A Planner's Encounter with Complexity: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

A Planner's Encounter with Complexity

1st Edition

By Elisabete A. Silva

Edited by Gert de Roo


360 pages

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Paperback: 9781138272408
pub: 2016-10-26
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Hardback: 9781409402657
pub: 2010-08-28
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Spatial planning is about dealing with our 'everyday' environment. In A Planner's Encounter with Complexity we present various understandings of complexity and how the environment is considered accordingly. One of these considerations is the environment as subject to processes of continuous change, being either progressive or destructive, evolving non-linearly and alternating between stable and dynamic periods. If the environment that is subject to change is adaptive, self-organizing, robust and flexible in relation to this change, a process of evolution and co-evolution can be expected. This understanding of an evolving environment is not mainstream to every planner. However, in A Planner's Encounter with Complexity, we argue that environments confronted with discontinuous, non-linear evolving processes might be more real than the idea that an environment is simply a planner's creation. Above all, we argue that recognizing the 'complexity' of our environment offers an entirely new perspective on our world and our environment, on planning theory and practice, and on the raison d'être of the planners that we are. A Planner's Encounter with Complexity is organized into 17 chapters. It begins with the interplay of planning and complexity from the perspective of contemporary planning theory. It continues by critically assessing planning theory and practice in the light of the interdisciplinary debate regarding complexity thinking. As the book progresses, it positions itself ever closer to the perspective of complexity thinking, looking at the planning discipline 'from the outside in', clarifying the facets of complexity and its importance in planning. Finally, conceptual and theoretical developments towards more applied examples are identified in order to see the interplay of planning and complexity in practice. This book emphasizes the importance of complexity in planning, clarifies many of the concepts and theories, presents examples on planning and complexity, and proposes new ideas and methods for planning.


'The challenges of complexity to our understandings of and approaches to planning are increasingly hard to ignore. Complexity has moved beyond the heuristic to a cogent analysis of how people and places interact and is now exploring ways of conceiving, planning and governing space from spatial modelling to property rights. A Planner's Encounter with Complexity strikes a fine balance between an overview and contemporary research and is a must read for all those involved in place-making.' Phil Allmendinger, University of Cambridge, UK 'What is specifically interesting about A Planner's Encounter with Complexity is that while past studies have looked at planning from the perspective of complexity, this collection illuminates the various ways planners see complexity and the possible links between the two domains. This is an important step forward towards a fruitful discourse between the two domains out of which might emerge a complexity of theory of planning.' Juval Portugali, Tel Aviv University, Israel ’… this is an interesting and useful book that provides a decent overview of what planners think about complexity and what they are doing with it.’ Journal of Regional Science

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Planning and complexity: an introduction, Gert de Roo; Being or becoming? That is the question! Confronting complexity with contemporary planning theory, Gert de Roo; Dealing with society's 'big messes', Jens-Peter Grunau and Walter L. Schönwandt; Complexity in spatial planning practice and theory: the case of Kiruna mining town, Kristina L. Nilsson; Complex systems, evolutionary planning?, Luca Bertolini; Complexity in city systems: understanding evolution and design, Michael Batty; Emergence, spatial order, transaction costs and planning, Chris Webster; Spatial planning processes: applying a dynamic complex systems perspective, Menno Huys and Marcel van Gils; The awakening of complexity in conceptualisations of space in planning, Janneke E. Hagens; Process and transient scenarios in collaborative planning: managing the time dimension, Adele Celino and Grazia Concilio; Complexity and cellular automaton: exploring its practical application, Elisabete A. Silva; Complexity and travel behaviour: modelling influence of social interactions on travellers' behaviour using a multi-agent simulation, Yos Sunitiyoso, Erel Avineri and Kiron Chatterjee; Complexity theory and transport planning: fractal traffic networks, Erel Avineri; Going beyond the metaphor of the machine: complexity and participatory ecological design, Joanne Tippett; Rethinking brownfields: discourses, networks and space-time, Nikos Karadimitriou, Joe Doak and Elisabete Cidre; Urban governance and social complexity, Joris van Wezemael; Waves of complexity: theory, models, and practice, Elisabete A. Silva; Index.

About the Author/Editor

Professor Gert de Roo, Faculty of Spatial Sciences University of Groningen, The Netherlands and Dr Elisabete A. Silva Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge, UK

About the Series

New Directions in Planning Theory

New Directions in Planning Theory
Ashgate's series, New Directions in Planning Theory, develops and disseminates theories and conceptual understandings of spatial and physical planning which address such challenges as uncertainty, diversity and incommensurability. Planning theories range across a wide spectrum, from questions of explanation and understanding, to normative or predictive questions of how planners should act and what future places should look like. These theories include procedural theories of planning. While these have traditionally been dominated by ideas about rationality, in addition to this, the series opens up to other perspectives and also welcomes theoretical contributions on substantive aspects of planning. Other theories to be included in the series may be concerned with questions of epistemology or ontology; with issues of knowledge, power, politics, subjectivation; with social and/or environmental justice; with issues of morals and ethics. Planning theories have been, and continue to be, influenced by other intellectual fields, which often imbue planning theories with awareness of and sensitivity to the multiple dimensions of planning practices. The series editors particularly encourage inter- and trans-disciplinary ideas and conceptualisations.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Regional Planning