The bigger picture of the suburbs in the city

February 16, 2008

A recent issue of Science is dedicated to ‘Cities’. The issue provides a very good context for current challenges and understanding of cities in general, and therefore to the wider context of our study.

Of a special interest is Mike Batty’s ‘The Size, Scale and Shape of Cities‘ which provides a coverage of current developments in Complexity Science with respect to cities. This short paper provides the links to the concepts and approaches that are common in Complexity Science: fractals, scale-free network, network dynamics, power laws etc. It is noteworthy how much of the literature is being published in Physics and not in Urban Planning or Geography.

One of the challenges in using Complexity Science is to move from a descriptive mode which is about discovering patterns in existing data, to a predictive model or to some analysis that can be used by planners in the process of redesigning and managing cities.

Interestingly, the paper questions the top down approach for urban planning and raises the need to integrate morphology and function in analysis. While our study is not approaching the analysis of suburban town centres from the Complexity Science angle, we are linked to these concepts through the current work in Space Syntax, the analysis of detailed and large data sets and other aspects.

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