Call 03 | Decommissions


Neglect, decommissioning and recession VS
reuse, regeneration and reactivation of coastal territories

In line with the first two issues dealing with the study of the phenomena that are pervasively affecting the world’s coastlines (erosion and forms of tourism), the international journal SEASCAPE, on the occasion of the publication of its third issue, selects contributions regarding the design reactions to the processes of decommissioning of coastal landscapes, as some opportunities for unprecedented environmental, technological, social and cultural challenges.
The call is open to professors, researchers, scholars of any grade, technicians and professionals. The authors must send the abstracts according to the indications given below. Each abstract will be subject to a first selection to identify the proposals that will be developed in extended articles; they will be subjected to the double blind peer review process. The chosen authors will receive useful indications on how to proceed with the drafting of the full paper which will subsequently undergo a double blind peer review by the journal’s Scientific Committee and external scholars.

The evaluation of the final contributions will focus on: the relevance of the proposal to the topic of the call; the originality of the proposal; the methodology used and innovation produced; the quality of the language and the clarity of the presentation.

How to partecipate

In order to participate to the Call for abstract it is necessary to send a full paper in Italian or English (one for each applicant and in English – compulsory – for foreigners) within the given time limit and in accordance with the attached format structured as follows (download here the .docx file).
– Title (maximum 100 characters),
– Subtitle (maximum 150 characters),
– Field of investigation (01/02/3),
– Abstract (maximum 2500 characters),
– Maximum 2 optional images with captions (copyright-free images or including publishing permission by their rightful owner).

The abstract needs to be sent via e-mail to: bearing the subject: “Abstract – Seascape 03-Surname”. Applications sent differently will be excluded from the evaluation proceedings.

The theme

Conceived as a process and/or a status, decommission is a condition that denotes a sharp yet enduring change. It is an exclusion from something that existed and functioned in the recent past. A revocation of the regime or nature of an object caused by a powerful and usually irreversible action.
In practices involving space, at the scale of the landscape as well as that of the city and its architecture, one can imagine that an event that triggers a decommissioning produces a series of transfers of different types. These are first a functional transfer (the space loses its use and acquires another), then a formal one (it modifies its physical characteristics to accommodate the new use), in some cases a structural one (in proportion to the decommissioning, the supporting apparatus, in this case of an architecture, is also subject to change), and, finally, a typological one (the transfer modifies the meaning of the space crossed by the decommissioning and converts its genre). In the combination of these transfers, the margin of the project is being generated.
Already used extensively in the great reconversion waves at the end of the last century, the tool of decommissioning calls contemporary design for a revision of its tactics, especially in the management of coastlines and land-sea borders.
Formulated in the USA at the end of the 20th century, the renowned waterfront projects derived from the so-called Baltimore Model, were the first example of a post-industrial disused waterfront. Later exported to Europe (to London, Glasgow, Barcelona, Genoa, etc.), these practices showed their limits. Dirk Schubert, among others, argued that the so-called “do a Baltimore” was more of a real estate speculation leading to the realization of mass-produced, cloned waterfronts that were almost identical in terms of functional programme and urban design. In the decades that followed, this mentality recurred even in the absence of major port decommissions: its pattern crystallized in the belief that, in order to resolve the spaces between sea and land, it was essential to remove the harmful machine (the port) and hand the city a cleaned-up version of the operational infrastructure.
In the light of this, current research on the subject of decommissioning does not only lie in operating a functional transfer (for example, from an active port to a touristic port), but in triggering a much broader and more heterogeneous project, capable of taking into account the physical and conceptual extension of this transformative mechanism and, at the same time, of enhancing the original features of the decommissioned object or space. Finally, the research aims to deal with and address, on the one hand, the decommissionings in which coastlines and ports are still suspended due to the long evolution required by long-term postcommissioning and dismantling, and, on the other hand, those decommissionings that the active and highly specialized contemporary port continues to trigger in its daily operation.
From these assumptions, the third issue of Seascape turns its critical gaze towards processes of decommissioning and cases of disused heritage capable of intertwining with the evolving dimension of contemporary coastlines, places of environmental, technological, social and cultural challenges. The topic can be articulated in a multi-scalar dimension, that is, one that crosses the vast scale of littoral systems, materializes in a diffuse manner in cities and coastal segments, and then consolidates in individual architectural artefacts. In this evolution, the topic of decommissioning as process and of the decommissioned as product highlights three areas of investigation, different in scale, impact and diffusion but complementary in terms of critical reasoning and design applications.

Topic 01 – Decommissioned architectures: regeneration of coastal heritage

The first area of investigation concerns the architecture of the contemporary port city, i.e. the eterogeneous but compact set of artefacts that in the current framework inhabit the physical and administrative border that divides and, at the same time, connects land and sea, city and port. Whether they are residues of the nineteenth-twentieth-century emporium port or architectures still in use, these artefacts define a peculiar landscape in which the rhythm of spaces and components, the alternation of full and empty volumes, the arrangement of the openings, the profile of the roofing, the connections between the artefacts, etc. are all designed according to operational needs. Not just isolated objects, but fragments of a single architectural, industrial and urban system, even in the present context these architectures constitute a recognizable system of a vast area, a linear sequence of operational machines hinged on the boundary line and in different states of disuse and utilization. As targets of decommissioning processes (associated to industrial but also to environmental or urban and social reasons), these architectures undergo actions that alter not only their functional programme but above all their formal, structural, material and, in fact, identity aspects.
Far from the outdated experiences of decommissioning and reconversion of the turn of the century, the third issue of Seascape is looking for contributions that critically reflect on contemporary research experiences, repertoires of notable examples, current design proposals, etc. of decommissioning at the scale of architecture. Particular attention will be paid to the design actions implemented in the process of attribution of new meaning to architecture, as well as to the tactics of regeneration of once operational containers and, finally, to the definition of an increasingly plural concept of coastal heritage.

Topic 02 – Decommissioned coastal segments: new morphologies between nature and artifice

Reflections concerning the built coastline dynamics of decommissioning and transformation, at the scale of architecture but above all of the territory, with a declination that transcends the mere regenerative project and highlights particular possibilities and implications of new interpretations of form, could be applied for the second research area.
The scattered landscape along the coastal segments have always constituted raw material for operations of reading, rewriting, measuring and codifying the seashore, in forerunners interpretations of the contemporary landscape in which the morphology of artificial and natural objects decisively contributed to the definition of pilot books and nautical charts. Starting from systematic exercises of observation, perception and re-signification, the strong trend of decommissioning coastal infrastructure, due to the obsolescence of port facilities, military areas, but also to the presence of small, medium and large-sized wrecks of residential and hotel buildings, can represent a significant opportunity of rethinking a large part of the coastal built stock in terms of new portolans for the reappropriation of an identifiable, shared and participated territory. Together with silos, cranes, smocking stacks, towers, hanging water tanks, pylons, unfinished building skeletons, factories, eyesore, if properly reinterpreted and manipulated in the contemporary framework, the decommissioned objects could become elements of a new vocabulary of the contemporary coastal landscape, avoiding the rather consolidated destiny of unavoidable demolition, known architectural contribution to the production of waste.

Topic 03 – Decommissioned coastal systems: infrastructures, emergencies and safeguards between the coastline and inland

The coastline cannot be considered as a stand-alone element. The seashore is morphologically and infrastructurally connected to emergencies and internal areas of the territory that overlook the coastline. With the third area of the monographic issue, we intend to collect segments of research, theories, focuses and projects that survey and investigate the presence of infrastructures, emergencies and occasions of connection and interaction between internal areas – hinterlands, logistic platforms, back ports, smaller historical centers, in-between communities – and the coast. Affected by resignation processes, already occurred or on-going, these episodes appear less conspicuous than the best-known and evident coastal eyesore, but they can play a crucial strategic role in the reformulation of the coastal territory, going to constitute blue, green and grey infrastructure of land connection. Waterways never completed, goods transport systems that have become obsolete, overheads that have fallen into a state of neglect, landfill systems in post-management (a sort of controlled decommissioning), watchtowers, lighthouses, historic settlements that already in their origin constituted related systems, and many other artificial signs that affect the geography close to the coastline are landscape devices that allow reuse and reformulations ranging from land art to the design of environmental safeguards for the reactivation of the metabolisms of the regions.



Saturday, December 10th, 2022_ Abstract deadline
Saturday, December 17th, 2022_ Communication of the blind review results
Saturday, March 18rd, 2023_ Full paper deadline to start double paper blind review process

For informations