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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds Let me be frank. We all have ideas, concepts, and constructs about how to see the urban. But no one knows exactly what it is. The urban is to some extent an entity, but it is far more the identity that matters. And the urban identity is fuzzy, fluid, and vague. And not surprisingly, the urban is defined in very many ways. Look at these great people, all known for their great ideas about how to see the city; The Plural City, by Kevin Lynch; The Social City by Jane Jacobs; The Exploiting City, by David Harvey; and so on, and so on. And perhaps we’re all aware of the city being just functional, straightforward. We all have our own ideas about a city.

Skip to 1 minute and 2 seconds Just look around and see. Daughters of a friend of mine consider the city to be the place where they can find their favorite clothing shops. My two boys see the city through their iPad. And often I perceive the city as connected, by looking at a digital roadmap. The city is the place where we communicate and connect with each other. At this very moment 50% of the earth’s population is living in the urban. And in Northwestern Europe almost everyone is urban. All have an urban attitude. The urban is where we live, and the city is our home. Horst Rittel, a great planner from the past, called the urban wicked, in contrast to tamed situations. And wicked means there is fundamental uncertainty.

Skip to 1 minute and 59 seconds To see a city as wicked means we cannot fully understand the city as it is. And one reason is the city is full of discontinuous change. Change is the only constant factor. The city is also a place where the global and the local meet. The city is nothing but a global village. Can we be exact about a city? No. Are we able to foresee the future, the route the city develops? No. We can’t. Can we manage the city? Well, perhaps so. But we have to let go traditional ideas, traditional in the sense that a city is a makeable, entirely functional, and completely controllable. Because it isn’t. It’s quite new to see the urban as a constant process of discontinuous change.

Skip to 2 minutes and 55 seconds The urban behaves, more or less, as a complex adaptive system. And that means the urban develops, but in a nonlinear, complex way.

Introduction to urban complexity

This video introduces the core concepts of the urban. What is a city? How can we view a city? What are characteristics of the city and its environment?

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Decision Making in a Complex and Uncertain World

University of Groningen

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