ISUF 2021: Urban Form
for Sustainable and Prosperous Cities"

The Urban Design Studies Unit at the Department of Architecture, University of Strathclyde is honoured to host the 28th International Seminar of Urban Form (ISUF2021) conference in Glasgow, UK between 28 June 2021 to 03 July 2021. The conference aims to address the unique and important role that urban morphology has and could develop in the future in understanding, conceptualizing, delivering and managing sustainable and prosperous cities, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and in particular SDG 11 “Sustainable Cities and Communities”.

CONFERENCE theme

Cities are the most complex of human artefacts.  Here we spend most of our time, socialise, produce and consume. They are kaleidoscopes of humanity, incubators of innovation, they hold solutions as well as threats. They are a constant work in progress, always engaging, for good or bad. The more we study them, the more we realise that their form is never neutral.

On the contrary, their form, how it interacts with social, economic, environmental and economic systems, is central to their success. On their form depends their capacity to be and remain successful and engaging in time. Form is central across all scales of urban systems and we are at a stage when our capacity to study social, economic and environmental systems can be related to the analysis of urban form like never before.

We are indeed at a crucial point in the study of the relationships between all these systems. Furthermore, new technologies, as well as new interpretative frameworks that put time and resilience at the heart of cities’ life, have grown in clarity and capacity over the past years, helping immensely our understandings of these complexities.

With population growing fast, patterns of  consumption, accelerating and our ways of life put increasingly under stress we have little chance for mistake, even when we have limited chances for control. We need to observe and understand better, we need to identify and appreciate patterns of change faster and more precisely.

In all of this, urban morphology holds a central role in leading the way we think and practice what cities are  how they will and should be in the future.

The conference aims to discuss advancements in how to study and understand urban environments, how to best use the new tools we are discovering and developing and how to best apply this new knowledge for creating places we love, which support and fulfil us and contribute to humanity in both efficient and just ways.

The conference aims to advance both theory and practice, and to understand how best to translate these advancements into education, so to help shape newly equipped professionals that will confidently take a leading role in future debate and action.  In particular,  we invite submissions that address the following questions/points:

1) the state of the art in the study of urban form: how mainstream morphological theories developed by different approaches can help advance our knowledge on past processes of urban transformation and shed light on future outcomes? What vocabulary, concepts and models are most apt to study urban form as a complex adaptive system?

2) the current and future challenges that call urban form into play. In particular: what questions should urban morphology address? What new problems should it learn to tackle, and what lessons from our established work should be carried forward? 

3) the relationship between urban morphology and other areas of science:  what paradigms should we align with from other disciplines?  How to bridge gaps in interdisciplinary research? How to make urban morphology applicable to the development of urban space?

CONFERENCE tracks

As the discipline of urban morphology extends its explorations towards new horizons, it starts to  incorporate into its growing body of knowledge affine disciplines. At the same time, new avenues of knowledge and research open up, linking to established morphological theories or charting new paths  theories, exponentially expanding our possibilities for understanding how cities truly work, grow and change. In the theory track, we welcome reflections and contributions testing established morphological and typo-morphological theories across new spatial and temporal horizons, combining and expanding existing  vocabularies with novel concepts and ideas. Topics of interest include:

  • Towards a descriptive science of urban form: old and new models explaining generative and transformative processes driving complex trajectories of urban evolution.
  • The epistemology of Urban Morphology: retracing the evolution of a discipline and charting new research paths.
  • New trans-disciplinary perspectives in urban morphology: from system ecology to evolutionary biology, from sociology to anthropology and economics – new hybridisation for a holistic undestanding of complex city systems.

Urban morphology is an inherently multi-disciplinary field of research, and each of the disciplines brings its own set of tools and procedures. Historically influential aspects coming from architecture or traditional geography are recently complemented by quantitative approaches building on geographic data science. This variation evolves in the generation of novel methods of reading and understanding urban form and extends the field of urban morphology to new areas of research. In this track, we welcome contributions from the complete spectrum of urban morphology presenting both an innovative application of existing procedures and newly developed methods, to capture state of the art and future directions of research. We welcome papers that address following topics:

  • Innovations in Urban Morphometrics, digital cartography, big data and remote sensing: quantitative methods building on the rise of the digital age.
  • Innovations in qualitative research in Urban Morphology: novelty in traditional Conzenian, Muratorian and other relevant qualitative approaches.
  • Engaging with the social, cultural and institutional discourse: methods capturing the interaction of urban form and human life.

Urban form matters, now more then ever before, as cities undergo unprecedented and fast-paced transformation. As we experience on a daily basis the mutation of our environment, knowledge from urban morphology can offer a solid ground on which to shape tomorrow’s places. By looking at urban form as a complex adaptive system, urban morphology firmly places issues of resilience, adaptability and longevity
– all concepts that are routinely advocated in the practice and policy of shaping cities, 
at the core of the debate.  This track aims to discuss the role of urban morphology as active player in shaping tomorrow’s cities as well as to extend this knowledge beyond the realm of academia in practice, policy and education. Topics of interest within this track include:

  • Urban Morphology for design, planning and policy: the practical role of urban form towards the sustainable and resilient, safe and inclusive cities for all.
  • Urban Morphology, Architecture and Heritage: towards the preservation, reuse, valorisation of built heritage as asset for future prosperity.
  • Teaching Urban Morphology: methods, experiences and lessons learned to shape the next generation of architects, planners urban designers and policy makers. 

The focus track is an opportunity to learn, discuss and reflect on some of the most important topics involving urban morphology, in light of emergent global drivers. Sustainability and resilience are terms often used interchangeably, while they can more precisely be regarded as capturing complementary aspects, normative and descriptive, of change. As associated to urban form, these terms are still open avenues of research as well as promising areas of growth in the ability of urban morphology to further inform urban policy and practice. As part of this track we will be addressing two main topics:

  • The resilient city: ecological perspectives in Urban Morphology. How can urban form analysis reveal patterns of change that actively contribute to the wider adaptability of cities? Is there a way to measure the potential of urban form to contribute to the overall resilience of cities?
  • Urban Morphology for SDG 11: How does urban form correlate to sustainable processes of change in cities’ social, economic and environmental evolution?

CONFERENCE tracks

As the discipline of urban morphology extends its explorations towards new horizons, it starts to  incorporate into its growing body of knowledge affine disciplines. At the same time, new avenues of knowledge and research open up, linking to established morphological theories or charting new paths  theories, exponentially expanding our possibilities for understanding how cities truly work, grow and change. In the theory track, we welcome reflections and contributions testing established morphological and typo-morphological theories across new spatial and temporal horizons, combining and expanding existing  vocabularies with novel concepts and ideas. Topics of interest include:

  • Towards a descriptive science of urban form: old and new models explaining generative and transformative processes driving complex trajectories of urban evolution.
  • The epistemology of Urban Morphology: retracing the evolution of a discipline and charting new research paths.
  • New trans-disciplinary perspectives in urban morphology: from system ecology to evolutionary biology, from sociology to anthropology and economics – new hybridisation for a holistic undestanding of complex city systems.

The methods track aims at introducing, testing and validating approaches for the qualitative and
quantitative analysis of urban form and the multi-disciplinary understanding of the built and natural environment in cities in connection to complex socio-economic dynamics. 
Topics of interest within this track include:

 

  • Innovations in urban morphometrics
  • Qualitative research in Urban Morphology
  • Urban form and its ecological, social and economic implications

Urban form matters, now more then ever before, as cities undergo unprecedented and fast-paced transformation. As we experience on a daily basis the mutation of our environment, knowledge from urban morphology can offer a solid ground on which to shape tomorrow’s  places. By looking at urban form as a complex adaptive system, urban morphology firmly places issues of resilience, adaptability and longevity – all concepts that are routinely advocated in the practice and policy of shaping cities –  at the core of the debate.  This track aims to discuss the role of urban morphology as active player in shaping tomorrow’s cities as well as to extend this knowledge beyond the realm of academia in practice, policy and education. Topics of interest within this track include:

 

  • Urban Morphology for design, planning and policy: the practical role of urban form towards the sustainable and resilient, safe and inclusive cities for all.
  • Urban Morphology, Architecture and Heritage: towards the preservation, reuse, valorisation and built heritage as asset for future prosperity.
  • Teaching Urban Morphology: methods, experiences and lessons learned to shape the next generation of architects, planners urban designers and policy makers. 

The focus track is an opportunity to learn, discuss and reflect on some of the most important topics involving urban morphology, in light of emergent global drivers. Sustainability and resilience are terms often used interchangeably, while they can more precisely be regarded as capturing complementary aspects, normative and descriptive, of change. As associated to urban form, these terms are still open avenues of research as well as promising areas of growth in the ability of urban morphology to further inform urban policy and practice. As part of this track we will be addressing two main topics:

  • The resilient city: ecological perspectives in Urban Morphology. How can urban form analysis reveal patterns of change that actively contribute to the wider adaptability of cities? Is there a way to measure the potential of urban form to contribute to the overall resilience of cities?
  • Urban Morphology for SDG 11: How does urban form correlate to sustainable processes of change in cities’ social, economic and environmental evolution?

special sessions

Round table panels

The world changes, and it changes fast: the past few months have shown us how abruptly new issues can emerge and demand a forefront seat in our thinking and research. 

To give an opportunity to be on top of the latest trends, but without losing our focus on the built and natural environment making up our cities and towns, the organisers of ISUF2021 invites academics and professionals, to submit ideas to form and chair special panels to be discussed in round table formats during the conference.

Anyone who wishes to promote a round table to take place during ISUF2021  is invited to submit a proposal through ISUF2021 Ex Ordo platform.

* Please note that to be included in a round table, all speakers must be registered to the conference and have submitted an accepted abstract.

Checklist for round table proposals:

Regional networks

Over the last decade, ISUF has grown to reach all corners of the world, something which we would like to celebrate at this year’s ISUF conference. As customary, we have reserved  a dedicated space for ISUF Regional Networks during the first day of the conference. 

We will give the opportunity to interested members of established regional networks to come together and showcase their latest research activity, findings and achievements.

Expressions of interest are welcome and to be made by or on behalf of heads of individual regional networks to info@isuf2021@com by end of March 2021.  We will notify all involved parts directly and coordinate the session up to the conference.

* Please note that to be included in a regional network, all participants must be registered to the conference.

Checklist to present as part of a regional network:

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

We are honoured to announce the keynote speakers that will join us at ISUF2021:

Prof Jeremy Whitehand

Jeremy Whitehand is Emeritus Professor of Urban Geography and Head of the Urban Morphology Research Group in the University of Birmingham, UK. Most of his work, including some 200 publications, is on the historical geography and planning of the form of cities. He has promoted a variety of cross-cultural explorations of ideas on urban form and design guidance, notably in collaboration with researchers in the Universities of Auckland, Chicago, Florence and Peking.

Arch David Rudlin

David is a director of URBED, past Chair of the Academy of Urbanism and Honorary Professor at Manchester University. In 2014 he was the winner of the Wolfson Economics Prize and has recently published his third book Climax City written with Shruti Hemani through RIBA Publishing. He also writes a monthly column for BD Magazine. A planner by training, he joined URBED in 1990 having worked for Manchester City Council on the redevelopment of Hulme. At URBED he has worked on major projects across the UK including the award winning New England Quarter in Brighton and Trent Basin in Nottingham as well as the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework. 

Dr Meta Berghauser Pont

Meta Berghauser Pont is associate professor in Urban Design and Planning and leads, together with Lars Marcus, the Spatial Morphology Group (SmoG). Her research focus is Urban Morphology specializing in the quantification of urban form. She developed the Spacematrix-model which shows the relation between urban density and urban typologies and its performativity. The goal is to develop urban analysis which help us understand how urban form can support or cancel out certain social processes or Urban Ecosystem Services such as social segregation, pollination and biodiversity.

UN-Habitat (TBC)

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

We are honoured to announce the keynote speakers that will join us at ISUF2021:

Prof Jeremy Whitehand

Jeremy Whitehand is Emeritus Professor in Urban Geography and Head of the Urban Morphology Research Group (UMRG) at the University of Birmingham. Most of his work, including some 200 publications, is on the historical geography and planning of the form of cities. Through UMRG, Prof. Whitehand has promoted a large variety of cross-cultural explorations of ideas on urban form and design guidance, and is part of an international programme being implemented through international commissions and collaborations with researchers in the Universities of Auckland, Chicago, Florence and Peking. 

Arch David Rudlin

David is a director of URBED, past Chair of the Academy of Urbanism and Honorary Professor at Manchester University. In 2014 he was the winner of the Wolfson Economics Prize and has recently published his third book Climax City written with Shruti Hemani through RIBA Publishing. He also writes a monthly column for BD Magazine. A planner by training, he joined URBED in 1990 having worked for Manchester City Council on the redevelopment of Hulme. At URBED he has worked on major projects across the UK including the award winning New England Quarter in Brighton and Trent Basin in Nottingham as well as the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework. 

Dr Meta Berghauser Pont

Meta Berghauser Pont is associate professor in Urban Design and Planning and leads, together with Lars Marcus, the Spatial Morphology Group (SmoG). Her research focus is Urban Morphology specializing in the quantification of urban form. She developed the Spacematrix-model which shows the relation between urban density and urban typologies and its performativity. The goal is to develop urban analysis which help us understand how urban form can support or cancel out certain social processes or Urban Ecosystem Services such as social segregation, pollination and biodiversity.

UN-Habitat (TBC)

Contact info:

Department of Architecture
Faculty of Engineering
University of Strathclyde
James Weir Building
75Montrose Street
G1 1XJ – Glasgow
United Kingdom
Conference organisers: info@isuf2021.com
Disability and accessibility enquiries:
+44 (0) 141 548 3097
architecture@strath.ac.uk

Find us

Technology and Innovation Centre
University of Strathclyde
99 George St
G1 1RD – Glasgow
United Kingdom

Contact info:

Department of Architecture
Faculty of Engineering
University of Strathclyde
James Weir Building
75Montrose Street
G1 1XJ – Glasgow
United Kingdom
Conference organisers:
info@isuf2021.com
Disability and accessibility enquiries:
+44 (0) 141 548 3097
architecture@strath.ac.uk

Find us

Technology and Innovation Centre
University of Strathclyde
99 George St
G1 1RD – Glasgow
United Kingdom