This book explores various ways of identifying and understanding the character of historic townscapes from a systematic and comparative perspective. It outlines several genetic approaches to the study of urban form, grounded in the traditions of geographical analysis but wholly interdisciplinary in their content and implications. It develops a philosophical and methodological basis for the field of urban morphology, stressing the reciprocal relations between town plan, building fabric and land and building utilisation. It views these elements as spatially variable accumulations and selective survivals of forms regulated by shifting patterns of corporate and individual decisions made from one historical period to another - in perpetual tension between resistance and change. Several of the essays in this collection establish and exemplify conceptual principles and axioms of urban morphological development in historic towns, and introduce numerous specific processes by which built forms are created and juxtaposed in urban space. Other essays apply these precepts by interpreting a number of case studies of historic towns in Britain, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and elsewhere. The closing essay offers a unique interpretation of the regional varieties to be found in medieval European urbanism, based on differing traditions of social formation and morphological outcomes.
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M.R.G. Conzen was Professor Emeritus of Human Geography at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Beginning his professional career in urban planning, he cultivated a life-long fascination for all aspects of urban form, and sought to develop a systematic approach to urban morphology. His interests included settlement geography and landscape history more broadly, particularly in Europe and Japan.
Michael P. Conzen, his son, is Professor of Geography at the University of Chicago, USA.
«The timing of the rise of interest in Conzenian thought, of which this book is part, relates to wider developments within both urban morphology and kindred fields. [...] ‘Thinking about Urban Form’ is a timely contribution to this development. Nowhere else are the main strands of Conzen's thinking so conveniently and effectively brought together. [...] The outcome is to the benefit of the many who have an interest in the historical development of urban form and how its understanding can benefit future urban societies.» (J.W.R. Whitehand, Urban Studies)
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