Editorial

Eleni Tracada
University of Derby (UK)
Faculty of Arts, Design and Technology
Head of Built Environment Research Group
e.tracada@derby.ac.uk

 

Once again I should like to thank all authors who contributed to the publication of this current issue of the Journal of Biourbanism. I should like also to express my gratitude to all our colleagues and academics who accepted to review all papers submitted; they also offered guidance and invaluable feedback to all authors. And of course my appreciation to all our colleagues and sub-editors’ hard work during the last few months is immense; we continue to support all authors as better as we can and especially we welcome new researchers’ efforts, as they offer fresh ideas and topics to the academic world. In fact also in this issue we have accepted research papers, which do not only offer innovative interpretation of theories and practices, but also assess research findings and furthermore recommend new technical methods to improve urban services and infrastructure.

As usual distinguished authors have submitted further research findings from their current projects and I believe that all us together, either established or fresh thinkers are striving to keep our impetus high and honour research accomplishments cherished by Biourbanism principles and practices. And once again I believe that fruitful discussions and debate will emerge and provoke more inquisitions on current issues and problems related to the social and economic growth of communities struggling to recover through the difficult years of turmoil worldwide; urban sprawl often does not seem to respond to what human beings need to see as dwellings and urban facilities. Services and infrastructures often do not follow ordered patterns and decisions are made without consultation with local communities with the result of getting them more and more frustrated and deterred from participatory planning and design of their cities and preservation practices safeguarding the natural resources and environment.

Unquestionably some researchers and authors are still finding vital support to their work by being sustained through Christopher Alexander’s theories and practices; these have been further enhanced by Nikos Salingaros’ epistemological analysis and elucidation in the last few decades. In fact, in his Of architecture, music and brains: Do we live in atonal cities?, Alexandros Lavdas, a Senior Researcher in the Centre for Biomedicine, European Academy in Bolzano, Italy has attempted to argue successfully that the twentieth century has not only reinvented music, but also architectural expression. The author affirms that there are structural parallels between pre-modern and modern music and architecture; he also discusses and offers evidence that neuro-aesthetics depend heavily on tonality and complexity of fractal urban growth. Instead modernism has created tasteless and atonal cities, which often created mental disorders and confusion to the human brain. The author discusses that aesthetics is the result of computation and therefore the existence of this computational function in our brains is biologically so relevant, because “the aesthetic criterion is the result of our ability to detect what is likely to be good for us” and therefore improves and balances our state of mind. The author provides evidence of affinities between music pitches and fractility of the built and unbuilt environments. The author supports the theory that atonal music is not fractal and proves that modern architecture lacks of tone completely; “tonal music, figurative artwork and pre-modern architecture have elements of fractal structure … described by non-Euclidean mathematics”; the sounds carry intelligence which is measured by fractility mainly in harmonious compositions. The author also explains why metaphors about complexity of the city (scientific analogies), which are beloved by designers today, are not the same thing as the actual complexity of cities. The author concludes that neuroscience findings may be equally important to architectural and urban design today; he has also used very relevant sources to be supported throughout this fascinating discourse.

In his An Adaptive Approach to Domestic Design, Bruno Postle discusses the need to design ordinary domestic buildings by use of Pattern Language in order to gain design optimisation. Thus, the author attempts to support the idea that, evolution and mutation in domestic design shows that a Form Language through evolution has developed as Free Software; the results obtained by this software are comparable with historical built environment which followed informal and flexible urbanism and not rectangular and very restrictive grids of master planning. Patterns of informally created cities reveal that these were put in place to suit the day-to-day needs of their citizens; an evolution appears as co-evolution between neighbouring buildings. The author discusses with diligence basic pattern language of ideal domestic design and also provides formulas to measure fitness criteria challenged by human needs against cost of life; he also discusses and explains evolution strategies by possible combinations of typologies seen as crossovers. He provides a series of mathematically supported graphs related to typologies/growth of cities and increase of population. Indeed he provides fine examples of graphs related to a fittest single storey house after 640 generations! This proves that patterns play an everlasting role in urban developments and human life as long as life exists on this planet and beyond.

Three authors, Maria Bostenaru Dan, Diana Aldea Mendes and Thomas Panagopoulos discuss the economic efficiency of earthquake risk mitigation in their Assessing the costs of hazards mitigation in the urban structure. The authors have looked at the way ICT can contribute to organise the information from the building survey to economic computations in modelling and through games. The authors discuss about economic tools to be adopted for disaster reconstruction by considering Building Information Modelling (BIM) and especially Space Syntax and social games techniques; a disaster involves multiple actors and it may be the basis of a new game. The authors explain carefully how modelling reconstruction after disasters follows game technology and is supported by multimedia and appropriate software capable to provide very precise 3D city models for quick and resourceful reconstruction processes and results.

In their A Psychological Assessment of Urban Landscaping of Public Agencies Premises in Jos City, Salaudeen Bayo et al focus on the psychological assessment of urban landscaping practices of public agencies in Jos City, Nigeria. The authors have carried out research by using a specific psychological model of investigation on carefully selected landscape sites of public agencies. The study shows that, in Jos City, there is need for landscape planning policy capable to create awareness of citizens in relation to the appreciation of practices and applications of valuable landscape designs. The adopted methods of landscape design cannot be appreciated by citizens at the moment, because architects do not expand their ideas from the building design to the landscaped surroundings. Thus, psychological reaction may result often very negative towards built and unbuilt spaces in cities, like the case of Jos City.

In a very thought-provoking paper with the title Urban Spatial Structures and their Economical Sustainability, Vladimira Šilhánková from the College of Regional Development in Prague analyses six key types of structures and their financial implications in development by considering construction and maintenance. The study also focuses on technical infrastructure and transport costs and gains in suburban areas in Czech Republic; the author compares economic demands of traditional urban forms, especially blocks of flats, and suburban development and also looks at historical urban fabric integration in new planning. The paper show cases in city centres, middle-class villas areas and ex-Socialist developments of blocks of flats as historical urban context and compares with new sprawl of dwellings, industry and recreation areas in green belt new expansion of cities. The author presents with detail economic demands on the implementation of public facilities in all the areas mentioned above from the regeneration of historical fabric to latest developments of expansion; she also explains in detail predictable prices of Building and Transportation Infrastructure and makes clear that there are clear advantages in latest urban residential developments rather than developments in suburban areas.

And we conclude with two very interesting technology papers, which deal with ventilation improvements in buildings and infrastructural details in street networks. Thus, the authors are discussing the latest technologies available to facilitate life and movement in modern cities. Seong Lee, Xuejun Qian and Steven Garcia from Morgan State University present their paper Analysis of the Integrated Ventilation Systems with Desiccant Wheels for Energy Conservation and IAQ [Indoor Air Quality] improvement in the Commercial Buildings; they argue that, integration ventilation technologies are now demanding to reduce energy use and ensure that IAQ at the same time. The authors have used a variety of available software to produce annual energy simulation results, which show very interesting information of a considerable amount of savings by using integrated systems and latest technology. Another team of authors from the same University discuss on Building a Sustainability Index for Highway Infrastructures: Case Study of Flexible pavements. Stella Obazee-Igbinedion, Manoji Jha and Oludare Owolabi gets us to highway infrastructures which need constant periodical maintenance to retain optimum performance of pavements at times and conditions – several times maintenance has to prevent damages and hazards from freak climate conditions and heavy uses. The authors discuss pavement serviceability by considering sustainability in the processes and especially in their methodology of assessment of the conditions of the pavements.

As it has been explained above, it has been a great pleasure to act as Editor in Chief of this issue as well. I should also like to thank all authors who submitted papers, but did not get the opportunity to be published this time, because of major or minor corrections asked by peer reviewers in the meantime. I am looking forward to receiving these submissions for our next issue and having them published soon as we have in programme to produce two more issues for this year. Our scientific committee and the executive team of the International Society of Biourbanism have published deadlines of submission for the next issues of our Journal of Biourbanism in the official website. Please, keep an eye constantly on this site, in which you will also find more materials published or announcements on the progress of specific important publications relevant to our past, current and future activities. You can also find information about our future events: international workshops, conferences and symposia and also on how you become full member of our thriving community of scholars and academics around the world.

I am always convinced that all issues raised by the papers included in this current issue will continue our fruitful and stimulating discussions, instigating more inquisition and generating new articles and perhaps themes for our Biourbanism conferences and workshops soon. All our members of our committees and, especially our scientific committee, keep encouraging research developments in the discipline and philosophy of Biourbanism worldwide and we shall keep organising events, etc., which constantly enhance international professionalism and relationships in this important discipline. Therefore we wish to encourage all readers and scholars to participate in additional discussions and contribute actively by writing their thoughts and findings in more papers which will populate our next issues of the Journal of Biourbanism and other related publications and especially themed books.

Thank you for considering our continuous peer support efforts. I look forward to receiving your new contributions soon.

My best wishes to all of you.

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