The Cyprus Network of Urban Morphology will host the ISUF2019 conference in Nicosia, Cyprus. The conference aims to address the embedding of different theories and approaches within methodologies analysing the urban form.

Relational theories have wide implications for the study of the urban form, not just in terms of how we conceptualise cities and describe the processes of their emergence and transformation, but also for the design of methodologies that more than ever need to take into account a variety of city components – not just physical elements, but also human groups and the connections between them. Furthermore, such theories highlight the relevance of the urban form to the construction and negotiation of the social as well as the power of connections between social entities at different scales in shaping our cities. Both these reflections are particularly relevant to the focus themes related to the location of the conference: group formations and negotiations within cities influencing ethnoreligious tensions, political movements, social segregation and urban conflicts more widely, as well as the particular status of port cities often in the past more linked to other port cities than their hinterland and, still to the present day, the first point of arrival of migrant groups and the city-location of choice for tourism.

Although the relevance of relational theories for the fields of geography and urban studies has been touched upon by a number of research articles, the theories have not been reflected upon with great depth and no conferences on the impact and the potentialities of relational theories for urban studies have so far taken place. Discussion on the implications of such theories specifically for the study of urban morphology has been even scarcer, may these be in relation to Conzenian, typological or space syntax approaches.

Relational theories open up new avenues for the study of urban morphology and for the development of multidisciplinary methodologies. They can provide a framework for the analysis of the physical and social processes that are involved in the shaping of the urban form, which also addresses aspects such as historical processes or the distributions of variations across a population in order to fully explain the emergence of cities and the processes of persistence and change. Although relational theories are suggestive of themes for research on urban development and links to various methodological techniques could be drawn, they tend to be indeterminate due to the complexity of the theorisation of cities as assemblages, where the components and processes could be innumerate and hence emergence can hardly follow any specific rules. The concept of assemblage and the functioning of assemblages as presented by De Landa is relatively clear but remains an analytically-unspecific concept which does not provide a strategy for analysing social assemblages and explain the properties of the whole (since there is a high level of contingency in the interaction between the parts and potentially infinite scales at which social processes can occur).


  1. Theory 1 : emergence, relational theories, the social sciences and urban morphology.
  2. Theory 2: the scope and limits of urban theories.
  3. Urban Design: urban morphology, building typology and design
  4. Methods 1  : embedding different approaches into the study of urban morphology.
  5. Methods 2: combining Conzenian, typological and space syntax approaches.
  6. Focus 1: urban conflict and divided cities.
  7. Focus 2: Mediterranean port cities in a global context.

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