CALL FOR ABSTRACTS
OASE # 98 Narrating Urban Landscapes
This issue of OASE brings together an interest in the perception and design of urban landscapes with a particular methodological view. In urban planning and landscape practices developed in recent decades, notions such as ‘sense of place’ and site-specificity have been reintroduced as leading concepts, especially in redevelopment of ‘post-productive’ landscapes: former industrial areas, brownfields, harbours, mining sites, etcetera. Here, the landscape was transformed and manipulated rigorously in favour of industrial production processes, and often planned from a bird’s-eye perspective, according to tabula rasa methods or zoning plans projected directly from the drawing table onto the territory. In redesigning and making accessible such spaces, this abstracting perspective made way for an approach taking into account the experience on the terrain, rooting the identity of a site in a retracing of former uses. Therefore, in much of these reconversion projects (for example in Emscher Park), design approaches are called in that claim to ‘read’ the different layers and meanings of a site, understood as the locus of different stories, which can be revealed, reconstructed and altered. Today, a new type of redevelopment is high on the agenda: that of suburban areas around or between cities. Built mainly in the post-Second World War period, these urban landscapes are subject to far-reaching demographic changes and development pressure, especially because most city centres and the above-mentioned post-productive landscapes are becoming fully developed. However, suburban areas often seem to lack the site-specificity and the history of inner cities and brownfields. An important challenge is how to enhance the legibility of an urban landscape that has been planned in a seemingly chaotic way, from tabula rasa planning to a piecemeal infill, juxtaposing layers and – often contradictory – meanings? If suburbia is to become city, what is its ‘sense of place’? And what is the story that holds it together?