The Science of Cities

Unprecedented urbanization calls for unprecedented planning, argues writer Tim De Chant. His proposal: a scientific model for responsive urban design.

Historically, city planning has relied heavily on design and with much success. The mounting pressure cities face as urban populations grow, however, will bring about unique challenges that require a more responsive solution. Enter, science.

Michael Batty, an urban planner and professor at University College London is combining planning with systems science, "where bright minds and complex mathematical models try to digest the entirety of a system, like a city." De Chant points out that urban design is largely speculative, relying on a limited flow of information. Cities generate a wealth of uncaptured data that could be used to formulate rapidly responsive design solutions to emerging problems.

As De Champ puts it: "Subways are crowded, freeways are jammed, and sewers are overflowing. Throwing money at temporary fixes will only get us so far. We need to dig deeper and develop a responsive urbanism, one that's grand in scale and scientifically focused. We need to listen to what cities are telling us, decide what we want them to do, and plan accordingly."

Thanks to Jessica Brent

Full Story: Responsive Urban Design


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Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning

Featuring thought-provoking commentary and insights from some of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the field.