The Meaning of Urban Morphology in Terms of Cultural Heritage Through Changing Urban Space


  • İmre Özbek Eren


Space, Urban Morphology, Cultural Heritage, Historical Urban Landscape, Istanbul


In line with recent paradigm shifts like globalism, the increase in population or commodification of urban land beside cultural demands, have been giving rise to regeneration of cities via high-rise buildings, infrastructural interferences or building up new areas in the city. In historical cities, there occurs an encounter with urban space and heritage. This new space production mechanisms inevitably cause degenerations on historical cities’ characters. Recent approaches in heritage thought has been trying to find solutions to this dilemma. ‘Historic Urban Landscape’ approach provides a holistic view for all these issues.

If we read the urban space as a text, we can say that the language of this pattern is composed of either tangible or intangible words. This tangible dimension is embodied within urban morphology. Although urban morphology had been evaluated mostly as just the physical form until recent times, today we know that it has a further meaning embedded in its cultural and historical codes. So, urban morphology also contains cultural heritage. Although urban morphology is generally a neglected dimension in conservation, it has a potential to be a kind of stalker in order to understand and sustain the sense of place via its generic codes.

This paper aims to consider urban regeneration processes that affect urban morphology in the context of cultural heritage. It also aims to bridge the gaps between space theory and conservation as an architectural phenomenology via urban morphology. The method is based on the evaluation of several cases from Istanbul via three readings: Diachronic analysis based on morphological readingsynchronized analysis based on current urban space reading and analysis of issues related with the meaning of historic urban landscape. The results show that; the embedded codes of urban morphology have a pathfinder character for sustainability of cultural heritage with development; historical urban landscape approach has different thresholds and interfaces which cannot be limited to traditional scale/buffer zone approach because it is hard to define where the urban heritage ends, and natural or cultural heritage starts so a contextual evaluation is essential; topography and its tectonic are vital determinants on the historical urban landscape; it is a must to bridge urban morphology with conservation beside revisiting space theories and architectural phenomena; in order to decide what is heritage in terms of ‘trust’.


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How to Cite

Özbek Eren, İmre . (2020). The Meaning of Urban Morphology in Terms of Cultural Heritage Through Changing Urban Space. ICONARCH International Congress of Architecture and Planning, (Iconarch -IV Proceeding Book), 131–151. Retrieved from



SESSION 1B Theme: Conservation and Regeneration