"...This city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the coursers of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightening rods, the poles of the flags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls..."

in. Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

"...If we look at the contemporary form of urban landscapes, we can see how different cities – with their own history, with their own culture, with different population and extension and in different parts of the world – are experiencing similar transformations driving them into a kind of a common and standard landscape..."

in. Francesc Muñoz, Urbanalización

Globalization has been a process that has affected every aspects of human life (at least...) during the last century. As a consequence of that process, some already called our planet as a planet city, others, like Salman Rushdie, presented the idea of a Mac World.

Globalization is a reality that changed our way of living (forever?), making us to get used (and dependent?) of standards and brands ( the way, this text was written on a iPad...).

So, we beleive that we became globalized citizens of a Mac World, where more than 80% of its population is now living in (big) cities. First, we became urbanized, now we became globalized. And so did our cities...

Therefore, can we still talk about the poetry of Calvino´s Invisible Cities? Can we still find (or miss) the city past on the streets where we walkabout? Can we still discover on each city we visit, its desires, its fears, its anxieties, its identity? Do all cities look like the same? Or... are we simply getting used to a standard way of living that makes us to look for the same things wherever we go, so we can feel comfortable and safe... like home?

How do architects and city planners deal with globalization? Are we changing the way we think our cities? Are we planning them differently? And, are they becoming different, although man try to make them to look like the same?

In this seminar we will discuss the urban fabric and the globalization effects on city identity.

(V.P. 2011)


João Santa-Rita (Santa Rita Architects); Mário Sua Kay; (Sua Kay Architects); Augustin Ioan (Ion Mincu University, Bucarest); ; Johannes Kalvelage (Dessau Institute of Architecture); Vaso Trova (University of Thessaly, Volos); Fátima Silva (Universidade Lusíada, Lisboa);

Contributors: Irene Curulli (Technical University of Eindhoven); Luca Fabris (Politecnico di Milano); Esin Boyacioglu (Gazy University, Ankara); Ado Franchini (Politecnico di Milano); Caroline Donnellan (Boston University)

The Metropolis and Mental Life
"...The deepest problems of modern life derive from the claim of the individual to preserve the autonomy and individuality of his existence in the face of overwhelming social forces, of historical heritage, of external culture, and of the technique of life. The fight with nature which primitive man has to wage for his bodily existence attains in this modern form its latest transformation..." 
Georg Simmel
full text here
How has Globalization Changed Architecture? 
"...Globalization is another major issue that young architects and all architects face, but that we – speaking as a teacher and as a dean – we address. I mean the whole issue of how much modernization or modernity is appropriate in countries like the Middle East? I mean it’s a political issue which buildings are principle talismans of. Is it appropriate to build a 25 story or a 50 story office building basically sealed in glass and so forth in a desert setting? Some would say in those countries these are symbols of their rising modernity. But the people . . . Often the people in the streets see these as alien invaders. So I mean I could go on in that. But the global issue of . . . The global versus the local is a . . . is a very complicated issue which can raise architectural discourse to the boiling point, and can in fact raise the relationship of nations to each other to the boiling point..."
Robert A. Stern
 Generic City

Rem Koolhaas
The Global City
"...The experience of the global is partial. It is not an all-encompassing umbrella. The multiple processes that constitute it inhabit and shape specific, rather than universal, structurations of the economic, the political, the cultural, the subjective. In so doing, new spatialities and temporalities are produced, co-existing yet distinct from the master temporality and spatiality of the “national.” In the interplay of their difference, strategic openings have emerged.
Such strategic openings are especially evident in sites where these intersecting temporalities and spatialities assume thick and consequential forms. Among these sites are, from the perspective of my own research experience, global cities. The global city is a border zone where the old spatialities and temporalities of the national and the new ones of the global digital age engage. Out of their juxtaposition comes the possibility of a whole series of new economic and cultural projects. There are other sites, including microsites, where the juxtapositions of different spatialities and temporalities are likely to be thick, charged. One question that comes to mind is whether art in some of its instantiations can represent such a microsite of juxtapositions, one that captures a key dynamic of transitioning..."
Saskia Sassen 
full text here 
 Creating Local Identity Through Architecture
"...There’s a growing consensus in the architectural profession that the special identity of places matters. This seems to be based on the perception that globalisation is creating an undesirable uniformity in cities around the world... ...Two techniques for giving new architecture an identity to relate a building to its locality emerged: the spirit of place and the symbol of place..."
Robert Adam
Athens Terra Incognita
by Vaso Trova 
The presentation explores the identity of the public open space in the centre of Athens. The centre of the city seems to share two identities which interweave and contradict at the same time. On the one hand the centre remains a global reference point with symbolic value, the locus of a shared national identity, the location of important public buildings and monuments and a tourist magnet. On the other hand it is the area where groups of migrants are to be found, organizing niche markets, forming social networks, trying to survive. This double identity creates social and spatial conflicts, transforms the traditional public realm of the city and fuels demands for major interventions for the upgrading of public space. Within this context the paper will discuss two urban design competitions aiming at upgrading the centre of the city and the role of design in reshaping open public space as an arena where individual and collective identities are expressed. The first case concerns the redesign of Omonoia square, a project implemented in 2004 at the time of the Athens Olympic Games. The second concerns the redesign of Theatrou square and was organized in 2010.
A Escala, Conceito Determinante no Reconhecimento de uma Identidade - Uma Praça Global para Sevilha 
por Fátima Silva 
A partir de uma proposição arquitectónica urbana validade por concurso internacional de ideias, com um júri composto por arquitectos conceituados internacionalmente no campo da arquitectura. A proposta é da autoria do arquitecto Alemão Jungen Mayer, que a titula significativamente como “Metroparasol”. Por intermédio desta solução de projecto, questionam-se os novos conceitos de relação entre o homem e o seu entorno construído, a Escala e também os novos conceitos de desenho urbano.
O “objecto” arquitectónico e urbano em causa é uma praça (em adiantado estado de concretização), sita no em pleno casco histórico da cidade secular de Sevilha, “Plaza de la Encarnación”. Procuram-se entender os conceitos que validam esta actuação e as mais valias para a vida da cidade e dos seus cidadãos destas novas actuações nos tecidos urbanos consolidados.