Alessandro Porotto

PhD ・ Academic Researcher ・ Architect

NEW CONFERENCE: 27th ISUF Conference of the International Seminar on Urban Form, "The 21st Century City"

I will attend and present the paper Referential Housing Type for the 21st Century City: New Typo-morphological Strategies in Brussels at the next 27th ISUF conference "The 21st Century City", organized by the University of Utah College of Architecture + Planning, Salt Lake City (US), September 1-4, 2020.

The hypothesis of this paper is that a specific urban identity can be traced back to the residential spaces of the city. The concept of referential housing type, defined as the archetypal and most ordinary residential type in a specific place throughout its urban history, is the most effective tool to disclose the identity of cities. Its benefits are threefold. It reveals the socio-cultural character of a place, enables a better understanding of other forms of housing, and sets a basic vocabulary from which it is possible to interpret new forms of housing. Utilizing the case study of Brussels, this paper aims to adopt an innovative approach that can further investigate the transformations and identity of cities. Although there can be a foundation type for each historical period, a city is characterized by a single referential type. Therefore, the referential type allows a dynamic analysis and understanding of the built environment’s evolutionary mechanisms, providing a basis for addressing future changes. The referential type deals with both housing legacies and new housing typologies, which are designed to meet current challenges of sustainability and social changes. It can provide new suggestions for housing design, concerning, for instance, urban densification and living quality. The investigation of urban identity thus plays an important role in the design of the 21st century city.