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Cultures, Communities and Design

Rurbanism or a transversal overlook in our territories
J. Sànchez & I. Aquilué Junyent


Generic readings about urban realities and rural realities tend to draw a strabismic look that tends to dissociate this binomial, sometimes in an interested way and other unconsciously. Often, the economic dynamics, advantages and limitations of small urban centers in rural land are explained only from the context of their immediate environment, in the same way that often the dynamics and singularities of the consolidated urban centers are defined from a strictly urban context, covering only the close non-urbanizable soils bordering, very conditioned by urban uses and activities. To address the difficulties and specificities of small rural settlements, it is necessary to take into account the territory as a whole, understanding the synergies that are generated between these settlements and nearby medium-sized cities. That is why an open and global look is needed to underpin the repopulation, a perspective that contemplates the territorial scenario in all its aspects, and that can allow us to talk about what we could identify as the rurban territory, a territory where the interaction and benefit of both realities is sought without sacrificing the specificities of the rural world. Working on a narrow area such as Alt Berguedà (Catalonia) allows us to record the singularities and specificities of this environment in terms of orography, accessibility, land uses, economic activities, urban morphology, the distribution of its rural centres and the distribution of services. The careful analysis of each of these aspects shows us that the possible strategies must be necessarily endemic, difficult to apply to other environments, since obviously the conditioning factors are very different. The highlight of this workshop has been that through its specific and empirical approach we have been able to collect a series of notes to establish lines of work on rural nuclei. These notes for strategic intervention in rural areas begin with a basic taxonomy. The taxonomy was previously established in the workshop, and helps us to build a first classification and a better understanding of the various casuistries. Empirical work, on the other hand, reinforced the identified urban approach lines, which indicate possible strategies to take into account in the near future, not only to stop depopulation but to promote new economic and social synergies.


Jordi Franquesa is PhD Architect, specialized in Town Planning, and he is teaching Urbanism at the University since 1996. He is also Master in Urban Planning and has taken courses on the theory of architecture in the city of Chicago. He also teaches at the aforementioned Master of Urban Planning. He has taught at different universities, as the University of Venice, Lisbon, Netherlands, Mexico DC and the University of Goiânia, Brazil, and has been a speaker in a Teaching and Learning Congress at Harvard. He has been working for years in different professional Urban Planning Projects related with the urban city growth. He has participated in several research projects and has written several articles on urban development in different publications. His PhD Thesis obtained the Extraordinary Doctorate Prize, which meaned the publication of the work. He is now elaborating a profound research about the relationship between rural and urban territories, and he is adressing the interest on the COVID efects on the territory, which has opened a new debate about the quality of life in rural areas and the new equilibrium between urban and rural contexts in terms of density movements and activities, and trying to understand the actual role that the infraestructures, the environment and the heritage have on human communities.

Inés Aquilué is an architect and urban planner, has a PhD in Urbanism from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC), a Master’s Degree in Urban Studies from the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) and teaches at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning of the UPC. She has developed a large part of her research on the complex processes that are unleashed in cities and landscapes under situations of extreme uncertainty and on the analysis of the effects produced in their structures as part of the evolution of urban systems. Her interest in non-linear processes establishes a bridge between complexity and urbanism to develop a holistic understanding of spatial systems to analyse, map and project the city, the territory and the landscape through a non-deterministic approach. The contemporaneity, uniqueness and relevance of her work have allowed her to build her own methods of analysis applied in cities as diverse as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Beirut, Maputo, Medellín and Sarajevo. Dr. Aquilué has an intense research career, including a dozen scientific articles in high-impact specialized journals such as Cities, INVI and Scripta Nova, the book “City and Uncertainty” and various collective books of international relevance.