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Cultures, Communities and Design

The Cultural Capital of Urban Morphology
F. Mancini & T. Glusac


Perth, Western Australia has been steadily changing its urban fabric and appearance, from a colonial outpost to a post-colonial centre embracing modernity. Its brief history means that the grounding in prior historical periods may appear missing. In this paper we argue that the young history is not necessarily precluding the existence of layered values, but that these are underestimated in relation to Perth’s urban development. Consequently, a perpetual ideological scenario of a virtual tabula rasa is created where everything is considered fleeting and easily substitutable. This paradigm, supported by global economic forces, has to date been preferred over urban transformations based on the typological process1. While economic factors undeniably impact urban transformations and development2, this paper suggests that other factors must be considered for a sustainable urban growth, such as cultural capital discussed by Bourdieu. The authors argue that the understanding and application of urban morphological and typological principles in urban design can be used to sustain the permanence of cultural capital as an essential and tangible component of the city.


Dr Francesco Mancini is an Italian Registered Architect and Associate Professor at Curtin University where he currently serves as the Deputy Head of School of Design and the Built Environment. He is member of the Architecture Program Accreditation Review Panel, member of the Board of Architects of Western Australia and represents Curtin Architecture at the Australian Association of Architecture Schools of Australia. Before joining Curtin University in 2015, Dr Mancini has taught and researched since 1998 at the University of Roma Tre as a research fellow and as Adjunct Professor of Architectural Design in the Department of Architecture. His teaching philosophy is based on learning as a social and collaborative practice, based on shared problem solving strategies and approach. Dr Mancini is an architectural theorist interested in urban studies, Architectural language and critical design thinking. He taught with internationally eminent scholar and architect Peter Eisenman at The Cooper Union School of Architecture in New York. He also taught Architectural Design at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture Rome, the Pratt Institute Rome, and the ISU College of Design Rome. Mancini practiced in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and returned to Rome in 2001 to establish an architectural practice. Mancini has served as a design advisor for the City of Rome, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chief of Staff Defence. He has published on Peter Eisenman and on building typology. He holds a PhD from the University of Florence on Peter Eisenman’s work. Dr Tanja Glusac is a senior lecturer Director Learning and Teaching in the School of Design and the Built Environment, Curtin University. Tanja holds a PhD in the field of Architecture with her interdisciplinary research focusing on the issues of territorialisation and re-territorialisation in relation to architecture and the spatial perception of migrants. In particular, she is interested in various preconceived notions and expectations surrounding the built environment and how these impact on both the way we view and experience any given new physical setting and context. Tanja’s teaching approach is dialectic in nature. She strives to provide an encouraging and stimulating learning environment, positive and constructive criticism, and engaging her students in dialogue concerning matters surrounding architecture, space, inhabitation and perception. It is through dialogue that students form their opinions and take stands on issues, critically assessing the environment that surrounds them. Tanja’s teaching is underpinned by her research and her commitment to developing a strong nexus between teaching, research and industry. Her focus on engagement of architectural theory and practice aims to inspire and motivate the next generation of design theorists and practitioners to be critical thinkers and positive contributors to matters surrounding architecture and the built environment.