The Shape of Knowledge: University Campuses as Historic Urban Landscapes through Experiences of the University of Auckland and Politecnico di Torino
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This paper interconnects the diachronic development of two academies at geographical antipodes: the University of Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand, and the Politecnico di Torino, Italy, in sharing the apparent contradiction between the words “urban” and “campus” at the crossroads of urban design, modern architectural tradition and historic urban landscape, critically tied with contemporary debates.
Offering readings of selected sites for each campus that encapsulate socio- economic developments, urban and architectural morphologies, and cultural landscapes’ international reputations, the paper draws from a hybrid methodological approach that combines the global guidelines of the UNESCO Historic Urban Landscape approach, focused on the preservation of the layers of heritage in the urban context, to the urban planning reading of programmes and achievements of the modern age in complex integration of urban history and academic physical spaces. In particular, it explores the contribution and influences of architects, urban planners, heritage conservation experts, decision-makers and community representatives within such developments.
The ultimate goal is to bring together historical and spatial inquiry towards a critical practice. On the one hand, it reveals a stimulating counter-history of a model university campus that is the site of cross-cultural exchanges rather than a colonisation template to be easily exported or imported. On the other hand, two antipodal university centres with endemic divergences – but comparable international appeal – appear as key representatives of the urban dimension and history of their hosting cities with clear projects, shaping strategies according to opportunities, limits and contingencies.