The city is not an artificial construct: the city is a set of habits, customs and lifestyles. These elements are interrelated, and rather than being viewed individually, they are subsumed in the identity of place and the identification of the city. The contemporary city is characterized by complexity, simultaneity and instability, producing situations of transience and transformation. As a matter of fact, the mutations in interpersonal relationships and intergenerational gaps, technological development, mass migrations and globalization have transformed the spaces in the urban landscape; new types of place have arisen and the utilization of existing spaces has been modified. These transformations have contributed to an increasing urban identity crisis and transformed cities into heterogeneous, multi-ethnic and multicultural societies. The new urban features of the territory are not easily identifiable and cannot be represented by a traditional planimetric relief, often remaining ‘invisible’; other elements can only be identified by sense perception, which becomes a measure of analysis and a reference for planning. In order to give suitable terms and explain such new sites, several academics have tested maps, words and multimedia images, hypertext and software able to render this complexity and to permit readability, which have in most cases created new interpretations of urban features. Starting from this premise, the aim of this work, carried out in the framework of a Convention between the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche and the Dipartimento di Progettazione Urbana, Università di Napoli Federico II, is to illustrate the analytical method of the Sensitive Relief. This method individualizes those elements that have value for the identification of the place identity, and are able to provoke cultural transformations and also influence the sustainable urban complexity construction. The final product is a complex map and the relative legend is designed to integrate the traditional planimetry and support the sustainable urban identity planning and construction. The Sensitive Relief method has been tested in various European cities and beyond; in this paper the results of the application to an urban area of Naples are presented.
complex mapping, place–identity, Sensitive Relief, sustainable city, urban planning.
 Gospodini, A., European cities and place-identity. Discussion Paper Series, 8(2), pp. 19–36, 2002.
 King, R., Migrations, globalization and place. A Place in the World? Place, Cultures and Globalization, eds. D. Massey & P. Jess, Open University/Oxford University Press: Oxford, pp. 6–44, 1995.
 Hall, S., New cultures for old. A Place in the world? Place, Cultures and Globalization, eds. D. Massey & P. Jess, Open University/Oxford University Press: Oxford, pp. 176–211, 1995.
 Castells, M., European cities, the informational society, and the global economy. Journal of Economic and Social Geography, 84(4), pp. 247–257, 1993.
 Gillis, J.R., Memory and identity: the history of a relationship. Commemorations: The Politics of National Identity, ed. J.R. Gillis, Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ, pp. 3–24, 1994.
 Nijkamp, P. & Perrels, A.H., Sustainable Cities in Europe, Earthscan: London, 1994.
 Carter, E., Donald J. & Squires J. (eds). Space & Place, Theories of Identity and Place, Lawrence & Wishart: London, 1993.
 Castells, M., The Power of Identity, Blackwell: Malden, 1997.
 Dickens, P., Urban Sociology. Society, Locality and Human Nature, Harvester Wheatsheaf: Hemel Hempstead, 1990.
 Rapoport, A., Human Aspects of Urban Form, Pergamon: Oxford, 1977.
 Norberg-Schultz, C., Genius Loci, Electa: Milano, 1979.
 Bauman, Z., Intervista sull’identità, Laterza: Roma-Bari, 2003.
 Christensen, K.S., Cities and Complexity, Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks, CA, 1999.
 Nasar, J.L., The Evaluative Image of the City, Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks, CA, 1998.
 Graham, B., ed., Modern Europe—Place, Culture, Identity, Arnold: London, 1998.
 Gospodini, A., Urban space morphology and place-identity in European cities; built heritage and innovative design. Journal of Urban Design, 9(2), pp. 225–248, 2004.
 Mitchell, W.J., City of Bits, MIT Press: Cambridge, MA, 1996.
 MVRDV, The Regionmaker. Rheinruhrcity, Hatje Cantz: Ruit, 2002.
 Iaac Metápolis, Hipercatalunya, Research Territories, Actar: Barcelona, 2003.
 Boeri, S., Use, Skira: Milano, 2003.
 Careri, F., Walkscapes. El andar como practica estética [Walking as an Aesthetic Practice], Land&Scape Series, Gustavo Gili: Barcelona, 2002.
 Sepe, M., The PlaceMaker: a flexible and interactive tool to support the sustainable city construction and transformation. Proc. of Sustainable Planning 2005, Vol. 2, WIT Press: Southampton, pp. 1525–1534, 2005.
 Sepe, M., Complex mapping of the urban landscape: new methods and complex maps. Proc. of the 11th International Planning History Society, IPHS: Barcellona, 2004.
 Sepe, M., Complexity and sustainability: relief and representation of the new urban identity. Proc. of Sustainable City 2004, eds. N. Marchettini, C.A. Brebbia, E. Tiezzi & L.C. Wadhwa, WIT Press: Southampton, pp. 211–221, 2004.
 Moccia, F.D., Procentese, F., Sepe, M. & Toscano, D., I centri storici della Provincia di Casertae le prospettive di sviluppo del commercio, Provincia di Caserta, 2005.
 Sepe, M., Uno strumento di preparazione al progetto: il Rilievo Sensibile. Il caso di Sant’Angelodei Lombardi. Rischio sismico, paesaggio, architettura: l’Irpinia, contributi per un progetto, eds. D. Mazzoleni & M. Sepe, CRdC AMRA, pp. 331–366, 2005.
 Sepe, M., Cultural heritage and territorial integrated projects: the case study of a cultural district in Campania Region, Italy. Proc. of Cabernet 2005, Belfast, 2005.