P. GREGORY _ ABSTRACT _ WMCAUS 2018 (World Multidisciplinary Civil Engineering - Architecture - Urban Planning Symposium)



The paper intends to address the topic of urban transformation within the framework of the concept of "affective space". The central research question will be: what is the influence of the affective sphere on changes that take place in the city and vice versa how much does the changes affect the emotional sphere? By placing subjects at the center of the research, the paper intends to study the relationship between individuals  - as well as groups and communities - and urban spaces they inhabit.  This can be done by guaranteeing centrality to the pre-reflective emotional impact that spatial situations  produce on subjects, where for "spatial situation" it is intended  the inclusive description of a specific condition, including both the material articulation of space and its intangible qualities that influence the subject's emotional sphere.

Several authors in different fields of environmental psychology, human geography, philosophy etc.  have produced a new paradigm for the understanding of the subject's experience of the space, in which a wide sphere of emotional resonance, lived by the embodied subject, becomes important.  Nevertheless, in our specific field of architecture, the affective dimension of urban space is still underexplored, while it can provide an alternative way of addressing the human and social component of urban transformation processes. Concepts such as "atmosphere" and "empathy" become central in our way of experiencing space, alongside with "memory"  that has been one of the carrying concepts of late 20th century urban theory, from Aldo Rossi's classical book L'architettura della città (1966) onwards. However, the discussion has mainly concerned the historicized acceptations of memory, while less attention has been paid to the temporal extension of feeling. This is another field of research that would highlight the idea that the spatial externalization of emotions - as sustained by contemporary phenomenology - can be embedded into physical space. Thus it is possible to study the changing urban spaces at the present and in a historical perspective: residents who have witnessed the urban transformation and recent inhabitants who may witness the presence of historicized feelings through their traces.  

Focusing on selected cases studies in the perspective of affective space theory, the paper intends to develop in a double direction: "top down", from theory to the real changes in urban life, and "bottom up", from the architectural re-design of specific sites back to the paradigm of theoretical approach. To achieve this goal, the paper analyzes some of the de-industrialized areas in the city of Turin, Italy, in its dramatic transition from a fordist city to a post-fordist city.  In some cases these areas have been already regenerated with the developing of new urban spaces and landscapes; in others, the areas are undergoingrevitalization or are awaiting urban transformations. It is above all in these last cases that the consideration of emotional sphere becomes important, as a  tool for prefiguring space and future use: not only entrusted to the functionality of "effective" space, but also to atmosphere, empathy, memory of "affective" space.

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