ROOTS Urban: Urban Agency and Perception

Earliest towns and cities, where population agglomerations, new economic organization as well as the division of a controlled public and private space first took place, enhanced the development of urban bureaucracies, full-time specialist craftsmanship, and various centres of knowledge production. Urbanism brought forth new systems of production and trade and led to the emergence of new architectural and cultural concepts. The construction and perception of urban environments create ‘worlds of their own’ in stark contrast to the ‘natural’ environment. Thus, Urban ROOTS especially focuses on the construction of these urban spaces and their actors, in particular, as perceived in ancient and Medieval cities. As cities have very specific dynamics, created by agency and perception of past urban actors, a reconstruction of these ‘dynamics’ as a specific structure of urbanity will disclose the driving forces behind urban development.

Urban ROOTS investigates both the history of urbanism, i.e. the description of environmental, demographic, economic and social developments of towns and cities, and the structure of urbanity, i.e. the creation and reception of the artificial urban space, with the aim of deciphering the linkage between the development and the character of urban centres. Urban agglomerations constitute historically variable ‘hubs’ within dynamic networks. As nodes of environmental, cultural, social, political, and economic forms of connectivity, urban spaces protrude against the surrounding environment. Towns, cities, and metropolises are physically distinct loci, where multivocal, multicultural, and multilocal actors and groups with their agencies coexist and interact within their social, environmental, and cultural settings. The concept of urban networks, where different forms of activities take place, enables Urban ROOTS to address questions related to different intensities and ranges of the urban foci as parts of complex networks. Accordingly, Urban ROOTS investigates the interdependence between urban environmental settings, material and immaterial resources, forms of urban design (architecture), mental concepts of urbanity, and forms of urban agency (e.g. formalized through institutions or non-formalized) and perception. Urban ROOTS approaches this socio-environmental network from the perspective of human (inter-)action and perception, which together produce urbanity.



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