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Complexity Theory in Cities

Here is a  new book on complexity and cities entitled “Complexity Theories of Cities Have Come of Age: An Overview with Implications to Urban Planning and Design” edited by Juval Portugali, Han Meyer, Egbert Stolk and Ekim Tan with the intriguing title that what we do has come of age. Well maybe, maybe not, I leave you to be the judge of that. But it does represent a sea change. The book has a wide cast of authors and the focus is on implications for urban planning and design. My own contribution written with Stephen Marshall reviews the origins of the field, returning to Geddes, Jacobs and Alexander, and is entitled: The Origins of Complexity Theory in Cities and Planning”. Amongst those contributing are Hermann Halken, Peter Allen, Nikos Salingaros, Bill Hillier, Jeff Johnson, Hans Meyer, Egbert Stolk, Ekim Tan, Denise Pumain, Harry Timmermans, Stephen Read, Ward Rauws, Carl Gershensen, Dirk Sijmons, Theodore Zamenopolous, Katerina Alexiou, Michael Bitterman, Sevil Sarijildiz, Ozer Ciftcioglu, and of course Juval Portugali. Hope I haven’t left anyone out.

Juval Portugalihas also written a fascinating book called Complexity, Cognition and the City, recently published too by Springer and this is also essential reading. Books are coming thick and fast on the complexity viewpoint as it is being applied to cities. There is a sense that these foundations will last somewhat longer than the earlier attempts 40-50 years ago involving a Systems Theory of Cities, largely because complexity theory is a much broader church, with wide implications for how we approach the development of ideas, innovations and knowledge in post-industrial society.