Vertical  City  International  Conference  –  Exploring  and  thinking  the  vertical  dimension  of urbanisation  in  globalisation  and  climate  change

For  the  Scientific  Committee,  Manuel  Appert

Université Lyon 2, campus des Berges du Rhône, 16-18 Quai Claude Bernard, Lyon. 25-27 novembre


Deadline  for  abstract  submission:  April  30th ,  2015
Answers  to  applicants:  June  8 th ,  2015
Full  presentations  due:  November  3 rd ,  2015
Place  and  date  of  the  conference:  Lyon  (France),  25-27  November  2015

1.  Context:  rethinking  urbanization  with  the  vertical  dimension

The  conference  aims  at  investigating  the  accelerating  verticalisation  of  urbanisation,  when  towers  are multiplying  throughout  the  world,  when  new  agricultural  spaces  - be  they  “natural”  and/or  public - are  set up high  up,  and  when  transport  networks  are  freeing  themselves  from  the  surface  and  underground  of cities.  The resulting  intensification  of  urbanization,  planned  or  not,  is  locally  increasing  the  pressure  on underground resources,  contributes  to  alter  physical  circulations  and  human  flows,  as  well  as  re-interrogates  in  a  broader way  the  production  and  making  of  urban  environments  in  the  context  of  climate change  and  globalisation.

At  the  same  time,  new  theoretical  propositions  are  aiming  at  formalising  the  urban  volume  and  at  renewing the  analytical  frameworks  of  the  city  in  its  three  dimensions  (Kaika,  2010;  Graham,  2013,  2014;  Harris, 2014). Urban  studies  largely  focused  on  the  analysis  of  cities  in  their  horizontal  dimension,  while  producing theoretical frameworks  primarily  based  on  the  two  horizontal  dimensions  of  the  geographical  space (outside  the landscape-mediated  approaches).  With  the  accelerating  verticalisation  of  urbanization,  the third  dimension  of the space  of  urban  societies  has  to  be  investigated,  as  well  from  the  planning  point  of view  as  from  the approaches  and  tools  at  our  disposal.  The  renewal  of  thoughts  and  actions  on  cities necessitates  to  cross disciplinary  focuses  on  the  horizontality/verticality  couple,  and  to  enable  the  cross-fertilisation  of  practitioners’ experiences  and  academic  researches.  

In  an  exploratory  and  multidisciplinary  perspective  (human  and  social  sciences,  engineering  sciences, architecture…),  able  to  deal  with  the  emerging  issues  associated  with  urban  verticalisation,  we  propose  to create  the  conditions  of  a  dialogue  between  researchers  and  practitioners,  which  enables  to  (re)investigate or to  further  the  thoughts  on  the  vertical  configurations  and  dynamics  of  and  in  the  city.
Even  if  several  researches  have  already  been  conducted  according  to  a  vertical  point  of  view,  they  have largely retained  thematic  focuses,  disciplinary  approaches  and  did  not  necessarily  provide  systemic  and cross-cutting perspectives.  In  architecture  and  engineering  sciences,  attention  was  focused  on  the supposed  environmental sustainability  of  towers,  envisioned  as  multifunctional,  self-­‐sufficient  and/  or green  (Yeang,  1996  ;  Ferrier, 2007), with  no  consideration  of  their  politics.  On  the  reverse,  the  study  of  the urban  volume  in  urbanism  and  of  the landscape  stakes  of  the  material  transformations  of  cities  went  with few  economic  considerations  (McNeill, 2002;  Tavernor,  2007;  Appert,  2008;  Appert  and  Drozdz,  2010);  such studies  mostly  focused  on  the  strategies  of stakeholders,  in  the  perspective  of  a  social  demand  of  contested landscapes  (Luginbuhl,  2001).  The  question of  uses  - particularly  the  access  to  the  superior  strata  of  the vertical  city - has  primarily  been  built  on Lefebvre’s “right  to  the  city”  theoretical  framework,  critically interrogating property,  accessibility,  and  control  of  spaces  at heights  (Ayoub,  2009;  Graham,  2011;  Graham and  Hewitt,  2013).  The  latter  approach  progressively  led researchers  to  investigate  the  issues  of concentration,  segregation,  and  social  fragmentation  in  their  vertical dimension  (Cartier,  1999;  Appert, 2012;  Harris,  2014;  Charney  and  Rosen,  2014).  The  value  attributed  to  height then  becomes  decisive  for developers  as  for  populations  and  local  authorities,  as  well  from  a  monetary  point of  view  as  from  a symbolical  one  (Han  et  al.,  2005;  Moon  et  al.,  2010).  In  the  same  way,  construction  and financing  costs, technical  feasibility,  and  soil  characteristics  might  influence  the  value  of  buildings,  accessibility at  various scales  (from  the  local  to  the  global),  and  indirectly  influence  the  vertical  and  horizontal  distribution  of population  and  activities.

Except  technical  manuals  on  public  or  private  vertical  transport  infrastructures  (Strakosch  and  Caporale, 2010), few  publications  consider  the  links  between  vertical  circulations  –over  and  under  the  surface -  and the  social and  environmental  sustainability  of  contemporary  urbanization,  even  though  there  are  some already  discussed utopia  and  visions  (Gottmann,  1966;  Ford,  1994;  Pow,  2014).  Air  transport  flows  and  the constraints  and  risks they  weigh  on  urban  societies  have  been  studied  in  a  multidisciplinary  way  (Cwerner et  al.,  2009).  In  the perspective  of  the  compact  and  dense  city,  the  articulation  between  transport  networks and  urbanisation  has also  to  be  vertically  considered.

Often  reduced  to  its  poetical  or  purely  material  or  hydrosystemic  dimension,  the  underground  space  is  now studied  with  a  larger  integration  of  its  technical  and  political  aspects  (Barles  and  Guillerme,  1995).  The compact  city  paradigm  is  today  re-investigated;  the  intensive  use  of  the  underground  (infrastructure, pollution, changes  to  water  networks)  -associated  with  an  urbanisation  process  in  search  of  higher densities - confirms the  necessity  to  consider  underground  space  not  only  as  a  capacity  stock,  but  also  as space  of  mobilities (Hoeven  Van  der,  Nes  Van,  2014),  and  a  disputed  resource  to  regulate  (Barles  and Jardel,  2005;  DEEP  CITY Project  ;  Parriaux  et  al.,  2010  ;  Projet  Ville  10D;  Elden,  2013).  In  the  air,  researchers have  mostly  been  working on  climate  issues.  The  identification  and  the  evaluation  of  micro-climates  linked to  anthropisation  (Dubreuil  et al.,  2008)  have  been  studied,  as  well  as  the  circulation  of  pollutants  emission according  to  the  elevation  of buildings  and  to  urban  canopy  configurations  (Maignant,  2007).  In  the perspective  of  a  sustainable development, the  conference  aims  at  grasping  in  a  systemic  way  (reflection, production,  making  of  and  uses  of  the  vertical city  in  three  dimensions),  in  a  multidisciplinary  way,  and through  the  contribution  of  the  experience  of  urban “professionals”,  the  vertical  distribution  of  people  and activities,  the  mobilities  which  are  linking  them,  and  the biophysical  processes  - modified  by  anthropisation - which  are  unfolding  and  make  up  their  environment  and place  to  live.

2.  Themes  of  the  expected  contributions

Contributions  should  deal  with  subjects,  practices,  and  dynamics  that  have  a  clear  vertical  dimension  or that re-investigate  subjects,  practices,  and  dynamics  usually  envisioned  in  a  two-dimensional  space. We  are looking  for  thematic  propositions,  dealing  with  the  city  at  street  level,  above  and/or  underground spaces,  both empirical  and  theoretical,  on  varied  urban  case  studies,  all  over  the  world.
When  possible,  propositions  should  deal  with  the  modes  of  construction  and  with  the  nature  of  the scientific hypotheses  proposed,  and  more  specifically  investigate  the  opportunities  and  limits  of transferability  of hypotheses  usually  developed  for  the  horizontal  city  (gradients,  discontinuity, concentration,  dispersion…)  to  the vertical  dimension.  Contributions  will  enrich  plenary  but  also  parallel and  panel  sessions.

A.  Vertical  urbanisation  and  environment:  risks  and  pressure  on  resources  and  opportunities

Theme  A  allows  to  discuss  the  links  between  vertical  urbanisation  and  environment  through  geo-physical circulations  (air,  water),  the  risks  induced  by  the  growing  verticalisation  of  urbanisation,  the  pressure  on natural resources  and  their  management.  It  therefore  confronts  researchers  working  on  the  urban underground  or surface,  enabling  to  re-articulate  horizontality  and  verticality  to  approach  not  only  the  induced  risks,  but  also the  opportunities  offered  by  vertical  urbanisation  processes.  Verticalisation  might indeed  participate  in  the reduction  of  space  consumption  in  urban  peripheries  and  contribute  to  add  value to  inactive  spaces  (urban roofs)  through  their  transformation  into  potential  resources  (ecosystemic services…).

B.  Representations,  measures  and  imaginaries  of  urban  verticality  (including  panel  session)

The  second  theme  investigates  representations  (lato  sensu)  of  the  vertical  city,  above  and  underground. Reflections  might  deal  with  the  mediums  of  representation,  their  perceptions  or  on  the  measures  and technical tools  developed  to  assess  it.  The  second  perspective,  more  cultural  and/or  artistic,  focuses  on  the production and  reception  of  the  representations  and  imaginaries  of  the  urban  volume  through  the  arts  as well  as literature,  and  also  the  technical  innovations  that  enable  to  see  the  city  through  its  volume  or  the air  (air transport).  It  sheds  light  on  the  contexts  of  production,  the  representation  modes  of  the  vertical  city and  their reception  by  individuals  and  groups  through  time  and  space.
The  second  perspective  investigates  the  question  of  the  visualisation  tools  and  of  their  use  by  various  types of actors  dealing  with  the  city:  how  do  such  tools  participate  in  the  interactions  between  actors?  Does  the growing  use  of  bird-eye  views,  digital  3D  models,  profiles…  transform  the  imagibility  of  the  city  and  hence its projection?  How  are  these  3D  perspectives  articulated  with  2D  views?

C.  Living  (in)  the  vertical  city:  between  discourses  and  practices  of  sociabilities

The  “living  (in)  the  vertical  city”  theme  is  envisioned  according  to  two  approaches:  people’s  lifestyles  and usages  of  space  in  the  vertical  city  and  the  discourses  and  strategies  of  promoters  of  high-rise  residential, office  and  hotel  environments  (public  policies,  real  estate  developers  and  architects).  Social  and  family relations,  practices  of  domestic  and  collective  spaces  in  vertical  housing  and  work  places  are  topics  which allow  exploring  at  once  the  perceptions  and  the  ways  of  living  (mobilities,  sociabilities  in  places  of  residence and  of  work  and  uses  of  domestic  and  public  spaces).  Contributions  on  past  and  present  living  conditions,  in private  and  public  towers  (such  as  French  “grands  ensembles”)  are  welcomed,  as  well  as  questions  linked to the  relation  to  height  in  physiological  and  psychological  terms.  
The  second  approach  allows  discussing  the  role  of  expert  and  political  discourses,  of  regulatory  and economic constraints  associated  with  vertical  housing  and  working,  to  understand  their  impacts  on  the strategies  of  real estate  players  on  the  one  hand  and  on  the  residential  experience  on  the  other.  

D.  Living  together  in  harmony  in  the  vertical  city:  solidarities,  social  grouping,  and  control  

Urban  verticalisation  reveals  new  forms  of  public  space  privatisation,  no  longer  at  street  level  only,  but  also up in  the  air.  The  access  to  such  places  is  restricted  and  revives  the  question  of  the  right  to  the  city. Verticalisation  translates  or  also  allows  avoidance  strategies  for  specific  populations,  social  grouping, securing processes,  and  sometimes  also  control  of  the  urban  space.  How  is  socio-spatial  fragmentation seen  in  its horizontality  augmented  with  vertical  discontinuities?  How  is  it  possible  to  coexist  in  a heterogeneous  and vertical  city?  From  the  Smithsons’  “streets  in  the  air”  (1952)  to  gated  condominiums, what  ideas  is  it  possible to  develop  on  the  possibility  of  a  harmonious  community  life  in  vertical  urban forms:  what  kinds  of  freedom? What  kinds  of  solidarities?  Which  collective  groups?

E.  Urban  functions  and  markets  in  the  vertical  city

Traditionally  studied  in  their  horizontal  dimension,  urban  functions  are  also  adjusted  to  verticality. According  to which  modalities?  Urban  real  estate  markets,  mostly  considered  as  flat,  are  seeing  their  values adjusted  to technical  capacities  and  to  the  views,  the  distinction  or  protection  strategies  that  stimulate  the verticalisation  of real  estate  assets.  
How  do  towers  participate  in  or  reveal  urban  location  choices?  How  do  they  modify  economic  rents?  How do they  contribute  to  economic  interaction  at  various  scales?  Seen  more  and  more  as  financial  assets, towers also  participate  in  fiscal  and  financial  optimization  strategies  of  financial  operators.  Their  locations, forms  and functions  fall  also  within  the  financial  markets  systems.  

F.  Moving  in  the  vertical  city:  re-imagining  accessibility  and  sustainability

This  theme  is  dual:  the  analysis  of  vertical  mobilities  and  networks,  as  well  as  of  planning  policies,  which,  in the  name  of  densification,  rehabilitate  the  construction  of  towers.  Daily  mobilities  are  no  longer  horizontal,  they have  become  more  than  ever  vertical  thanks  to  technical  networks,  which  allow  using  the  various strata  of  the urban  volume  (car  parks,  metros,  travelators,  elevators,  gondolas…).  While  providing  an  access to  places  in 3D, such  infrastructures  and  services  might  put  constraints  on  vertical  urban  development  (air corridors…),  draw new  spaces  of  flows  and  participate  in  redefining  mobilities  and  more  largely  exchanges between  individuals. Second,  solutions  developed  in  the  perspective  of  a  compact  city  to  minimise horizontal  movements  have  to  be re-­‐investigated  in  their  vertical  translation.  Local  authorities  often  choose selective  densification  according  to transport  supply,  which  legitimates  their  agreement  towards  the construction  of  towers.  The  notion  of accessibility,  used  to  translate  the  roughness  of  space,  might  then  be enriched  with  a  vertical  perspective. Roughnesses,  and,  conversely,  connections,  have  to  be  analysed  by articulating  spaces  and  modes  of transport  in  the  three  dimensions  of  the  vertical  city.  

G.  Contested  verticalisation:  landscape,  memory,  and  heritage  (including  panel  session)

Landscape  approaches  (ie:  mediation  between  the  materiality  of  the  city  and  the  individuals  who  are practicing it)  allow  to  analyse  the  multiple  roles  played  by  urban  forms,  which  may  act  as  identity,  memory, as  well  as economic  resources.  The  increasing  number  of  high-rise  developments  in  European  cities  sparked countless debates,  mobilising  stakeholders  that  have  sometimes  diverging  representations  and  interests.
How  is  it  then  possible  to  look  after  the  conflicts  raised  by  the  modification  of  the  urban  landscape  ?  The production  of  skylines  recently  revived  by  their  cultural  use  and  planning  for  vantage  points,  reveals  deep inequalities  in  terms  of  access  for  individuals.  This  theme  deals  finaly  with  regulatory  tools,  and  with stakeholders  (public  and  private,  experts,  political  and  “common”)  who  are  producing  them,  circulating them, welcoming  them,  i.e.  the  ways  they  are  used.  Confronting  the  experiences  carried  out  throughout the  world  on the  making  of  the  vertical  city  allows  putting  into  perspective  the  cases  taken  individually  and identifying  the circulation  of  models  and  practices.  The  aim  is  also  to  investigate  the  governance  of  the urban  volume  as  well as  its  translation  in  operational  urban  planning.  

H.  Thinking  the  3D  city,  in  a  multidisciplinary  way  and  with  practitioners

This  theme  aims  at  investigating  the  theoretical  framework  which  is  or  might  be  used  to  understand  the vertical  city.  The  city  has  long  been  considered  as  an  environment,  a  geometrical  space  and  an entanglement of  territories  in  a  horizontal  perspective.  We  wish  to  discuss  here  the  impact  of  the verticalisation  of urbanization  (the  vertical,  but  also  the  emergence  of  new  horizontal  layers  on  the  social and  human  sciences models  that  formalize  and  try  and  explain  the  urban  structures  and  dynamics.  We  also wish  to  think  the articulation  between  horizontal  and  vertical  and  to  reflect  on  the  planning  tools  of  the vertical  city,  by  stressing the  limits  of  urban  planning,  its  adaptation  and  the  paradigms  with  underpin public  policies  in  the  vertical  city. 





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