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COMPOSITE CITIES
EUROPEAN SYMPOSIUM ON RESEARCH IN ARCHITECTURE AND URBAN DESIGN
November 12-14, 2014
THEMES

EURAU 2014: COMPOSITE CITIES ISTANBUL

Stemming from the urge to critically discuss the ‘today and tomorrow’ of cities worldwide, the conference is structured around the theme: “composite cities”.  For the past few decades, dwellers of many inner city geographies have been trying to comprehend and adjust to the particular new notion of ‘the city’ that is an inevitable outcome of high velocity globalization. Cities are transforming in a multitude of levels from local to global and consequently new models of urbanism are invented/imported/reinterpreted, new actors of decision-making/intervention/mediation/initiation are introduced, and new modes of spatiality are experienced each day.

The theme “composite cities” refers to this complexity of our cities; ever increasing through new urban emergences adding up to the existing urban environment and continuously redefining our urban experience. Thus the conference aims to enable a medium to discuss the complex relationship between urban form and urban experience through the composite character of our cities explained hereby in four topics-possible states of composite being: hybrid city, morphed city, fragmented city  and mutated city. The conference is expected to evolve around the question of “how?”s of architectural practice for the composite city. Hence, the essentials of architectural realities- scale, order, space, place, program, content, identity …- will define the backbone of the discussions.  
 

Hybrid City
Hybrid city refers to urban conditions emerging through the interaction (crossbreeding, merger) of at least two politically, culturally or socially distinct entities. Whether occurred perchance or intentionally manipulated, the emergent urban condition -the perfect breed- generally brings along certain qualities to urban space and experience that neither of the original entities does alone. Ranging from the mixed use development of the urban tissue to merged virtual and physical spatiality of today’s city, a wide range of hybrid conditions have been enriching our urban experience.  

Pursuing hybrid urban emergences, “hybrid city” aims to explore different hybridization processes and their contribution to urban experience discussing if it does worth the trouble.
 

Morphed City
The transformation of city space in adapting to the latest, city-based configuration of the world economy has been occurring since 1970s. Today, within the discourse of urban entrepreneurship, cities are subject to a diverse range and multiple scales of interventions where the quintessential paradox of making and breaking city space is at the core of the discussion. Either in the form of old city center resurrection or peripheral giant investments, there is an ever-ending process of physical as well as social remaking of the city space.

Questioning the motives and mechanisms behind the urban transformation processes, “morphed city” discusses the physical and social transformation of city space as a manifestation of global economic and political conjuncture, resulting in a worldwide urban homogeneity. How can variety be promoted? Is there a way to overcome the enforcement of urban transformation on social reconfiguration of our cities, reinforcing social discrimination? Are there any examples of (or is it possible to have) a common ground where the interests of citizens, institutions and professionals meet? Can you hear the citizen claiming his right to the city?
 

Fragmented City
Fragmented city refers to urban conditions and experience emerging as a reflection of social disintegration resulting from significant cultural, economic, political, occupational etc. differentiation within the society. Depending on the urban form it takes, fragmentation occurs either as a promoter of an enormous variety in urban experience or as a generator of discontinuity within the city space. From immigrant or illegal communities occupying their own urban territories to gated communities and to certain sectorial agglomerations, there is an ongoing tendency to create fragments of space, as homogenous patches within the heterogeneity of urban space. Thus, while keeping up the urban heterogeneity, the major challenge turns out to be the achieving of the same heterogeneous quality in urban experience.

Pursuing various forms of fragmentation occurring through different social mechanisms throughout the urban world, “fragmented city” aims to discuss what has been brought up to the city space and urban experience by each of those fragments either as integrated pieces of or cut offs from the urban tissue. It is also aimed to explore strategies in blending each individual entity of urban life into that one, heterogeneous whole again.
 

Mutated City
Cities are prone to change under a multitude of forces ranging from economic, political, social factors to wars and natural phenomena as earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes. Representing the common unpredictable and creative mechanisms of urban change, mutation is taken as a generator of transformation in the urban form and urban life through operations as alteration, deletion, rearrangement, insertion etc. of one single component or a particular section of urban fabric resulting in irreversible urban occurrences that determine/have determined the future trajectory of urban existence.   Besides intentional interventions to city space, operational errors might stimulate such irreversible, lasting transformations as well as the natural phenomena or wars etc.

“Mutated city” aims to discover and discuss such emergent urban conditions putting forward the forces-conscious or unconscious stimulators- and mechanisms behind those processes and their present or projected effects on urban existence.

Different, though closely related, four explanatory topics above, are proposed to provoke ideas on the theme “composite cities”. Including these four influencing topics, the conference will be organized under three sessions which aim to lead to the discovery and understanding of the composite character of our cities and its effects on urban existence and experience, and the development of theoretical and practical strategies in articulating the existing urban environment.
 

T1. Confronting the composite city
A thorough exploration/research on the composite character of our cities and its effect on urban experience is aimed. Pursuing/discovering various forms of hybrid/morphed/fragmented/mutated etc. urban conditions throughout the urban world, and questioning the motives and mechanisms behind their emergences, it is intended to reach a thorough understanding of the composite nature of our cities. How do we interpret the complex realities of the composite city? How do we document the relevant interpretations?
 

T2. Learning from the composite city
Strategic outcomes from the discovery and understanding of various aspects of the composite nature of our cities is referred here, in dealing with today as well as possible future trajectories of urban existence. The emphasis is on getting acquainted with this complex existence of the urban environment on both theoretical and practical grounds. How do we, as the ones being continuously exposed to this ever increasing complexity of urban environment, develop strategies/tactics in order to –not cope but- live with it? How does urbanism and architecture respond to this in theory? Are there new tools and methodologies?
 

T3. Articulating the composite city
It is intended to deal with the physical interventions to the city space, ranging from local and central government interventions within the discourse of urban entrepreneurship to other forms involving different actors, considering social transactions which either result from or stimulate any physical urban occurrence. How does architectural practice correspond to this new urban reality? How do we actually get physical with the composite city managing while recognizing its complexity?

 


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