Call for abstracts: Port Cities - Historical Urban Narratives and Contemporary Design Approaches

2019-09-06

Issue Editors: Fatma Tanış (TU Delft), Dr. ir. Frank van der Hoeven  (TU Delft), Dr. Ir. Lara Schrijver (University of Antwerp)

Port cities have traditionally played an important role in both local and transnational networks. Spatial imprints of the transnational flow and socio-spatial interactions in port cities left today intertwined and entangled history. However, today the physical presence of these rich histories is not always visible.

Port cities have been through a socio-spatial metamorphosis since the early 20th-century. A series of local and global events along with accelerating globalization has triggered the transformation. During this period, natural and man-made disasters, de-industrialization and changes in regulation (neo-liberal policies), changing social conditions (migration and population exchanges that led to loss of the master builders on one hand, on the other hand, required rapid sometimes haphazard urbanization in the cities due to increasing demand for housing), regeneration projects have in many places caused the tangible traces of history to disappear. For instance, Europe and East Mediterranean have been largely affected by two World Wars. In addition to these destructive events, de-industrialization process and neoliberal politics had a dramatic impact on the built environment on the port cities like London, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Izmir. Beside historic events that have concealed physical traces partially or entirely in port cities, contemporary waterfront regeneration projects have been continuously changing the face of the port cities, and they often come front with generic results.

Despite the physical transformations of port cities, historical narratives still remain. Global trade and transnational exchange left tangible imprints on the urban pattern but also manifested in cultural expressions such as paintings, engravings, travelogues, novels, travel books, and poems. Authors, artists, and travelers found inspiration in port facilities such as the quay, customs houses, warehouses and site-specific urban figures and street patterns, as well as social spaces in the cities. In such narratives, many protagonists are brought together, from elite traders, local governors, and white-collar workers (e.g. engineers, developers), to the local and foreign labor classes, transit passengers and sailors, and local inhabitants.

This issue seeks to investigate port-city narratives and their relevance to the architecture of port cities in two eras: the development of the 19th- and early 20th-centuries, and current transformations. First, we approach the theme from the historical point of view, aiming to compile untold 19th-century and early 20th-century urban narratives that evoke memories of port cities and define their cultural narrative today. Secondly, we look at transnational traces in port cities and in former port areas that are subject to contemporary developments. In studying the past and present of European and East Mediterranean port cities and their intertwined histories, we aim to reveal several questions:

    1. How may narratives inform designers and how may narratives be used in contemporary design approaches?
    2. What is the role of the architect in the contemporary narrative formation of port cities, particularly in the changing context of port-city relations?
    3. Lastly, how can narratives be a tool for the preservation of the built environment that is built under transnational exchanges?

Authors are encouraged to elaborate on architecture projects, that has been or is being developed in former port areas, in relation to the narratives. It is also possible to come up with a new narrative for the futures of port cities by addressing following questions: What are the possible narratives and tools which may re-connect the citizens to the port city and its history? How can urban narratives contribute to the further development of the city and influence decision-makers?

      1. papers with a historical focus that elaborate on depictions and their circulations among diverse societies (i.e. elites, intellectuals, travelers, clientele) in relation to promotional, touristic, ideological or political intentions.
      2. papers that provide insights for urban agenda (both for urban developments and conservation plans) of port cities.
      3. projects or experimental designs that propose a design approach and ideas based on the representational value of port cities. We are particularly interested in the contributions that would reflect on how historic narratives can be used for contemporary design within the changing socio-spatial context and shifting viewpoints in the depiction of the cities.

Abstracts/draft paper/visual essay submissions: November 1st 2019
Editors' selection of abstracts/visual essays: November 2019
Abstract/draft paper/visual essay reviews: January 2020
Full paper/revised visual essay submissions: March 2020
Reviewing papers:  April 2020
Revised paper submissions: June 2020 
Publication date: Summer 2020

SPOOL operates a double-blind review process. The review takes place in two stages. SPOOL will first facilitate the review of an extended abstract of the proposed contribution. The contribution is typically sent to a minimum of two independent expert reviewers to assess the scientific quality. The preliminary review results in advice on how to proceed with the paper. The same reviewers will review the full version of the contribution. The issue editors take the final decision regarding acceptance or rejection of contributions, based on the reviews. That decision is taken at both stages by the issue editors. The decisions by the editors are final.

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