Lanciano (City of Culture 2020 candidate) and Gadames (UNESCO historic centre) are both located along routes of strategic importance. Elements of the Roman and Arab urban structure can be found in both cities. The modern expansion has similarities that still allow the use of the historical areas without erasing original settlement configurations. The intense flows of merchants were thus replaced by intense flows of tourist activities (cultural, religious, recreational, archaeological) that maintain the vitality of historical centres of these two cities. However, the change of users and functions can involve transformations oriented to modernize the inhabiting uses, to intensify/simplify the access, to modify the typological-constructive identity of urban open spaces and their relations with the historical-architectural heritage. Through a comparison between studies on these two cities, authors underline the importance of the technological-environmental reconnection interfaces (empty/full, open/closed, nature/artifice, public/private, external/interior) in the transferring process of historical-architectural legacies to the future generations. The paper will focus on recurring open space elements (paths, passages, shelters, borders, oases, islands) analyzing their meanings, roles and performances to preserve characteristics of the historical settlements and to compatibly reactivate, uses, relationships and links with contemporary cultural, behavioural and climatic changes.
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