URBAN CORPORIS - Call For Abstracts

Urban Corporis | CALL FOR ABSTRACTS 

Call for abstracts for a new series of book named "Urban Corporis" - A book of Architecture, Art, Philosophy and Urban studies to nourish the Urban Body. 

Deadline for entries: until MARCH 23 2018 

Urban Corporis invites Authors to submit at urbancorporis@gmail.com an abstract of maximum 1000 characters (SPACES INCLUDED), outlining the aims and the originality of the contribution.

For Italian readers: The 1000 characters Abstract can be in ITALIAN. If selected, the full paper must be in English.

All submissions must be in English


Field of intervention can be:

● Architecture, urban planning

● Architecture and Art

● Art and the city

● Philosophy of the urban areas

● metropolitan sociology

● Art as a tool to improve urban

● City and Psychology

● Wanna suggest a new one? submit your ideas at urbancorporis@gmail.com Of course the above mentioned fields can be intertwined between them. 


URBAN CORPORIS #1 The book is going to be divided as follows:


Section1 Articles,critics,descriptions- call for abstracts

Section 2 essays, short papers,innovAtion- call for abstracts


- in this section, for this number, are going to be published the outcome of the call for art named “Urban Dissections”.

- if you think to have an interesting artwork that could coupe with the general scope of this number, feel free to submit it urbancorporis@gmail.com , SAME DEADLINE.

- Format A3 vertical. 300 dpi.

- brief bio (300 words), brief descrption of the work (300 works)


Here some working areas. You may be influenced by the main Keyword and influenced or not by the example texts. Creativity is all yours. 



a)  As for architectural section, anatomical drawings have been based on a series of visual devices intended to clearly show the dissected plane. Leonardo Da Vinci’s studies are among the most commonly cited in this respect, such as his drawing of a human cranium, which combines aspects from plan, elevation, and section into a single perspective. Pioneers in the medical field include Andreas Vesalius’  De Humani Corporis  Fabrica (1543), where unclothed and unravelled bodies are depicted in allegorical poses which mimic living subjects: these were the famous flayed and skinned bodies which would subsequently become fashionable in the Baroque period under the guise of sculptures, often consisting in chemically treated corpses. Despite difficulties in verifying any relation between these anatomical representations and architectural practice, respective drawing techniques indicate that  «section was born as a retrospective instrument rather than one of perspective, an analytical device rather than a generative instrument». In all probability, the act of recording and revealing the existing conditions of a body had a part in integrating section as an increasingly common instrument in architectural practice.   

b)  As stated by F. Privitera, the anatomical dissection depicted by Rembrandt in The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp represents  «a metaphor for the will to fully investigate and probe reality and the hidden truths beneath the surface of all things» . The doctor demonstrates the workings of the muscles and tendons unveiled through dissection. The students that are present  «exemplify, through their behaviour, the process of translating observation of images into intuition, comprehension, and knowledge of reality». Likewise, architectural section, the «scalpel of architecture», appears to be the better suited analytical and compositional instrument to «gauge the depths of a construction». As a result, the privileged perspective is the observer’s, as he or she may see the properties hidden under the «skin» of an architectural body, as well as understand its relations to the outer world.   



a) Through a new «alliance with the ground and thus also with nature, experiences evoking a stratified city, able to confront the complexities and challenges of the present, are combined».  What is a section? In architectural drawing, a section is typically described as a cut throughout the body of a building, perpendicular to the horizon line. A section drawing is one that shows a vertical cut along a main axis, an object or a building. Section simultaneously reveals internal and external profiles, interiors and materials, the membrane separating parts, offering an otherwise impossible view of the object. This representational technique takes on a variety of forms and graphic images, developed to illustrate the diverse forms of architectural knowledge: from the construction of sections which employ solid fills, to specific construction details that show materials through lines and graphic conventions. In an orthogonal section, the interior may also be described through elevations of the primary architectural surfaces, whereas the combination of section and perspective describes the entirety of the space considered depth-wise. Since section begins by visualizing what cannot be directly seen, it provides a unique form of knowledge: it illustrates the exchange between the various aspects of human experience and that of architectural space. This is rendered explicit by the intersection of the scale of the construction with human proportion, as manifested in the vertical dimension characterising cross section. What are the paradoxes of section, however? The first contradiction lies in the double nature of the term itself: section refers to both a representational technique and a series of architectural practices referring to the vertical organisation and construction of buildings and of the city. Despite the two meanings often being used interchangeably, their mutual relationship will be clarified in order to examine section’s historical trajectory, from its origin as a representation mode to its development as a series of spatial, tectonic, and performative design procedures. 



a) «The new city is defined by its diverse figurations, in an interval which is continuously hurdling and incorporating the ground line».  Archigram’s Multifunctional Centre for Monte Carlo was presented in the 1969 international competition, organised with the aim of constructing a large, multipurpose structure with an ample garden. Half of the project is subterranean, covered by green roofing, where omnipresent nature «domesticates» the new location. Entertainment features are disseminated throughout the park: camouflage vehicles, rock-shaped vending machines for bathing suits, and telephone booths are scattered everywhere. The piece thus represents a fun pop-project, dedicated to the leisure of Monaco’s wealthy citizens.  «The architecture forgoes presenting itself as a finished product, it rejects monumentalism of any kind, and lays itself out onto the landscape, weaving its way through the dunes on the beach. The building’s purpose is not to display itself and its shape, but rather that of materialising events, according to random, unpredictable sequences» .  The project would ultimately never be accomplished, nonetheless it promotes a social and therapeutic way of conceiving architecture which would subsequently be resumed by Rem Koolhaas, as well as by B.I.G. (cf. Europa City).  We must  «exceed the city».  As previously noted, the Sixties and Seventies witnessed the overlapping of extreme architectural suggestions, drawing from the utopia of megastructures and from the experiments with radical architecture. Consequently, projects for managerial and commercial multipurpose Complexes emerged, characterised by their transforming the urban area into infrastructure by easily penetrating it and creating new, autonomous city cores on it, piercing the constructed mass at different heights and in different directions. Especially emblematic elements include the mix between nomadism and mega-structural suggestions in Paul Rudolph’s  «evolving city» and in the «Continuous Monument» by the Italian group Superstudio, the negation/sublimation of the street proposed by the Archizoom group and, above all, the renown projects by Yona Friedman, who in 1958 introduced the extremely provocative theory – openly defined «appalling»  by Kevin Lynch – of «lifting» the newer parts of the city several feet above the ground and the historic centre, in order to obtain freely usable space for pedestrians at ground level. It is evident how any strong distinction between activities disappears in these projects, the various levels are assimilated, determining the presence of residential intervals of varying extent. Urban complexity is sought out in the accumulation of functions. Such complexity must be pursued by contemporary designers as well to further investigate what these new collective spaces should be and what they could be like, in terms of Sections.  Citizens of a metropolis are in constant movement, an act which must be examined more closely. As stated by A. De Cesaris,  «The different circumstances which the building among the dunes of Monte Carlo seems ready to host and the different combinations are thus displayed in a progression which resembles film sequences» . Such sequences establish the principle of movement, which, as will be seen in certain projects, not only makes architectures more dynamic, but also transforms them into section and landscape infrastructure. 



a) Section may also be constructed from a dynamic point of observation, while travelling on transport infrastructure (e.g. on elevated roads, on pedestrian walkways that lead to the natural landscape), making landscape the element of composition in perspective. Perception in motion is determined by variations in the observation point, by a progression of scenes (buildings or nature), and by the loss of the limits of vision themselves. As follows, landscape becomes a part of Section. Before introducing and describing the two projects by Le Corbusier that are emblematic for the comprehension of landscape as section, a fundamental passage in his doctrine must be considered. It arises from a photograph and a comment, in which he states: «Vestige Romain. Cet aqueduc, hors de l’échelle des maisons, détruira l’harmonie du site? Mais non! L’aqueduc a fait le site!»  Transl.: « Roman vestige. Should this aqueduct, in comparison to the scale of the houses, destroy the harmony of the site? But no! The aqueduct makes the site!»  The latter is a key concept in successfully understanding the Rio and Algiers projects. The structure itself, therefore, weaves its way into the landscape and declares its existence. Such a statement stands as the liaison between the urban experiments taken into consideration. Rio De Janeiro – Contemplation in perspective.  After his 1929 trip to Brasil and a conference in Rio de Janeiro, Le Corbusier is entrusted with a series of ideas by the local administration. Struck by the land’s orography and the degradation of the  favelas , he begins to outline a project on a territorial scale with the aim of finding solutions for and restoring the poorest areas in the city, while being seamlessly installed and integrated within the natural landscape. One of Le Corbusier’s first drawings in perspective depicts a very long, ribbon-like structure, wherein the methodology he employs recalls that of Roman aqueducts. Landscape thus becomes visible in relation to grand architecture. However, it is not just landscape  tout court : even intimate landscapes are manifested in his architecture, which may be surmised from two other, earlier sketches, depicting a man seated alongside the bay of Rio and, subsequently, the same man admiring the same view while seated inside a house. The interpretation is immediate: «the room is placed in front of the site. The whole landscape enters the room». Hence, nature becomes the fourth wall to the room and the architecture sections the context entirely. «Section is necessary to communicate with the outside world, to manage light, ventilation, and the correct bioclimatic functioning of the building. Moreover, interior and exterior appear simultaneously in section, an opening in the shell captures a piece of landscape inside the structure.» 



a) As stated by L. F. Di Francesco,  «Landscape is made thus by the structuring of architectural devices which make it «visible», either obstructing direct perception, dynamically organising observation, or due to the presence of the architecture contained in the representation.» Algiers , example du valorisation du sol.  The projects for Algiers (or Plan Obus) are seven (labelled with letters in succession: a, b, c...) and they are divided into a first general project and six smaller ones, which cover progressively smaller areas of what may be called a masterplan. During his travels to Algiers, Le Corbusier was struck by the natural landscape, undoubtedly suited to the project ideas he had already experimented with in Rio. He was also impressed with the local culture, city life, and, particularly, the Casba. In his integration project, the latter figures as a focal point which is never denied connections, as Le Corbusier considers it of key importance in ensuring the preservation of local customs and social aggregation. The aim of the project was to solve the issue of rising population for the following 20 years. The architect had been forward-looking in this respect: Algiers’ population did indeed triple throughout the following decades. The peculiarity of the Algiers projects lies in their principle of instalment, which is a Section/infrastructure. As such, Le Corbusier stabilises his masterplan through the existing major roads in the city of Algiers. His intent to hybridise and interconnect his system to a larger one is immediately evident: his aim was to create a settlement loop which would improve the degree of exchange between areas and inhabitants. He wanted to find a solution to the difficulty in reaching the city centre and the harbour on the existing streets, also due to their congestion. A further key concept for Le Corbusier may be thus surmised: Circulation. As a matter of fact, everything is “circulation” in this project and it precisely circulation that solves a variety of issues within the city. It is clear from the start that every building designed is also a street, recalling the infrastructure of a Roman aqueduct. The (new) city centre may be reached by car or on foot from any part of the city. The central building is once more considered and analysed in greater depth in project B, where it is made clear, by analysing analogies and differences, that building H is none other than an «urban condenser»: it concentrates a variety of functions (including contemplation of the landscape) and signals pedestrian walkways and vehicle routes from beginning to end, on different levels and planes of section. In this project everything is perspective, movement, and section. 



a) Surface  «We must turn our attention «downwards» to consider a surface which cannot be defined as either homogenous and abstract, a mere support for buildings, or a place of fluidity and mobility, with no ties to the inhabitant’s bodiliness» . As recalled by B. Secchi in his article The Ground Project , published in  Casabella no. 520 in 1986 , «we must not think of the ground and its functions as either «engulfed» by «city-buildings» with shiny, pseudo-urban surfaces, or which are planned as though they might be defined by a simple «net» design, with geometrically drawn borders rather than tangible spatial connotations» . The ground surface, too often ignored by architecture, is a structural element for the city. The ground may be considered a mostly horizontal architectural plane, a  «conformation that qualifies the «base» of an empty volume, where inhabiting, travelling, occupying, or crossing a space occur» .   



a) Born in New York City in 1943, Gordon Matta-Clark studied architecture at Cornell University in Ithaca from 1961 to 1966 and will be hereby analysed for a set of macrostructural interventions: building-cuts. The artist, however, did not just apply his cuts to architectures and a notable artistic production shows his involvement with photography and words. Indeed, «the language contained in some notes, writings, and letters does not appear solely in its usual referential and denotative form, but also as a plastic element, in which the artist focuses and channels his dissective action. At the same time as his interventions in cities and constructed environments, Matta-Clark also questioned other viable forms, configurations, and possibilities of space. In addition to his building-cuts, he carried out veritable word-cuts». As recognised by M. E. Minuto, within the scope of architecture, building façades and interiors, physical places, transform, in Matta-Clark’s eyes, into sensitive surfaces ideally capable of «absorbing, retaining, and reflecting the artist’s intention, his gesture and passage». Subversiveand dissociative are two adjectives which fully define the cutting process, the basis for artisticproductions both architectural and textual. In both cases, the common denominator is precisely the social and interactive dimension between individuals, to the point that they appear to be «empirically and conceptually joined by the act of cutting». As such, it is easier to grasp what the more intimate meaning of section was – for the artist – in relation to his works, i.e. «the possibility [...] critically rereading his work from a reversed perspective, that is by analysing architecture as a text and words as space. [...] Matta-Clark, while breaking of the continuity of established architectural orders, opening rifts in the temporal fabric and spatial order of buildings, simultaneously re-elaborated and re-constructed new perceptive, experiential, and cognitive dimensions. Building-dissections, which are also tangible and transient interventions performed on interiors». The artist’s architectural dissections represent gestures which continuously strive towards a balance between mass-void and destruction-creation, where dissection becomes a tectonic and tactile action which generates sculptures on and in-between the urban fabric. 


Here the link to the call: https://www.facebook.com/notes/urban-corporis/call-for-abstracts/980336485463805/ 

facebook page: @urbancorporis

URBAN CORPORIS - Call For Abstracts