Fiches de cours

HABITATS IN TIME. Mapping Palimpsest Horizons


Lecturer(s) :

Cavalieri Chiara
Cogato Lanza Elena
di Lenardo Isabella
Kaplan Frédéric
Vanbutsele Serena
Viganò Paola





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Next time: From 12.12.2018 to 14.12.2018


The subject of the seminar is the consideration of the temporal dimension in the mapping of cities and territories, in the context of recent technical developments (especially digital) and current interdisciplinary issues.



Students are asked to write a scientific paper where relevance in discussing the operation of "mapping palimpsests" is demonstrated.


The concept of territory as palimpsest, introduced by André Corboz in 1983, continues to inspire interdisciplinary research on cities and territories. By focusing on the cumulative selection of elements and territorial signs, as well as on modification processes, it has inspired numerous cartographic experiments.

Since the 1990s, the rapid evolution of data recording and archiving technologies based on geo-referenced systems has created the conditions for a growing understanding of our territories as palimpsests. They make it possible to: reconstruct evolutionary processes over macroscopic as well as microscopic durations; conduct an interdisciplinary investigation of hybrid processes, crossing geomorphological, social, mechanical and biological dimensions; formulate new hypotheses on the interrelations (and cause-effect or impact relations) between phenomena that are not traditionally associated.

The theme of palimpsest and its mapping corresponds to the need to explore the interactions between spatial, social and environmental processes through the prism of the temporal dimension. Today, cities and territories are confronted with economic, environmental and social processes - and crises - that cannot be addressed by static models or immanent systems.

The seminar will focus on scientific and methodological issues concerning the mapping of palimpsest, its tradition and future developments, addressing the following questions:

- To map a territory, or a territorial phenomenon, is to establish a strategy of knowledge, by means of a series of operations: which objects to describe? How - by what statements and transcriptions? What sources?

- The cartographic description is a reading, and at the same time constitutes the support for later readings. What readings are possible? What temporalities are relevant? What spatial scales, what scales and materials? Which typologies are deductible? What comparisons are possible?

- Finally, the understanding of the territory as palimpsest and the cartographic forms inspired by it are now part of the renewal of systemic and metabolic approaches to territorial phenomena: the paradigms of the system and metabolism are undergoing a major boom, in a dizzying expansion of their field of application.


The Seminar will take place over two days and will include:

2 key conference notes; 2 half-days seminar; 4 doctoral students papers¿ Presentation/Discussion Sessions.

Admission and participation

The 15 doctoral students attending the seminar will be selected on the basis of a call for paper (document upon request:

They will send their paper to the teachers 15 days before the seminar. Each doctoral student will present the paper at the seminar and will be responsible for discussing the paper of another participant.

Following the supervision provided at the seminar, the paper final version should be returned to the teachers 1 week after the end of the seminar.


urbanism, humanities, digital humanities, urban studies, interdisciplinarity, interpretative mapping, temporalities, transition

Acquis de formation

A la fin de ce cours l'étudiant doit être capable de:




Sites web

In the programs

  • Architecture and Sciences of the City (edoc), 2018-2019
    • Semester
    • Exam form
      Written & Oral
    • Credits
    • Subject examined
      HABITATS IN TIME. Mapping Palimpsest Horizons
    • Number of places
    • Lecture
      12 Hour(s)
    • Exercises
      40 Hour(s)
    • Practical work
      16 Hour(s)

Reference week

Exercise, TP
Project, other


  • Autumn semester
  • Winter sessions
  • Spring semester
  • Summer sessions
  • Lecture in French
  • Lecture in English
  • Lecture in German