Urban Design and Complexity

Corbusier Paris planI am presenting at the 2015 Conference on Complex Systems tomorrow in Tempe, Arizona. My paper is on methods for assessing the complexity of urban design. If you’re attending the conference, come on by!

Here’s the paper.

Here’s the abstract:

This paper explores an analytical framework for assessing the complexity of the urban built form at the neighborhood scale. In particular, it extends quantitative methods from network science, ecosystems studies, fractal geometry, and information theory to the practice of neighborhood-scale urban design and the analysis of its qualitative human experience. Metrics at multiple scales are scattered throughout these bodies of literature and have useful applications in analyzing the built form that results from local planning and design processes. Rich linkages between complexity theory and urban design have been underexplored by researchers at the neighborhood and street scales – the scales of daily human experience. The urban design literature frequently cites the value of “complexity” in neighborhood design, but these arguments often lack the theoretical formalism found in complex systems science. If neighborhood complexity is important, urban planners and designers require better tools to assess design outcomes and understand the built form. This paper unpacks the connections between neighborhood-scale built form and measures of its complexity, and the analytical framework developed here is generalizable to empirical research of multiple neighborhood types and design standards. Finally, the paper presents a series of implications for the practice of planning and designing complex urban places.

The paper has been adapted into a journal article manuscript and posted online.

13 thoughts on “Urban Design and Complexity”

  1. Thanks everyone! I’m humbled by the interest. In fact I’m working on a revision now with an eye toward a dissertation chapter. Once it’s been refined just a bit, I’ll get it posted ASAP.

  2. Hi Geoff, Your posts are interesting reading material. Looking forward to read your manuscript as well as your dissertation. Thanks.

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