The congress theme will explore the current state of evolving world urban morphology, encompassing the following subthemes:

  1. Morphological theory versus the redevelopment and revitalisation of spatial structures

Traditionally, morphological studies contribute to the theory and practice of urban rehabilitation. This track addresses theoretical concepts covered by this field. They feature a number of both classical and innovative constructs. The topics cover urban morphology, regeneration, reconstruction, restoration, recomposition, restructuring. More recently urban metabolism and circular economy have joined the group when addressing urban land. Most of these approaches cut through the research of urban morphology and use the outcomes of morphological analyses. Therefore, this theory section reveals the connections between established morphological theories and urban renewal as their nexus. It explores established ideas in both fields and their overlaps. The epistemology of urban renewal and urban morphology together contributes to developing practical recommendations for the future re-use of the urban fabric. The themes covered include:

  • the science of urban form, epistemology and ontology of urban design,
  • urban renewal, rehabilitation, regeneration, reconstruction, restoration, recomposition, restructuring,
  • re-use, circular economy and urban metabolism.
  1. Methods of research on the transformation processes of the spatial structures of settlements

This track is intended to explore the transformations of spatial structures of human settlements from various perspectives. The traditional dichotomy stemmed from the disciplinary provenence of the researchers involved. Thus, architects in the Muratorian School of urban morphology focus on a more detailed scale while the historical geography approach of the Conzenian School revolves around more general historical processes of land transformation. More recently, this catalogue has been enriched by the development of quantitative methods of urban morphometry, on the one hand, and a large amount of more specialised qualitative research that has been developed on the boundaries of of other disciplines. The first group includes configurational analyses which include  Space Syntax, and other, more variegated methods based on the application of advanced computer tools, such as Geographic Information Systems. The latter covers various studies of public space and its cultural aspects, environmental and landscape analysis and a range of methods that have developed internationally, grounded in local cultural contexts. All these methods and procedures yield valuable insights into the theory and practice of urban rehabilitation. 

  1. Decision-making factors and political, legal and administrative conditions for the redevelopment and renewal of the urban tissue

The processes of redevelopment and renewal of the urban tissue, which take place both at the macroscale covering entire countries or administrative regions, and also at the level of microscale units, such as individual cities, quarters and housing estates are strongly dependant  on political conditions. The forces for shaping the urban fabric derive to a great extent from political and economic systems. Different morphological changes and directions of spatial development can be  observed whether they take place in the conditions of a free market or a central planning system. Administrative stimulants and barriers are also very important for the possibilities of urban redevelopment. Legal instruments (including acts, directives and various local legal regulations) significantly affect the methods of implementation, spatial scope, dynamics and intensity of revitalization processes. Decision-making factors seem to be equally important in the context of the renewal of the urban tissue. Politicians and representatives of local government take direct action or have an indirect impact on spatial changes. They take into account legal conditions, local development strategies, but also the plans of developers and lobbyists representing the interests of various social and economic groups.

  1. Social and cultural determinants of spatial redevelopment and regeneration

Spatial redevelopment and regeneration processes are deeply embedded in the social and cultural environment. Cities are considered artefacts of the societies that built them. The social context both conditions and is affected by the physical context in mutual processes of interaction and interplay. Therefore, to fully grasp the complexity of interactions between built structures and the social phenomena that they accommodate, this track welcomes articles on a range of topics that connect these two fields: sociology and cultural studies, on the one hand, and urban morphology and form studies, on the other. The field seems broad since it extends from social participation and those conflicts that affect urban redevelopment and go beyond structural changes. The focus is on how social forces and processes affect physical structures. There are numerous contemporary societal challenges related to these topics, such as migrations and the impacts of cultural diversity on the built environment or the redevelopment processes of informal settlements. The quest for healthy environments that support well-being and a high quality of life complete the picture.

  1. Economic, functional and infrastructural changes and their impact on the renewal processes

Economic, functional and infrastructural factors have a huge impact on shaping the renewal processes of cities. Among the other aspects, economic factors have led to the deindustrialisation of western countries which, in search of higher profits, have relocated a large part of their production to countries with cheaper labour costs.  Also in the post-communist countries, as a result of the socio-economic transformation of the 1990s, both entire economies and individual enterprises, had to face the transition of their functioning by adapting to the requirements of the demanding capitalist market.

The global factor of the changing economies and societies of a functional nature, which has a significant impact on renewal processes, can be described as the process of tertiarisation, i.e. the gradual development of the service sector with the simultaneous reduction of the industrial sector. It accompanies the dynamic development of technology, transport, communication and industrial infrastructure.

The above mentioned processes and factors, accumulated in a relatively short period of the last few decades, in the micro scale of particular cities, cause dynamic transformations of the morphology, functions and infrastructure of post-military areas, degraded historical tissues, large block housing estates or industrial zones.This is particularly visible in post-industrial cities, which have areas with a huge potential for revitalisation and revalorisation .  Former industrial areas often become a new showcase for cities in the form of districts of luxurious residential flats, shopping centres and service complexes, often located in very attractive parts of the cities.

  1. Directions of change in the historic urban structures

Historic urban structures are often the nucleus of modern cities, but there are also those that, transformed by the development of new urban structures lose their identity and their real raison d’être.

Thus, to a varying degree, as the material basis of cultural heritage, they participate in the processes shaping the contemporaneity of our cities. Today legal or economic conditions do not always defend the existence of these structures. Quite frequently there is no socially grounded awareness or will to keep them. Often, subsequent decisions regarding the development of the city’s organism destroy the existing urban complexes, and only their fragments or individual objects may be preserved. 

How to ensure the effective protection of historic urban structures? This is a question that finds various answers depending on specific cultural and civilization conditions. It is certainly important to work in at least two areas: 

– documentation of the existing elements of these structures and a comprehensive description of their operation, both original and at individual stages of development, 

– searching for a proposal of functional and spatial adaptation for the needs of modern use (law, design, protection vs development). 

The aim here is not only to preserve the memory and protect a specific witness of heritage, but also to enable the creation of better, more dynamic and versatile solutions in the urban space.

  1. Practical architectural and urban solutions

Revitalization, in its broadest sense, refers to the social and economic spheres of the city. Spatial actions are understood as a resultant. However, the assumption of the internal strength of the logic of an urban form shows us that it is the form (in line with the life requirements of a specific community) through its shape which is generative. Thus, specific solutions at the planning, urban or architectural scale are the basis for well-understood revitalization. The presentation or comparison of individual cases, by showing the relationship in the design process between the law and its application, features of local culture, agents of change and the use of space, as well as the functional and spatial solutions used at various scales, are another scope for research carried out as part of urban morphology.

Nowadays, the emphasis on the role of public open space in the dynamics of city development is particularly important. We can see here significant distinctions regarding the characteristics of developers, owners and managers of not only public but also private spaces. It is the mosaic of these relations that determines the possibilities of transforming the urban fabric.