Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science
The editors of this themed issue invite articles that bridge urban design, system thinking and emerging technology and are looking for scientific papers that explore how urban design connects performance measures, system thinking and digital technologies at the community and neighborhood-scale urban settings. Submit your extended abstract by 15 Decemeber 2017.
Guest Editors: Perry Yang and Yoshiki Yamagata
Cities are to be thought impossible to be designed directly, because they are fluid, complex and uncertain with conflicting values. In fact, we do design our cities, however imperfectly. Urban design as a professional discipline deals with issues between urban form, performance and the values behind (Lynch, 1984).
Cities can be seen as complex systems, a proposition that has its long intellectual history. Herbert Simon’s idea of system thinking influences that way we conceive cities as a complex system that is composed of subsystems, components, objects and their interactions. The subsystems tend to be organized in a hierarchical structure, a way that nature and society develop their robustness and resiliency (Batty, 2013). We all learn that the city is not a machine since Herbert Simon’s time. The system thinking is more than a metaphor. The system approach also appears in the model of urban metabolism, an alternative thinking that see cities as an organic entity, in which the metabolic processes of energy, matter, water, organisms and informational flows and fluxes as well as their social and economic activities determine the physical form and spatial configurations of cities (Baccini and Brunner, 2012). However, Cities are neither complex mechanical systems nor biological organisms. To go beyond the metaphorical approach, a new science of cities is needed (Batty, 2013).
The theme issue Urban Systems Design in the Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science invites articles that bridge urban design, system thinking and emerging technology. It is built upon intellectual legacy of systems science and urban design: The systems science for cities raises the question of “science for design”, how cities and urban forms function and perform better driven by goals like sustainability and resiliency. It’s a positive question, which involves modeling of urban system flows such as energy, water, human movement and informational flows in cities over different temporal processes.
The urban design perspective brings in the question of “design in science”, how urban design decisions are made through systemic and scientific processes with considerations of ecological, social or economic drivers behind. It’s a normative question about how good city forms are designed (Lynch, 1984), and a forward-looking perspective to see cities as inherently flow-driven spatial organizations, a form of urban metabolism. It deals with how ecological cities can be designed through promoting performance and system resiliency.
We look for scientific papers that explore how urban design connects performance measures, system thinking and digital technologies at the community and neighborhood-scale urban settings. We also welcome review articles from a broader academic and professional community of urban design and smart city, who may provide viewpoints about how architects, urban designers, city planners and infrastructural engineers create new urban forms that apply system approaches, performance modeling and urban analytics. The proposition of “urban systems design” can be seen as an interventional and transformative approach to shaping and reorganizing contemporary cities and urban spaces in the face of climate challenges for the post-oil city models.