Maria Bostenaru Dan, Spaţiul verde redescoperit / Der wiederentdeckte Grünraum [The Rediscovered Green Space], Göttingen: Cuvillier, 2010
Review by Cristina Enache

This charming book (in Romanian and German), combines Author’s professionalism and artistic sensibility, whilst offering nostalgic childhood memories, that resemble Proust’s madeleine of In Search of Lost Time. The Rediscovered Green Spaces invites to meditation, addressing sensitive and delicate subjects. It is without question a book from Author’s soul, evoking fairytale topics in a lyrical way, but also a number of concrete situations – starting from school projects (thus achieving the educational side of the work), to implemented projects (case studies carefully chosen and illustrative for the subject matter).
A wide range of urban situations that seem at the same time part of myth and reality, are presented in order to rediscover nature in built world, a world in which we cannot see the roses that are beyond the thorns, as Grimm’s story beautifully reminds us. Small parks, urban places, green belts, and landscape outside the city, represent a gradual shift from artistic to professional topics, aiming at rediscovering the fairytale’s “Princesses”, imprisoned in the forgotten asphalt castles of the city. Maria Bostenaru Dan seeks the poetry of nature in the urban canvas. Thus, at the end of the reading, we want, like the children, that “once upon a time” turns into reality.


Harald Bodenschatz (ed.), Urban Design Under Mussolini. Fascist Italy in Search of the New City, (“Schriften des Architekturmuseums der Technischen Universität Berlin 4”), Berlin: DOM, 2011.
Review by Stefano Serafini

Professor at the Berlin University of Technology, and Author of relevant researches, such as Renaissance der Mitte: Zentrumsumbau in London und Berlin (Salenstein: Braun, 2005) and Stadtvisionen 1910/2010: Berlin, Paris, London, Chicago / 100 Jahre Allgemeine Städtebau-Austellungen in Berlin (Berlin: DOM, 2010), Harald Bodenschatz is one of the major experts in the Italian architecture of the first half of the 20th century. In this book, collecting contributions by himself, Uwe Altrock, Lorenz Kirchner, and Ursula von Petz, and a surprising iconography (more than 600 illustrations) he presents a deep study about Italian architecture at the time of Fascism.
Not many people know, that Italy had developed more urban planning projects than any other Country, between the ’20s and the Second World War; a fact that historians of architecture begun to evaluate in the last twenty years only. Yet, they are inclined to focus not on the ideology of Fascism, and its role in urbanism and aesthetics.
Professor Bodenschatz’s work, provides instead a clear and systematic overview of fascism city planning, digging down to the political roots of Italian Rationalism. Most importance is given to the main construction site of the regime, that is Rome, and to the different schools at work there, from Gustavo Giovannoni to Marcello Piacentini. Mussolini in fact longed to give birth to a New Eternal City, meant to become the glorious symbol of Fascism as a new imperial era.
Fascists were also engaged in founding new cities as such, as they actually did. Just during the huge reclaiming of the Pontine Marshes, Littoria (1932, now Latina), Sabaudia (1934), Pontinia (1935), and Aprilia (1935), have been built between Rome and the Tyrrhenian Sea – an effort that resulted in international admiration for the regime. Cities of foundation were established in the Regions of Veneto, Friuli, and Emilia Romagna also.
A relevant part of the book is devoted to the urban policies in African colonies, stressing the demonstrative role of architecture and city planning, as expression of power. An effort, though, that often gave rise to beautiful results.
Particularly interesting, it’s the analysis of parallel contexts in urban planning. So, the Author compares the urban designs of Mussolini’s, Stalin’s, and Hitler’s regimes. It may sound surprising, that autocratic urbanism (of which Bodenschatz shows the biopolitical issue), had a wide international consensus among urban planners at the time.
On the other hand, Bodenschatz stresses several time the value of some architectural and urban solution, despite the ideology they were apparently coming from. An observation, that has been shared by Pier Paolo Pasolini, whilst commenting on the human quality of such cities as Sabaudia, especially if compared to post World War, “democratic” planning. In fact, as Pasolini also stated, urban planning during the Ventennio did not represent an unconditioned product of Fascism. Rich debates, and differences in schools, contributed so far to the quality of regime’s urban programs. “Mussolini had to work with the people who were available and who were willing to serve him – or, as graduates of the new universities, might be willing to serve him in future. His rewards for individual experts were motivated by the need to encourage the commitment of the profession as a whole.


Adriano U. Graziotti,
Hermetica Geometria, Roma: Simmetria, 2002;
Cupole GeodeticheRoma: Simmetria 2012; Polyhedra, Roma: Simmetria, 2012.
Review by Stefano Serafini

Adriano Ugo Graziotti (Carpenedolo 1920 – Castenedolo 2000) can be considered an Artist, in the Renaissance sense of the word. He was painter, sculptor, mathematician, expert in archaic geometries, polyhedra discoverer, and creator of amazing magic squares. He spent part of his life in U.S.A. as an appreciated drawing professor (anatomy and nude drawings) at the American University of San Francisco. Being a well-learned, energetic, brilliantly ironic man, though always distant from any social-political affiliation, he experienced a climax of glory, and periods of complete oblivion.
He has left a unique mark in all his original works, that can be admired in the collection of 120 large polyhedra donated to the Capitoline Museum of Roma. Claudio Lanzi (engineer), Graziotti’s friend and follower, has been the editor, together with Silvio Maracchia (math professor) and Biagio di Carlo (architect), of three books dedicated to him, which collect the artist’s plates and their original comments: the first book, Hermetica Geometria (2002) is about the partitions of the Euclidean plane as commissioned to him by the Pacific Science Center of Seattle (Washington); the second book, Cupole Geodetiche (2012) is about Graziotti’s work on geodetic constructions, highly appreciated by Richard Buckminster Fuller; the third one, Polyhedra (2012), collects drawings and projects of Pythagorean, Platonic and Archimedean polyhedra. The three books have been edited by the small Italian publishing house Simmetria (Rome), with an effort that deserves admiration. To plunge into Graziotti’s planes and works is like rediscovering Leonardo’s world, Piero della Francesca’s perspectives, and Luca Pacioli’s proportions. Scrolling through such beautiful and surprising pages, results in an enriching experience for mathematicians, solid geometry experts, architects interested in the logics of forms, and even scholars of Platonic philosophy.


Maria Bostenaru Dan, Housing in Bucharest, Romania. An Analysis of Vulnerability to Earthquakes. Göttingen: Cuvillier Verlag, 2010.
Review by Mirela Adriana Anghelache

The “World Housing Encyclopedia” (, a project of EERI and IAEE, was launched at the World Conference on Earthquake Engineering in 2000 in Auckland, New Zealand. It was a project in frame of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction. The Encyclopedia is available online and is open to anyone who is going to use the information, while information on construction types can be contributed by professionals and is peer-reviewed. A summary publication with the reports to date was done in 2004 and also several tutorials on construction types by material are available as hard copy.
This book makes a geographical-wise completion: it is a collection on the reports from Bucharest, Romania. The book was published by Cuvillier Verlag, Göttingen, Germany, in 2010, where it is still available and also available over Amazon Germany ( It costs 58,80 euro.

It is a thick book of 454 pages, in A5 format, richly illustrated with photos and drawings, some of them in color. Being a text book it doesn’t use photographic paper. In a geographic distribution related approach, in the book introduction there are provided maps showing the representative building types, chosen chronologically as they were constituted and which can be found in particular areas of Bucharest. There is a total of 10
reports from 7 architectural time periods. For Bucharest there is no city-wide survey of the building stock and the census does not account for detailed typologies, but merely for materials of the structure and age and height of the buildings. Thus, all relevant types could be identified following a historical, and not a geographical approach. It is a so-called typological survey. The relevance of the typology has been tried out in the German project SFB 46, as it is shown in the introduction by means of some maps of a protected zone in the city centre and of the questionnaire for mapping the built stock. Such approaches are valuable in the context in which the “World Housing Encyclopedia” is now leading partner in the Global Earthquake Model Taxonomy and Ontology project. It allows to see in how far the taxonomies set by the Encyclopedia can be applied in local context to characterize the whole built stock. Actually, the author signed in several publications, for example Bostenaru (2004), that the
World Housing Encyclopedia has the potential of becoming from an information system an expert system through the included assessment criteria and gave decision weights (Bostenaru and Pinho, 2006) to the questions in the Encyclopedia which were assigned to the actors:
“architect”, engineer”, “investor” and “inhabitant”. The taxonomy proposed in the questionnaire is exemplified in some tables with the whole range of historic building types and also with the relevant building elements in the survey. Other maps that were included in the introduction are related to a common zone in central Bucharest, thus mapping the difference between the central area, in which interwar reinforced concrete constructions predominate, and a low rise low density area with predominantly vernacular so-called “wagon” houses.
The typological classification presented in this book was employed as so-called World Housing Encyclopedia classification, recently completed research projects dealing with the built stock of Bucharest such as “Multihazard and vulnerability in the seismic context of the city of Bucharest” HERA, run by a consortium led by the University of Bucharest (
Five of the reports included in the book were co-authored by the author of the book with eng. Ilie Sandu, who passed away afterwards. Two of the reports are new with regard to the online encyclopedia: the multi-storey masonry construction and the Modernism building with commercial ground floor. The book however does not cover all types, a typology before 1850 not being presented in detail. This might be a further contribution to the online encyclopedia. Also, the post-communist housing in the 21st century is not included, as the book deals only with historic types. Post-communist single-family housing has been the topic of a recently published book with the contribution of the author and that might be as well a further contribution to the online encyclopedia.
From the reports the most valuable part is providing two types of tables:
– one on the “seismic deficiency”, “earthquake resilient features” and “damage patterns” for each structural element – the “seismic features” table;
– one where for each “structural deficiency” a “seismic strengthening provision” is provided.
This way the principles of strategic planning are translated to building scale and made possible a structural pathology and diagnosis, and also the formulation of a so-called “mission” (Bostenaru, 2005). These might build further developments of the mentioned taxonomy. The tables are very well made and for their publication is necessary a format of a book as their size is more than what a journal or a book article would allow. Also the
drawings are valuable, partly of them in 3D, done with archiCAD ®, which visualize the structural type in plan, (3D) section and axonometric view. A lack might be that the provided plans do not correspond to the buildings which are photographed, as archive research did not allow to identify all those buildings and some of them were taken from the experience of the authors. But nevertheless the building plans are a valuable resource for research on the functional structure of building typologies in this part of the world. Compared to the online version the reports don’t include few photographs and drawings based on the book edited by Bălan et al (1982), due to permissions reasons. But even without, also for this book it is valid what was said about the Encyclopedia as a whole: “For some construction types, this is one of the few, if not only, places where such detailed information is available in English (Brzev et al, 2004).”
The book follows the layout of the World Housing Encyclopedia from 2007, which has been changed twice since. Maybe it should be wished for having a fluent text instead of the question and answer format of the form, which has been partly implemented online since.

Otherwise not all numbered information is suitable for this and it might have required organizing some of the information across the building types.
The book finished without conclusions, although the conclusion that interwar buildings are the most vulnerable will have been drawn in the further research of the author and other scholars. These buildings are now subject of expert evaluation and retrofit. Good conclusions are drawn by the publications mentioned.
Maybe the sub-title is too restrictive: the book is not only about vulnerability, but also retrofit is subject of each report.


  • Bălan, Ş., Cristescu, V., Cornea, I. (eds.) 1982. Cutremurul de Pamînt din România de la 4 Martie 1977, Academia Republicii Socialiste România, Bucureşti.
  • Bostenaru Dan, M. 2004. Review of retrofit strategies decision system in historic perspective¬, Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 4 (3) 449 – 462.
  • Bostenaru Dan, M. 2005. Typological Analysis of Early Reinforced Concrete Housing Buildings in Romania, in Proceedings of the 4th European Workshop on the Seismic Behaviour of Irregular and Complex Structures, Thessalonica, Greece, A. J. Kappos (editor) article #16.
  • Bostenaru Dan, M., Pinho, R. 2005. Assessment Criteria for Historic Reinforced Concrete Housing Buildings in Europe, in Proceedings of the International Conference “Earthquake Engineering in 21st Century (EE-21C), Skopje and Ohrid, FYROM. ISI Proceedings 1570-761X.
  • Brzev, S., Greene, M., Arnold, C., Blondet, M., Cherry, S., Comartin, C., D’Ayala, D., Farsi, M., Jain, S., Naeim, F., Pantelic, J., Samant, L., Sassu, M. 2004. The Web-Based World Housing Encyclopedia: Housing Construction In High Seismic Risk Areas Of The World, in Proceedings of the 13th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering, Vancouver, B.C., Canada Paper No. 1677.


Jean Petitot, in collaboration with René Doursat (ed.), Cognitive Morphodynamics.
Dynamical Morphological Models of Constituency in Perception and Syntax. Berlin: Peter Lang, 2011
Review by Stefano Serafini

Jean Petitot (, philosopher, mathematician, semiologist, and expert of neurocognitive modeling, is the current director of the Complex Systems Institute, Paris, and teaches at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHEES), Paris.
Disciple of the great and revolutionary mathematician René Thom, he’s instantiating his master’s theories, especially semiophysics, in the fields of linguistics and cognitive sciences areas since several years. This crucial work offers a general overview of his researches, thus stressing the dramatic relevance of the concept of form.
What has this to do with urbanism and architecture? Nothing at all, apparently, especially for those considering design just a matter of aesthetics.
In reality, as city and buildings shapes result in “informing” (in the deeper sense of the word) human life, this book has a high value for all professionals who like to reflect on the real matter of their own activity.
This is not a work aimed at architects, of course, a fact one can acknowledge by simply checking the architect-not-friendly writing style. The wide range of Author’s expertise is reflected in the way he manages linguistics, epistemology, logics, mathematics, computer and cognitive sciences, and related terms and symbols, making non-specialists unease sometimes. Just to have an idea: its declared goal is about giving a mathematical foundation of Cognitive Grammar, by using René Thom’s morphodynamics.
Don’t be scared. Cognitive Grammar is a milestone of cognitive linguistics, founded by Ronald W. Langacker (Foundations of Cognitive Grammar, Volume 1, Theoretical Prerequisites, 1987; Volume 2, Descriptive Application, 1991. Stanford: Stanford University Press). It is largely based on findings of Gestalt psychology, especially applied to visual perception. According to this approach, language is eventually built by basic conventional formal “bricks”, related to both semantics and phonology. Grammar combines these “bricks” under strict rules, so generating phrases, that thus have semantic and phonological structure. The semantic aspects are modeled as image schemas rather than propositions, but because of the structural relation with phonology, images and speeches go always together, as different facets of the same basic structure. According to Langacker, linguistic structures are thus rooted into cognitive processes. We speak as we are, and the range of linguistic conventions, at the very end, is constrained to a finite set, by what we could dare to call “reality”. Discussions are open about what this “reality” in fact is. Recent promising advancements in neurolinguistics, for example, are pointing out the study of the bridge between linguistics and europhysiology (see M. Piattelli-Palmarini and J. Uriagereka, «Still a bridge too far? Biolinguistic questions for grounding language on brains», Physics of Life Reviews 5 (2008) 207–224).
Anyway, that’s the path that brought Petitot to investigate morphological structures of perception into Gestalt-like and abstract proto-linguistic schemes, i.e. semi-raw material for producing superior linguistic operations. He shows us how there exist deep, syntactic and semantic structures of language, that are grounded in perception and action.
On the other side, Thom’s morphodynamics is the study of forms (both natural and artificial), whatever their underlying physical substrate may be, and of their mathematical norms, from the point of view of semiophysics (that is, a physics of semantics). As Petitot states: «Syntactic structures can be treated as Gestalts and can be morphodynamically modeled» (p. 203).
At this point we could question if referring to architecture (and urbanism) as “a language”, may be something more than a metaphor. Indeed it is. There exist a semantic of architecture (e.g. its relation to residential function, or environment), and a way of instantiating such a semantics, that is a syntax (style, use and combination of materials and shapes, etc.). The problem is that this natural vision of architecture as language, has been pulled into a conventionalist idea of language – where all that counts is the abstract sign, without any reference but to other signs.
What Petitot’s work has therefore to say to architecture is that: A) syntax cannot be a totally free and dissociated “creation”, apart from its semantic; B) both semantic and syntax have a third meta-level to which both of them refer; C) this meta-level has its own consistency that needs to be known and studied; D) syntax, semantic, and the meta-level, have a structural coherence in the natural word, that makes them coincide in a dynamical way.
«In morphodynamics, the conceptual contents of mental states are no longer identified with symbols. Their meaning is embodied in the cognitive process itself (…) Information processing is therefore thought of not as an implemented symbolic processing but as a dynamical process» (p. 203).
Such a dynamical process has a form. «(…) mathematically, physical models are in general of a geometric-dynamical nature. Every physics is a geometrodynamics. Therefore, if we are able to extract syntactic structures by abstracting invariants from such a geometrodynamics we become able to understand the link between an ideal formal “syntacticity” and the underlying (neuro)physics. It is in that sense that geometry and dynamics are key to formal syntax» (p. 276).
In fact, according to J. Fodor and Z. Pylyshin, the goal is achieving that «geometrical whole, where the geometrical relations are themselves semantically significant”, and which constitute the geometrical basis of constituent-structures» (p. 275).
A sentence, that seems a program for an architecture renaissance.


Nikos Salingaros, Twelve Lectures On Architecture. Algorithmic Sustainable Design.
Solingen: Umbau Verlag, 2011
Review by Stefano Serafini

Can architecture and urbanism be formulated as applications of computations? Yes, according to the well-known urban thinker and mathematician Nikos Salingaros. And they actually should! Salingaros offers design practitioners, with a very sketchy and intriguing way, a method of applying cutting-edge mathematical techniques to architectural and urban design.
Despite of the novelty of this approach (just few of these topics are actually taught in architecture schools), his position belongs to a very ancient tradition. One can just think to the masons of Middle-age cathedrals, and their mathematical insights bringing to light amazing structures. They considered and managed each step in the design process, as a computation.
And this brought to that gorgeous effect of continuity among scales in their buildings, quite always resulting in harmonious cascades of fractals.
Salingaros explains how we can use geometrical constructs such as Cellular Automata, recursive growth, the Fibonacci sequence, fractals, universal scaling, etc., in design work today, and why this can produce very effective and pleasant buildings. His effort aims not just at reviewing a mathematics set for architects, but at presenting one useful design tool, a full computational methodology, and a fundamental reason for new structural rules.
The most interesting part of this work is that these rules produce new forms belonging to the great set of natural shapes, instinctive architecture, and classic masterpieces of all times. This offers great insights about architecture itself, and about the relationship among nature and culture. Salingaros’ explications of why such algorithms are successful, sound convincing, and introduce the reader to biophilia, environmental psychology, and a deep critics to traditional aesthetics.


Heidemarie Seblatnig (ed.), Hetzendorf und der Ikonoklasmus in der zweiten Hälfte des 20. Jahrunderts. Vienna: Facultas Verlag, 2010.
Review by Stefano Serafini

Yet at first sight, one may disagree with book’s title harshness («Iconoclasm in the second half of the 20th Century»), reading through the nine essays composing the volume, could result in a change of mind.
A polemics among traditional and progressive Catholics lies for sure under this work, but due to presented facts, data, and analysis, it results worth of reading also for secular Architects, Historians and Sociologists.
The phenomenon of a few men’s will of transforming a neo-Roman Catholic parish church, into a modernistic and quite aniconic building, in Austria, during the 50s, represents an interesting document about European culture after the Second World War.
Authors show and explain from different points of view the ideological reasons that lead to what, today, looks even odd, and really not too far away from the definition of “modern iconoclasm” offered by Authors.
The Rosenkranzkirche in Hetzendorf, Vienna (Church of the Rosary, 1909, architects Hubert Gangl and Eugen Ritter von Felgel) is an exemplar of Nordic Catholic neo-baroque, with a special character, that made it unique among all Vienna’s churches: architects worked together with the sculptor Franz Zelezny, who designed the interiors, including furniture, the chandelier, and the wooden relief panels of the stations of the cross, with the aim of producing an organic art work, even at the scale of the last detail. Work resulted in a imposing, pleasant, and harmonic building, with a strong traditional identity, but at the same time an original feature. A model of the project is preserved in the Museum of Vienna, while the Wien Technichische Universität has produced a virtual rendering of the original interior in 2008.
The editor tells us how two relevant religious figures, such as Msgr. Otto Mauer, and Fr. Joseph Ernst Mayer, firmly struggled for the transformation of the church, going even further, by finally destroying most of the furniture, statues, panels, and melting the chandelier.
According to H. Seblatnig, they did it for the sake of the liturgical reform introduced by the Council Vatican II, while D. G. Stroik, in his contribution, shows as aniconism to which they referred as an ideal, belonged to the very root of Modernism in architecture. It’s noteworthy that both protagonists of this story, were members of the ultramodern art association “Bund Neuland”, influenced by the Viennese Actionism, and behaved as patrons of the arts. Not by chance, card. Franz König instituted the “Otto Mayer price” for modern art in 1981, was carried on by architects Friedrich Achbeitner and Johann George Gsteu. «Sacred architecture become the experimental area of young architects supported by influential representatives of the Church who used the interest of the young architects in experiments to further their own schemes of liturgical restructuring within the Church» (p. 177).
Thus, a mutual influence among art innovation and liturgical reform worked in Hetzendorf, with the participation of high rank intellectuals and Church officers, and it cannot be recorded as a mere accident. For sure, it is an example of an elitist operation. It’s noteworthy that not only actors didn’t care about users’ opinion, but in fact they acted against the will of parishioners, the majority of which did not like such a transformation. People were considered too “ignorant” to have a say about what was going on with their church. At the very end they were cajoled (see Fr. Meyers’ speeches about the future “beauty” of the church) or fooled (the destruction work carried on at night), in order to be “rightly” driven. «The events around the Rosary church in Vienna-Hetzendorf show the intentions of leading representatives of the Church in Austria already in the year 1957, i.e. five years before the Council. Hetzendorf was a pilot project that should give an answer to the question: “To what degree can the faithful be excluded from the restructuring of sacred architecture and thus of the liturgy? What can be enforced against the will of the faithful under the headline of pretended ‘democratization’?”».
A larger reflection about the health condition of both Church and art, is carried on by Walter  Brandmüller, who says that both «Church and art must overcome this crisis of identity they have both come in because of the ideological development of Modernity» (p. 216).
Gherard Schuder recollects the origins of such a crisis in the thought of Martin Luther, seen as an expression of modern bourgeoisie, and refers to the very concept of incarnation as the real target of iconoclasm. Actually, most of the catholic supporters of the new liturgical aesthetics, declared a sympathy for Protestantism, and revealed an attraction for a non-analogical concept of God’s uniqueness, quite similar to that professed by Arius during the 4th century. The very Le Corbusier – atheist son of a Calvinist pastor – took his name of art from a Cathar, who had escaped the crusade against his sect. Puritanism and war against ornament seemed to form a natural alliance.
The same concept has been well explained by Ciro Lomonte in his contribution, fundamentally blaming the ignorance of certain members of the Catholic Church, too enthusiastically following the “zero option” of modern art, without recognizing the theological roots of such a position. On the other side, Lomonte suggests to react not by refusing the modern as such and, in doing so, “zeroing the zeroing”. On the contrary, contemporary Church should find the way to a new figurativism, with modern ornament and proportion, in order to be able again to exhibit the meaning of the incarnated logos.
The book offers a double (yet weak, sometimes) translation of each contribution, so that it can be read in German, English, and Italian.


Eleni Tracada
University of Derby
Faculty of Arts, Design and Technology

We are very pleased that we have been able to reach our purpose to publish a new series of very interesting papers that are relevant to our principles and practices of Biourbanism.
The contributions of the authors for the second issue have been conscientiously selected in order to initiate discussions on themes or issues that do not only relate to urban growth, but also to technological advancements enabling several contemporary cities to achieve almost full sustainable status (or, at least, assisting modern societies and local communities in their struggle to prevail against current rapid and volatile climate changes globally).

In his paper Towards sustainability: Self-organising communities, Juan Diego Pérez Téllez, a new researcher, introduces self-organising processes of urban communities in Spain supported by a variety of functional elements in micro scale through physical interactive elements for social collaboration. The author looks at proactive involvement of self-organised communities in the dynamic development of the socio-cultural heritage as controlled context for the evolution of modern urban systems. His approach is based on the geometrical linkage through permeable membranes of neighbourhoods, fractal interfaces of urban fabric and structures that support a hierarchical organisation of geometrically arranged urban components able to provide large scale coherence. A case study on Andalusia’s so-called casa de vecinos and patio town housing, given the distinctive morphological aspects and social development from past to present times and its relevant contribution to the contemporary urban fabric within a city, shows that still common uses of patio spaces shared by more than one neighbours may perform as fractal elements favouring complexity in human interactions and thus guaranteeing long-lasting urban coherence.

In the second paper with the title Studying Ten Principles of the Wholeness Theory Established By Christopher Alexander in Jamshidieh Park Design in Tehran, Iran, Aida Jadidi, an independent scholar, tries to understand re-uses of green areas for public use according to long-established formation of important nodal points/centres within natural environment; these important core areas may still support and complement each other to form wholeness (a self-balanced system). If some of these elements disappear during redesigning processes of green park areas, as it happened in Jamshidieh Park, a failure occurs, so that users should find themselves alienated. Thus, unbalanced core parts of a green park become unfavourable places to be, in spite the efforts to imitate nature in design.

In their paper Performance of underground dams as a solution for sustainable management of drought, Mir Masoud Kheirkhah Zarkesh, Delnaz Ata & Azadeh Jamshidi present the advantages of underground dams as valuable resources to provide not only water in rural agricultural areas, but also drinking water in costal urban areas. Their paper offers the opportunity for us to consider that, even the simplest technology to preserve water supplies nowadays can be proved an invaluable one and especially in costal areas that are so close to sea water or in areas with high temperatures in which water supplies may dry out very fast.

In his Sustainable Architecture: Utopia or Feasible Reality?, Dr. Zaheer Allam reflects upon issues relate on Sustainable Architecture as a contemporary discipline to be taught in order to train architects who will be brave enough to face the idea of acquiring a common view about sustainability; they should act as human beings to deliver more, when they share a common view to work for the greater good for an organization and have a common goal to serve communities of people. Dr. Allam proposes that a shared set of norms and values on sustainability may provide architects involved with a common language to understand events. Thus, they should be able to communicate easily with experts and communities at the same time to develop a desirable sustainable future for all.

In their Application of compensatory methods in industrial development site selection, Besat Emami, Farzad Taghizadeh & Elnaz Neinavaz discuss Site selection of industrial developments for establishment of coke making plant, using one of the relatively new compensatory decision-making methods; spatial analytical hierarchy process (S-AHP); the obtained results suggested that the application of compensatory methods used can be considered an appropriate powerful tool in decision making in practical and scientific terms. It could be considered as a very useful tool today where trends suggest that industrial development sites are often situated in wrong areas in proximity of urban areas or far away from them by spoiling green belts.

In Joseph Akinlabi Fadamiro’s paper with the title Affective correlates of landscapes for passive recreation in institutional campuses, Ogbomoso, Nigeria, the author suggests that statistical results of the data obtained and analysed have showed that landscape elements for passive recreation have physical qualities that are attractable to human beings to evoke affective responses and also the two groups of variables are positively correlated. In this study the author argues in favour of passive recreation through the outdoor landscape design of work environments and in conclusion suggests an approach to selecting elements for built landscape that will enhance suitable effects for passive recreation of human beings/users of institutional campuses.

Once again it has been a great pleasure to act as Editor in Chief of this issue and I should like to thank all the authors who have taken the time and effort to produce the published papers. However, I should also like to thank those authors who submitted papers, which did not attain the review process before the publication deadline. We are looking forward to seeing also these papers published in one of our next issues in which the papers should be considered as relevant to the specific theme proposed and discussed accordingly by our scientific committee.
I am also convinced that all issues raised by the papers included in this current issue will create a fruitful and interesting debate again. Therefore, I should encourage all readers and scholars to participate in additional discussions and contribute actively by writing their thoughts and findings in more papers in the near future. We are strongly encouraging research developments in the discipline of Biourbanism and we believe that this could only take place whenever constructive scientific and philosophical debates appear at any time worldwide.

Towards Sustainability: Self-organising Communities

Juan Diego Pérez Téllez
C/ Fray Manuel María, 20
11540 – Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz, Spain

This paper explores the self-organising processes of urban communities supported by the connection of a variety of functional elements on the smaller urban scale through physical interactive elements for social collaboration. These processes acquire a local dimension through the proactive involvement of self-organised communities in the dynamic development of the socio-cultural heritage as an organised context for the evolution of the urban system. This approach is based on the geometrical linkage through permeable membranes, fractal interfaces and urban structures which support a hierarchical organisation of nested scales of urban units providing large scale coherence. The study is delivered through the case-study of a traditional community-based housing system within its urban context, with the aim of identifying linking elements which lead to a certain level of self-organisation, likely to be extrapolated to different urban sets. Finally, these connective elements are considered in a contemporary context so as to provide a design framework towards self-organisation, considering the potential of new technologies.

Keywords: Self-organizing Communities; Socio-cultural Heritage; Social Interaction; Sustainability; Social-urban Flexibility; Socio-geometry.

Download full Text

Studying Ten Principles of the Wholeness Theory established by Christopher Alexander in Jamshidieh Park Design in Tehran, Iran

Aida Jadidi
Department of Landscape Architecture,
University Putra Malaysia

Growth of population in cities in the past 40 years has resulted in growth of residential areas, however, little room have been allocated to open spaces and nature (Giulio, Holderegger & Tobias, 2009). In the last decade of the 20th century, the public attention towards parks, green spaces and their design as means of preserving nature and bringing liveability to urban environments have increased (Özgüner & Kendle, 2006; Salazar & Menéndez, 2007). Jamshidieh Park, an urban park with strong natural features located in Tehran-Iran, has lost the aforementioned goal (Pasban Hazrat, 2009). This research will introduce ten principles presented by Christopher Alexander (2002a) in the “wholeness theory”. It will try to reach a new method for studying the reasons for the failure of the expected goals of the Jamshidieh Park. By doing a case study, this researcher has used variety of qualitative methods. The results indicate that only some of the principles were found in the design process of Jamshidieh Park. The findings show how these principles can be incorporated in the design process of urban parks. Further, the methodology used in this research can be applied in future studies of urban park design to gauge usefulness.
Keywords: Design, Living Structures, Liveability, Urban Park, Wholeness Theory, Christopher Alexander

Download full Text