DIFFUSE CITIES - International Seminar, 10-12 April 2017

Campus University of Paris East, Building BienvenueVenue  - Room A017


Steering Committee:

Olivier Coutard (LATTS); Adèle Esposito (AUSSER); Joël Idt (Lab’Urba); Etienne Monin (TELEMME); Andrea Palmioli (AUSSER-HKU); Margot Pellegrino (Lab’Urba),

with Antoine Brès.


Urban spatial expansion has become over the last decades a primary concern in urban studies. A now well established, albeit plural, body of work has emphasized the importance of sprawl (Gottman), suburbia (Fishman), desakota (McGee), città diffusa (Indovina), exurbia (Nelson), ville émergente (Dubois-Taine and Chalas), post-suburbs (Phelps and Wu), the horizontal metropolis (Vigano’) or urban explosion and planetary urbanization (Brenner), to name just a few. Indeed the bulk of urbanization worldwide (still) occurs in previously unbuilt space and in predominantly unplanned and scattered ways, generally leading to relatively low-density land use (when compared to the cores of the larger urban agglomerations) and raising major issues of types of infrastructure provision. And on a more theoretical level, studying urbanization and the urban condition from the perspective of suburban and periurban areas has proved fruitful in (re)conceptualizations of the urban, as the above (non exhaustive) list of concepts suggests.

Building on this literature, this international seminar brings together, and confronts, studies of diffuse urbanization in Europe and Asia. Its ambition is to produce theoretically informed and theory-informing comparative empirical knowledge on how these peripheral urban areas and regions develop and transform, how they are practiced and lived, and on the use of resources (land, energy, water...) involved in these processes. Studies of the production and transformation of, and ways of life in, urban environments abound, yet these two issues are usually analyzed separately. Above all, a vast majority of these studies disregards issues of urban form and materiality broadly conceived. Conversely architects, urbanists and geographers have described or advocated variegated land use patterns, built area layouts and building designs, but in these studies, analyses on how built environments are produced and lived generally remain either superficial, oversimplified or normative.




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