Istanbul conference to discuss ‘composite cities’

Istanbul conference to discuss ‘composite cities’

For the past few decades, dwellers of many inter-city regions 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 at 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 as they ever increase through new urban emergences adding up to the existing urban environment and continuously redefining our urban experience.

Stemming from the urge to critically discuss the “today and tomorrow” of cities worldwide, a conference within the framework of the European Union for Research, Architecture and Urbanism (EURAU) project which will take place in Istanbul next week structured on the theme: “Composite Cities.”

The EURAU project was initiated in 2004, launching the proposal of an annual symposium for researchers dealing with Research in Architecture and Urbanism. The various editions were organized by different European schools of architecture with a coordinated effort by a broad group of university professors and researchers. The purpose of the initiative was to enable the confrontation between researchers concerned with architecture and the city on the European scene.

The seventh edition to be held in the Faculty of Architecture of Istanbul Technical University will display continuity with previous editions, as the themes of the previous conferences were “Doctoral Research,” ”Large Scale,” “Cultural Heritage,” “Cultural Landscape,” “Venustas/Architettura/Mercato/Democrazia” and finally “Public Space and Contemporary City” in Porto in 2012.

The conference in Istanbul aims to foster a medium to discuss the complex relationship between urban form and urban experience through the composite character of our cities explained in four topics: hybrid city, morphed city, fragmented city and mutated city.

Pursuing hybrid urban emergences, those working on the “hybrid city” aim to explore different hybridization processes and their contribution to the urban experience. Questioning the motives and mechanisms behind the urban transformation processes, “morphed city” encapsulates the physical and social transformation of city space as a manifestation of global economic and political conjuncture, resulting in a worldwide urban homogeneity. Pursuing various forms of fragmentation occurring through different social mechanisms throughout the urban world, “fragmented city” encompasses what has been brought up to the city space and urban experience by each of those fragments either as integrated pieces of or areas cut-off from the urban tissue. “Mutated city” involves 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.

The different, though closely related, four explanatory topics above are designed to provoke ideas on the theme “composite cities.” The conference is being organized in 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.

The conference is expected to evolve around the question of “how” in the architectural practice for the composite city. Hence, the essentials of architectural realities – scale, order, space, place, program, content, and identity – will define the backbone of the discussions.

Gülsün Sağlamer is the conference chairperson and former rector of Istanbul Technical University.