(urban) Acupuncture 

[Latin acu needle, punctura prick]

1. A socio-environmental theory that metaphorically combines urban design with Chinese traditional therapy; 2. The strategy of implementing small-scale urban interventions at specific locations, within the urban fabric, resonating with a positive impact on the large - scale environment. / The term was firstly coined by the architect and urbanist Manuel de Sola Morales.


Buffer zone

[Old English buff the sound of blowing]

1. An extent of space that serves as a separating barrier, for ecological but also political functions; 2. A cushion zone used to separate and mitigate the proximity of areas impacting each other. / E.g. trees bordering a park adjacent to a street; a non-buildable area in the closest proximity of a seashore; demilitarized zones along established frontiers.





[Latin densitas]

1. A measure of compactness to express how space is filled, crowded, or occupied; 2. The ratio between a given quantity and the extent to which it is distributed. / E.g. Population density (inhabitants per sq.Km.); Employment density (jobs per sq.Km)



[Old German twellen to remain]

To live as a resident at a specific place. Related forms are: dweller, person who stays at a specific place, city dwellers, dwelling a house, flat or other types of accommodations.



[Greek οικιστικός residential]

1. The science of human settlements; 2. Scientific discipline drawing on various fields related to human settlements, such as geography, ecology, architecture, sociology, economy, etc. / The term was coined by the Greek architect C. A. Doxiadis in 1942.


Emotional Geography

1. Discipline within the field of geography, focusing on the relationships between human emotions and places; 2. Emotional geographies [noun, pl.] can be described as parts of the environment related to or affected by human emotions. / The embodiment of emotions within a certain geographical space (e.g. inclusiveness, segregation, safety, etc.) determines the experience that the community has in association with such spaces.

(urban) Fabric

[Lat. fabrica ars process of making]

1. The arrangement of physical, ecological and socio-cultural components of the urban environment; 2. The structures or parts, both tangible and intangible, of the urban environment; 3. Appearance or pattern produced by different elements in an urbanized area. / Like textiles, urban fabric comes in different types and scales.



1. A person who walks in the city with the intent of observing, experiencing and feeling it; 2. Urban explorer. / The term was invented by the French poet Charles Baudelaire to connotate a new urban figure who wonders in modern cities partaking its attractions in a contemplative, philosophical way.


Genius Loci


1. In Roman mythology, the protective spirit of a place; 2. Location's distinctive atmosphere developed over centuries of natural and cultural processes. 3. Vocation, potential and best suitability of a place. / Beyond its physical dimensions, every place has its own unique qualities that relate to human perception. It ought to be the responsibility of the designer to be context conscious, sensitive to those unique qualities, and to enhance them.



[Middle English gentrie high rank, wellborn]

1. Process of renovating deteriorated neighborhoods by means of repairing or replacing buildings and local businesses to lead the influx of middle class and richer residents; 2. The attraction of high-income dwellers into poorer areas of the city and related displacement of low-income tenants because of higher rents.



[Greek ἕτερος other, different, τόπος place]

1. Real places in relation to other ideal places; 2. A concept invented by French philosopher Michael Foucault to describe spaces that possess a meaning beyond their materiality, and that simultaneously represent, contest and invert social spaces. / E.g. airports, ships, cemeteries, bars, prisons, fairs, and many more.


Human settlements

[Old English setl to seat]

1. Settlements of men; 2. Occupation of territory as one's own resource base, for dwelling or other living-related purposes. Human settlements vary substantially in size and type. / The discipline dealing with human settlements is the science of Ekistics.


Informal settlements

1. Settlements built outside the 'formal' system of laws and regulations; 2. Residential areas where housing units (shelters) have been constructed on land to which the occupants have no legal claim (UNHabitat) / Also referred to as slumsshantytownsfavelas, bidonvilles, informal settlements are a global urban phenomenon caused by the persistence of poverty, inequality and distorted land markets. 






Land tenure

1. The institutionalized relationship between people and the land where they live;

2. Set of rules, legal or otherwise arranged, that defines who is granted the property of the land, for how long and under which conditions. Land tenure is often categorized as: Private, Communal, State. | Weaks or not existent land tenure (e.g. informal settlements, squats) constitute a vulnerability for those living without adequate rights and lacking State recognition and protection. 


Landscape Urbanism

Theory of urban design based on the idea that cities are constituted of interconnected horizontal fields where natural and built components are integrated. | By rejecting the duality of nature versus city, landscape urbanism considers every project as an intersection of ecology, engineering, social policy, and political processes. The concept of urbanism as landscape shifts the design focus from finished outcomes to open-ended processes that are in constant change, just like every landscape is.




Nolli map

Interpreted plan of Rome created by the Italian architect Giambattista Nolli, in 1748. Universally known as Nolli map, the drawing depicts the public space network of Rome using a figure-ground representation: building mass are in dark shades and public spaces, both open and closed (e.g. churches) are in white. / An important innovation of the map was the North orientation. 





[Latin patronus reference]

Distribution and mix of spatial characteristics within a settlement or a natural environment, forming a recurrent or intelligible form.

The parts of a pattern can be referred to as grains: in fine-grain patterns, elements are widely dispersed without forming any large cluster; in coarse-grain patterns, elements are clustered and separated from each other. / E.g. settlement pattern; development pattern; vegetation pattern.






Spatial (in)justice

Connecting urban space and social justice, spatial justice affirms the space as the ground for justice. The geographical component informs on the distribution of resources in space and the opportunity to use them. When spatial discrimination occurs - for biases such as class, ethnicity, gender - a lasting disadvantage is created. Examples of spatial injustice are territorial apartheid, redlining of urban investments, periphery decay.



[Latin strata paved road, Old Dutch skap form]

1. View of a street; 2. Combination of visual elements of the street and its surroundings such as lanes, sidewalks, adjoining buildings, vegetation, forming the overall street's appearance and character. / E.g. urban streetscape. A thoughtful streetscape design provides an attractive and safe urban environment.




Urban Cosmography

urban [Latin urbanus relating to, characteristic of, constituting a city] 

cosmos [Greek κόσμος order, form, arrangement, the world or universe]

graphy [Greek γραφία a process of drawing, writing, recording, describing]

The name Urban Cosmography describes the act of exploring the complexity that characterizes cities and human settlements.











[English to zone border an area]

1. Partitioning a city or borough into zones assigned for different uses (e.g. residence, business, services, etc.); 2. A set of rules, ordinances, laws adopted by local governments to organize the city by dividing it into zones for different developments. 


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