understanding of the variety of takes included in this issue.
Issue's editors: Salomon Frausto and Léa-Catherine Szacka
Issue # 28 | Spring/ Summer 2021 | All is in Formation: Architecture, Cybernetics, EcologyVol. 15 No. 1 (2021)
Footprint #28 examines the relation between cybernetics and architecture by focusing on a problem they both share: the production, consumption and flow of information, or, in other terms, of meaning. Therefore, cyberneticisation can set the foundations for a relational account that examines how signs are communicated and how meaning is produced and experienced within systems. This third-order cybernetics extends beyond the original scope of living organisms and their environments in order to include ecologies of ideas, power, institutions, media and so on. In this sense, cyberneticisation is radically environmental, positing the primacy of relations over fixed terms, binary oppositions and linear logics, making it high time for architectural and urban studies to take into consideration its ground-breaking potentials.
Issue's editors: Stavros Kousoulas and Dulmini Perera
Issue # 27 | Autumn / Winter 2020 | Conflict MediationsVol. 14 No. 2 (2020)
Various forms of violence and conflict continue to shape our habitats. What historically has been straightforward and even obvious two-way dependency, in recent years took more subtle and covert form due to sophisticated technological advancements in the fields of media, surveillance and armament. Recognising the detrimental effects of these new developments on the way we experience, conceptualise and build our environments, Footprint #27 proposes artistic reflections, cross-media inquiry and counter-tactics as new powerful tools to rethink the complex relationship between conflict, space and mediation. On one hand, the aim of this issue is to deepen and expand theoretical considerations that substantiate investigations of spatial conflicts by making them truly interdisciplinary. On the other, it seeks to empower architects and artists in their pursuit of exposing, critiquing and fighting spatial violence by reclaiming/unlocking the enormous potential of media tools.
Issue's editors: Aleksandar Staničić, Marc Schoonderbeek, Heidi Sohn, Armina Pilav
Issue # 26 | Spring / Summer 2020 | The Architecture Competition as Contact Zone: Towards a Historiography of Cross-Cultural ExchangesVol. 14 No. 1 (2020)
This issue of Footprint follows a double trajectory. On the one hand, it advances an ambition for architecture historiography. The social sciences have long recognised the need for more comprehensive and inclusive methods for writing history. Among them, comparative literature scholar Mary Louise Pratt’s ‘contact zone’ appears as a useful framework for writing new histories of architecture that recognise the many interrelations that characterise the discipline of architecture. On the other hand, and among many possible contact zones, the issue focuses on studying the architecture competition as a contact zone. The resulting collection of articles, review articles and an interview show how, when seen as a contact zone, the architecture competition emerges as fertile ground for the production of disciplinary knowledge, resulting from exchanges between different cultures. Acknowledging the diverse nature of these cultures, together with the recognition of institutions, legislation and other conceptual frameworks as key elements of architecture as contact zone offers fresh theoretical insight, but also poses unexpected communicative challenges.
Issue's editors: Jorge Mejía Hernández and Cathelijne Nuijsink
Issue # 25 | Autumn/ Winter 2019 | The Human, ConditionedVol. 13 No. 2 (2019)
In a moment in which the term Man, and the humanist tradition which followed from it, have been challenged in feminist, queer, poststructuralist, and postcolonial critiques, which questioned its nature, or even pondered if we are actually human, Footprint 25 seeks to add to these perspectives cases of what we call radical conditioning, in which some architectures bypass assumed values of humanism and operate under a wholly different set of values, emanating from industrial and post-industrial economies and its technological developments. Unfolding in the study of histories, architectural types, aesthetics, atmospheres, systems, and users, the research articles and visual essays included in this issue shed light on the many ways architects, advertently or inadvertently, coalesce with forces intending to condition humans. Ultimately, this issue questions how these spaces, in which humans and their artifacts interact in unprecedented ways, could provide architecture with the timely opportunity to challenge our anticipated redundancy, and reconsider its own humanism in order to charge it with new meanings.
Issue editors: Víctor Muñoz Sanz and Dan Handel
Issue # 24 | Spring / Summer 2019 | The Architecture of Housing after the Neoliberal TurnVol. 13 No. 1 (2019)
Footprint 24 brings together housing-as-design with housing-as-policy and housing-as-market to discuss what is, today, the value of housing. It discusses how the architecture of housing plays a role in changing behavioural norms and models of subjectivation promoted by the neoliberal ideological agenda. The contributions included in this issue examine different ways of addressing the production of housing either as a social right or a commodity, or both combined. Reviewing cases from North America, Europe and Asia, they discuss the extent to which the social and economic agendas of the public sector and the market determine the architecture of housing. The background of the discussion is defined by a deadlock: the architectural discourse calls upon the state to re-provide housing and solve the crisis, while the neoliberal state is not interested in commissioning housing. Against this background, this issue examines how the architecture discipline can engage in new ways of responding to the neoliberal state of affairs, examining the entwined relation between ‘architecture’ as a cultural product and ‘housing’ as a socioeconomic need.
Issue editors: Nelson Mota and Yael Allweil
The ambition of Footprint 23 is to provide a critical survey of the architecture of logistics, unfolding the multivalences of its apparatus, dissecting its buildings and spaces, its technologies and labour relations, its historical evolutions as well as its future projections. Gathering academic papers and visual essays from researchers and emerging scholars in the field, the issue follows three main directions of inquiry.
The first trajectory attempts to define what logistics is and how it operates, focusing on the inherent ambivalence of its apparatus, able to cope with different scales and various temporal dimensions – from barcodes and gadgets to global routes and territorial infrastructures – constituting both a physical and abstract framework supporting, measuring and quantifying movements and actions, thoughts and desires. The second trajectory investigates the way logistics penetrates our existences, not simply by affecting how we live and work but the way in which it provides the very possibility of life as such, or, in other words, how logistics is inherently political. The third trajectory tackles the past, present and future of logistics, considered as the most crucial apparatus determining the human impact on the earth, controlling the distribution and organisation of organisms and ecosystems, triggering new and more violent forms of colonisation and exploitation.
This issue of Footprint does not seek definitive statements or hypothetic solutions for the monstrous nature of logistics. On the opposite, it aims at unfolding its inner contradictions to propose new possibilities of exploration for an architecture and its project.
Issue's editors: Negar Sanaan Bensi and Francesco Marullo
This issue of Footprint follows a tripartite trajectory regarding formal studies. On the one hand, it includes reflections on the way built form is produced, while, on the other, it gathers studies that examine how architectural form appears in discursive and communicative terms. Finally, it serves as an attractor for multiple inquiries into the different relations that can be established between human actions, understood in the broadest possible terms, and the shape of the built environment. By interrelating these three approaches, the aim is to embrace and braid object-based approaches to form with approaches that examine the reciprocity of formal emergence and studies dealing with in-formation. Emulating Joseph Kosuth’s well-known triptychs, a constant problematisation of architectural form is situated between these three topical interpretations, understood as architecture’s configurative triad. Acting on the threshold of various discursive outlines, the contributions to this issue transverse several kinds of formalisms, highlighting that beyond the limitations of any specific discourse, their heterogeneous assemblage can afford the production of theoretical, methodological and conceptual innovations in the field of contemporary formal studies.
Issue's editors: Stavros Kousoulas and Jorge Mejía Hernández
This issue of Footprint looks into the latest developments in queer theory and the related, newly emerging field of trans studies, and how they might inform and even reconceptualise architecture. Even though the introduction of queer theory into architecture dates back to the 1990s, there is still fairly little literature available specific to architecture. Most contemporary research into queer and trans theory happens in the fields of cultural studies, literature and the arts and social geography, whereas a cross-disciplinary connection between architecture, urban design and queer theory seems only logical from the point of view that architecture and urban design are instrumental in the formation of social and political identities. Additionally, queer and trans theory offers the possibility of opening up the disciplinary straightjacket of architecture: it engenders a radical reconceptualisation of the architectural discipline and its institutions in that queer and trans theory unsettles any conception of architecture as an embodiment of essentialist categories, be it identities, forms and types, just as it disturbs the mythologies of authorship and autonomy. Concerned with radical inclusiveness, this issue proposes to use ‘queering’ and ‘transing’ as lenses to more generally critique ‘exclusive’ conceptions of architecture, as well as mutually exclusive container concepts of spaces and bodies. What could architecture do, if we would leave behind essentialist approaches? Would it be possible to ‘undo’ the body of architecture and architecture theory and to allow for new figurations of knowledge, to ‘queer’ our understanding of architecture as a field engaged in consistent transformation, the material interface of processes of becoming?
Issue's editors: Robert Gorny and Dirk van den Heuvel
Issue # 20 | Spring / Summer 2017 | Analytic Philosophy and Architecture: Approaching Things from the Other Side
This issue of Footprint explores the potential role of analytic philosophy in the context of architecture’s typical affinity with continental philosophy over the past three decades. In the last decades of the twentieth century, philosophy became an almost necessary springboard from which to define a work of architecture. Analytic philosophy took a notable backseat to continental philosophy. With this history in mind, this issue of Footprint sought to open the discussion on what might be offered by the less familiar branches of epistemology and logic that are more prevalent and developed in the analytic tradition.
The papers brought together here are situated in the context of a discipline in transformation that seeks a fundamental approach to its own tools, logic and approaches. In this realm, the approaches of logic and epistemology help to define an alternate means of criticality not subjected to personalities or the specialist knowledge of individual philosophies. Rather the various articles attempt to demonstrate that such difference of background assumptions is a common human habit and that some of the techniques of analytic philosophy may help to leap these chasms. The hope is that this is a start of a larger conversation in architecture theory that has as of yet not begun.
Issue's editors: Karan August and Lara Schrijver
Footprint 19 focuses on the more recent roles of architecture in the contemporary spaces of conflict. Departing from a spatial understanding of geopolitical, climatological and economical conflicts, the various contributions highlight the large scale and phenomenal transitions in the physical world and in society by extrapolating, through examples, the abundance of relations that can be traced between conflict, territory and architecture. Conflict areas often prove to be fertile grounds for innovation and for the emergence of new spatial forms. The issue reports on the state of perpetual global unrest in architecture through a series of articles and case studies that highlight the consequences of conflicts in the places and spaces that we inhabit. In the introduction, these are discussed as an interlinked global reality rather than as isolated incidents. In doing so, the contemporary spaces of conflict are positioned in the context of emerging global trends, conditions, and discourses in the attempt to address their indicative symptoms while reflecting on their underlying causes.
Issue's editors: Marc Schoonderbeek and Malkit Shoshan
In Das Passagen-Werk Benjamin cites a letter from Marx to Ruge, ‘the reform of consciousness consists solely in [...] the awakening of the world from its dream about itself.’ This idea of awakening recurs in Benjamin’s methodological considerations and his many metaphors during the final thirteen years of his life. Benjamin set himself the pedagogical task of awakening ‘the image-making medium within us, raising it to a stereoscopic and dimensional seeing into the depths of historical shadows.’ His ambition was to develop the art of citing without quotation marks, a concept intimately related to that of montage.
The importance of architectural theory for Benjamin is most evident in his last work. From his writings on Berlin childhood, his essay on Moscow and Naples, Benjamin’s interest in urban topography can be seen to develop into a full analysis of the city, by developing a method which he refers to as physiognomic and in which, inspired by contemporary surrealist practise, the method of montage becomes critical for his showing how the ‘now of recognition’ in the image opens the historical to awareness, and constitutes the reality of history. He cites Giedion and sees his own work as engaged in a similar task: ‘just as Giedion teaches us to read off the basic features of today’s architecture in the buildings erected around 1850,’ Benjamin writes, ‘we in turn would recognise today’s forms, in the life and in the apparently secondary lost forms of that epoch.’
It was a matter of immediate concern for Benjamin to examine the secondary, the excluded. By a displacement of the angle of vision a positive element would emerge, something different from that previously signified. History is in the nuance, the dialectical contrast as revealed in Benjamin’s Parisian studies of the expressive character of the earliest industrial architecture, machines, department stores and advertisements. Nevertheless, as is clear from his note of the comment from Max Raphael’s Proudhon, Marx, Picasso, Benjamin reproaches Marx for not having advanced along this way in the full measure of the possibilities of historical materialism.
Issue's editors: Patrick Healy and Andrej Radman
The canon of western contemporary architecture has overlooked everyday, ‘salaried’ architecture – overwhelming as it may have turned out to be in our built environment – praising instead the solo designer and his ground-breaking work. Since World War I, the social role of the architect (in terms both of his or her place in social hierarchies and of his or her contribution for social betterment) seems to have been primarily tested, and largely consolidated, in ‘departmental architecture’. Yet the work of county, city and ministerial architects, heads of department in welfare commissions, guilds and cooperatives, is seldom discussed as such: its specificity as the product of institutional initiatives and agents, as the outcome of negotiation between individual and collective agendas, remains little explored, even when authors celebrate the many public-designed projects that are part of the canon. On the other hand, commercially driven architecture and the business side of the profession are still anathema for many, despite being essential factors in the discipline’s position in society.
Footprint 17 addresses the architectural production of those who played their part in inconspicuous offices and unexciting departments, and that contribute insights to discuss the place of the architecture of ‘bread & butter’ in architectural history studies and in the politics of architectural design and theory. This issue of Footprint explores intellectual frameworks, didactic practices, research methods and analytical instruments that project the disciplinary focus further than the work of the ‘prime mover’, discussing the relevance of ‘salaried’ architects and institutional agency in shaping the spatial and social practices of the everyday.
Issue's editors: Nelson Mota and Ricardo Agarez
Contemporary commoning practices are emerging from the failure of a vast array of neoliberal systems and models. Arguably, these practices hold the potential to actualise an in-between niche, which the public and private domains alike have been unable to encompass and express. As such, they invite us to rethink the meaning of the public/private dichotomy. Commoning practices simultaneously respond and give rise to differentiated social and materials forms and relationships, which result in a variety of geopolitical ecologies and new understandings of citizenry.
Issue 16 of Footprint offers an array of diverse insights into contemporary commoning practices. Emanating from different angles of enquiry and theoretical perspectives the articles included here investigate the question of the commons through the re-conceptualisation of different subjectivities. New understandings of the empowering potentials and latent agency of self-organised urban movements, i.e., are approached by means of in-depth analysis and critical assessment. The spectrum of possibilities opened by differentiated political practices and strategies unveil renewed types of legitimacy. Furthermore, critical evaluations of spatial initiatives display emerging socio-spatial bodies, thus questioning the role of autonomy across a spectrum of scales and thresholds of negotiation. Ultimately, the analysis of and speculation on the mechanisms of contemporary commoning re-configure urban reality through the realisation of new materialities.
Issue's editors: Heidi Sohn, Stavros Kousoulas, Gerhard Bruyns
Digital technology has introduced in the last decades data-driven representational and generative methodologies based on principles such as parametric definition and algorithmic processing. In this context, the 15th Footprint issue examines the development of data-driven techniques such as digital drawing, modelling, and simulation with respect to their relationship to design.
The dynamics between data-driven processes and design, as well as the impact of these processes on artistic and architectural production, is addressed in 5 papers from authors with diverse backgrounds in media studies, art, and architecture. From theoretical explorations discussing cultural swarming techniques and data-driven design representation and materialisation aspects to practical (artistic and architectural) experimentation, this issue indicates the increasing convergence of computational and material systems. Furthermore, it addresses the generation of multiple, emergent results from one and the same computational representation – results that may be realized virtually at the level of design conceptualization, physically at the level of production, and even operationally at the level of artefact or building use where users or the environment contribute to the emergence of multiple physical configurations and outcomes. Data-driven design thereby establishes an unprecedented design to production to operation feedback loop.
Issue's editors: Henriette Bier and Terry Knight
This issue of Footprint examines the notion of asignifying semiotics, which plays a dominant role in contemporary capitalism and becomes indispensable in creating the very conditions for its political critique. Asignifying semiotics is not limited to the semiotics of mathematics, stock indices, money, accounting and computer codes, but includes the semiotics of music, art, architecture, film, dance, and so on. What they have in common is their repudiation of the hegemony of meta-languages. Asignifying signs do not represent or refer to an already constituted dominant reality. Rather, they simulate and pre-produce a reality that is not yet there. Existence is not already a given, it is a stake in the experimental assemblages, be they scientific, political or artistic. Deleuze and Guattari’s principle of asignifying rupture calls for relinquishing the tautological, and hence trivial effort of tracing, in favour of creative mapping. The ten articles in Footprint 14 constitute a cartography that is coextensive with the social field, no longer as mimesis but as poiesis.
Issue's editors: Deborah Hauptmann and Andrej Radman
This issue of Footprint examines the recent participatory turn in urban planning and urban design. It discusses the co-opting of participatory processes by planning departments, the systematic disregard of inequalities, and the empowering of the market resulting from the ‘anti-statism’ present in many participatory schemes.
What is the relationship between the institutionalisation of participation and the practices of autonomy, self-organisation, and inclusion? When and how does genuine empowerment of collectives take place? Does the demand for the empowerment of local organisations and communities strengthen the market forces at the expense of central government?
This issue attempts to problematise ‘participation’, to call attentions to some of its shortcomings, deficits, and limitations, not in order to necessarily bypass the demand for the democratisation of the urban, but in order to rectify and strengthen it.
Issue's editors: Maroš Krivý and Tahl Kaminer
This special issue of Footprint began life in Shanghai, with the third Annual Delft School of Design (DSD) and International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) workshop, which was organized in conjunction with the Architecture Department of Hong Kong University (HKU) and took place in their Shanghai Study Centre in April 2011. The seven papers presented here look at issues of public space in East-Asian cities, beginning with an overview since 1945 and thereafter concentrating on cities in China, such as Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Nanjing, as well as a realm that is not often considered public space: urban rivers. The issue also considers the city of Bangkok, where urban design is examined as a counter public sphere.
Issue's editors: Gregory Bracken and Jonathan D. Solomon
Issue # 10/11 | Spring 2012 | Architecture Culture and the Question of Knowledge: Doctoral Research Today
Over the past fifteen years most advanced education programmes within Schools of Architecture have been questioning the parameters and requirements of doctoral research both in terms of content and form. This double issue of Footprint was motivated by the question of where the field stands today. Footprint 10|11 presents nine contributions from both recently defended and developing PhD candidates from a variety of institutions. The diversity of their work, as well as the similarities found in the submissions, offers a partial view into research topics currently addressed in PhD programmes within Schools of Architecture.
In addition to the nine papers by PhD researchers, we have included a paper by Andrew Leach that we believe provides an overview of the general state of contemporary architecture research. Leach makes an appeal to refrain from making all research operational. At a time when the application of research and its economic value seem to form the primary criteria for judging value, this appeal should not be taken lightly.
Issue's editors: Deborah Hauptmann and Lara Schrijver
Issue # 9 | Autumn 2011 | The European Welfare State Project: Ideals, Politics, Cities and Buildings
This issue of Footprint is based on the conference session ‘The European Welfare State Project – Ideals, Politics, Cities and Buildings’ as organized by the editors at the first EAHN Conference in Guimarães, Portugal in 2010, and as elaborated in the second EAHN Conference in Brussels, Belgium in 2012 (together with Mark Swenarton). These sessions were proposed as part of the research programme ‘Changing Ideals – Shifting Realities’ at the TU Delft, which aims to further disclose, map and question the architectural culture of the second half of the twentieth century. It focuses on how the welfare state in Western Europe represents a unique time frame in which manifold shifts within the modernist discourse in architecture and planning were paired with societal changes that established new assemblages between producers, designers, governments, clients, builders and users. It is part of the editors’ assumption that the current crisis of capitalism puts the politics of redistribution back on the agenda. In re-investigating the vast legacy of the welfare state, it seems only natural to look for new models for collectivity, not to dwell in nostalgia, but indeed to find alternatives to suit the new situation. At the intersections of building practice, architectural viewpoints, national and local cultural contexts, a nuanced image of welfare state architecture emerges.
Issue's editors: Tom Avermaete and Dirk van den Heuvel
This issue of Footprint focuses on the post-war years and the negotiation of architecture with an ever more advanced consumer society within the context of welfare state redistributive policies. Industrial, productivist logic is mixed in this era with the biopolitics of the emerging late-capitalist spectacle, and with the shock and awe brought about by the expanding mass-media networks.
Many of the contributions to Footprint 8 highlight the need for an alternative to the options spelled out in the last decades in architecture – a ‘radical pragmaticism’ of sorts. Michael Müller, in his diagnostic essay in this volume, outlines the aporia of the current condition of artistic and architectural production, and Isabelle Doucet searches for a theory, while Fernando Quesada, Ross K. Elfline, and Nelson Mota contribute specific precedents of architectural trajectories that were never followed, ranging from Superstudio’s work to Siza’s Malagueira. Deborah Fausch returns to the debate between Denise Scott Brown and Kenneth Frampton in 1971; Isabelle Doucet reviews a book by architecture-activists BAVO, calling for a form of radical pragmatism instead of the polarity of ‘opposition’ and ‘appeasement’; and Maroš Krivý contributes a review of the exhibition Dreamlands at the Centre Pompidou. Consequently, the discussion of the 1960s avant-garde and mass culture leads to an understanding of the challenges contemporary architecture faces and to an outlining of concrete alternatives from the recent past.
Issue's editors: Dirk van den Heuvel and Tahl Kaminer
The field of drawing, as practice and discourse, seems to have entered an end-condition, where the celebration of the extensive production of drawings is combined with a certain fatigue in both its understanding and reflection. Drawing, nowadays, seems to be suspended in this in-between condition of objectivity and instrumentality, as image and information, as communication and science, whereas the theoretical field generated between these polarities seems to have lost its theoretical poignancy.
The seventh issue of Footprint attempts to address this contemporary state of affairs within a disciplinary understanding of the drawn theory of architecture. The premise of raising this issue originates from the critical exploration of a field within architectural theory that in the last decades has seen a progressive ‘de-problematization’. Even though the role of drawing is nowadays still regarded as the most common act of architecture, this understanding of drawing is hardly subject to critical inquiries, and, unfortunately, mostly limited to its instrumental role within the representation of the project.
Issue's editors: Stefano Milani and Marc Schoonderbeek
Similar to the way that industrial fabrication with its concepts of standardisation and serial production has influenced modernist architecture, digital fabrication influences contemporary architecture: While standardisation focused on processes of rationalisation of form, mass-customisation as a new paradigm that replaces mass production, addresses non-standard, complex designs based on non-Euclidean geometries. Furthermore, knowledge about the designed object can be incorporated at the level of its connectivity with data stemming not only from its geometry but also from its content and behaviour within an environment. Digitally-driven architecture implies, therefore, on the one hand, digitally designed and fabricated architecture, and on the other hand, it implies architecture controlled and actuated by digital means.
In this context, the sixth Footprint-issue is examining the influence of digital means on architecture as pragmatic and conceptual instruments for exploring and generating complex systems of spatial organisation as well as for constructing and actuating architecture. The focus is not only on computer-based generative systems for the development of architectural designs, but also on architecture incorporating aspects of digital sensing/actuating mechanisms that enable buildings to interact with their users and surroundings.
Issue's editors: Henriette Bier and Terry Knight
The fifth issue of Footprint investigates the question of metropolitan form. The necessity to focus on the scale of metropolitan areas is manifest as this is the dominant scale of contemporary global life. The process of urbanisation and the size of urban agglomerations have dramatically increased since the last decades. These dynamics alone demand radically changed thinking about internal spatial organisation and the form of urban regions. Yet, scholarly focus at the regional level has shifted away from spatial thinking of overall form towards issues of governance, socio-economic statistics, and global networks. While these approaches provide insight into contemporary conditions, lost in translation is the question of metropolitan form: what are the characteristics of its spatio-physical structures? What are its distinguishable elements? And what are the factors that determine the transformation of form through time? By addressing the question of metropolitan form we try to extrapolate - scale-up - the research notions and methods of ‘urban morphology’ from the ‘urban’ to the ‘regional’ scale.
Issue's editors: François Claessens and Anne Vernez Moudon