Territories in Time: Mapping Palimpsest Horizons

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Editorial | Open Access

Territories in Time: Mapping Palimpsest Horizons


  • Chiara Cavalieri SST/LOCI–Faculté d’architecture, d’ingénierie architecturale, d’urbanisme, UCLouvain, Belgium
  • Elena Cogato Lanza LAB-U ENAC, EPFL–École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland


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Abstract:  In the early 80s André Corboz, in describing the territory as being the result of slow and long-term processes involving multiple transformations, implicitly declares the onset of a new paradigm for understanding cities and territories: a new gaze attentive to the chronological dimension of spaces, aware of the long history of places, interested in that ensemble of signs, traces and voids so tangible, and yet ignored by the paradigm of tabula rasa. To describe this complexity, Corboz proposes the metaphor of territory as palimpsest: A palimpsest is a two-dimensional writing board bearing a three-dimensional matrix of signs, which, as a metaphor, allows for a contextual, four-dimensional apprehension of territory, portraying space in its chronological evolution. This text re-contextualizes the notion of palimpsest—both as a methodological and a theoretical question—in the light of two main conceptual ‘shifts’: the ‘territorial turn,’ which increased interest among different disciplines, projects, and policies for the dimension of cities as territory, and the ‘digital turn,’ namely the rapid evolution of data recording, archiving, and mapping technologies.

Keywords:  city-territory; digital transition; mapping; mapping time; palimpsest; territorial turn

Published:   30 June 2020


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v5i2.3385


© Chiara Cavalieri, Elena Cogato Lanza. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.