The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Silk Cities

An independent contextual platform for knowledge sharing and communication between built environment professionals.

silk cities

20 April 2014


Silk Cities is an independent, bottom-up and not-for-profit professional and academic initiative, concerned with contextual urban challenges that countries along the historic Silk Roads face within the process of urban transformation. By using the narrative of the urban Silk Roads we tap on the notions of connectivity and exchange, historical presence that is reflected in city characteristics and urban life, and contextual contemporary challenges. Silk Cities’ initial focus area has been these cities in the Middle East and Central Asia connected to their regional and global contexts. The Beta version of Silk Cities was initiated by Farnaz Arefian, a DPU doctoral researcher at the time in 2014 and DPU's honorary research associate now. 

  • Read the story of Silk Cities here
  • Read more about the focus region and what Silk Cities do here 
  • Read the report on the international conference 2017 here 
  • See examples of Silk Cities activities here

Silk Cities International Conference 2019

Reconstruction, Recovery and Resilience of Historic Cities and Societies

L’Aquila, Italy 10-12 July 2019       W: silk-cities.org 

The third Silk Cities International Conference (Silk Cities 2019) was successfully held in L’Aquila.   Organised by Silk Cities, UCL and University of L’Aquila, this highly interactive and engaging Conference included presentations and keynote talks, roundtable and special sessions, book session and exhibition, and reconstruction walking tours. All were designed to facilitate vibrant discussions and exchanges of ideas at local and international levels. Over 100 participants from around the world attended the Conference. The programme included 76 presentations, which addressed the following geographic areas: Chile, Cyprus, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Libya, Mexico, New Zealand, Pakistan, Peru, Spain, Syria, Vietnam, UK, US.

DPU sponsored Silk Cities 2019 and was actively engaged in organising it. DPU also provided four conference grants for graduate students from low or middle income countries in order to assist them to participate in the Conference. The Grant covered the conference registration fees, costs of flights to/from Italy and accommodation in L’Aquila. Grantees were from Syria, Libya and Iran, countries which have already experienced disasters, whether as a result of natural hazards, conflicts or wars. 

Read more about the Conference and see some photos here

Important Dates
  • 15th April 2019, Abstract submission deadline
  • Mid April 2019, Notification of peer-review outcome and selected papers
  • 2nd week of April 2019,Conference registration open
  • 2nd week of April 2019, Full paper submission open
  • 3rd week of June 2019,Conference registration deadline
  • 3rd week of June 2019, Full paper submission deadline
  • July 10th-12th , 2019  Conference

The conference programme will comprise a mixture of formal presentations, specialist roundtable and dedicated sessions, a guided tour on the reconstruction of L’Aquila, as well as a social tour and an optional conference dinner. All designed in a way to encourage social interactions and informal discussions and exploring future potentials. Round table discussions are planned which will bring academic participants in the conference together with policymakers, local activists and stakeholders to look at strategies for recovery and resilience. Guided tour of city centre, includes visiting completed, ongoing and non-commenced reconstruction works including public and private examples, public spaces, schools and churches. Programme details will be announced in due time. Tentative conference programme is as follows.
- Thematic sessions

- keynote speakers

- Special interactive sessions on L’Aquila

- Conference publication editorial meeting

- City reconstruction walking tour

- Social event/tour

- Conference Dinner (optional)

Abstract submission





University of L’Aquila

The historic city of L’Aquila is easily accessible from Rome and Pescara.

For detailed information on Silk Cities 2019 please visit www.silk-cities.org.

Contact Conference organisers here

Read the report on the Silk Cities Conference 2017 here