The world is changing, and urban agendas are struggling to turn conventional planning paradigms and urban forms to achieve solutions for improving environmental, economic, and social conditions in cities. ‘Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for sustainable development’, published by the United Nations, calls for changes in all aspects of life, including on how humanity relates to the planet. Urban form, the physical creation that responds to specific human needs (for shelter, mobility, work, labour, etc.) is thus called to account for its corresponding material and energy stocks and flows, which are determinant in the link between social life and the environment. Urban history has documented a large array of urban form solutions that have already disappeared, declined, been altered, or even abandoned when they are no longer necessary for society. Others have proved to resist longer or were subject of continuous restructuring, either adapted to accommodate new society uses, tastes or functions. Advances on technology, design, humanity needs and scientific knowledge have also allowed society to shape new urban forms. Altogether, past, and present urban forms constitute an immense and inestimable repository of humanity physical creation of great complexity.
Yet this complexity poses a great challenge when discussing what urban forms are suited to a healthy relationship between societies and the environment. This requires reliable definitions for key concepts to help researchers clarify their study objects and sustain international communication between peers.
At a time when humanity calls for a sustainability change, including with respect to urban forms, urban morphologists must update and revise the concepts and definitions that are most useful for the needs of our very own time. This presentation aims to introduce an ongoing taskforce for compiling an updated glossary of urban form, while exposing its methodological approach and ongoing contributions.