Report from Valencia

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Report From Valencia
XXIV ISUF Conference, 27-29 September 2017, Valencia, Spain

The International Seminar on Urban Form conference took place from 27-29 September 2017 in Valencia, Spain. This was the 24th edition of this cyclical event, which is organised every year in a different city, not only of Europe, but also of other continents. The next conference is planned in the Russian city of Krasnoyarsk (2018).

The subject matter of the conference has been defined as City and territory in the globalization age. It formulates the following research topics: Stages in territorial configuration, Urban form and social use of space, Reading and regenerating the informal city, Efficient use of resources in sustainable cities, City transformations, Cartography and big data, Tools of analysis in urban morphology, Urban green space.

The Conference proceedings and sessions were held in the modern buildings of the School of Architecture of the Polytechnic University of Valencia (Universitat Politècnica de València/UPV). Valencia is a city located on the Mediterranean Sea, in central-eastern Spain, with the third largest population (after Madrid and Barcelona). The city's history dates back to the Roman Empire. The main monuments of Valencia include: The Cathedral, whose main elements were built between the 13th and 15th centuries, the Gothic building of the Silk Exchange, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the market hall in Art Nouveau style. Among contemporary buildings, the complex of buildings forming the so-called City of Arts and Sciences (Ciutat de les Arts et les Ciències) designed by Santiago Calatrava, with the collaboration of Felix Candela, stands out.

The conference was officially inaugurated by José Salvador (Valencian authorities), Iván Cabrese (Director of the UPV School of Architecture) and Vicente Colomer (UPV). The programme of the first day of the conference included three plenary sessions and keynote presentations. The keynote speaker of the first session was Giancarlo Cataldi (University of Florence), who referred in his speech to the theory of urban morphology, pointing out its four integral processes. The second keynote speaker was Joan Busquets (Harvard University), who considered the secrets of "good cities by referring to regular systems. The third presentation entitled Landscape planning and the new urban agenda was given by Bárbara Pons. In the further plenary sessions of the conference, José Luis Vallejo (Columbia University GSAPP, founder of Ecosistema Urbano) gave a presentation entitled Networked urbanism, Luis Alonso de Armino (Polytechnic University of Valencia) presented urban transformation and redevelopment plans for Valencia between 1834 and 1966, and Javier Monclus (University of Zaragoza) referred to urban regeneration and urban design strategies. One plenary session was devoted to presentations of the activities of local ISUF networks in Portugal, Poland, Italy, Cyprus and Siberia, among others.

On the first day of the conference the thematic parallel sessions started. It was not an easy task for the conference participants to listen to the presentations they were interested in, as 9-10 sessions were held simultaneously in different rooms of the School of Architecture. Each individually entitled session grouped several presentations into the main theme of the session. During about 60 sessions, 360 presentations were given.

Polish researchers also presented their research results in parallel sessions. Dr hab. inż. arch. Anna Agata Kantarek, PhD (Krakow University of Technology) and Professor Ivor Samuels (University of Birmingham) presented a speech: Nowa Huta in Krakow, Poland. Old urbanism, new urbanism? in the session entitled Urban transformations: forming and evolution processes. Prof. Kantarek also chaired a session on Urban morphology analysis: post-catastrophe areas. Two presentations were given by Dr hab. inż. arch. Małgorzata Hanzl (Technical University of Łódź): author's presentation Self-organisation and meaning of urban structures: case study of Jewish communities in central Poland in pre-war times and co-author's A quest to quantify urban sustainability. Assessing incongruous growth in a team with Lia Maria Dias Bezerra, Anna Aneta Tomczak and Robert Warsza. Prof. Hanzl also led a discussion seminar Research planning urban project in one of the plenary sessions together with Giuseppe Strappa and Vitor Oliveira.

Dr inż. arch. Monika Ewa Adamska (Opole University of Technology) in her presentation Broken traditions, inherited legacy, new narratives. Transformations of the medieval market squares in Silesia presented her findings on medieval market squares in a session devoted to the space of squares and market places. Dr Tomasz Figlus and Dr Łukasz Musiaka (University of Łódź) presented Determinants and results of morphological transformations of historical town centres and suburbs in Poland on selected examples in the session entitled Urban Morphology: Configuration of urban patterns.

The Polish academic community was also represented at the 24th ISUF in Valencia by dr Jarosław Kazimierczak (University of Łódź) with his presentation Morphological transformations of post-socialist shrinking city under urban regeneration process: the case of Łódź, Poland and by Paweł Wiktor Sudra MA (PAN) with his presentation Urban patterns in the Warsaw agglomeration: a "multi-method" and "multi-scale" approach.

The intensive substantive programme of the conference was separated by coffee breaks and lunches, during which it was possible not only to make new scientific contacts and continue discussions closing individual sessions, but also to taste traditional local dishes such as paella valenciana. The closing session of the XXIV ISUF featured Wendy McClure - professor at the University of Idaho and new ISUF president for the 2017-2021 term.

The conference organisers also offered participants the option of taking part in a tour of Valencia's old town layout and its main monuments, as well as the Albufera Natural Park. This programme was scheduled for Saturday 30 September, after the conference had already closed.

School of Architecture of the Polytechnic University of Valencia and the logo of the ISUF Valencia 2017 conference, on the right the author of the report
ISUF Valencia 2017 participants from Poland
ISUF Valencia 2017 participants from Poland. From the left: Paweł Wiktor Sudra (PAN); Małgorzata Hanzl (Technical University of Lodz); Anna Agata Kantarek (Technical University of Krakow); Łukasz Musiaka (University of Lodz); Monika Ewa Adamska (Technical University of Opole); Tomasz Figlus (University of Lodz); Jarosław Kazimierczak (University of Lodz)

Dr inż. arch. Monika Ewa Adamska
Faculty of Construction and Architecture
Opole University of Technology