Current Call for Papers

ZARCH is currently accepting the submission of articles for their consideration, following the external Peer Review process as described on this website. They should address the topic for the upcoming issue.


Issue #14: "Mapping the Boundaries"

Deadline for submission of articles: December 10th, 2019 (new deadline)
Expected publication date: June 2020

Call Text:

The aim of issue 14 of ZARCH, Mapping the Boundaries, is to contribute to enriching the most conventional definitions of limits and borders—understood as places for transition and separation that connect well-defined spaces or environments—to offer a more in-depth reading of their meaning, in keeping with the complexity of today’s world. The concept of boundary is, unquestionably, too broad and may address reflections related to cultural, theoretical, disciplinary or metaphorical aspects. However, in order to narrow down the scope of study, this call is intended for those researchers who fundamentally explore topics related to the spatial nature of the concept of boundary.

On the one hand, on an urban and territorial scale, it is worth considering peripheries and peri-urban areas as places of dynamic interaction. In recent decades, debate on urban voids and undefined spaces—less frequent when cities’ growth used to be more compact—has intensified. Although these processes also occur in the central areas of cities, they are more common in the boundaries between urban and rural environments. Urban voids, interstitial spaces, unused spaces, empty lots, residual landscapes, intermediate landscapes, waiting spaces, terrain vague...are places of unquestionable interest, without clear boundaries, which constitute the heritage of the contemporary city and are consistent with its essence: complex, in constant development, fragmentary and, at the same time, continuous.[1] The new landscapes of suburban areas—defined by shopping centres, dwellings, work and leisure spaces, infrastructures or motorways—constantly generate voids or intermediate spaces in which reflection on the concept of boundary is more than relevant. Georges Perec warns about the dangers involved in trying to find a definition for city too quickly. One of the steps he proposes to outline it is the need to distinguish “what divides the town from what isn’t the town” recognising that “suburbs have a strong tendency not to remain as suburbs.”[2] To Perec’s thought-provoking considerations on the difficulty of establishing boundaries for cities, it is worth adding that, nowadays, contemporary cities are not only defined by their centres—as is traditionally the case—but also, and especially, for what happens in their boundaries.

On the other hand, on a smaller scale, it is not difficult to see how different cultures have explored the huge potential of the boundary for architecture. The transition between inside and outside offers episodes of great quality, such as the sophisticated versions of threshold-spaces in the Japanese hisashi or in the Mediterranean patio. Thresholds, filters, galleries, loggias, hallways, gardens, intermediate spaces, transition spaces, etc. focus the value of architecture on boundaries. However, there are other ways of understanding the concept of boundary in architecture: the boundary as an interface, porous boundaries, diffuse boundaries, etc. In Western architecture, modernity blurred the boundary between “inside” and “outside,” thus reducing it to a thin atectonic skin or a transparent membrane. The architects of Team 10 made the idea of threshold, at all scales, one of their main lines of research. Using deliberately undetermined and ambiguous spaces, known as “in-between” spaces, they wanted to explore the complexity and richness of the intermediate situations between the interior and the exterior, between the public and the private, between the natural and the artificial, between the house and the city. In this sense, the work of architects such as Jaap Bakema, who have traced the potential of boundaries—transition spaces, thresholds—to shape the relationship between the individual and the city, between “public (urban) and private (architectural) spaces”[3] is a clear example.

For this issue we expect contributions that, using different approaches—from the most specific to the most global or interdisciplinary—, enrich the debate by providing information on research papers, institutional initiatives, case studies, etc., that delve into the concept of spatial boundary (architectural, urban or territorial). Beyond the traditional descriptions of border, boundary, limit, margin, etc.—which are connected to the physical sense of the concept of boundary—this issue offers, from an international perspective, the opportunity to highlight the value of the boundary as a place where several situations concur, where rules are challenged and their identity questioned, where certain predetermined conditions—physical, normative or functional—generate complex urban and/or architectural, sometimes even contradictory, situations. At the same time, other readings can explore the condition of the boundary as a space for opportunity, for example in areas that are endangered by their special fragility, as is the case of the “rurban” peripheries, which are being transformed as a result of the development of agricultural practices and are being threatened by multiple sectoral logics, with serious risks of deterioration and loss of their productive and cultural identity; spaces that show what the city no longer is and what it has not yet become, where those activities that the consolidated city rejects and the contemporary city demands have a place.

In this issue, it would be interesting to receive works that use mapping as an operating research tool, not only for communication, but also for analysis and design. Representing the boundary requires making an effort in conceptualising and interpreting that goes beyond strictly graphic questions. Specially, contemporary cities are no longer recognizable for their plan views, they need complementary and innovative charts and notations to identify elements, processes and relationships between areas and their boundaries in continuous development.[4]

With this call we encourage reflection on the concept of boundary convinced that, as Walter Benjamin said “Nowhere, unless perhaps in dreams, can the phenomenon of the boundary be experienced in a more originary way than in cities.”[5]


Raimundo Bambó, Carmen Díez Medina

[1] Javier Monclús and Carmen Díez Medina, “Urban Voids and ‘in-between’ Landscapes”, in Urban Visions: From Planning Culture to Landscape Urbanism, eds. Carmen Díez Medina and Javier Monclús, (Cham: Springer, 2018), 247-256.

[2] Georges Perec, Species of Spaces and Other Peaces, (London: Penguin, 1997), 60.

[3] Jaap Bakema, Van stoel tot stad, een verhaal over mensen en ruimte (Zeist / Antwerp: W. de Haan / Standaard Boekhandel, 1964), 3.

[4] Raimundo Bambó, Miriam García, “Mapping Urbanism, Urban Mapping”, in Urban Visions: From Planning Culture to Landscape Urbanism, eds. Carmen Díez Medina and Javier Monclús, (Cham: Springer, 2018), 237-246.

[5] Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002), 88.


Print edition ISSN: 2341-0531 / Digital edition ISSN: 2387-0346. Copyright © 2016 ZARCH. All Rights Reserved