Urbanogram: Ghost Dimensions

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Ghost Dimensions

Urbanogram: Journal of the Built Environment 2022 URBANOGRA M
Locations of topics treated in articles Places of origin or current residency of authors

Ghost Dimensions

There is something moving and mysterious about being in a place, and imagining what once existed in this very spot. The reality that this space - this plaza, this building, this piece of earth, has in all likelihood served a very diferent purpose than it does today. The bricks and mortar may have been preserved, but the occupancy has dramatically evolved. The culture, the people, the way we value this space and how we utilize it, has changed over time - and will, no doubt, continue to change. It is humbling to remember that the buildings we build today will not function the same way indefnitely - and will fnd new life adapted as something else (or make way for something else) far sooner than we care to admit.

This theme, of “ghosts” in the system, became the jumping of point for this year’s publication. In a variety of inquiries, our writers explore the invisible layers which continue to haunt our built environment. How do moments in history linger in physical spaces - in both tangible and intangible manifestations? How does the experience, the feeling, or the lingering energy of a place continue to be

addressed - with celebration, with denial, with small whispers of what once was, or grand recreations of that which no longer exists? How does the urban fabric refect the inputs that shaped its current form? And how can physical dimensions be measured against the phantom dimension of time?

This issue invites writers from various cultural backgrounds to address the abstract components of architectural history at diferent scales. In order to reveal the unnoticed facets of these living environments, our writers seek to read-between-the-lines, to unravel complicated origins and conficting narratives, and to explore the underlying systems which shape our historic built environment.

3 Preface

Urbanogram: Ghost Dimensions

Table of Contents

Preface: Ghost Dimensions

Cassandra Osterman

Introductory Note

Edward Denison

Decolonising the Modern Wastescape

Exploring methods for recovering the abandoned landfll of Alto Hospicio by applying radical indigenous knowledge

Francisca Pimentel

Of Ghosts and Orphans

Traces of local architects in the new city of Jerusalem in the early modern era & the challenges of architectural historiography on the fringe of the empire

Adi Bamberger Chen

Disappearing Ecosystems

Wetland fragmentation caused by rapid urbanisation

Lavenya Parthasarathy

Heldenplatz: Obscured refexivity and spatial appropriation

Stefan Gruber

Invisible Strings

The appropriation of public space in Parque Caballero

Martin Alvarez

2-3 7 8-17
30-41 42-53 54-63

Rathbone Market as Intangible Heritage

Why is protection crucial for local communities?

The Ghost of European Cities Present

A conceptual analysis of the relationship between urban formality and informality in Europe in the context of time

Venice, Behind the Curtains

The glory and the ghost

Re-Measuring Lost Li-Long

Creating a dialogue from the past to the future

Longhua Gu Rome

From fantasma to fantasy: How to give new interpretations to modern heritage in between existing and new narrations

Editorial Team Imprint 64-75 76-85 86-91 92-97 98-111 112-113 114

Introductory Note

It is a great pleasure and privilege to write this short note to accompany the publication of this second edition of Urbanogram ‘Ghost Dimensions’. As a journal conceived within the orbit of the MA Architecture and Historic Urban Environments programme at the Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL) and now expanding to create its own constellation of professional networks, ideas and knowledge sharing, this is an outstanding initiative that bears exceptional testimony to the strength of collective and collaborative pedagogies within and beyond academia. The creativity and enterprise of those involved in this journal, from editors to guest writers, is an inspiration for past, current and future students, as well as academics and practitioners engaged in history and the built environment.

‘Ghost Dimensions’ continues the journal’s focus on critical and original ways of researching and writing about the built environment, especially contexts and conditions that have previously escaped scholarly or professional attention.

It is particularly heartening to see the themes of coloniality, the environment and equity feature prominently in this edition through a diverse range of subjects and approaches. While these themes have for too long appeared like apparitions in the canon of architectural and urban history, Urbanogram is to be commended for casting a light on these and other similarly marginalised topics, and for championing a more plural approach to the way we engage with urban history in theory and in practice. Congratulations to all those involved in producing this second edition of Urbanogram – may it be just the second step in a very long, prolifc and exciting journey for everyone involved.

The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

Decolonising the Modern Wastescape

Exploring methods for recovering the abandoned landfll of Alto Hospicio by applying radical indigenous knowledge.

Abstract: Modernity established a desacralising understanding of nature, allowing the exploitation, privatisation, and transnationalisation of natural resources to pursue extensive industrial development, simultaneously increasing the production and disposal of waste. Alto Hospicio, an ancient feld of indigenous transit, is a desert land in Chile where rubbish, landflls, and informal settlements coexist. Their friction and confrontation are a continuous manifest against capitalist slavery, which fnds here a blind spot where to hide its waste from surrounding cities. This article is the result of a design exercise based on the older rubbish dump of the city, constrained by the urban fabric and open-air sports pitches. An abandoned walled ground, apparently inactive, whose latent decomposition expels gases with silent yet catastrophic consequences for life. As a manifesto of resistance from capitalist apathy, the design questions modern waste approaches, evaluating new methods to face technical challenges, and re-learning traditional indigenous structures to reclaim the landfll as a new collective garden. An alternative to reconcile our detached relationship with nature, re-introducing colonised ecological indigenous knowledge.


[1] Fernández (2011), p. 10.

[2] The news, widely reported nationally and internationally, exposed the clandestine clothing warehouses in the Atacama Desert as a sideefect of fast fashion.

[3] In Chile, the local newspaper El Mercurio de Valparaíso pointed out in 1957 that the population had to accept (with patriotism) pollution as an inevitable sacrifce for the country’s development.

[4] Smead (2017), p. 57-63.

Capitalism has made economic growth possible through an urban-industrial metabolism which, through the exploitation and privatisation of natural resources, has increased the consumption of products and, consequently, the production of waste.1 Therefore, it is not surprising that news such as the so-called Clothes Cemetery 2 in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile shakes the population to remind us of the efects of the Anthropocene and the profound subalternity relationships on this and other localities.The media exposure partially revealed the rubbish problems in the nearby town of Alto Hospicio, which hides a much cruder and long-standing reality, which emerges from time to time, but whose impact seems to be transitory and

buried under the placebo efect of global capitalism. Indeed, despite the dangerous consequences for the environment, rubbish has been considered a progress symbol, required for our development. 3


Confronting this reality requires a brief review of the history of waste and its consequences. As recapped by Laura Smead, in the chapter History and Reality of Waste4, the frst recorded landfll was located on the island of Crete (1500 BC), where rubbish was deposited in large earth-covered pits. This policy was gradually replicated in other regions, designating collectors on the city’s outskirts, and

Francisca Elizabeth Pimentel

prohibiting waste dumping in streets and public spaces. However, this primary approach was limited to the defnition of artisanal disposal sites but was far from understanding the sanitary problems related to the agglomeration and decomposition of waste. According to Smead5, it was not until the second half of the 19th century that the frst systematic waste management plans were implemented, which organised waste collection, and programmed burial and incineration. Still, the formulation of sustainable practices only came to the fore in the 1980s 6. It was oriented to reduce the biodegradable content of municipal solid waste (MSW) and to reuse methane gas – released during the decomposition process – for electricity generation.

However, the application of such measures is structured in a centre-periphery relationship that goes beyond their geographic-spatial location and refers to the ethnic, racial, class, and cultural aspects that determine the fnal disposal and management of our waste.7 This dichotomous centre-periphery relationship is the expression of the “modern colonial world-system and its capitalist economy” structure8 , whose application to the overproduction of waste establishes what I call coloniality of waste, and which is expressed in four aspects: (1) the modern conception of waste, (2) the defnition of disposal areas, (3) the application of sustainable measures and waste recovery, and (4) the closure of landflls.

First, the massive exploitation of resources and over-production of waste is evidence of a progressive objectifcation of nature and a mechanism that has impoverished the territory, city and community life, in pursuit of anonymous mass production, without quality or attributes. Contrary to the ancestral human-nature reciprocity, which uses waste as part of a natural and interrelated cycle.

Second, the world-system of global capitalism is structured by formulating dominant central regions that accumulate capital by exporting extractive and polluting activities to the periphery 9. As an ideological and political axis of domination, this logic is replicated locally in Chile, displacing MSW from capital cities to vulnerable territories. As a result, the landfll10 becomes a segregating element that oppresses the bodies and lives of those around it, exposing them and their territories to the most severe environmental degradation. Disarticulating, in its path, forms of community life.

Third, although proper waste management and recovery are fundamental for sustainable development, such practices are mainly applied in central regions, while in the periphery, a large part of MSW is still dumped in low-standard or illegal landflls, leading to profound and multidimensional environmental and social impacts.

And fourth, the tension around the landfll emerges not only during its formulation and lifetime but also during and after the ending of its activities. Even if the use of sustainable strategies might seem obvious to us today to ensure its appropriate landfll closure –including the remediation of these spaces into urban parks or golf pitches –, the end of many of them is still developed under an inadequate environmental management plan, which is aggravated in the side-line of the city. 12

In Chile, solid waste production reached 8,177,448 tonnes in 2018 for a population of 16,883,086 inhabitants, which represents 1.19 kg of waste per inhabitant per year.13 This is deposited in 124 active disposal sites throughout the country Image1, of which only 30 correspond to sanitary landflls.14 These sites continue to be perceived as residual areas that should be hidden, some of them abandoned by local health authorities without facing the severe loss of natural ecosystems and without considering the rights of those who live near them. Although there is a national plan for waste valorisation through recycling, composting, co-processing, and reduction of hydrobiological resources, its implementation is mainly concentrated in the Metropolitan Region15, while poorer communes continue to deal with inefcient waste management, assuming it with resignation.

The problem is that the rubbish refuses to disappear and become invisible, and Alto Hospicio – as has become evident over the last few months – is a clear example of this.


Alto Hospicio is a desert land where rubbish, rubbish dumps and informal settlements coexist. The city is located in desertic northern Chile, next to the capital port of Iquique. Both are detached by the coastal mountain but connected by a single main road which collapses at peak hours since most of Alto Hospicio’s source of employment is in Iquique, thus transforming Alto Hospicio into a dormitory suburb and backyard of Iquique.

[5] Smead (2017), p. 60.

[6] Smead (2017), p. 62.

[7] Aníbal Quijano reformulated the centre-periphery conceptualisation to refer to the colonial power relationship between dominator-dominated. See Quijano (2008), p. 11-20.

[8] Mingolo (2008), p. 230.

[9] Quijano and Fernández (2011), p. 16.

[10] By landflls, I also include sanitary landflls.

[11] Smead (2017), p. 63.

[12] In Europe, there are 150,000 old and abandoned landflls, equivalent to 300,000 hectares. See Sustainable Use of Former or Abandoned Landflls Network (2018).

[13] MMA (2020), p. 485.

[14] SUBDERE (2019), p. 13.

[15] MIDESO, 2015; MMA (2020), p. 508-528.

9 Decolonising the Modern Wastescape

[Image 1] Overlay of active disposal sites in areas of distribution of the main indigenous peoples before the arrival of European settlers (in grey).

(1) Sanitary landflls (2) Landflls

Image by the author (2021).

Image based on SUBDERE, Actualización de la Situación por Comuna y por Región en Materia de RSD y Asimilables. Chile: Programa Nacional de Residuos Sólidos (2019).

Despite the distance, Alto Hospicio has quickly become a highly populated residential area of immigrant industrial workers due to the low cost of rent and land.

Initially, this territory was a place of exchange between indigenous peoples from the coast and the interior until the expansion of the Inca domain and the subsequent arrival of the Spanish colonisers encouraged the exploitation of this land to extract silver. With the decline of mining production, the region became a transit area for freight trains carrying minerals from the saltpetre ofces to the port of Iquique and vice versa. The frst inhabitants of Alto Hospicio were Aymara families who arrived during the 1950s to establish their agricultural and livestock plots 16. However, due to the high rental costs of Iquique, these were gradually replaced by large land takeovers and autoconstruction, mainly by low-income, indigenous and immigrant groups. In response, the government implemented new social housing and urban infrastructure policies to curb the high rates of poverty, unemployment, and crime.

[16] Guerra and Corvalán (2016), p. 6.

[17] The problem of microdumps has been tackled by defning a network of public spaces and squares which, due to a lack of vegetation, street furniture and design quality, have failed to curb the pollution of the urban fabric.

[18] Alto Hospicio Environment Ofcer (2021). To a large extent, many problems are due to Iquique building the dump in the territory that would later become Alto Hospicio. Its administration has generated a series of problems between the two municipalities. It was only in 2017 that the consultancy “Estudio de Suelo Terreno Ex Vertedero, A. Hospicio” was developed to determine the soil quality of the land in the camp adjacent to the Bajo Molle landfll and its impact on its neighbours. See SERVIU I Region (2021).

[19] Municipality of Alto Hospicio (2020).

Inefcient waste management has marked the development of Alto Hospicio since its foundation. Poor control of MSW and limited environmental awareness have facilitated clandestine dumps – cluttering squares and waste sites within the city17 and a series of unsuccessful experiences related to the design of three landflls Image 2. Designed and built in 1990, the frst landfll site Bajo Molle (1) was created by the Municipality of Iquique to house its waste. The early encounter between the urban fabric with the site forced its closure in 2000, Image3 committing Iquique to a twice-yearly gas emission control until 2020. However, this was not conducted correctly or periodically18. In response, a concrete perimeter wall was built as a reactive measure to protect and prevent the community’s free access, and to regulate (without success) the proliferation of the informal camp that since 2007 was installed on its edges, taking advantage of its abandonment. In its place, the El Boro landfll (2) was designed 12.6 km far from Bajo Molle to receive the waste from both cities. However, the current proximity between El Boro and the urban fabric harms the population, forcing both municipalities to consider the future of the landfll and the creation of a new one, called La Perdíz (3), on the outskirts of the city19. In addition to these, there are multiple illegal dumps scattered on the empty land, inside and outside the city.

10 Urbanogram: Ghost Dimensions
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Of Ghosts and Orphans

Traces of Local Architects in the New City of Jerusalem in the Early Modern Era & The Challenges of Architectural Historiography on the Fringe of the Empire

Abstract: This study, inspired by postcolonial and post-structural theories, attempts to highlight the difculty of conducting architectural research in early-modern Jerusalem, a setting in which there are gaps in the historical record. One particular gap – the practice of local architects – is portrayed through two characterisations: Orphans - existing buildings which are historiographically detached from their genealogy – and Ghosts - individuals assumed to have practiced architecture, yet their existence appears only in traces. The study wishes to explore why local architects disappeared from the historiography of early-modern Jerusalem. The methodologies include a narration of the fragments which were found during a literature review, archival research, site visits, interviews and correspondence with scholars and archivists. The study suggests that local architects were overlooked due to orientalist perceptions, disappearance of evidence and inaccessibility or illegibility of documents. Therefore, it recommends institutional collaborations and methods which acknowledge the historian’s subjectivity in future research.


“The Italian Archaeologist Ermete Pierotti, a poet, a historian, an architect, and an orphan, wrote in his book Ancient Tombs in North Jerusalem that one night, in February 1865, an eastern wind from the desert arrived and covered Jerusalem in a light mixture of salt and sand. Panic spread. Both the city elders and its dead did not remember such an awkward storm.” 1

In these lines the author conjures up foreign gazes, professions before their modern specialization, architectures, histories, and stories all blended; orphans, ghosts, and oriental storms that occasionally envelop the city and bury stories.

This paper attempts to touch on these experiences of late nineteenth century Jerusalem

and to highlight the difculty of conducting research in a setting in which such storms have left gaps in the historical record. One particular gap – the practice of local architects – is portrayed in detail through a guiding question: why did local architects disappear from the historiography of early-modern Jerusalem?

The study opens with the chapter Orphans, defning the term orphan in relation to Jerusalem’s architectural historiography. The chapter Libraries attempts to observe how the historical literature produced the orphan condition. In Archives, the challenge of tracing local architects in archives will be presented. The last chapter, Ghosts, will discuss the implications of the partial evidence.

[1] Shalev (1991), p. 387. Translated by the author. The Hebrew word ‘Ruach’ relates both to wind and to the spirit of the dead. Adi Bamberger Chen [Image 1] Bezalel Compound, front view of the southern building, nowadays the Jerusalem Artists House Gallery. The pattern of the roof parapet and its surrounding wall mirrors the shape of the city’s ancient walls. The crenelated parapet recalls a period when buildings outside the city walls needed protection against road gangs and thieves. Image by the author (2019).


The Story of The Buildings

Twin buildings in the city centre of Jerusalem were once a solitary orphanage, far from the walled city.2 It was in the nineteenth century, before Jerusalem broke out beyond its walls and a modern city began to emerge. In 1908, the Jewish National Fund3 bought these buildings from Efendi Abu-Shacker and transformed them into Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts.4 Today one of the buildings is home to the Architecture Department of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. The second building hosts an art gallery.

As a formative art institution, the Academy has kept its documents in ofcial archives.5 However, the story of the building’s inception was left vague in these sources. Consequently,

Bezalel’s architecture school was left without its architect and the orphanage has in its own right become an orphan

Another nineteenth century orphan is the Ticho House, today an art gallery, and, in the past, the house of painter Anna Ticho.6 A former resident of the house, the author Miriam Harry, named the house Haga Rashid Castle. However, the identity of Haga Rashid who presumably commissioned the building is not clear. Whether it was the Arab landowner Haj Rashid Nashashibi or the Russian citizen Michael Sheikhashiri/Michael Askir, is uncertain.7

More obscure than the commissioner is its architect. It may be possible that the Persian

[2] Kroyanker (1985).

[3] Also known as KKL.

[4] Ofrat Friedlander, in: Shilo-Cohen (1982).

[5] File L42 in the Central Zionist Archives, and containers 216-252 in the Jerusalem Municipality Archives.

[6] Kroyanker (1985).

[7] Freundlich (2014).

Of Ghosts and Orphans

contractor Yazdi, who probably participated in the construction of the nearby Russian Compound, designed the building.8 But it is just as possible not to have been him.

Of the Jerusalem Houses Pharaohn, Francis and Kazazya - no books were published, no well-known artists left their traces, and no recognized cultural institutions were housed to safeguard its documentation. Perhaps their entitled names - survived by word of mouth and through British tax registers - seem to be the only commemoration of their inhabitants.9

However, the physical appearance of the houses embodies hints of their past. Architectural historian David Kroyanker argues that their gable-ended roof originated “either in Turkey and the Balkan, or in German rural houses”.10 Kroyanker implies that these houses were planned by the same architect, an architect familiar with Turkish and Balkan designs. What other spectacular houses did he build in the Ottoman Empire?

The Story behind The Story

These buildings located outside the historic walls of old Jerusalem are estimated to have been built in the second half of the nineteenth century, or, at most, in the early-twentieth century. In this period, as the result of political, social, and cultural changes,11 Jerusalem’s landscape was transformed as the city expanded beyond its historic boundary – introducing new typologies and new technologies.12

In this vortex of exchanges, the story of the construction of the presented buildings remained vague. Together with hundreds of buildings they have become what Kroyanker called “anonymous dwelling architecture”,13 but what this research calls orphans: existing buildings which serve as a living testimony of the city’s architectural development, yet detached from their genealogy – from the story of those who designed them, and from other buildings in their author’s oeuvre.

The analogy from the semantic world of kinship suggests that any appreciation of these buildings is very much infuenced by their separation from a genealogy, as demonstrated in the Tree of Architecture by Banister Fletcher, and in the attempts of the National Architecture Renaissance Movement to “codify Ottoman architecture as a rational aesthetic discipline”.14

Urbanogram: Ghost Dimensions
[8] Shalmon (1991). [9] Kroyanker (1985). [10] Kroyanker (1985), pp. 223225. Translated by the author. [11] Meir-Meril (2010). [12] Fouchs (1998). [13] Kroyanker (1998), p. 15. Translated by the author. [14] Bozdoğan (2001), p. 22. [Image 2] Ticho House, interior view. On the back wall of the exhibited belongings of the Ticho couple; the painter Anna Ticho and her husband, the eye doctor, Albert Ticho. Image by the author (2019).
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Disappearing Ecosystems

Wetland Fragmentation Caused by Rapid Urbanisation

Abstract: The Pallikaranai Wetland is the last surviving wetland ecosystem in the city of Chennai. As Chennai accelerates towards urbanisation, the importance of the environment and natural resources is continuously neglected. In the last 50 years the Pallikaranai Wetland has shrunk to an alarming one tenth of its size, into a forgotten echo of a once biodiversity-rich, thriving habitat. The article explores the current role of the wetland in the built environment by analysing and unraveling the complexities that the wetland faces as the city expands. The tension between natural infrastructure and architecture holds potential to conceptualise these bufer zones, creating a large system of architectural landscape integration. The vision aims to reintegrate the wetland as a recognised layer within the urban fabric by initiating a harmonious relationship between human and nature, contributing to the enhancement of the ecological condition of the wetland habitats and creating liveable environments.


With more than 50% of the world’s population now living in cities, this progress towards urbanisation has transformed the urban landscape. Embedded within the heart of the multi-layered composition of a city is its network of green-blue infrastructure. Every city is characterised by a unique network of greenblue infrastructure which holds it together like an invisible glue. Historically, urban centres have been founded based on the natural availability of green-blue infrastructure, as it is key to basic survival. Early settlements have formed on the basis that there is fertile land and water bodies accessible nearby. As a city develops, the fundamental need for the greenblue network has been forgotten.

“Cities are a relatively recent phenomenon with a buried history. Not only are they built, ‘on top of earlier cities,’ but also many earlier cities were built on top of wetlands, such as London, Paris, St. Petersburg, Berlin, Chicago…”.1 Most cities have developed and evolved with wetlands at their heart. Wetlands provide

easy access to water and rich agricultural land. Throughout history, proximity and approach to water have been key factors in human settlement. Wetlands play a critical role in providing freshwater, improving water quality, regulating climate, mitigating storm surges, supporting biodiversity and acting as a carbon sponge. Despite the ecological importance of wetlands, as cities transitioned from a largely natural landscape towards a more built-up setting, the original habitats that existed within these environments have since been squeezed out. In order to accommodate to the continuous urban sprawl of cities, many of these wetlands have been drained and built on entirely, leaving behind only degraded fragments. As is the case with many major cities, the role of wetlands within the landscape of Chennai has transformed dramatically.

Chennai, situated on the shores of the Bay of Bengal is the fourth largest metropolitan city in India. Chennai holds an extensive ecological history. The biodiversity of Chennai is said to have evolved from two

Lavenya Parthasarathy [1] Giblett (2016). [Image 1] Satellite View of Pallikaranai Wetland, Chennai. Red outlines the extents of the current wetland, yellow illustrates the current boundary of the landfll site within the wetland. Image by the author (2022).
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cultural landscapes - the majority of which is ‘Neidhal’ and some ‘Pālai’ as classifed in the Sangam literature. The landscape of ‘Neidhal’ represents the coast and is associated with coastal wetlands, whereas ‘Pālai’ refers to dry lands. With a coastline of 19km, Chennai is largely infuenced by its coast and wetlands.

Historically, Chennai’s wetlands have had a crucial role in sustaining aquatic biodiversity and in food mitigation. Over the years, as one of the major cities of a developing country, the city has continued to expand and spill outside of its original boundaries. This process has taken over more and more of these ecosystems that managed to survive on the periphery. The magnitude of this expansion may perhaps have caused irreversible, environmental damage. The rapid sprawl of

Chennai has led to shrinkage of many water bodies and wetlands. The last few decades have been instrumental in the dramatic transformation of Chennai’s wetlands, many of these valuable wetlands have sufered degradation because of soil waste disposal and others have disappeared entirely because of infrastructure development. The expanse of wetlands within the city boundary has decreased from nearly 474 to only 5 major wetlands remaining.2 Despite the fact that Chennai has witnessed the loss of many of these ecological treasures to ill-planned urban expansion, about 20 km south of the city’s centre Pallikaranai Wetland still manages to survive within the city’s extended limits. The narrative of Pallikaranai Wetland holds a deep, extensive struggle for its survival.

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[2] ‘Restoring Chennai’s Wetlands’ (2022). [Image 2] Five landscape classifcations: Kurinji (Mountainous Regions), Mullai (Forests), Marutham (Cropland), Neithal (Seashore) and Pālai (Dry Lands); romanticised in the Sangam literature showcase the cultural importance of natural landscapes. Image by the author (2022).
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Urbanogram: Ghost Dimensions

[Image 1] View towards the New Imperial Palace, standing in the center of Heldenplatz. Image by Bwag (2014).

Heldenplatz: Obscured Refexivity and Spatial Appropriation

Abstract: Regarding its layout, Vienna’s Heldenplatz is a curious square. Regarding its use, it is an undecided square, and regarding its history, it is a contested square. As a steady stage, it witnessed several dramatic changes to the political and social landscape of Austria. Its visual identity is composed of the imperial architecture surrounding it, and its importance results from nearby political and cultural institutions. Among the many events held there, none has had a stronger impact on the site than Adolf Hitler’s “Anschluss” speech on the 15th March 1938 in front of hundreds of thousands of people on the Heldenplatz. The result is a complex, heterogeneous material and immaterial construction.

This essay sets out to unravel the processes behind this multifaceted spatial conglomerate and the difcult relationship of the Austrian nation with the Heldenplatz as its use by political fgures, protesters and even visitors, still evokes reactions and interactions with the memory stored at this site.


As the seat of monarchal power executed by the Habsburg family, the Imperial Palace represented the centre of the Austrian-Hungarian multinational empire.

In 1857 the old fortifcations and walls were demolished which gave way for the famous Ringstraße, a representative circular street in the inner centre of Vienna. Along this boulevard, new private, public and govern-

mental developments were built, all of them in a variety of historicist styles, depending on importance and role in society. In this changed architectural setting, with the rise of the bourgeois class and consequently their architectural presence along the Ringstraße, the need for an appropriate form of monarchal representation in the city centre was met with a monumental concept by architect Gottfried Semper in 1868. He envisioned a monumental imperial forum1, a form which Semper based on the ancient Roman forums and

[1] It was Joseph Bayer in 1879 and later Camillo Sitte who used this term to describe Semper’s concept. See: Telesko (2012). Stefan Gruber

[2] As Peter Stachel points out, the specifc form and relationship to ancient Roman architecture was meant to be both, representative for the power of the monarchy but also a conciliatory gesture to the multinational empire, avoiding defnitive national symbols. See: Stachel (2018).

[3] Telesko (2012), p. 184 and Semper (1884), p. 422. Translation into English by the author.

which featured in many of his previous works2 Concerning the Roman style he remarked that, “It represents the synthesis of the two apparently mutually excluding cultural moments, namely, individual aspiration and the absorption into collectivity. It arranges many spatial divisions around a large central space, according to a principle of coordination and subordination, according to which everything holds and supports each other and the individual is needed for the whole […]”3.

with the imperial two-headed eagle on top is aligned with the axis of the two equestrian statues in the centre of the square.

Image by Oktobersonne (2017).

The idea of the Imperial Forum suggested the expansion of the Imperial Palace with additional buildings- the so-called the New Imperial Palace, which were facing each other to enclose a representative square which later will become the Heldenplatz. The highly structured and adorned exterior of the curved facade of the New Imperial Palace dominates the scenery at the square. The median risalit

Semper’s monumental plan envisioned the incorporation of several existing as well as new buildings to achieve a holistic design, including the old Imperial Palace, the New Imperial Palace and several additional buildings across the Ringstraße. In this regard, the prominent feature of the Imperial Forum was the establishment of a monumental axis marked by the Castle Gate.

As a representative square with its imperial grandeur in front of the Imperial Palace, its primary functions were to display imperial power and to serve for ceremonial acts, as well as ofer identifying moments as a gesture towards the multinational-state.

NThe work on the New Imperial Palace was delayed many times due to fnancial, technical and organisational difculties until it was fnally completed in 1913. The opposing second wing was never realised because of the upcoming First World War and the increasingly unjustifable scale of the whole masterplan. This resulted in the present, unfnished state which caused an unresolved spatial layout of the square with the main axis being perpendicular to the envisioned monumental axis, highlighting instead the balcony of the New Imperial Palace and the two equestrian statues of Prince Eugene of Savoy (revealed 1865) and Archduke Charles (revealed 1860).4

It was in this unfnished setting when the fate of the square was determined when on 15th March 1938, Adolf Hitler appeared on the balcony of the New Imperial Palace and announced the annexation of Austria by National Socialist Germany Image 4. During his speech Hitler was facing the Heldenplatz which was heavily crowded with approximately 250.000 people, even the equestrian statues and the Castle Gate were occupied by spectators.The scene was carefully orchestrated as Hitler’s convoy arrived through the Castle Gate while the military took care of the security and orientation of the masses on the square. On every facade facing the Heldenplatz, NS banners were hanging symmetrically and aligned with the axes of the buildings.

Unlike any other date in the history of the square it is this event which dominates the public memory until today. Every consequent event since then has to be considered in relationship to this memory, which is informed

44 Urbanogram: Ghost Dimensions
[Image 2] Plan of the Imperial Forum as envisioned by Gottfried Semper. [4] Those statues were the decisive factor in renaming the square as Heldenplatz (Square of the Heroes).
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Urbanogram: Ghost Dimensions

[Image 1] Main entrance to the park, located on Manuel Gondra Street. Image by the author (January 8th,, 2022).

Invisible Strings

The appropriation of public space in Parque Caballero

Abstract: Parque Caballero in Asunción, Paraguay, is a public park interwoven with the urban fabric that is perceived as abandoned and unsafe by most citizens. The essay seeks frst to challenge this perception, revealing a thread of invisible networks that are keeping the park alive and functioning despite the conditions of its infrastructure and the lack of resources coming from governmental institutions. Second, it proposes appropriation as a method to improve those conditions by creating a sense of attachment that could lead to the protection of the space, and to change the safety perceptions by creating a sense of community and ensuring equal access to public space for all citizens. An example of appropriation started by a private initiative is shown to further showcase the potential of involving a variety of actors to reinstate Parque Caballero into the everyday life of Asunción.


Right next to what is considered the historical, colonial core of Asunción – the capital city of Paraguay – and with the city’s bay nearby, there is a 13-hectare park that has strongly been tied to the evolution of the city ever since the Spaniards founded the Nuestra Señora de la Asunción fort back in 1537. This is Parque Caballero, a public park located amidst the urban fabric of Asunción, thus making it one of the most valuable public spaces in terms of its potential to improve the environmental, urban, and social conditions of the citizens. However, the general population does not exploit these potential benefts, for reasons that will be explained in this essay. It is also essential to point out the lack of accessible and quality public spaces – ones with good infrastructure and proper maintenance –interwoven with the city, with the most visited parks located in its peripheries.

The park has been managed by the municipality of Asunción, ever since it was bought from

private owners back in 1919 to convert it into a public park.1 Today, by means of an agreement, the sponsorship of the park has been given to the Ministerio de Urbanismo, Vivienda y Hábitat (MUVH), for a 20-year period.2,3 Once a vital part of the population’s identity and image of the city, back then when the city sprawl was minimal and the park was regularly used as a leisure space, it now sufers an ongoing process of dereliction and lack of infrastructure maintenance, with some timid eforts to bring its vibrant life back starting at the end of the 2000s.

A crucial factor for the abandonment of Parque Caballero is the presence of so-called ‘informal’ dwellings on the north border of the park, one that coincides with a four-meter-high ravine, that announces the proximity of the city bay. These dwellings have been historically located in the area, ever since its frst occupants –the native people known as Pajagua – were permitted to inhabit the surroundings back in 1780.4 The current ravine dwellers have established neighbourhoods –part of which is

[1] Ibarra et al. (2021). [2] MUVH (2020). [3] In English: Ministry of Urbanism, Housing and Habitat. [4] Ibarra et al. (2021) Martin Alvarez

Urbanogram: Ghost Dimensions

[5] Geraghty and Massida (2019), p 2.

[6] Even though the defnition of marginality works in this case to describe the position of the ravine and San Felipe Alto dwellers in the chain of power, especially related to their participation in decisionmaking processes, the author desires to transcend the notion of “marginal” as it implies the existence of a centre-normal opposed to a periphery-other.

[7] Ibarra et al. (2021).


known as the Chacarita area- with developed social and cultural processes that are tightly associated with the park. A portion of the original territory on the east side of Parque Caballero was even legally assigned to them, creating the San Felipe Alto neighbourhood. Nevertheless, the situation of these inhabitants could be framed inside of Geraghty and Massidda’s initial notion of marginality, in which “a group is placed outside decision-making structures; where their relative income hinders their access to goods, spaces and opportunities”. 5, 6

The look of neglect and lack of maintenance presented by the infrastructure in the park, added to safety concerns related to the presence of the immediate neighbours,

have led to a change in the perception of the park from the same people that have fond memories of their past in it. Today, the general population of Asunción believes that the park is a derelict, unsafe place, and most of the citizens have never visited it.7 The paper will frst seek to challenge this perception: an ethnographic study conducted in 20218 shows that there are users in the park every day of the week, exposing a variety of actors and activities taking place in the public space that remain ‘invisible’ to the rest of the citizens.

Secondly, the essay will explore the concept of appropriation of space, explained by Tomeu Vidal and Enric Pol, as a potential means to overcome two of the obstacles presented in the park and to change the perception

The study was conducted by Iris Ibarra and members of the Agencia de Innovación Urbana and Panoplia Arquitectura between June and July 2021 and compiled into a written report that informs this essay. [Image 2] Location map of the park, where its proximity to the city bay is noted. Image by the author.
11 Invisible Strings ... continue reading here. www.urbanogram.com

Rathbone Market as Intangible Heritage

Why is Protection Crucial for Local Communities?

Abstract: Markets are crucial for the growth of cities, both for their economy and their social life. Important marketplaces, which refect the intangible heritage of cities, are often declining, and have almost disappeared from cities. This article investigates why markets, as evidence of intangible heritage and places for social interaction, are important for local communities. This research then focuses on Rathbone Market, to investigate the impact of one regeneration scheme. The article also looks at how much the market was considered as intangible heritage within the planning application.


Cities and towns throughout history used urban spaces for social gathering, social interaction, and for discussion of common problems and politics. The ancient agora in Greece was such a place where people gathered to discuss or buy goods. Until the Roman times, these spaces were used both for political discussions and for trading goods. The idea that markets were used as multipurpose spaces ended during the Renaissance, when the two functions were separated. Markets were normally located within a central open space in the inner city. Such urban spaces were crucial for the activation and unifcation of nearby neighbourhoods by bringing diverse citizens together in one place.

In Britain, markets have a very long history. Historically, several towns were known as

‘market towns’. One of those markets is Rathbone Market, located in Canning Town, Newham, East London. For many years, the market was declining and almost disappeared. In addition, a new regeneration scheme even accelerated this decline.


Markets in Britain have a long history as important focal points within the centres of many cities and towns.1 During Tudor’s and Stuart’s England there were approximately 760 market towns. The towns were in close proximity to one another and were centres for the supply and trade of agricultural products. Each town had its ofcial market day or days each week. Aside from agricultural products, fsh and fesh, markets usually included tailors and shoemakers who worked in public at their trestle tables.2

Kleovoulos Aristarchou [1] Studdert and Watson (2006), p.1. [2] Kostof, Castillo (1992), p.93. [Image 1] Historic VS Neoliberalism. Image by the author (2022).
65 Rathbone Market as Intangible Heritage

Regardless of their historic importance as places of consumption, social interaction, and commerce, traditional British marketplaces have been in decline over the last 20 years. In this time, a large number of markets have been at risk, shut down or replaced all over Britain.3


Markets undoubtedly function as important places of sociability, where variety in conditions, locations and people with diferent backgrounds mix together. According to Watson and Studdert, markets provide social functions, social mixing across groups, social inclusion, social interaction and the creation of social ties. Additionally, markets can be a place where families and friends who operate together may develop stronger social bonding, and shape a particular community over time.4

The market works as a site of social bonding and social inclusion, particularly for older people who visit markets for the pleasure of interaction with others. Furthermore, Watson and Studdert found that in several markets,

The Quality of goods is better than Supermarkets as they are made with traditional techniques.

Rathbone Market gave me an opportunity to start my business.

traders tend to behave cooperatively with each other- for example, assisting in carrying things or helping if someone has trouble.5 For many customers within the market, a trip to the market might be the only opportunity they had to talk with someone during the day.6 Indeed, an important reason for some shoppers to visit the market is the interaction they have with traders, even if they have nothing else to purchase there.

According to Watson and Studdert, all user groups within a given community use a market as a critical site of social interaction, but each group uses the market in diferent ways. One of the most important spaces for social interaction within markets is the cafeterias, where customers can relax and socialize. In addition to social interaction, markets can also ofer an extensive choice of inexpensive goods. Watson and Studdert state that the market’s variety refects the sociodemographics of the nearby community and acts as a place of connection and mixing in exceptionally positive ways. Indeed, by visiting some of London markets, one can observe the variety and diversity of traders, consumers, and products.7

I am coming to Rathbone Market to socialise with others.

I met my husband at Rathbone Market 20 years ago. Since then we used to come every week.

I liked the variety of smells that Rathbone Market used to have.

I am coming every weekend with my parents to Rathbone Market and I meet my friends every weekend

Urbanogram: Ghost Dimensions
[3] Studdert and Watson (2006), p.1. [4] [5] Studdert and Watson (2006), p.14. [6] Studdert and Watson (2006), p. 29. [7] Studdert and Watson (2006), pp. 29-30. [Image 2] Collage of stories from markets. Image by the author (2021).
13 Rathbone Market as Intangible Heritage ... continue reading here. www.urbanogram.com

The Ghost of Cities Present

A conceptual analysis of the relationship between urban formality and informality in Europe in the context of time

Abstract: This article investigates the idea of urban (in)formality in the European context. It aims at locating the duality of formality and informality within contemporary European architectural theory as well as at illustrating its spacial relevance. Methodologically, a chronological derivation highlighting alterations of the concept since the foundation of the frst European cities informs this study. By crosslinking European modern-day perceptions of “form according to rule“ to historical place-making policies, a prevailing capriciousness adhering to the idea of formal logic will be revealed.


[1] Marx and Kelling (2018).

[2] “Informal (adj.): mid15c., “lacking form; not in accordance with the rules of formal logic,” from in- (1) “not, opposite of” + formal (adj.). Meaning “irregular, unofcial, not according to rule or custom” is from c. 1600. Sense of “done without ceremony” is from 1828. Related: Informally.“ Etymonline, “informal“ (accessed 2022).

[3] Marx and Kelling (2018).

[4] Merriam Webster (2022).

[5] “Formal: pertaining to form or arrangement […] in due or proper form, according to recognized form […].“ Etymonline, “formal“ (accessed 2022).

[6 ]Prienne (1980).

[7] AlSayyad and Roy (2006).

The following essay explores changes in the relationship of urban formality and informality as modes of placemaking in Europe. It is the objective of this work to make the relativity of formal frameworks applied to architecture in modern-day urban contexts visible by critically highlighting the development of the relationship between formal and informal practices on the continent over time. When I indicate that this text is going to focus on the European, I do so, because it is the architecture on this continent, which captured my attention the longest. Although travels to diferent parts of the world inspired this work, European building history serves as a well-preserved example for the analysis of historically grown cities. In order to draw conclusions based on historical derivations, the impact of the formalisation process will be illustrated briefy by a few examples of urban situations encountered in cities in Austria.

I would like to start this investigation into the ebbs and fows of urban (in)formality on the

European continent by examining the term informality. Despite the fact that contemporary research locates informally built environments in the Non-West1, its etymological origin can be traced back to Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth century2. It is this development, which deserves greater attention:

In their text “Knowing Urban Informalities“ Marx and Kelling state that the informal as a concept frst and foremost exists through its pairing and contrasting with the formal, thus resulting in an indivisible binary of both terms.3 In other words, only the informal renders the formal visible - and vice versa. Without the establishment of a specifc form the question of something being diferent to what is perceived as “according to [this] established form“ 4,5 will not arise. Interestingly, the initial demarcation of buildings as informal originated in Europe during a time, when diferent types of religious and secular leaders regained strength after the demise of the Roman Empire and the end of the Middle Ages.6,7 This resulted in great urban devel-

Sophie Schrattenecker

opments driven by a powerful elite during the seventeenth century. In other words, opposed to the normality of everyday-building practices, the otherness and greatness of the formal was suddenly discovered and named during the periods of Baroque and Enlightenment. It is no coincidence that at the same time natural science and with it the wider idea of a scientifcally structured world gained popularity.8

While contemporary examples of urban informality as an opposition to planned urbanity in European countries have become scarce9, Ananaya Roy nevertheless aims at locating the discussion within a wider context, when she argues that urban informality cannot simply be equated with poor infrastructure and housing. Instead, by stating that “{…} urban informality is not the ecology of the mega-slum; rather, it is a mode of the production of space […]“10 she reasons for a more nuanced perception of spaces built according to - or against prevailing formal logic.

In the following chapters I would like to build on this proposition in order to investigate informality as a mode of production of space on two levels: First, by scanning chronologically through historical époques, in which diverse approaches towards the informally built were practised. Secondly, by presenting historically grown urban situations located in modern-day Austrian cities, the volatility of a formal status will be illustrated. It is the aim of these observations to underline a somewhat notional hypothesis: That from a distant stance - be it distanced in terms of time or in terms of geographic space - the perception of the built form as within the rules of formal logic necessarily has to be subjective. And that therefore the question attached always needs to be where and when the demarcation is made.


As a start I would like to remind the reader of unique urban situations encountered in historic centres of the oldest cities in Europe. Let me paint a picture of arm-long alleys drowning all sun light on a hot summer day, of polygonal plazas faced by low buildings of infnite age, or arcades located alongside cobbled streets, providing shelter during periods of heavy rain. All these situations encountered in historically grown cities on the European continent were adapted and changed continuously throughout past centuries. As part of a city organism they will, in fact, always be in the process of transformation. In that sense, change can be

regarded as one of the key qualities of functioning urbanity. But, let us not jump to conclusions. Instead, let history speak for itself, starting with two-thousand-year old approaches to the production and organisation of built space.

THE PLANNED AND THE UNPLANNED Roman forts and extramural settlements

One of the remnants for city planning during Antiquity is the Roman fort, or castrum. As part of Roman expansion politics during the frst centuries A.D. this structurally robust typology spread not only throughout Italy, but was also exported much further north, to the modern-day territories of Austria, Germany, France, Spain or Great Britain, for example. Though the castrum represents a highly organised, enclosed space where neither buildings nor streets were left to chance, its surrounding area was usually occupied by a civilian settlement, called cannabae11 or vicus12 .

The cannabae was “a civilian settlement, urban area, or village which developed near a military establishment, often to provide services for it.“13 As an inhabited space it was designated with the lowest legal status of any developed area in the Roman empire.14,15 Nevertheless, these settlements were extensive in their dimension as well as vital for the functioning of the fort. Around the Roman fort of Housesteads in Britain, for example, a settlement encompassing approximately fve-hundred inhabitants covered the area south of the military base.16 In his text about Roman vici Karl Strobl points out that “these settlements [the cannabae] already had city-like character during the frst century A.D..“17

Andrew Birley, the director of excavations for the Vindolandia Trust in Great Britain, paints a similar image when he writes: “This [extramural settlement] covered an area of at least three times the size of the fort, yet it was still a cramped and crowded space with shops, streets, houses, wells, water-tanks, temples, store-buildings, a bath house, workshops and a tavern all present.“18

As can be noticed in the examples above, one of the most prototypical forms of Roman city foundation, the military base, brings together the planned and the unplanned built environment in one inseparable urban entity.19 It appears that in the Roman understanding both ways of inhabiting space were regarded as formal, since the planned as well as the unplanned fulflled a vital part within the

[8] Lippert (2017).

[9] The Cañada in Spain, as presented in the frst issue of Urbanogram in 2021, acts as one out of few contemporary examples for informally built urban environments on European grounds.

[10] Roy (2004), p.10.

[11] “[…] modern research calls the settlement located in front of the gates of the military base “cannabae”, meaning “shed, hut, shack’’.“ Translated from German by the author. Strobel (2016), pp.35.

[12] Crow (2017), p.24.

[13] Darvill (2008).

[14] Ibid.

[15] Crow (2017), pp. 24-25.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Strobel (2016), p. 35. Translated from German by the author.

[18] Birley (2018) p.14.

[19] Kluger-Pinsler (1998), pp.88.

77 The Ghost of Cities Present

[21] Ibid, p.58.

[22] Hoskins (2014), p.251.

[23] Meadows (1914).

[24] Kluger-Pinsler (1998), pp.106.

[25] Prienne (1980), p.35.

wider concept of a functioning military settlement. Roman spacial politics therefore did not equal planned with formal and unplanned with informal. The contrast between the once evenly developed area inside the fort and the evolved settlement outside its walls are still visible today in the layout of cities developing out of Roman military forts.

A NEGOTIATION OF SPACE New urban centres during the High Middle Ages

After the decline of the Roman Empire and the consequential disappearance of urban development, inhabitants of former Roman provinces resorted to more simple forms of organisation of their living environment. At this, the farmhouse regained its prevalent status as a closed legal entity. According to Kluger-Pinsler, “the Early Medieval farmstead consists of a fenced-in court square with a byre-dwelling as well as various smaller buildings. The arrangement of these buildings seems not to have followed any rules but particular needs; one only considered not to place auxiliary buildings in too close proximity to the main house.“20 As shown by this archaeological analysis, civilisation in Europe at the turn of the frst millennium A.D. had withdrawn from more complex, planned ventures, such as the Roman castrum. Instead, an informal approach prioritising immediate needs and the survival of its inhabitants mirrors in the layout of built environments encountered in Europe at that time.

Mainland Europe soon saw urban development arise in formerly loosely populated areas with the progress of the Middle Ages. In the city of Cologne, for example, the walled farmhouse described above served as the typical building form possessed by free landowners at the time. Archaeological reconstructions suggest that these large, legal properties were successively divided into smaller plots during the twelfth and thirteenth century.21

One indication for the newly arising formal organisation in the context of denser living units can also be found in England during the 12th and 13th century. In “The Making of the English Landscape“, Hoskins refects on a landlord’s common practice of chartering land in emerging towns during the High Middle Ages as follows:

“[…] most landlords… made no attempt to lay out their new towns. They gave them charters, sometimes supplied building materials,

ofered low rents and other inducements, but they were content to let the town grow— if it were to grow—as it liked within the prescribed area. And when that area was satisfactorily flled, they were prepared to extend the boundaries of the borough by granting more land for building.“22

As a consequence of increasing - though rather loose - placemaking policies practised at the time, conficts, especially border disagreements between house owners arose in denser populated areas. Reacting to these conficts, the prevailing elite invented rules with the aim of settling all present disputes. One astonishing example for these early legislations can be found in the London Assizes of 1189 and 1212. It reads as follows:

“When two neighbours shall have agreed to build between themselves a wall of stone, each shall give a foot and a half of land, and so they shall construct, at their joint cost, a stone wall three feet thick and sixteen feet in height. And, if they agree, they shall make a gutter between them, to carry of the water from their houses, as they may deem most convenient.“23

This comprehensive building law tailored specifcally for one area of confict arising within neighbourhoods of row houses surprises. The quote gives universal proof that the idea of form according to rule already existed eight-hundred years ago in a format much resembling contemporary rules for placemaking. The idea of formality therefore proceeds its etymological defnition by almost three-hundred years. Similarly to the relationship of planned and unplanned urbanity during the Roman period, both states continue to exist side by side in the Medieval city. At the same time, an early distinction can be observed: While the outer shell of buildings started to be subject to formal rules, its interior remained in a state of unnoticed informality.

At the end of the High Middle Ages, this growing sense for a formal organisation of the space outside got more complex. The way cities were built at the end of the thirteenth century entirely depended on the system of order implemented by few holders of power.24 Here, the High Middle Ages once again clearly illustrate the dangerous balance between rule and rule-making: Those in power determined what was acceptable in terms of building practices25 and thus regarded as formal, laying dissimilar ground stones for almost all historically grown cities in Europe.

78 Urbanogram: Ghost Dimensions
[20] Kluger-Pinsler (1998), pp. 88. Translated from German by the author.
15 The Ghost of Cities Present ... continue reading here. www.urbanogram.com

Venice, Behind the Curtains

The ghost and the glory

Abstract: Venice a famous city, romanticized, enjoyed and celebrated for ‘love in the air’ most visited by couples as a romantic getaway to sail in famous traditional Venetian gondolas. This article explores the romanticism of this city through a diferent lens i.e. tragedy. What adds beauty to this city’s climax is “tragedy” just like Shakespeare’s famous plays; romantic, beautiful yet tragic. Same is the story of Venice through the eyes of a traveler who has concluded this city in a series of photomontages and cartography with the help of historic texts by scripts and poems.

Neha Fatima [Image 1] Photomontage, Saint Marco’s Square. Image by the author (2018).

“O most magnifcient Venice!

Whosoever has been able to taste The sweetness of love

87 Venice, Behind the Curtains
Amid thy life of poesy For eternity.”
[1] Poem, To Venice, by Aleksanderi. Tr Henry Stanley. Stanley (1877), pp.192-193.

“Slave, do thine ofce !

Strike as I struck the foe ! Strike as I would Have struck those tyrants ! Strike deep as my curse ! Strike --- and but once !

[The DOGE throws himself upon his knees, and as the Executioner raises his sword the scene closes.]” 2

88 Urbanogram: Ghost Dimensions
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Re-measuring Lost LiLong

Creating a dialogue from the past to the future

Longhua Gu

Abstract: This brief article is about a practice-based competition project that focuses on regeneration of historic Li-Long urban blocks in a central heritage core of a city. It aims at sharing design ideas to address one of the most unique sites that is situated in a contemporary urban context with rich heritage remaining but has been partially destroyed or lost. To start with, I present site photos and an illustrated Nolli map which shows initial studies of understanding historic urban fabric and existing Li-Long buildings on site. Then, the proposed strategic masterplan is illustrated in the form of diagrams by a sequential approach. This article shows the vision of the project that aims to remeasure lost Li-Long dimensions from the past, to rejuvenate the present urban fabric and to activate space for future development.

[Image 1] Site photo of building #18, Image by Xinran Shen (2021). [Image 2] Site photo of building #02,#03, Image by Xinran Shen (2021). [Image 3] Site photo of building #02, Image by Xinran Shen (2021). [Image 4] Site photo of building #01, Image by Xinran Shen (2021).
3 1 Image 1 Image 3 Image 4 Image 2 2 4

There are hundreds of roads, streets, lanes, and alleyways mixing and criss-crossing in the old town centre 老城厢1. Many of those urban patterns have been hidden and destroyed under the rapid development of urbanisation2. Wang Yima is an alleyway stretching from south to north connecting with three smaller horizontal lanes. As one of the historic alleyways in central Shanghai, Wang Yima has witnessed the rise and fall of the surrounding urban area which gradually vanished into history, along with some ancient names such as Rong Fu lane(坊), Heng de Lane and Jiu an Lane 3. Along each of the lanes, there are building blocks which were mainly built around the1930s as residential and mixed-use functions. Site photos captured the current urban fabric of the historic building typology and served as visual records and design references through our early-stage studies. Those enable us to understand the scale of urban street and building characteristics. As a new kind of Shikumen typology, these edifces were built approximately 24m in width, 18-20m in depth, and 13-14m in height, with two to four foors and they are made of bricks and concrete, covered with grey tiles on pitched roofs 4. Big surfaces of the structure are covered with grey lime coating [Image 4], and some are

painted dark red [Image 1]. On the side wall, red coloured bricks are layered in between grey bricks [Image 2]. Although many buildings have been abandoned and are empty now, there are architectural detail elements that still tell the glory of the past. There is a gateway that occupies two levels with an arch-shaped portico with a sculptured coin tripod which is in the middle surrounded by coral[Image1], scroll painting and lucid Ganoderma represent good wishes for peace, prosperity and good health4 Shikumen Gate which used to be the entrance to the lanes or ground shops is now walled up with concrete blocks and timber boards[Image 3]. We generated a Nolli Map referring to local survey statistics to illustrate the urban pattern of alleyways and demolished and surviving buildings [map 1]. This map also contains the information from the municipality regarding the hierarchical grade which is based on the local historic building conservation regulation. It reveals the alleyway pattern which inspired our design team to generate the proposed framework of the new development. Furthermore, it traces the dimensions of the building layout of the past, which then became the fundamental reference for the future building module.

93 Re-measuring Lost LiLong
[Map 1] Nolli Map, illustration diagram by the author (2022). [1] Huang and Zhou (2015). [2] Ju (2022). [3] Zhou and Wang (2022). [4] ‘Shanghai Yu garden Phase 2 Preliminary Surveying and Mapping Report pdf‘. Jiu Jiao Chang Road Yu Garden old Street Hou Jia Road Chen Xiang Ge Road
Code02,03 Code01,24,25 1 2 3 4 Code 18
Fang Bang Zhong Road
General Historic Building I (Plan to Retain/Demolish and Reconstruct) General Historic Building II (Demolish and Reconstruct/Rebuild)

Urbanogram: Ghost Dimensions

[Diagram1] Diagram by the author (2022)Urban approach

Step 1.

Understand historic urban fabric, evaluate existing urban patterns and historical assets.

[Diagram 2] Diagram by the author (2022) Urban approach

Step 2.

Identify key alleyways to form the urban framework, retaining highvalue historical buildings.

[Diagram 3] Diagram by the author (2022) Urban approach

Step 3.

Connect to the city network and introduce new alleyways to complete the retail loop.


Understand Historic Urban Fabric


2 Maintain Urban Framework

Continue link to Phase 1

Form main framework

Maintain historic elements

3 Enhance Framework Connectivity


Step 4. Infll retail blocks to bring back ‘Lilong’ urban texture.

Introduce new alleyway links Enhance urban accessibility

Attract customers form a retail loop circulation

Bring Back Lilong Urban Texture

Retail lane blocks Reform rhythm

Open space, respond to surrounding site

Retained Historic Building 02.03 Retained Historic Building 01,24,25 Phase 1 Goldern Temple Yu Garden Retained Historic Building 28 05 06 11 14 18 Lilong Building Texture Cheng Xiang
Clarify Site Context
Study and
building texture Reuse historic building on site
[Diagram 4] Diagram by the author (2022) Urban approach
Diagram 1 Diagram 2
4 MainLilong Lilong Building Texture
19 Re-measuring Lost LiLong ... continue reading here. www.urbanogram.com
98 Urbanogram: Ghost Dimensions

Rome Dimensions

From fantasma to fantasy: How to give new interpretations to modern heritage in between existing and new narrations

Abstract: Rome is the capital of fantasmas and fantasy. It was built from the beginning, in continuity and opposition with the ghosts of the past without renouncing them to imagine a new vision of the future. Ghosts are everywhere and they are citizens not less important than the physical ones. The beauty of Rome appears in this dialogue. The article suggests that architecture, conservation policy, and urban planning should consider the power of narrations, the stories already written as the ones to envision. From this perspective, it encourages us to look at the modern ruins in the city as a resource for the citizens to embrace fantasy to continue the existing narration. The “folie” starts from the Ligini ex-fnance towers, abandoned concrete skeletons at the South gate of the city that could be transformed into a crazy experimental laboratory of participatory design.


The Great Beauty of Rome is certainly known to everyone who has ever visited the city. The colour of the sky, the light, the bricks, the marble, or the small plants growing in every available slot in the walls are just some of the features that make this city special. For her inhabitants, Rome is the most beautiful city in the world and it is indeed in everyday life that you can catch her essence and connect with her.

It doesn’t really matter if in the centre or in the periphery, a roman citizen will know and wait for June to admire the city magically turning pink during the sunset a colour that reconciles with all the fatigue of the day.

Talking about Rome it may be irrelevant to try to make order or hierarchy in this collage.Image 2

The city is an intricate palimpsest of memories, attempts, past glories and hopes. In her fabrics it is possible to read its economic, social, political and architectural history. As the visionary mind of the director Paolo Sorrentino manages to capture, the Great Beauty1 is the scene behind contradictions, desire of God, failure, aspirations, magic and decadence.

In between this stratifcation of layers, there are phantasmas2 from the Ancient Greek etymology, “appearance image, spectre, vision”, a word with the same root of “fantasy”. Both the words share the same semantic area, which is both passive and active, “to have a vision” can be a revelation but it can also be a creative act.

Rome is the capital of fantasmas. It was built from the beginning, in continuity and opposition with the ghosts of the past without renouncing them to invent a new vision of the future. Ghosts are everywhere and they are citizens not less important than the physical ones.

This article seeks to analyse the vicissitudes around the life and the death of one of these fantasmas: three abandoned ofce towers, born under the edge of the capitalistic dream of the 1960’s Italian economic miracle (boom economico), and quickly left as a monument of decadence and failure. Image 1 The new ruins in Rome are as talkative as the old ones, and many contemporary buildings lie unheard as ghosts with many stories to tell.

[1] Sorrentino (2013). [2] Fantasma from Latin phantasma, greek ϕάντασμα, verb ϕαντάζω «to show», ϕαντάζομαι «appear», root ϕαν- verb ϕαίνω same meaning Fantasy from Latin phantasĭa, greek ϕαντασία, root ϕανverb ϕαίνω «to show». [Image 1] Former fnancial EUR Towers Image by the author (2018). Fanny Ciufo

The former Finance Towers in the EUR district, designed by Arch. Cesare Ligini in 1961, were inspired by Mies Van Der Rohe’s Lake Shore Drive Apartments in Chicago, and they were used as ofces for the Ministry of Finance. They have been standing as empty skeletons at the South gate of the city since the 1990’s, when they were left without any new program.

The exercise will be to recognise these towers as fantasmas longing to tell their story, but also, to envision them as a starting point for a new fantasy and vision.

In this double relation between what is shown and what is imagined, another layer will be added to the palimpsest of this collage city, which is Rome.

100 Urbanogram: Ghost Dimensions
[Image 2] Collage Old/New Ruins. Image by the author (2018).
21 Rome Dimensions ... continue reading here. www.urbanogram.com

Editorial Team

Cassandra Osterman, AIA is a practising architect in the United States, where she specialises in complex architectural challenges in historical contexts. Her core focus includes afordable multi-family housing, adaptive reuse, historic preservation, environmental resilience, community-driven development, and urban campuses.

Architect, Per fdo Weiskopf Wagstaf Goettel (Pittsburgh, PA) since 2018

Pennsylvania (USA) architectural licence 2019

MA Architecture and Historic Urban Environments, The Bartlett, UCL 2018

BArch, Carnegie Mellon University 2014

Fanny Ciufo is a practising Italian architect. She has worked in international ofces in Rome, London and Rotterdam (MVRDV). Currently, she is based in Paris where she continues her research between theory and practice with a special interest in the urban environment.

MA Architecture and Historic Urban Environments, The Bartlett, UCL 2018

Italian architectural licence 2017

BArch and MArch Architecture, Sapienza University of Rome 2016

Lavenya Parthasarathy is a practising urban designer working with Alexandra Steed URBAN, based in London. She has a background in architecture, urban environments and adaptive reuse, with interests in exploring the treatment and condition of historic contexts within the urban environments.

MA Architecture and Historic Urban Environments, The Bartlett, UCL, 2018

BA (HONS), IDEAs, Ravensbourne University London, 2017

Lei Jiao began her career as an urban designer in 2018. Working at London based practice Alexandra Steed URBAN, she commits herself to framework masterplanning, landscape design and placemaking.

MA Architecture and Historic Urban Environments, The Bartlett, UCL 2018

MArch, School of Architecture - Huaqiao University 2016

BArch, School of Architecture - Yantai University 2013

Urbanogram: Ghost Dimensions

Longhua Gu is a practising urban designer and architect, currently working with BENOY at their London studio. Within an 8-year career period, she has been working in Shanghai and London and running projects in the UK, Asia and Middle East, impressed by the contradictory culture mixture, with special interests in historic urban contexts and building interventions. Her design inspirations come from a wide range of mediums such as art, flm and literature.

MA Architecture and Historic Urban Environments, The Bartlett, UCL 2018

MA Architecture, Liverpool University 2012

BArch - China University of Petroleum (East China) 2011

Neha Fatima, PCATP is an entrepreneur and academic, running her own practice in Pakistan under the name of Arcline, she struggles to keep a balance between academia and the practising world of architecture. She specialises in renovation, adaptive-reuse and restoration projects. She is also an active member of ACHS.

MA Architecture and Historic Urban Environments, The Bartlett, UCL 2018

BArch, National College of Arts, Lahore 2014

Sophie Schrattenecker practises architecture in Austria where she is an active member of planning processes on site from start to fnish. Research and travels continuously inspire her written work about contemporary informal architecture embedded in historical contexts.

Architectural licence and member of the Austrian Chamber of Architects, 2022 Lecturer in academic writing, University of Applied Arts, Linz, since 2021

MA Architecture and Historic Urban Environments, The Bartlett, UCL 2018

MArch, University of Applied Arts, Linz 2017

BArch, University of Applied Arts, Linz 2014

Stefan Gruber is based in Austria where he practises and writes about architecture. His theoretical work deals with topics such as the role of memory in the built environment as well as social and cultural implications of architecture.

Architectural licence and member of the Austrian Chamber of Architects, 2022 Lecturer in academic writing, University of Applied Arts, Linz, since 2021

MA Architectural History, The Bartlett, UCL 2018

MArch, University of Applied Arts, Linz 2017

BArch, University of Applied Arts, Linz 2014

Xin Zheng is based in Shanghai and started her career as an editor of an architectural practice magazine. She involved in successfully organizing the 19th Asian Congress of ARCASIA in 2021, and is working in the editorial team of Architecture Asia magazine based in Tongji University. She has a special interest in the modern architectural history of China, and keeps focusing on the condition of colonial built heritage in China.

MA Architecture and Historic Urban Environments, The Bartlett, UCL 2018

BArch - Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University 2017

We would like to thank Anita Schrattenecker for rendering assistance in copy editing this issue.



Urbanogram: Journal of the Built Environment

Ghost Dimensions

Issue 2022

Editorial Team

Cassandra Osterman

Fanny Ciufo

Lavenya Parthasarathy

Lei Jiao

Longhua Gu

Neha Fatima

Sophie Schrattenecker

Stefan Gruber

Xin Zheng

Supportive Copy Editing

Anita Schrattenecker

Cassandra Osterman

Layout Design

Sophie Schrattenecker

Stefan Gruber

Layout Editing

pp. 2-7, 76-85, 112-115: Sophie


pp. 8-17, 42-53, 54-63: Stefan Gruber

pp. 18-29: Lei Jiao

pp. 30-41, 64-75: Lavenya Parthasarathy

pp. 86-91: Neha Fatima

pp. 92-97: Longhua Gu

pp. 98-111: Fanny Ciufo

Layout assemblage

Sophie Schrattenecker

Social Media and Marketing

Fanny Ciufo

Neha Fatima


Fanny Ciufo

Lei Jiao

Neha Fatima

Sophie Schrattenecker


Lei Jiao

Stefan Gruber


Fanny Ciufo

Sophie Schrattenecker

Website Design

Sophie Schrattenecker

Stefan Gruber

Website Editorial and Coding

Stefan Gruber


We would like to thank Edward Denison for encouraging and supporting our venture of creating this journal.

Contact urbanogram-journal@outlook.com

Instagram: urbanogramjournal


Issuu: issuu.com/urbanogram

This edition frst published in October 2022

Place of publication: www.urbanogram.com

Copyright © 2022 by the authors

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted by any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, except by permssion of the publishers and / or authors.

Urbanogram: Journal of the Built Environment is an independent journal initiated by graduates of The Bartlett School of Architecture. We endeavour to ensure all information is correct at the time of publication.



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