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Profile photo of Mattias Kärrholm

Mattias Kärrholm


Profile photo of Mattias Kärrholm

Urban crystallization and the morphogenesis of urban territories


  • Andrea Mubi Brighenti
  • Mattias Kärrholm

Summary, in English

We develop the perspective of crystallization as a way to shed a light on the morphogenesis and stabilization of urban territories. We start by describing crystallization as a consolidation of a visible and singular order that establishes certain privileged directions of growth and breaks spatial and temporal symmetries. We then illuminate how crystallization processes unfold at different scales, going through a series of historical cases, from the stabilization of urban regions, to iconic places such as Times Square, New York, and on to large scale linear or path crystals, such the Turia Riverbed Park in Valencia. Building on these
cases, we then discuss crystallization as a phenomenon requiring metastability, and how this metastability relates to different ways and forms of territorial
stabilization. Finally, we discuss how crystallization, by making certain figures and directions more salient than others, also plays an important part in the emergence of new scales and in the processes of urban rescaling, that is, how crystallization also contributes to a hierarchical segmentation of the urban environment.


  • Department of Architecture and Built Environment

Publishing year





Territory, Politics, Governance

Document type

Journal article




  • Human Geography


  • urban development
  • urban environment
  • scale
  • urban morphogenesis
  • territorial stabilisation
  • Crystallization




  • ISSN: 2162-2671