Conference Tracks


Track chair: Dr. Mariko Takagi, Doshisha Women's College of Liberal Arts, Kyoto – Japan

Co-chair: Mr. Nadim Matta, Notre Dame University-Louaize – Lebanon



The visual appearance of streets is telling stories about the history and identity of a city. While geographic features, urban planning and architecture are the long-lasting attributes of a city, graphical elements such as inscriptions, signage, wayfinding systems, advertising boards or even graffiti, are reflection of the ongoing change through time, power, trends and technologies. This graphical elements of a street are media of visual communication that appear in various forms and a wide range of functions, such as to inform, to give orientation, to (re-) present, to warn, to remind, to advertise, to convince or even to provoke However, the ongoing globalization leads to a certain assimilation of the visual appearance of the streetscape. Trends in architectural styles, the representation of global brands leads to a certain alignment and loss of identity.

This track is dedicated to researches and practice based projects focusing on elements of visual communication within the context of a “Graphic Street-scape”: like typography and lettering, corporate communication and design, information graphics, wayfinding systems, urban art, among others. Contributions, looking at the research topic street/city from an interdisciplinary angle as communication design, information design, visual art, semiotics and perceptual psychology, are all welcome.


Information design, communication design, visual communication, visual identity, signs.



Track chair: Dr. Lee Humphreys, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York – U.S.A.

Co-chair: Dr. Maria Bou Zeid, Notre Dame University-Louaize – Lebanon



Mobile and digital technologies have radically transformed the urban streetscape.  Not only is their presence ubiquitously seen and felt, but these technologies also contribute to the proliferation of representations of the streetscape. Location-based mobile technologies proliferate, both imagining and reimagining the street as a way, a place, a means, a technology, a canvas. Not only do these technologies shape how people engage with the street itself, but social media also become means through which people can reimagine the city street. As photos and videos increasingly become the primary mode of mobile communication, representations and traces of the street abound and circulate in networked environments.

This track aims to bring together scholars from the fields of design, media studies, communication, urban sociology, urban informatics, internet studies, cultural geography, and human computer interaction to explore the intersections of mobile and digital technologies and the city street. Scholarly modes of interest may include, but are not limited to:  design interventions, user or field studies, historical analyses, critical approaches, cross-cultural analyses, computational methods, and ethnography.


Mobile technology, location-based services, social media, apps, urban streets.



Track chair: Ms. Ceren Sezer, TU Delft, Delft – The Netherlands

Co-chair: Dr. Lola Beyrouthi, Notre Dame University-Louaize – Lebanon



This track invites papers to explore street art, such as graffiti, mosaic, music, photography or street installation, as a powerful medium, which reflect the processes of formal and informal production of urban public life. Street art is inspired by urban setting and has a direct relationship with the political, economic and cultural contexts in which it is located. For some, street art is seen as a way of expression for the views of dissent and – in some cases – it is regarded as vandalism. For some others, street art is considered as a tool for urban beautification, which might result in gentrification. In either case, the encounters with street art are potentially able to provoke socialisation between different urban groups, which is at the core of public life in the city. Theoretical, methodological and empirical papers are invited to discuss any aspect of this interface between street art and public life, relating them to the social, political and economic challenges that the cities are facing.



Street art, street installation, street music, photography, urban public life.



Track chair: Mr. Manfred Wacker, Stuttgart University, Stuttgart – Germany

Co-chair: Dr. Dima Jawad, Notre Dame University-Louaize – Lebanon



This track addresses the two main functions of urban roads - to connect and to provide living space. To ensure mobility while disturbing adjacent land uses not more than really necessary is one of the most fostering tasks in urban road planning and design. Not only motorized vehicles in private transport, public transport, bicycles and pedestrians compete for the given road space, also adjacent land uses ask for public space along the streets. On the one hand side traffic, pollution and urban expansion become pressing issues affecting everyday life, and on the other side we find worldwide solutions which at least calm down these conflicts. There is a need to address the complexity of transport in relation to the social dimension in cities, and consequently the role of streets. How has the given space to be divided for the different modes of transport? How can the conflicts between the different modes be solved? Will new technologies like autonomous driving or the shift to non-motorized transport be the main drivers to reshape the urban roads?


Connection function, habitation function, conflicting uses, urban living space, efficiency, safety.



Track chair: Prof. Paola Somma, independent researcher – Italy

Co-chair: Dr. Oula Aoun, Notre Dame University-Louaize – Lebanon



The dominant process of commodification of everything that expands into all forms of social life has disrupted the notion of conviviality, depriving it of any aspect linked to the spontaneous sharing of human experiences.
With the ‘sociability by design’ slogan, streets, and therefore cities, are transformed in containers for events and programmed ‘festivalization’. The official propaganda that promotes images of streets as liveable places for all is contradicted by the many rules adopted by institutions in order to select the people for whom and to which the use of public space is allowed.
At the same time, however, outside any boundaries set by authorities, conviviality re-emerges and takes on new spatial forms.
All disciplinary approaches are welcome to the track, provided they highlight the role of the street as battleground between conflicting interests, and engage with proposing alternative and less unequal modes of using public space. Particular attention will be given to two key issues, the resistance by the inhabitants who take initiatives to claim renewed ownership of their streets, and the modalities through which conviviality becomes apparent in so called temporary and transitional settlements.


Commodification, contestation, inhabitants, conviviality, temporary settlement.



Track chair: Prof. Frank Englmann, Stuttgart University, Stuttgart – Germany

Co-chair: Dr. Mohamed Hamadeh, Notre Dame University-Louaize – Lebanon



Global warming and related effects affect cities in multiple ways. This track focuses on the growing risk of flooding for cities. They may occur due to climate change and rising sea-level but also due to extreme weather incidents such as flash floods or even terroristic attacks. Increasing resilience, a new paradigm in town planning, offers the possibility to make cities in general but especially those threatened by flooding more robust. City officials therefore increasingly understand that novel approaches are called for to build or enhance resilience (UN Habitat 2016, Chapter 5). There is no single definition for resilience, the European Union e.g. understands resilience as to “withstand, to adapt, and to quickly recover from stresses and shocks without compromising long-term development prospects” (Council of the European Union 2013). In this understanding streets play a major role for urban resilience. The road network is the major backbone of transport infrastructure as it provides a precondition for mobility. Usually public utilities and commercial strips for daily needs are organized along streets. Scope of the track is to establish an inter-disciplinary discussion on the aspects of resilient streets with two main aspects:
(i) Lessons learnt from previous disasters and coping strategies, e.g. in New Orleans, Bangkok, Genoa to name but three with a special focus on the street level. Which conditions (e.g. topographical, institutional, organizational, social, economic, cultural) support and which hinder resilience?
(ii) Methodology: What are distinctive features of resilience? How can a resilience strategy be distinguished from “risk governance” (Renn; Klinke 2013) and related approaches? Which indicators are suitable to evaluate success in terms of resilience?


Risk management, risk governance, town planning, infrastructure planning, community resilience.



Track chair: Dr. Joanna Saad-Sulonen, University of Oulu, Oulu – Finland

Co-chair: Dr. Maya Samaha Rupert, Notre Dame University-Louaize – Lebanon



The purpose of this track is to bring together experts, practitioners, and citizens that use different mapping and visualization techniques for understanding city streets and how these function. We welcome contributions that bring forward researcher-driven methods, such as GIS-based ones, but we also aim for studies depicting the use of mundane mapping approaches and tools (ranging from hand-drawn mapping and sketching to the use of Google Maps / Google Earth or Open Street Maps). We look in particular for accounts of mapping or visualizing open urban data as means to open up reflection and action on shared urban commons.


Maps, visualizations, urban data, open data, GIS, mundane, urban commons.



Track chair: Prof. Liisa Horelli, Aalto University, Helsinki – Finland

Co-chair: Dr. Maroun Kassab, Notre Dame University-Louaize – Lebanon



As indicated in the conference invitation, streets have become transitional spaces for both good and bad. The sustainability goals have expanded the importance of public transportation and pedestrianism, which in turn has brought forth the demand for multifunctional streets. One of the most celebrated transformative examples of a street as a convivial place is the Times Square. The aim of this track is to reflect on and present diverse examples of how, with what theories and methodology and under what circumstances streets can become convivial places. The focus can either be based on the structural characteristics of urban development, such as the self-organizing city with a network of different kinds of streets versus the planned formal city, or just the creation or rehabilitation of a singular road that has been turned into a plaza.  
Many cities have evolved from the intersection of important roads. Then the enlargement of the road – the market place - has become the heart of the city and the other routes, whether water or land, have turned into veins with varying consequences from different perspectives. So, the subject can be approached from the perspectives of urban planning, design, environmental psychology, history, economics, governance or politics among others. In addition, what is the importance of different times (linear, circular, sacral…) or the climate in the evolution of the street becoming a place?


Conviviality, place, plaza, self-organization, urban planning, design, city, crossroads.



Track chair: Dr. Alessandro Armando, Politecnico di Torino, Torino – Italy

Co-chair: Prof. Edward Alam, Notre Dame University-Louaize – Lebanon



The social reality of the material space can be intended as a “semiosphere” (Lotman 1984), that is a field of collective meanings conflicting and balancing each other, rooted into the morphological conditions of space as marks and traces, which overlap along time. According to Paul Ricoeur’s La mémoire, l'histoire, l'oubli (Ricoeur, 2000), we can consider memory as an affection (mneme) or as an active research (anamnesis). In the context of urban space, the unintentional memory (mneme) emerges from what has been materially traced as a palimpsest (Corboz 1983) and can be surveyed as a system of signs. On the other hand, Anamnesis, considered as the intentional act of remembering, involves the actors’ behaviour in their practices and claims, which aim to intentionally produce a representation of the past (Halbwachs, 1997). To this extent, Anamnesis refers to both the “rememoration” and the “commemoration” (Todorov 2014) strategies affecting the collective space of cities. How do the streets and public spaces respond to the tension between the material resistance of things and the pressure to physical and symbolic transformation, especially when urban communities change, by moving in and out through migration?
The Track proposes a discussion about the relationship between the controversial dimensions of urban memories – both in their material persistence (mneme) and in their continuous rewriting (anamnesis) – and possible case-studies regarding urban projects (of development, renewal, cultural animation), with a specific attention to those cases where the action of public actors (such as municipalities, local governments, State agencies) is preeminent.


Collective memory, urban controversies, migration, public space, development process.



Track chair: Dr. Alenka Fikfak, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana – Slovenia

Co-chair: Dr. Dany Ghoussoub, Notre Dame University-Louaize – Lebanon



Our cities are subjected to fast changes in public space due to various factors, such as economic and cultural globalization, demographic changes, sales strategies, urban planning views, social networks, and similar. The street as a public urban space can be an attractive area, where different forms of social meetings take place. ‘Urban diversity and social justice’ refer to the empirical framework of analyzing the spatial dynamics of integration or separation between different users of the built environment: transformation, transition, and interconnectivity between urban and rural, formal and informal, dense and vast, space and place, existing and future ‘convivial streets’. This theme will focus on streets with their physical dimension, with transnational, regional, and urban spatial dynamics, which drives us towards integration or separation. It will also address streets as transformable informalized places for social (dis)connection, including participatory activation in motional urban conditions regarding ethnic and cultural diversity. Sociability is the key role in creating the feeling of cities. Can these urban structures be measured, identified, and quantified with spacing, shapes, orientation, and density as the urban form in the hierarchy of scale?

The disciplines that could address these questions are to be found in the fields of humanities and social sciences such as urbanism, sociology, geography, landscape architecture, and architecture.


Connectivity, transformation, transition, ethnic and cultural diversity, street design.



Track chair: Dr. Ognen Marina, University of Cyril and Methodius, Skopje – Macedonia

Co-chair: Dr. Elie Al Hindy, Notre Dame University-Louaize – Lebanon



In a decade full of world political and financial turmoil the public space and especially city streets have regain their importance in embodying the social and political dimension of the society and the citizens’ demands for the future of society. However, the understanding of the influence of the public space and its spatial, physical and symbolic elements and arrangements, to the overall politics of the public realm, still remains modest and understated, but full of collective promise. Track 11 invites papers that working with the grain of the everyday usage, locate this promise in the entanglement between the people and the spatial, material and visual culture of public space as a source for social innovation rather than just solely in the quality of interaction between people. This call stems from the position that technology, things, infrastructure, matter in general should be seen as intrinsic elements of human beings, part and parcel of the urban social rather than as a domain apart with negligible or extrinsic influence on the modes of human being. We are encouraging research that explores beyond the purely inter-human character and social space that is not reduced to the inter-personal interactions, but instead provides an insight of the form of influences that have more to do with the nature of the setting of the public space arguing that it is also a condition for occurrence of public culture, has a tacit dimension and is always mediated. This interaction of the people and the situated configuration enables the emergence of new and innovative social and political innovation clearly embodied in the formation of the public space elements and settings mediated through social and spatial multiplicity, symbolic solidarity, conviviality and technological maintenance of the public space.


Public space, social innovation, multiplicity, symbolic solidarity, conviviality, technological maintenance.



Track chair: Prof. Sophie Watson, The Open University – UK

Co-chair: Dr. Jessy El Hayek, Notre Dame University-Louaize – Lebanon



City streets are entangled with the bodies that inhabit and move through them in complex ways. As such they play an important part in maintaining the mental and physical health and mental well being of those that live and pass through them. Public space that is inclusive and vibrant is an integral part of urban public health. At the level of physical health, streets can be places which enhance the possibilities for daily movement, through safe and fluid spaces to walk, through the introduction of bicycle paths, and through the reduction of private cars polluting the environment. There is thus a link here with good public transport provision. Public health is also embedded in the consumption of food and water. Healthy streets are those which provide the opportunities for the sale of fresh produce, for street stalls, and affordable eating venues for fresh food. Water fountains can be important sites for increasing the availability of clean water. In terms of mental well being, city streets play an important role in offering places for people to linger- street furniture is significant here- and for people to engage in convivial encounters as strangers or friends reducing loneliness and exclusion from the wider public sphere.


Public health, physical health, mental health, safety, convivial encounters.



Roundtable 1: Social Media, ICT, and Transitional Streets

Organizer: Dr. Ileana Apostol, and Dr. Panayotis Antoniadis,

Roundtable 2: Informal Economics in Transitional Streets

Organizer: Mr. Tarek Osseiran, UN Habitat

Roundtable 3: Permanence and Ephemerality of Transitional Streets

Organizer: Dr. Jihad Farah, Lebanese University