A note by the President of the International Society of Biourbanism

Antonio Caperna, PhD
Roma Tre University
Facoltà di Architettura

As President of the International Society of Biourbanism, I’m happy to welcome the first volume of Journal of Biourbanism. I am grateful to the editor in chief, Eleni Tracada, to my colleagues Archana Sharma, Alessia Cerqua and Stefano Serafini as co-editors and, of course, to all the contributors, for this important achievement.
The International Society of Biourbanism was born in September 2010, by a group of international researchers, aimed at unfolding the theoretical basis for a new human-oriented built environment.
Many things happened during this first year! One of this is JBU, a key component of ISB activity. It aims to bring together theories, models and new design processes, but also wants to offer a platform for high-quality research, theory making, education, and practice.
We are to face several challenges, and the “battlefield” will be the city. In the last decades, we have attended some incredible historical events: world urban population has overcome the number of rural inhabitants for the first time ever; environmental problems, and climate change, have risen dramatically; strategic role of fossil energy is challenged, together with its economic and social implications; globalization changed the world order; digital technology entered our lives; etc. We cannot face these epical challenges by using obsolete tools, both in scientific as well as in policies terms.
In this scenario, JBU aims to represent something new. Its first task is about finding a new research methodology to be applied to the urban challenge.
Still today, the dominant paradigm handle the many problems associated with urban growth and global sustainability, as independent issues. Existing assessment models are based on outdated scientific patterns, that analyze cities and their features as separated and disconnected pieces. But cities are complex systems, whose infrastructural, economic and social components are strongly interrelated, and it’s therefore impossible to understand them separately. The result is an ineffective policy, often leading to unfortunate and sometimes disastrous unintended consequences.
This disastrous result require a rethinking of the manner in which we analyze and plan the urban environments, and Biourbanism is our scientific answer. It is a science focusing on the urban environment, considering it as a hyper-complex living organism. It interacts with its internal structure as well as with the external dynamics. This means that the urban body is composed of several interconnected layers of dynamic structures, all influencing each other in a non-linear manner. This interaction results in emergent properties, which are not predictable except through a dynamical analysis of the connected whole.
This scientific approach links Biourbanism to life and integrated systems sciences, like biology, ecology, statistical mechanics, thermodynamics, operations research. The similarity of approach lies not only in the common methodology, but also in the content of the results (hence the prefix “bio”), because the city represents the living environment of the human species.
Our goal, as Biourbanists, is recognizing the “optimal forms”, defined at different scales (from the purely physiological up to the ecological levels) which, through morphogenetic processes, guarantee an optimum of systemic efficiency and for the quality of life of the
Biourbanism is based on the following groundwork: (i) Epistemic foundation and the needed scientific paradigm shift, (ii) New Life sciences, as biological roots of architecture and urbanism; (iii) peer to peer urbanism, as an innovative way of conceiving, constructing, and repairing the city; (iv) morphogenetic design processes, based on real recognition of “optimal forms”, defined at different feedback scales (from physiological, to ecological), which, through morphogenetic processes, guarantee an optimal systemic efficiency, and therefore of the quality of life.
The above “corpus” shows a completely different way in which we consider and interact with the urban environment. From a scientific point of view, this open new fascinating research scenarios.
Towns and cities represent the living environment of the human species. Thus, it is fundamental create a design able to reinforce the urban structure according with our biological and neurophysiological requirements.
In this cultural context JBU aims to play a leading role where, research workers and scholars, from several fields such as mathematics, physics, biology, neurophysiology, architecture and urbanism, can contribute for a better urban environment and a future full of hope for humankind.

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