T3.3: Urban Resilience Morphology and Space

The session “Urban Morphology and space” provided diverse case studies applied around the world, in terms of small and medium scale intervention that could impact, in some way, the urban resilience processes.

In order to reframe urban resilience, the interventions within the session were focused on how urban design and architecture itself, had been in constant change in order to adapt to the new challenges. The diverse contexts and approaches on urban morphology presented during the session, clearly shows the need to adapt cities and its conditions to the new challenges.

From system ecology to urban morphology: towards a theory of urban form resilience
Alessandra Feliciotti, Ombretta Romice, Sergio Porta

The first presentation by Alessandra Feliciotti “From system ecology to urban morphology: towards a theory of urban form resilience” started describing how the urban form is perceived as a plastic and adaptive process, since cities have been consequence of a constant change.   New meanings, functions and structures respond to the pressure of change. The concept of resilience has been utilized in different contexts to understand processes related to: natural, social, economic eco-system and urban system. Understanding Resilience from the urban aspect, the city is seen as a device with  plastic capacities to adapt. The capacity of places and their form to adapt to new requirements and progressively redirect their trajectory, coevolving with their context.

For the purpose of understanding in a deeper form the urban resilience, it is required to provide an appropriate theoretical framework from which to derive fundamental qualities contributing to the resilience of places, as well as specific assessment tools for addressing properties of urban forms related to resilience. She considers important to integrate the knowledge generated on urban form, to the discourse of urban resilience. System ecology and urban morphology, both share common interest in  physical space, patterns and how change takes place.

System ecology concept was incorporated starting in 2001 by the heuristic theory of chance,  understood as an adaptive cycle that involves time. In the other hand, the concept of urban morphology is linked to the burgage cycle, were phases are involved as part of its process. By overlapping this two different concepts there are certain similarities found, and where the concept of panarchy, also appears. Urban Morphology has a compositional hierarchy but at the same time, there is also a temporal aspect involved. Not all components change simultaneously, changes occur according to the scale, for example block structures, streets, etc. The dualism between small and large, fast and slow, conservative and innovative inherent in the Panarchy, is at the very core of  evolutionary resilience. Also complex systems are resilient, because they appear to resist change or change slowly despite the interchange and evolution of individual components and the relationships between these components.

As a conclusion, Alessandra considers the urban form a complex an adaptive system embedded in a web of complex, non-linear, emergent relations with all other systems. Different components and different scales integrate the system. Urban transformations, starting from the interior of a building, its skin (facade), to a bloc transformation or an urban regeneration project. 

Urban form Resilience Urban Design Practice: Masterplanning for Change
Ombretta Romice, Sergio Porta, Alessandra Feliciotti

Adding a complementary part to the previous session, Sergio Porta introduced the Master Planning for Change, an evidence based approach to place making, with a brief video to showcase what placemaking is about. He considers that an urban system consists of multiple components, co- dependant and inter-  dependent and together they provide a holistic view. These consist of a physical, institutional and human systems.  To illustrate again, the complexity of an urban system, Sergio presented a second video that reviled how flexible and changing could a building be during a period of time. He believes that in order to understand the urban morphology, it is convenient to juxtapose the urban capacities: diversity, redundancy, modularity, connectivity and efficiency with the different layers of the urban scale: sanctuary areas, streets, blocks, streets.

He makes reference to the three important redevelopment periods: The First occurred during 1800- 1890, the second from 1950-1970 and the third started in 1990 until now. After this, he  was focused into a particular zone in London to illustrate how also urban uses are being in constant change as part of the process. After going through 900 different case studies, for a better understanding of urban morphology, he had developed 207 indicators of urban form to conclude with the following: It is fundamental to integrate the component of evolution while designing in an urban scale, diversity and unity can lead to a certain beauty in terms of place making.

Implementing the New Urban Agenda: a platform of Sustainable Urban Design Interventions (IDUS) in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)
Margarita Greene, Rodrigo Mora, Maria Augusta Hermida, Circe Monteiro, Amado Villarreal, Patricio Pinto, Camilo Arriagada, Geraldine Herrmann, Jorge Inzulza, Elizabeth Wagemann

The third presentation was given by Margarita Greene, she developed the topic “A platform of sustainable urban design in Latin America and the Caribbean. Margarita is part of CEDEUS, a multidisciplinary network of researchers focused on urban sustainability in Latin America and the Caribbean, where the main propose is the exchange and construction of links between different stakeholders, aiming to orient every intervention to public policies. 

Their main lines of action were organized in 6: Social cohesion an equality (livable cities), urban frameworks, spatial development, urban economy urban ecology and environmental and urban housing and basic services. Taking advantage of the innovative inside of Latin America, they decided to develop a book to showcase different urban projects that could fit in the framework that was previously established. Sharing sustainable interventions at urban level has developed what they called, an Atlas of urban cases. For this, they have decided to establish 4 main pillars: socio- cultural, economic, environmental and politic which have developed a new concept: sustainability as a process through which past and future communities flourish harmoniously. A new concept emerged out of the research: Sustainable urban development intervention (IDUS), that refers to different scale interventions (local, city and metropolitan/regional) and at the same time, where the conditions of replicability can be also addressed.

Margarita presented three specific case studies, included in the Atlas, where the three different urban scales are mentioned. The first referred to the local scale, Plaza de Bolsillo Santa Isabel  (pocket plaza), which takes place in Santiago de Chile. This small size intervention had to do with the  community involvement. The second was Mapocho Pedaleable, also refers to an urban intervention in Santiago in a medium city scale. At last, Parque Capibarible in Recife, Brazil which refers to the metropolitan scale. The contribution of sharing good practices and validated projects through a platform could putting together the thinkers and the doors in order to avoid the gap between the public sector and the academy in order to develop public policies.

Urban waterways in Bangkok - A spatial resilience approach towards a more amphibiously-sustainable living space
Benjamin Casper

Benjamin Casper addressed the session from a particular case study in Bangkok Urban Waterways in Bangkok -Living with Water from the point of view of spatial resilience and  urban morphology and how this case study could approach a framework. Since the water level is in a constant fluctuation the city has been adapting certain strategies aiming to transform the waterscape in Bangkok to a more sustainable amphibious living space. Benjamin stated his research by analyzing the jurisdictional and institutional framework and at the same time trying to understand the properties of urban morphology that could be applied to this case: Adoption of space, typology, diversity, capacity, topology, configuration, Complementarity, Flexibility, Variability, Modularity and Connectivity. 

He considers important to shift from planning cities according to “safety conditions” to planning cities according to their “failure systems”, in order to understand where areas of lower resilience are and implement adequate urban/gray infrastructure, and also to provide space to nature to transform the city. 

Space production by migrants in urban villages in China: the case of Beijing
Shiyu Yang

Shiyu Yang approached urban morphology from a different perspective, showcasing a particular situation related to floating population in Beijing. Space production by migrants in urban villages: the case study of Beijing, a comparison study between Shigezhuang Village and Dongxindian Village. This was the last presentation of the session, where some of the main challenges for migrant and floating population were addressed: lack of access to public services, housing, direct economic displacement, among others. As a conclusion for this session, she mentioned that urban interventions should not only go in the direction of providing affordable adequate housing but enabling migrants with a formal job market. She also noted that in order to improve migrants’ resilience, a minimum amount of tenure security should be ensured.