Committee: Cristina Cuneo (Politecnico di Torino – DIST), Sergio Onger (Università di Brescia), Caterina Giannattasio (SIRA – Società Italiana per il Restauro dell’Architettura, Università di Cagliari), Simon Gunn (Centre for Urban History (CUH), University of Leicester), David Graham Shane (Columbia University GSAAP, USA).
Reporting: Sergio Onger (Università di Brescia).
In urban history there have always been cases of cities in which their inability or impossibility to adapt has led to their decline, if not to their death. Crises have not always been challenges won or opportunities seized. They can produce immobility and conflicts. Sometimes a city’s government has responded inadequately, leading to its irreversible decline. In parallel, urban crises of all kinds have often required limits on mobility, states of sequestration, isolation and enclosure. Immobility, isolation, non-adaptiveness in physical, social and urban terms are the key-issues this session addresses.
More specifically the macrosession will include (but it will not be limited to):
Non-adaptiveness of cities.
Understanding the cases of failure could be useful in defining the mechanisms that govern the life of cities. In the history of urban areas there have always been cases of failure, that is, cases in which the inability or impossibility to adapt has led to the decline, if not the death, of a city. Crises have not always been challenges won or opportunities seized; sometimes a city’s government has responded inadequately, leading to its irreversible decline. How and on what mechanisms of urban life have ecological, demographic, health, or military crises had a negative and lasting impact? How have they led to irreversible economic and political changes that they have been unable to manage?
Immobility, regulatory framework and social control.
Plagues have historically required constraints on movement - ‘lockdowns’ of various kinds. More generally, urban crises of all kinds have often required limits on mobility, states of sequestration, isolation and enclosure. How was ‘lockdown’ enforced by urban authorities in the past and with what societal effects? What longer-term changes to urban societies, if any, did states of immobility bring in their wake? In sum, what place does immobility have in our understanding of what makes cities adaptable or, conversely, resistant to change?
Buildings for social control and their reuse.
Beyond the purposes that inspired the construction of prisons, hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, asylums, they have unexpectedly appeared in the context of the health emergency as buildings attempt to reconcile—through their form, type, urban relationships—isolation in the community, distance in the vicinity, closure in the opening. Purged of their abominable original intentions, today they might provide new learning opportunities
Conflicts between utopia and reality: the crisis of the ideal city.
Many theoretical and literary representations shaped ideal urban spatiality (e.g. Luigi Pirandello, Italo Calvino, for whom "the ideal city is one over which hovers a dust of writing that neither settles nor calcifies"). Which are the relationships with the adaptive compromises of real spaces? The topic calls for a reflection on the contrasts among flexibility and inflexibility through case studies.
Interested persons applying can add more topics and interpretations