Forms of self-organization: Urban complexity and planning implications

Stefano Moroni*, Ward Rauws, Stefano Cozzolino

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
250 Downloads (Pure)


The implications of self-organizing phenomena for planning strategies and interventions are a relatively new topic of research that is gaining increasing traction with urban planners and the emerging literature. The problem is that the concept of self-organization is at present applied in a variety of different ways in the contemporary planning debate, a fact that has generated misunderstandings, dubious definitions, and questionable practical suggestions. The aim of this article is to (1) unravel this complex issue by differentiating urban phenomena that are usually all labeled as self-organizing; (2) identify which of them is the most challenging for planning theory and practice, and (3) discuss how planning can productively relate to this form of self-organization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-234
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironment and planning b-Urban analytics and city science
Issue number2
Early online date18-Jul-2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Complexity
  • self-building
  • self-coordination
  • self-governance
  • self-organization

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