Drawing the Urban. Simposio

Julian Lewis, ‘Hairy drawing’ of Indische Buurt and Flevopark, 2012. Courtesy the author
Julian Lewis, ‘Hairy drawing’ of Indische Buurt and Flevopark, 2012. Courtesy the author
Julian Lewis, ‘U3 (East teaching unit)-Student drawing about life at edges and atmosphere
Julian Lewis, ‘U3 (East teaching unit)-Student drawing about life at edges and atmosphere

Accademia di architettura

26 Settembre 2023

16-17 Novembre 2023

Istituto di studi urbani e del paesaggio ISUP
Accademia di architettura, USI



In the last decades, the notion of the city as a definable entity has been increasingly contested and reframed in relation to fluid and heterogenous urbanization processes. If the term still retains a collective intelligibility, this is because the urban imaginary is deeply rooted in individual lived experiences.

A key role in defining and reiterating urban imaginaries can be understood in relation to the way the city is depicted. The representation of the urban is not merely a descriptive operation, but one that deals with the epistemological challenges of how to know, understand, and study urban processes and conditions. At the same time, drawings are the instruments that allow urbanists, architects, and designers to envision and steer spatial and social transformations.

This symposium will investigate the multiple ways in which recent and current urban conditions are represented, analysed, and informed, through drawings. Among the multiplicity of urban processes constantly and simultaneously shaping the built environment, we are particularly interested in dynamics of urban expansion and densification (whether top-down and bottom-up), as well as shrinkage, exclusion, land speculation, and gentrification. We are similarly interested in the material and graphical analyses of social phenomena such as migration, demographic shifting, and intensive commuting.

We welcome contributions that investigate existing forms of urban representation – for example, institutional and administrative documentation, urban codes, maps, and construction drawings – as well as creative, subjective, situated, and propositional ways of visually depicting urban processes and conditions.


Palazzo Canavée
Aula C0.64 e online

Passcode: 161123



Giovedì 16 novembre 2023
14.00  Jonathan Sergison, Saluto istituzionale
14.10  Tom Avermaete and Giulia Scotto, Introduzione

14.20 – 16.40 Sessione I: Drawing urban conditions and processes

  • 14.20 - 14.30  Introduction, Jonathan Sergison
  • 14.30 - 14.50 Hugh Campbell and Plattenbaustudio, Drawing Dublin Port and all that it Currently Contains
  • 14.50 - 15.10 Fatima Zahra Benhamza, Heterotopia[s]_Casablanca layers of love
  • 15.10 - 15.30 Cheng-Chun Patrick HWANG and Peter W. Ferretto, The Thick and Thin of Fragrant Harbor
  • 15.30 - 15.50 Elsa Despoix, The Logbook Project, A Window into Hand Drawing by Next Generation Architects
  • 15.50 - 16.10 Dennis Häusler and Mathias Vollmer, Drawing the Urban – Complexity and Specificity
  • 16.10 - 16.40 Discussion, moderated by Jonathan Sergison and Miriam Stierle

16.40 - 17.00 Pausa
17.00 - 18.00 Keynote by Julian Lewis, East architecture, landscape urban design ltd.
Reality Sandwiches

Venerdì 17 novembre 2023
09.00 – 11.20 Sessione II: Drawing histories

  • 09.00 - 09.10 Introduction, Tom Avermaete
  • 09.10 - 09.30 Lorenzo De Chiffre, Reading Buildings as Metaspace – Reverse Engineering the Urban Theory of Chora Institute of Architecture and Urbanism.
  • 09.30 - 09.50 Yosuke Nakamoto, From fisher villages to the city: Design surveys by the Kōjiro Laboratory 1967-1976
  • 09.50 - 10.10 Amir Djalali, Making Everything Visible: the Archaeological Plan and the Open Secret of Urban Form
  • 10.10 - 10.30 Ilaria Maria Zedda, The IBA Berlin 1979–87 and its Rahmenpläne: Drawing the Urban as a Design Tool and a Trigger for Discussions on the City
  • 10.30 - 10.50 Lola Lozano Lara, Withdrawing Land. Graphic agency and land entitlement in colonial Mexico
  • 10.50 - 11.20 Discussion moderated by Tom Avermaete and Sanna Kattenbeck

11.40 – 12.40 Keynote by Kristiaan Borret, Bouwmeester-Maitre Architecte of the Brussels-Capital Region
Soft Power. The impact of a drawing in urban policy

12.40 - 13.40 Pausa
13.40  Keynote by Huda Tayob, Manchester School of Architecture,
Opaque architectures: can drawing ‘tell’ a different story?

15.00 – 17:00 Sessione III: Drawing marginal spaces and alternative agencies

  • 15.00 – 15.10 Introduction, Irina Davidovici
  • 15.10 - 15.30 Xiang Ren, Drawing Urban Imaginaries of Minorities and Margins
  • 15.30 - 15.50 Geraldine Borio, Looking for the Voids and Drawing the Liminal
  • 15.50 - 16.10 Elettra Carnelli, What the files do not reveal: self-constructed settlements and their drawings in postwar Milan’s periphery
  • 16.10 - 16.30 Lukas Fink, Seppe De Blust, Marica Castigliano, and Chloé Nachtergael,  A Map of Potentials
  • 16.30 -17.00 Discussion moderated by Irina Davidovici and Giulia Scotto

17.00-17.30 Conclusion, Jonathan Sergison, Tom Avermaete, and Irina Davidovici