Since the UN announced that the majority of humankind lives in urban areas, we have allowed a single vision to become the dominant answer to future challenges: The idea of the resilient urban body. This reduction misses a large potential of urbanised territories that are not directly ascertainable by a single frame. All over Europe a long history of shared territorial responsibility has fostered co-penetrating rural/urban-realms that have long outgrown the traditional dichotomy of city/countryside. A large segment of Europe’s population lives in these rich conditions – their multifaceted potential for resilient development still has to be unlocked, however.
Urbanised territories are at the heart of Europe’s industrial production; they are hubs for logistics and data, and simultaneously green lungs and a spatial reserve for sustaining development in the energy and food sector. Manifold novel expressions of the urban as much as the rural, and mixed and hybrid conditions profit from multiple interdependencies. Local identities have often shifted and new modes of production, movement and ownership flourish. Initiatives, both bottom-up and top-down, have emerged across the continent, covertly questioning ideologies of urban promise and countryside plight. They can drive new models of balanced, circular and equal trading, working and living systems and inspire additional ways of comprehensive transition.
Looking from the in- rather than the outside, from the existing and not the expanding – the aim of the joint effort of urbanes.land and topos is to concentrate existing knowledge about these urbanised territories and connect the realms of academics and practitioners across borders, sectors and regions. For one year, this “transforming peripheries” magazine will act as a platform for exchange and connection. It will share best-practice strategies, reflect on what works, and provide levers to influence the spatial development agendas of policy makers, urban planners, business leaders, academics and community groups alike. We encourage and welcome all parties to add, dissent or comment on the magazine. Dynamic exchange, instant reflection and a broad spectrum of different angles are some of the best things an online magazine can offer.
Understanding and working with the heterogeneity of urbanised territories requires crossing both disciplinary and institutional boundaries. Finding categories with which to dissect the contributions has proved to be a conflictive task. Still, in order to create a structure of reference, we’ve established four narrative threads that will lead us through this year of continuous discoveries: Character will enable us to look at originality and tradition, at cataclysms for people and society and the active role of inhabitants in transformation processes. Structure will highlight the built and unbuilt dimensions of space and infrastructure on regional and local levels. In Levers we will collect different impulses of transformative approaches and development strategies, while Strategies will illuminate tangible projects, as well as administrative and institutional best-practices.