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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 secondsIn this lecture, we're going to look in depth in the city and its way it's developing. It's a proposal. It's a model. It's an abstract model. But you're going to see, if you stay with me, that at the end of this lecture, you might get a pretty good idea how cities might develop in a non-linear way, with you being able to grasp it and to see what kind of functions, what kind of conditions, are important to understand the non-linearity of cities. I was very much inspired by this guy.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 secondsProfessor Mike Batty of UCL London was among the very, very first at trying to explain urban development on the basis of nonlinear behaviour, and he used in his simulation processes the algorithms for fractals. He used a nonlinear and transformative approach, which in a way can be seen also in snowflakes, in the growth of leaves, and in very many things, basically. For us, it's the city-- the city, which also co-evolves in time, through which structure and function change, once upon a time being a crossing, a node, on a continuum, a marketplace for agricultural goods, a place to be safe, place for production and consumption.

Skip to 1 minute and 42 secondsAnd nowadays, we see it as a wonderful, creative place, where we can leisure, and we can have fun, where we can communicate, interact, and so forth. It's a place full of dynamics, where we gain knowledge, where there's creativity, and where the global and the local meet.

Skip to 2 minutes and 0 secondsThis is the model we're going to use to think through how cities can be seen as a complex adaptive system. A complex adaptive system exists basically out of two layers interacting. One is the robust layer, which in this respect refers to cities that-- not easily disappear. Cities don't go. They stay. They remain. They are robust, while at the same time, they relate with another layer-- the dynamic layer. Cities are highly flexible as well. They change through time. They adapt to circumstances, to macro trends, et cetera. And these two layers interact. And while going through the transition, you see that the dynamics is increasing, whilst stability is decreasing, until it gets a better fit, which is environment.

Skip to 2 minutes and 59 secondsAnd then, you see the dynamics is decreasing, and the stability is increasing. It's becoming more robust again. This is basically what a complex adaptive system does.

Skip to 3 minutes and 13 secondsIt's important to know, though, it's not just these two within the system. No, the system itself also relates to a context. Complex adaptive systems are sort of out of equilibrium, in between order and chaos, in between uniformity and diversity. So while being dynamic and robust inside, it refers to uniformity and diversity outside. This is quite important in understanding how a complex adaptive system, such as a city, works. Let's have a look. If this is the case, I can define four connectives-- C1, C2, C3, and C4. For example, C1 relates the internal dynamics with the external uniformity. C4 relates, for example, the internal robustness with an external diversity.

Skip to 4 minutes and 13 secondsWell, you might get lost now, but it's not that hard because if I look at a region, or at a city, or at a neighbourhood and see how to develop, I can, well, replace these four connectors with quite crucial notions, notions you very well understand-- cohesion, compatibility, competitiveness, and complementarity. We're going to see what they mean in a city, what they mean for a city. Let's start with cohesion.

Skip to 4 minutes and 53 secondsMy example would be a, for example, business park, a business park that is showing cohesion because of an integrated mix of activities, which are mutually beneficial. There's knowledge exchange. There's sharing of energy and water. There's park management, joint transport activities, et cetera.

Skip to 5 minutes and 16 secondsThat is cohesion. It's very robust, uniform, ordered, clear, transparent-- everyone happy. Compatibility is another important notion for a city. For example, a shopping mall-- how will it survive? How will it get its robustness while being so diverse? Well, one factor is diversity is a major attractor. People go there because it's diverse. But more importantly, if one of these shops drops out, the system doesn't collapse because there are plenty of other shops. There is diversity. And the mall-- it will continue.

Skip to 5 minutes and 58 secondsCompetitiveness-- well, most of us all are very well aware of what that means-- cities competing with each other, everyone trying to be the best, trying to be attractive to companies, to visitors-- tourists. And if you believe all the branding, one is even better than the other. You want to compete. You want to be special. But it's important to understand that you cannot just be special because that would isolate you. No, you have to be complementary as well, and that makes the complex adaptive system complete. This complementarity-- let's have a deeper look into this issue because it's very much ignored, and that's a pity. Everyone wants to compete, but you cannot compete without being complementary as well.

Skip to 6 minutes and 52 secondsLet's have a look, because it's basically very clear what it means. For example, again, the city-- what would a city be-- a city centre be-- I have to be precise here-- a city centre be without its neighbourhoods? Basically, nothing, because no one would go to the city centre. People have to come from the neighbourhoods. And what would neighbourhoods be without a city centre? The neighbourhoods would be nothing because there are no shops to go to. This works on every, every level. It works like a fractal. Here is the same rhythm available for us, the periphery versus the core of the country. The core of the country is very strong-- internationally strong-- on the industry and services.

Skip to 7 minutes and 42 secondsThe periphery should not be ignored. It's highly competitive, in a way, on agriculture and on leisure. Jointly, the core and the periphery here are strong as a whole. All the qualities unite if you bring these regions together. If they complete, you're in trouble.

Skip to 8 minutes and 7 secondsBiologists know this. If you have the periphery-- this warm, green, charming lady-- and the core-- this yuppie-- stressed, and these two start competing, you're pretty sure you won't get any offspring. It doesn't succeed. Biologists know this very well. Economists find it harder to believe. They like competition. But as I try to tell here, sometimes you have to be aware about your qualities. In this particular case, you also have to know that you have to be complementary. It works the same at a regional level. Here, the northern part of the Netherlands, where we see urban development zones-- but these urban development zones are quite competitive at a regional level. If we look at a countryside, we see islands.

Skip to 9 minutes and 5 secondsWe see a 2,000-year artificial landscape. We see most of the national parks of the country. We see the Lake District. This could be internationally competitive. As a whole, the urban development zones and the periphery are very much complementary. So there we are. We have seen the city, the region, as a complex adaptive system. And we have introduced four notions, four cornerstones, of the complex adaptive model, which together tell you how a city-- a region-- could develop, could co-evolve. If these four are not being ignored, if these four are there, in balance, you get a quite interesting, robust, and dynamic system, which might be very interesting in time to see how it evolves. And it might evolve through the various layers.

Skip to 10 minutes and 15 secondsAnd while we might not know how these complex adaptive systems will evolve in time, as we don't know how the city will evolve in time, we do know that these four characteristics, these notions, these cornerstones, will be the centre, the identity, of the system-- competitiveness, complementary, cohesion, and complementarity. They are, together, the cornerstones of a city, a region, in development. What we've seen is cities being complex adaptive. And what we've done is basically translating it into a model that you can use to think through complex adaptive behaviour. Sounds abstract, but we've seen as well it can become extremely clear.

In depth: A model of non-linear city development

This lecture introduces a model of how cities can develop in a non-linear way. Characteristics of a transition of a city are about the dynamics and robustness of a city and about its uniformity and diversity. How do you recognise this?

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Decision Making in a Complex and Uncertain World

University of Groningen

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