Learning urban morphology from emergencies

Gregori, Ludovica; (2022) Learning urban morphology from emergencies. In: Annual Conference Proceedings of the XXVIII International Seminar on Urban Form. University of Strathclyde Publishing, Glasgow, pp. 1261-1276. ISBN 9781914241161

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Architecture, specifically open space design, can be a healing tool in trauma recovery after a disaster. Open space is the connective tissue of urban systems, bearer of identity and collective life. It compensates for personal difficulties by promoting community strength. Thanks to its better transformation's capacity than the built environment’s one, open space design strategies can become resilient tools for sociality. The study of fragile post-emergency settlements, including temporary ones, provides new inputs to create time-sensitive resilient urban answers to foster social liveliness in every situation. In emergency scenarios, the functionalist approach prevails. Emergency regulatory freedom is an opportunity for unprecedented spatial configurations oriented to sociality: there is a need for social approach and focus on open spaces. This shift’s results can be then further developed in the wider urban morphology research field. To design in a social perspective necessitates theoretical and empirical interdisciplinary research. Proxemics, Urban Sociology, Sustainability Psychology and Environmental Psychology give significant contributions. Participatory processes identify socially relevant features in the present and past urban forms. Urban planners can translate these into design inputs for future outcomes. Time-consciousness in place-making in these scenarios trains architects and planners to identify tools in a more precise and fast way, creating fair and efficient methods to be replicated in other urban forms, especially in socially complex contexts. The result is intended as a design able to create opportunities for appropriation and alteration of space (affordance concept) and to be bettered, ensuring inclusion and accessibility over time, as in a post-emergency evolution. Strategies from post-emergencies can also prevent damage to social systems. Simple and tested tools are the new vocabulary: user-friendly guidelines provided to next-generation policymakers, architects, and citizens. The wider scientific community can use the method of analysis, selection, and interpretation of space to enhance sociality in any urban form.

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