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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Confronting Urban Planning and Design with Complexity: Methods for Inevitable Transformation

AESOP Planning & Complexity

The members of the thematic group meet every half year. Together they explore linkages between spatial planning, non-linearity and the science of complexity, processes of adaptivity, mechanisms of self-organization, transformation towards a resilient society, transition managemant and many more issues. Out of various events (Vienna, Reading, Cardiff, Mexico City, Cambridge, Stuttgart, Milano, Tessalonici, Stockholm,  Istanbul, Groningen, Aveiro) two books have emerged:

  • De Roo, G & E.S. Silva (2010) A Planner’s Encounter with Complexity, Ashgate Publishers, Farnham (UK)
  • De Roo, G., J. Hillier & J.E. Van Wezemael (2012) Complexity & Planning: Systems, Assemblages and Simulations, Ashgate Publishers, Farnham (UK)

This conference we will work towards a themed issue for the journal Environment and Planning B: Planning & Design.

Full Details:

12th meeting AESOP’s Thematic Group on Complexity and Planning, Manchester School of Architecture, 16th & 17th January, 2014

Urban transformation has increasingly become recognised as both inevitable and complex. Processes of urban change can take various forms, from evolutionary to emergent, and are driven by trans-scalar and dynamic relationships ranging from policy and infrastructure to local and bottom up agency. Working with these complexities requires innovative new approaches and tools which can incorporate and utilise the inherent potentials of urban change. These could support spatial planners and designers in managing transformation and retaining dynamics and adaptability within systems.

Processes of urban transformation incorporate multiple and parallel assemblages of dynamic change. It is often within the comparative timelines of the processes of change and the differences between the types of transformation, that opportunities for intervention and management in such processes can be identified and negotiated. With this in mind, spatial planners and designers of the urban realm are asked to demonstrate, identify and propose innovative approaches and methodologies which utilise complexity as the filter through which morphological urban processes can be addressed in a variety of ways, from spatial acupuncture and pattern formulation, to stakeholder negotiation and policy design.

This call is aimed at exploring more closely the potentials and parallels between processes of Spatial Planning and Urbanism/Design. In particular, how the complexity sciences can create and enhance this discourse through an examination of processes of inevitable transformation. Papers may address:

  • The relation between processes of planning, urban spatial design, urban transformation and complexity;
  • Approaches and tools to work with ongoing and inevitable urban transformation;
  • The potential of utilising multiple timelines and dynamic relationships between spatial development processes to enhance planning and design methodologies;
  • Complexity as the basis for communication and collaboration between planners, designers and policy makers.

We will work towards a themed issue for the journal Environment and Planning B: Planning & Design.

Important information & dates:

  • A full paper is required
  • Make sure the paper is not only conceptual/theorectical but includes also empirical and technical data suitable for publication in EPB
  • The paper is requested to meet the guidelines of Environment & Planning B
  • Deadline submission abstracts: September, 30th, 2013
  • Acceptance of abstract: October, 31th, 2013
  • Deadline full paper: January, 1st, 2014

Please see abstract submission details below.


Michael Weinstock is an Architect, currently Director of Research and Development, and Director of the Emergent Technologies and Design programme in the Graduate School of the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. Born in Germany, lived as a child in the Far East and then West Africa, and attended an English public school but ran away to sea at age 17 after reading Conrad. Years at sea in traditional wooden sailing ships, with shipyard and shipbuilding experience. Studied Architecture at the Architectural Association and has taught at the AA School of Architecture since 1989 in a range of positions from workshop tutor, Intermediate and then Diploma Unit Master, Master of Technical Studies and through to Academic Head.

Over the last decade his published work has arisen from research into the dynamics, forms and energy transactions of natural systems, and the application of the mathematics and processes of emergence to cities, to groups of buildings within cities and to buildings. Whilst his principal research and teaching has been conducted at the Architectural Association, he has published and lectured widely, and taught seminar courses, studios and workshops on these topics at many other schools of Architecture in Europe, including Brighton, Delft, Rome, Barcelona, Vienna and in Stuttgart; and in the US at Yale and Rice. He has made a significant contribution to the theoretical discourses of architecture, to the pedagogies of the discipline, and on practice. He has been a leader in bringing awareness and understanding of natural systems and the historical and current impacts of complexity, climatic and ecological changes on human architectures, and of the natural and human dynamics that are currently driving changes in all the systems of nature and civilisation.

Recent Book: Weinstock, Michael. The architecture of emergence: the evolution of form in nature and civilisation. London/Chichester: Wiley, 2010.

Abstract Submission Guidelines

Paper proposals are now being accepted. The official language for the Conference is English. Unfortunately submissions in other languages cannot be accepted.

Paper proposals intended for presentation within the Conference should be e-mailed to

Submissions should include the following information:

  1. Author(s) – In case of multiple authors, please indicate presenter with an asterix (*)
  2. Name and contact information (phone number, email and postal address);
  3. Institutional affiliation
  4. Biography: indication of educational and professional background, andresearch interests, in a single paragraph up to 100 words.

Abstract Template:

  1. Title of the paper;
  2. 3 keywords;
  3. Abstract: outlining the aims, scope and conclusions of the paper in maximum 250 words;
  4. 5 key bibliographical references.


21 August 2013
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