Rowe Rome 2017

Le città delle buone intenzioni

Urban Design Dialogues
Dialoghi di progettazione urbana

June 21-June 23, 2017
21-23 giugno 2017

Sapienza Università di Roma, School of Engineering, San Pietro in Vincoli
Sapienza Università di Roma, Facoltà d’ingegneria, San Pietro in Vincoli


How have new and disparate demands and responses in the field of urban design world wide impacted the discipline? What are the shared values, processes and tools of urban design today? This conference invites diverse urban design perspectives and project presentations from practitioners, writers, critics, scholars, teachers, and students to understand the expanding breadth of the discipline, its values, challenges, tools and techniques.

Come hanno influenzato la disciplina le nuove e diverse domande e risposte nella progettazione urbana nel mondo? Quali sono i valori comuni, i processi e gli strumenti della progettazione urbana oggi? Questa conferenza raccoglie contributi di professionisti, scrittori, critici, studiosi, insegnanti e studenti sulle diverse prospettive della progettazione urbana e presenta progetti che illustrino le dimensioni dello sviluppo disciplinare, i suoi valori, le sue sfide, i suoi strumenti e le sue tecniche.


Cities of Good Intentions will be held in Rome in June 2017 and is the fourth of a series of conferences held in memory of Colin Rowe and his urban design legacy. It follows the preparatory seminar “Urban Design Matters” which was held in June 2016.

The theme of the conference is the re-examination of the foundations and relevancy of urban design in a world of increasing complexity where the discipline, along with its expertise and values, are too often overwhelmed by the very political, economic and social forces that it proposes to address through intelligent, reflective and concrete design initiatives.

During the last 25 years, urban design has matured in terms of the values it embodies, the processes it employs, and the tools it has made available to academics, professionals and the public. Social, economic, and environmental concerns have been added to core pragmatic, functional, technical and formal issues. While this broadening of the field of inquiry and application has contributed positively, it has tended to eclipse the cultural, psychological and anthropological foundations of urban design.

Urban design and related policies have attracted attention as never before, including a stronger awareness by academic, cultural and professional institutions worldwide. Many new university programs, dedicated research centres, and professional associations have been specifically created to address urban design issues in a variety of ways.

However, the dynamic growth of the discipline, the expansion of ideas, research and implementation patterns, the increasingly wide range of needs it attempts to address, have had a centrifugal impact, producing a universe of disparate approaches – studies, plans, designs and theories – often so much at odds with one another that they do not promote a fertile discourse.

Consequently, the value system that had been built during the previous quarter century has tended to dissipate such that it is increasingly difficult to regard urban design theory and practice as an integrated and systematic whole.

Examples of the causes of this disintegration: fast-growing metropolises in countries with emerging economies, nations with demographic explosions, mass migrations, historic settings deserving restoration and redevelopment and even world centres in the West facing dire environmental degradation and critical social upheavals.

The diversity of the problems urban design now faces underscores the necessity of frankly acknowledging that complexity while highlighting the need to search for and refine the core values of an expanded disciplinary enterprise.

We invite presentations and pecha kuchas from experienced as well as emerging scholars and practitioners, that demonstrate urban design arguments, values and solutions in a variety of cultural contexts. Presentations should be critical in nature and include description and illustration of both successes and failures. The goal is to further understand the local–global dynamic that has produced these results.

At a moment when single buildings dominate the discussion of the built environment, seemingly hermetically isolated from their context in disregard for local and regional cultures and related spatial or formal morphologies, this conference is intended to be an ideal meeting and debating forum for authors, teachers and designers willing to offer their ideas and experiences for a proactive restructuring and enhancement of urban design principles.

Finally, it is hoped that these exchanges will contribute to a growing cosmopolitan network for an enlightened approach to urban design.

Format of the conference

The proposed format for the conference is a three-day main event (Wednesday 21 through Friday 23) beginning with a pre-conference welcome lecture Tuesday 20 afternoon and concluding with a Saturday morning field trip in Rome .

In order to ensure diverse viewpoints the intention is to host a number of short contributions of varied formats, including slide presentations, responses and commentaries and three “Pecha Kucha” sessions. The aim of the conference is to gather experiences from a wide array of geographical and cultural settings and provide an engaging media venue to air these ideas.


This conference should foster participation by a large number of individuals and institutions that are interested in tackling the many challenges and possibilities inherent in the urban design discipline and profession today.

We seek participants world wide including representation from rapidly developing countries, such as China and India; from areas where demographic concentrations and poverty cycles contribute to growing global problems as in Asia and Africa; and from developed Western countries facing issues such as sudden immigration influx, shifting production and job types, preservation and affordability.

Participants should be urban design students, teachers, professionals and scholars representing academic and cultural institutions and/or professional practices. Contributions from the world of practice is highly desired as it relates to disciplinary themes articulated above.

We welcome presenters and discussants from related fields such as real estate, administration and policies, economics, philosophy, and planning. However, urban design and its contribution to the physical environment is to remain the focus of the conference.


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