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Issue 2021

Recording &
Responding Cities

Edioral Note
Editorial Note

by Anita Schrattenecker

What sort of incitement motivates a party of architectural graduates to start the enter- prise of publishing an online journal? “Don’t lose momentum“ was the maxim frequent- ly expressed by their tutors during a time of intense studies of Architecture & Historic Urban Environments MA at The Bartlett School of Architecture in London. After finishing their training, it was this closeness and productivity that provoked the wish to exchange their experiences and awareness for their surroundings, regardless of their physical separation. Today, the contributors aresetupinvariouspartsoftheworld,and keeping up momentum by collaborating in thisjournal.Despitetheextraordinarytime of its creation during a state of emergency, the Covid-19 pandemic did not curtail the young architects ́ enthusiasm for this publi- cation, but rather, intensified their sense of the shared experience.

Urbanogram is a journal catering to the needs of young professionals to publish their impressions and perceptions of ongoing changes in urban environments. Highlighting a specific moment in time, this journal represents a compilation of snapshots of urban collocations of habitats, neighbourhoods and communities around the globe. The 2021 issue “Recording and Responding Cities” combines articles about metropolitan cities by capturing their attributes, depicting their status quo, and demanding responses to urgent urban challenges.

The close intertwining of architecture with abundant forms of biographies makes this journal suitable for a diverse readership. The representation of cultural diversity and pluralist worldviews account for key param- eters of the authors ́ work. This heteroge- neity can be found in topics approached, but is also noticed in writing styles and culturally shaped forms of expression. Where necessary proper names as well as key phrases typical of specific geographi- cal regions were therefore explained in the articles. For the individual articles either British or American spelling has been agreed on with regard to the cultural and linguistic idiosyncracies of our writers ́ manifold nationalities.

By reflecting on urbanity, such as the roof-top festival in Rotterdam, unnoticed vernacular architecture in Spain or the essence of the shape-giving River Thames in London, the journal renders visible excep- tional, customary and unusual unfold- ment. The reader of Urbanogram will also encounter concepts related to arts, such as kintsugi, the century-old Japanese repair tradition which gained traction in applied architecture. There is insight into the city of Lahore in Pakistan and its reverberat- ing, embracing vicinity that is at the same time suffocating by traffic density. Finally, the magnifying glass is pointed at the Covid-19 pandemic of the present global state of emergency, in order to enlarge our individual perception of the current spatial experience.

Introduction to the Journal

by Cassandra Osterman

Our cohort of Bartlett alumni, before re-uniting to create this journal, first came together in the studio. We exercised a diverse range of approaches to our work in historic urban environments. Some were research-driven, others practice-driven. We were making, tinkering, exploring, pat- tern-finding, unearthing, and in one way or another, scrutinizing the built form of cities within a continuum of past-present-future. In understanding an urban environment, we examined the line drawn between its past forms and its present composition. Drawing that line forward, and projecting a potential future in a place - an adaptive reuse of a structure, or the anticipated evo- lution of urban design - was often where our imaginations were focused.

Looking back on these studios, it is no surprise that we are, in a variety of inter- national professional settings, still pur- suing these same areas of architectural inquiry. Urbanogram: Journal of the Built Environment is a platform for architectural- ly-minded researchers and practitioners to share their unique documentation of the built environment within its historic con- tinuum. We are each, in our own way, docu- menting a specific point in time in different urban environments around the world. Our contributors will be sharing pieces from their ongoing research, academic works, professional projects, and articles.

This inaugural journal is titled “Recording and Responding Cities”, in the spirit of a memorable module many of our authors took while at the Bartlett - “Surveying and Recording Cities”. It speaks to the duality of our work in architecture and urban design, particularly when it is set in his- toric urban environments. We record sites in order to understand what has shaped them - through research, surveys, de- tailed observation, measuring, sketching, photographing. This act of recording is so profoundly integral to our process as ar- chitectural professionals that, in many of our projects, it can be the bulk of the work- load. This journal issue is an homage to the process of understanding the context of a site, in order to discover how to respond to it in the act of building, renovating, or adapting. We explore how we may respond to the built environment, and how the built environment responds onto itself - organ- ically shifting and reacting in ways no one person can control. These stories are each a reflection of how the contemporary city - the way in which it uniquely functions with its modern systems, lifestyles, and sit- uations - is woven into an already complex and richly defined historic urban fabric.

In summary, the stories in this journal are tied together by a focus on critical obser- vation - of quietly listening to the city, dis- cerning each of its melodies, pulling apart the layers of its music, and finally, calling back to it.

Introduction to this Journal

Issue 2021


Recording &
Responding Cities

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