Urban morphology

Urban morphology

Urban morphology is the study of the physical form of a city, which consists of street patterns and shapes, urban design, building sizes and shapes, architecture, population density and patterns of residential, commercial, industrial and other uses, among other things. It involves mapping and describing patterns of land use in order to analyse the processes producing these structures.
Special attention is given to how the physical form of a city changes over time and to how different cities compare to each other. Another significant part of this subfield deals with the study of the social forms which are expressed in the physical layout of a city and conversely, how physical form produces or reproduces various social forms.
The essence of the idea of morphology was initially expressed in the writings of the great poet and philosopher Goethe (1790); the term as such was first used in bioscience. Recently it is being increasingly used in geography, geology, philology and other subjects. In American geography, urban morphology as a particular field of study owes its origins to Lewis Mumford, James Vance and Sam Bass Warner. Peter Hall of the UK is also a central figure.
Urban morphology is also considered as the study of urban tissue, or fabric, as a means of discerning the underlying structure of the built landscape. This approach challenges the common perception of unplanned environments as chaotic or vaguely organic through understanding the structures and processes embedded in urbanisation.

ome key concepts

Urban morphology approaches human settlements as generally unconscious products that emerge over long periods, through the accrual of successive generations of building activity. This leaves traces that serve to structure subsequent building activity and provide opportunities and constraints for city-building processes, such as land subdivision, infrastructure development, or building construction. Articulating and analysing the logic of these traces is the central question of urban morphology.
Urban morphology is not generally object-centred, in that it emphasises the relationships between components of the city. To make a parallel with linguistics, the focus is placed on an active vocabulary and its syntax. There is thus a tendency to use morphological techniques to examine the ordinary, non-monumental areas of the city and to stress the process and its structures over any given state or object, therefore going beyond architecture and looking at the entire built landscape and its internal logic.

The key elements for analysis by Conzen are: Land used, building structure, urban network, plot lot.

The tool for analysis Urban Morphology have some theories like: Space syntax, Figure and Ground

Three Theories of Urban Spatial Design:
#Figure and Ground
#Linkage theory
#Place Theory

Figure and Ground theory is founded on the study of the relative land coverage of buildings as solid mass (figure) to open voids (ground) Each urban environment has an existing pattern of solid and voids, and figure and ground approach to spatial design is an attempt to manipulate these relationships by adding to, subtracting from, or changing the physical geometry of the pattern. The objective of these manipulations is to clarify the structure of urban space in a city or district by establishing a hierarchy of spaces of different sizes that are individually enclosed but ordered directionally in relation to each other.(Roger Trancik,1986:97.in Finding the Lost Space)The linkage theory is derived from "lines" connecting one element to another. These lines are formed by street, pedestrian ways, linear open spaces or other linking elements that physically connect the parts of the city.

chools of thought

In a broad sense there are three schools of urban morphology: Italian, British, and French.The Italian school centres around the work of Saverio Muratori and dates from the 1940s. Muratori attempted to develop an 'operational history' for the cities he studied, which then provided the basis for the integration of new architectural works in the syntax of the urban tissue. Stemming from this view are contributions such as Gianfranco Caniggia's, which conceptualise the city as a dynamic procedural typology, which see political-economic forces as shaping a built landscape already conditioned by a particular logic, set of elements, and characteristic processes.
The British school centres around the work of MRG Conzen, who developed a technique called 'town-plan analysis.' For Conzen, understanding the layering of the town plan (allotment system and roads), the building fabric, and land use through history was the key to comprehending urban form. Followers of Conzen such as JWR Whitehand have examined the ways in which such knowledge can be put to use in the management of historic and contemporary townscapes.
The French school, based principally at the Versailles School of Architecture, has generated extensive methodological knowledge for the analysis of urbanisation processes and related architectural models. Much emphasis is placed upon the importance of built space for sustaining social practices; the relationship between the built landscape and the social world is dialectical, with both shaping the other.

Chicago School

As an urban-industrial city, Chicago's socio-economic problems were obvious and crying out to be studied in depth. Therefore, several urban sociologists and geographers, such as WI Thomas (concerned with migration), Robert E Park and Ernest Burgess, attempted to analyse the morphology of Chicago in order to these problems.

Burgess employed an ecological approach in placing emphasis on the relationship between organisms and their environment. He used similar biological factors used in explaining plant distribution and established a concentric-zonal theory which included a Central Business District, an area of transition (invaded by business and migrants), and area of upper class apartments and several commuter zones and suburbs on the edge of the city.

See also

* Urban design
* Urban Planning
* Landscape urbanism
* Neighbourhood character
* New urbanism
* Activity centre
* Transit-oriented development

elected references

Gilliland, Jason and Pierre Gauthier, The Study of Urban Form in Canada. "Urban Morphology" 2006 10(1) 51-66.
Malfroy, Sylvain and Gianfranco Caniggia, "L'approche morphologique de la ville et du territoire." Zurich: Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule, Lehrstuhl fur Stadtebaugesichte, October 1986.
Moudon, Anne Vernez, "Built for Change: Neighbourhood Architecture in San Francisco.' Cambridge MA, MIT Press, 1986.
Moudon, Anne Vernez, Getting to Know the Built Landscape: Typomorphology. in Franck, Karen A and Lynda H Schneekloth, "Ordering Space: Types in Architecture and Design" New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1994.
Panerai, Philippe, Jean-Charles Depaule, Marcelle Demorgon, and Michel Veyrenche, "Elements d'analyse urbaine." Brussels: Editions Archives d'Architecture Moderne, 1980.

External links

* [http://www.versailles.archi.fr/LADRHAUS/ Laboratoire de recherche: histoire architecturale et urbaine - sociétés]
* [http://www.urbanform.org/ International Seminar on Urban Form]
* [http://www.gees.bham.ac.uk/research/umrg/ Urban Morphology Research Group - University of Birmingham]
* [http://www.lhds.uce.ac.uk/strategicdevelopment/pages/urban_design Urban Conservation / Design / Form - Research project concerned with Urban Morphology at UCE Birmingham]
* [http://www.NewUrbanism.org NewUrbanism.org]

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