Tag Archives: Urban morphology

Teaching Innovation in Urban Morphology


19th February 2020 h: 9.00

Palazzo Mattei di Giove
Via Michelangelo Caetani, 32 – Roma


9.30 Greetings
Anna Maria Giovenale - Faculty of Architecture Dean - Sapienza University
of Roma
9.45 Presentation
Giuseppe Strappa, Epum/Sapienza Partner Coordinator - Sapienza University of Rome
10.00 Interventions
Karl Kropf - Oxford Brookes University
Design as a tool for teaching urban morphology
Malgorzata Hanzl - Lodz University of Technology
The Architecture of the City. Teaching Urban Morphology in Lodz University of Technology, Poland
Teresa Marat-Mendez - Lisbon University Institute
Educate For Sustainability: Urban Form & Ecological Urbanism
Nicola Marzot - Technical University of Delft
The changing role of the architect. Regeneration processes and the teaching of urban morphology
Nadia Charalambous - University of Cyprus
Teaching Urban Morphology through Blended Learning: the EPUM digital platform
12.30 Public Debate


Knotting as a morphological phenomenon

Prof. Giuseppe Strappa

International Journal of Architecture & Planning
Volume 7, Special Issue , pp: 286-313/Published 15 December 2019


This article proposes the study of the Italian Chamber of Deputies transformation (from the first headquarters in Turin, then in Florence and finally in Rome) as a process that starts from the existing buildings and transforms them into a new architectural organism by “knotting”. This term, which effectively indicates, in my opinion, one of the most interesting and fertile phenomena in the modern urban renovation, is not commonly used in urban morphology studies and needs some definition. I will try to clarify, first of all, what I mean by this word.

By “knotting” I mean, in general, the outcome of the constructive action of connecting different elements, or entire systems, to each other in order to shape a spatial node[1] within an architectural structure, often closing a space and tying it to the elements that surround it, usually consisting of a series of rooms. It is the passage, in other words, from a special serial organism to a nodal one through the formation of a central “nodal” space that “knots” the existing structures that become “collaborating”.

Many types of modern buildings are formed by knotting, generated by the dialectic between enclosing and covering a space.

In the ancient world, clear forms of knotting developed with the transformations of the forum and the formation of basilicas.

But the knotting process is above all at the base of the formation of many modern building types characterized by the presence of a central dominant space, where the transition of the open space into a nodal one occurs through the reuse of existing buildings arranged, around courtyards or cloisters surrounded by arcades, as in convents or palaces.

The initial formation of the Italian palazzo, for this is most interesting here, takes place through recasting, renovations, integrations of pre-existing houses. The fundamental process is the overturning of the external routes inside, which transforms a part of the fabric in a building and that reconstructs within it the characters of the urban fabric.

The palazzo is, therefore, a building type predisposed, one could say, to the densification of its center, to the knotting. Note how the knotting process does not consist in the simple covering of spaces, but in a sort of “genetic mutation” that originates new forms of buildings. An obvious example is the formation of large postal buildings at the end of XIX century, through the knotting of serial spaces, reused for offices and services, around the counter hall, a large public hall that becomes a mediation space between city and building.

Many of the largest XIX century postal buildings are organized on layout based on the palazzo type, such as the German ones organized around a vast open Hof (so in Wroclaw, Potsdam) but also protected by a transparent cover, as in Berlin.

In Italy, even at the beginning of the XX century, the same manuals still recommended considering the counter hall as a “spacious courtyard all covered in glass” (Donghi 1905).

[1] By node I mean a singular point of a continuum determined by the intersection of two continuous. The notion of “continuous” can be applied to the different scales, from the building to the territorial one: a “tectonic node” can be constituted by the intersection of two continuous walls; an “urban node” can be constituted by the intersection of two routes. Each component of a structure, connecting with the others, determines a nodality (knot quality) of different degree in relation to the congruence of the relationship established between the components and its scale (CANIGGIA 1979, STRAPPA 1995).

STRAPPA – KNOTTING – ICONARP 29.11 (1) –                                       click here to continue








The elementary part of the city

Renato Capozzi – The elementary part of the city

 CLICK HERE    La parte elementare della città_REV




ABSTRACT – The paper reflects on some methodological and operational experiences carried out in the last century and also on the notion of “elementary part” as a method of construction of the residence in the contemporary city in relationship to the nature. The discourse, moving from the Enlightenment’s antecedents as the Squares and Crescents or through the analysis of some projects by the masters of the Modern Movement – also as a critical review of some of his initial assumptions – tries to classify the practice of construction of the city that renounces to the compact city system made by urban blocks, streets, squares and gardens and offers complex neighbour units with large extension and services and free portions of natural soil inside. This hypothesis, that opposing the nineteenth century city, is manifested in projects and constructions that significantly recover the principles of the classical city in a renewed relationship with nature / landscape and with the dialectics between residence and civil centres. An idea of “open and polycentric” city able to contrast the spread of the nebulized city, but without proposing a mere densification but identifying certain repeatable units able to absorb the fragments of the sprawl of the contemporary post-metropolis. Furthermore, this hypothesis can be applied also in some areas of the consolidated city to reintroduce, in its core, selected portions of nature.
The proposed classification is divided into the following sections:
– The classical cities as polycentric city;
– The compact city as unique or whole artifact;
– The city of the Enlightenment: from the square to the courtyard blocks;
– The city of the Modern Movement: utopias, principles and methods;
– The new dimension: quartal, quadras, urban sectors;
– Examples by the masters: Le Corbusier/Hilberseimer/Mies/May;
– The neighbourhood as a self-sufficient part: Libera/Cosenza;
– The idea of the city as set of defined parts: Rossi/Aymonino;
– The idea of polycentric city and elementary part: Monestiroli;
– Development prospects in the periphery and in the consolidated city: Bisogni.
The suggestion structure is defined by investigation of the logical urban composition and by paradigmatic examples taken as reference.       CLICK HERE    La parte elementare della città_REV