complexurban /

Complexity, Planning & Urbanism

New MArch Atelier at the Manchester School of Architecture: Developing new theoretical approaches & computational tools using a complexity science framework (systems, self-organisation, emergence, intelligence, structural change, adaptation) for the design, management, governance and understanding of future cities related to climate change, citizen participation, development strategies, resilient interventions, policy making, urban morphology and capacity management.

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2010-2011 Ecological Fields

2010-2011 Complex Systems: Ecological Fields

The rapid rate of urbanization today has resulted in extreme changes to the physical fabric of many cities with the only constant being the increasing rate of change. In developing parts of the World (the so called socio-economic and political Global South) urban territories undergoing constant, sudden and drastic changes in topology due to current planning policies and gentrification compete with the speed of rapidly growing informal and self organising urban settlements. The failure of most current planning and design practice is primarily an inability to address change, emergence and complexity. The existing approaches based on outdated methodologies attempting to mould cities into preconceived visions, primarily based on economic models, lead increasingly to either failed experiments and/or socio-political exclusion of the other.

We re-examine the diminishing role of the Architect – increasingly relegated to the beautification of temporal objects within the morphological urban situation – by addressing the urban at various ecological scales, in an attempt to influence the morphology of cities by demonstrating possible futures and approaches (with implied and inherent socio-spatial qualities) to policy makers, planners, politicians and citizens.
The primary issues addressed in the form of continuous research are:a) How does one design for the unplanned/excluded? b) How can one influence and encourage positive tangencies within constantly changing emergent urban fields?

ECOLOGY – It is necessary to understand and react to human settlements and the possibilities of current and new models of sustainable development in order to movebeyond old habits and embrace new possibilities. The new concepts and tools needed to carry out the changes are still being created. The concept of urban ecology- as the interaction between people and the environment – must include ideas of self organisation and emergence to have any impact in the developing world.

Starting with readings of Henri Lefebvre’s 『The Right to the City’ and Felix Guattari’s 『The Three Ecologies’, our research is deeply rooted in social, philosophical and computational theories in order to form a basis for the design tools we develop.

Identity: We work on the basis that Identity and social behaviour/networks in specific contexts are directly related to the physical environment, with change and continuity playing a pivotal role in the reinforcement of the individual and society. Urban patterns and variable spatial configurations are examined as the phenomena that allow us to access the related aspects of association, ownership, inclusivity and diversity in a context where individual objects have no permanence.

Complexity: Complexity Theory, Complex Systems Theory and increasing computational power to model complex systems is beginning to challenge prevalent methods of social and spatial design which so far have often relied on reduction, cartesian comprehension and phenomenological collage as implementation methodologies. Cities are made of many interlinked layers of complimentary, contrasting and contradictory fields in which objects, territories and behavioural drivers overlap and influence each other in continuous feedback loops. Using the simplistic definition of Complex Systems Theory in which the whole is bigger than the sum of the parts, and interactions at the local level have indirect and unpredictable affects on the whole, it is easy to see why cities are ideal examples.

Aurelia Li
Adrian Tsang
Benjamin Minton
James Rixon
Jonathan Pick
Matthew Sandhu

Eric Cheung

Professor Thilo Aschmutat (University of Hanover, Braunschweig TU, Germany)
Professor Swapna Banerjee-Guha (Professor of Development Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sceinces)
Vidyadhar K. Phathak (Chief Town Planner, Mumbai)Prof. Abhay Pethe (Director, Urban Economics and Regional Development, University of Mumbai)
Aneerudha Paul (Director, Kamala Raheja College of Architecture, Mumbai)
Rohan Shivkumar (Dy. Director, Kamala Raheja College of Architecture, Mumbai)
Rajeev Thakker (Director, Studio X Mumbai, Columbia University)
Rahul Mehrotra (Professor and Chair, Department of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard University)
Ravindre Punde (Principal, Rachna Sansad, University of Mumbai)
Shivani Singh (Rachna Sansad, University of Mumbai, Institute of Urban & Regional Planning)
Dr. Deljana Iossifova (『SCIBE’, School of Architecture and the Built Environment, University of Westminster)
Mandar Mallappanavar
Bahar Durmaz
Isin Can
Ali Cheshmehzangi (University of Nottingham Phd Urban Design)



04 July 2011