18. Unravelling complexity for planning
This track explores how interactions between the complexity sciences and the planning discipline can result in better understandings of and productive strategies for urban planning in a world of change.
Cities and urban regions across the globe face a series of pressures and challenges. One can think of global warming, processes of globalization, migration flows, technological innovations, geopolitical shifts, etc. A key question for spatial planners and governance experts is how to support cities and regions in remaining vital places under these conditions. In other words, how to boost quality of life, reduce social inequalities, support urban developments and transformations, and balance environmental sustainability and economic development in a fuzzy, dynamic world that includes both foreseen and unforeseen changes.
Introducing concepts such as self-organization, coevolution and bifurcation, the complexity sciences can help to clarify the interdependent, recursive and adaptive nature of processes underlying spatial transformations. Therefore, this track is about exploring ways to unwrap / disentangle / decode the 'complexity' of spatial systems and networks. Not with the aim of simplifying complexity, but with the ambition to identify the opportunities and limitations of a complexity perspective for the discipline of urban planning. This can include:
- Alternative conceptualization of neighbourhoods, cities and regions that allow planners to gasp the dynamic patterns of change.
- Advanced models that strengthen our understanding of, for instance, spontaneous pattern formations, processes of path-dependency and transition trajectories.
- New institutional designs which are time-sensitive and allow actor-coalitions to deal with a plurality of perspectives and non-linear routes of development.
Hence, the track ‘Unravelling complexity for planning’ explores the conditions under which ‘spaces of dialogue’ and decision making emerge, alter and disperse. It invites academics and professionals to rethink their tools and strategies in order to promote better places, respecting the dignity of life, in a context of change, interdependency and uncertainty.