Assuming it is all about conditions: Framing a simulation model for complex, adaptive urban space

Claudia Yamu, Gert de Roo, Pierre Frankhauser

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In this paper, we explore the route beyond the conventional, linear attitude within planning and its rationality debate. We combine our theoretical reasoning with a multiscale approach and with fractal-like argumentation which results in a frame of conditions which is supported by the outline of a theoretical conceptual simulation model which would also allow non-linear, iterative simulations of the urban space. The understanding of autonomous non-linear spatial development has a direct impact on planning. Addressing the underlying thinking behind Haken’s synergetics we develop a framework within which the interdependencies between different levels of scale are key. We are aware that bottom-up and top-down processes often have a mutual influence on one another.We therefore propose a conceptual simulation model for planning where conditions have an impact at various levels of scale. In coherence with the idea of the ‘dynamic behaviour of the system after a planning decision was made’, this feedback gives us information on the surviving and non-surviving planning scenarios and decisions and is reminiscent of systems which are open to self-organizing pattern formation. Our reasoning with regard to planning and decision-making and their multilevel consequences is strongly influenced by the arguments presented in complexity studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1019-1039
JournalEnvironment and planning b-Planning & design
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Adaptive planning
  • complex systems
  • Non-linearity
  • spatial modelling

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