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Home > PUBLICATIONS > Articles

Complex Systems Thinking and New Urbanism

October 08, 2016


This essay explores two questions: first, what have scientists learned about the structure, behavior, and ongoing development of complex systems that might be useful to architects, city planners, engineers, community leaders, and others working to revitalize fading urban areas, reenvision existing cityscapes, and cultivate the ongoing evolution of dynamic communities? Second, what can complexity science tell us about the characteristics, underlying
dynamics, and patterns of interaction that encourage the emergence of beautiful vibrant cities that are alive with the qualities we recognize as community?
In exploring these questions, this essay responds to the strategic imperative of the New Urbanism to foster communities that are alive with the qualities that connect and nurture people and place. It provides an overview of complexity science; contrasts traditional planning, design, and engineering methods with the characteristics of complex adaptive systems; describes a new planning paradigm; and offers five food-for-thought observations for New Urbanists

The article is downlable here

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