Why planning needs complexity: Towards an adaptive approach for guiding urban and peri-urban transformations

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Spatial development processes carry fundamental uncertainties that challenge spatial planners. Fundamental uncertainties cannot be reduced by improved knowledge or information, unlike other uncertainties. This translates into limited opportunities for planners to direct development trajectories of neighbourhoods, cities and regions. Therefore planning approaches are needed with less focus on control and with more emphasis on enhancing the capacities of these areas to respond to both foreseen and unforeseen change.

Why Planning Needs Complexity examines how planners can intelligently deal with fundamental uncertainties, particularly in guiding urban and peri-urban transformations. Taking a complexity science perspective, this publication presents a dynamic, time-sensitive understanding of spatial transformations that helps to clarify the interconnected and changeable nature of the underlying processes. Supported by multiple case studies in the Netherlands and across Europe, this publication continues by exploring an adaptive approach to planning that strengthens the ability of an area to respond to such dynamic processes. This approach includes, for example, the formulation of plans and rules that accommodate a range of potential development trajectories. The approach also invites planners to take up the roles of trend-watchers, matchmakers and facilitators alongside their more traditional roles as experts or mediators.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • de Roo, Gert, Supervisor
  • van Dijk, Terry, Co-supervisor
Award date18-Jun-2015
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-90-367-7897-8
Electronic ISBNs978-90-367-7896-1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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