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Complexity in city systems:understanding, evolution, and design

Batty, M; (2007) Complexity in city systems:understanding, evolution, and design. (CASA Working Papers ). UCL (University College London), Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (UCL): London, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

As we learn more about the world and reflect on its meaning, anoverwhelming sense of inadequacy in our ability to bothunderstand and change it has developed. In many disciplines,the idea of ?complexity? as a coherent perspective for organisingour knowledge has come to the fore. These ?complexity sciences?first evolved from ideas associated with dynamic systemsthrough ideas about chaos, nonlinearity, disruptive technologies,emergence and surprise. Recently they have begun to infuseareas as diverse as postmodernism and management. Cities andplanning have not escaped this force, indeed in some respectsthey are in the vanguard of these developments.In this essay, we will sketch how this movement has evolved.Throughout we make a key distinction between the evolution ofcities and the processes used in their planning and design, firstfashioning complexity around the notion of the city as a systembut then moving to examining how problems of their design andplanning reveal a rather different type of complexity. Weconclude with speculations about fostering change in cities in thelight of this complexity. We propose a somewhat less invasive,more sensitive bottom-up style of physical planning that is instark contrast to the institionalisation of planning and itspractice which still dominates most developed societies.

Type:Working / discussion paper
Title:Complexity in city systems:understanding, evolution, and design
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Additional information:Imported via OAI, 7:29:01 20th Jun 2007
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis

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