This thesis looks at how cities operate as Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS). It focuses on how certain characteristics of urban form can support an urban environment’s capacity to self-organize, enabling emergent features to appear that, while unplanned, remain highly functional. The research is predicated on the notion that CAS processes operate across diverse domains: that they are ‘generalized’ or ‘universal’. The goal of the dissertation is then to determine how such generalized principles might ‘play out’ within the urban fabric. The main thrust of the work is to unpack how elements of the urban fabric might be considered as elements of a complex system and then identify how one might design these elements in a more deliberate manner, such that they hold a greater embedded capacity to respond to changing urban forces. The research is further predicated on the notion that, while such responses are both imbricated with, and stewarded by human actors, the specificities of the material characteristics themselves matter. Some forms of material environments hold greater intrinsic physical capacities (or affordances) to enact the kinds of dynamic processes observed in complex systems than others (and can, therefore, be designed with these affordances in mind). The primary research question is thus:
What physical and morphological conditions need to be in place within an urban environment in order for Complex Adaptive Systems dynamics arise – such that the physical components (or ‘building blocks’) of the urban environment have an enhanced capacity to discover functional configurations in space and time as a response to unfolding contextual conditions?
WOHL, Sharon. Complex Adaptive Systems & Urban Morphogenesis. A+BE | Architecture and the Built Environment, [S.l.], n. 10, p. 1-238, june 2018. ISSN 2214-7233. Available at: <https://journals.open.tudelft.nl/index.php/abe/article/view/2397>. Date accessed: 12 june 2018. doi: https://doi.org/10.7480/abe.2018.10.