Emergent Urbanism

Rediscovering Urban Complexity

New York

The patterns of place

(This article originally appeared in Get Ahead Magazine, for the Get Ahead Festival of independent short films in Brooklyn.)

Defining a new traditional urbanism

Sometime last year this website attracted the attention of several members of the International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism, an organization sponsored by the Prince of Wales Foundation in order to support and renew traditions of construction. While this organization does great work to preserve the techniques of traditional building cultures, they have yet to define what the traditional urbanism of their name really implies. The importance of such a definition I believe to be primordial.

A pattern language for New York streets

The New York City Department of Transportation has published its street design manual, a collection of patterns that make absolutely no references to any traffic control devices of any kind.

The Journey to Emergence

This is part I of a series of excerpts of an article to be published in the International Journal of Architectural Research entitled The Principles of Emergent Urbanism. Additional parts will be posted on this blog with the editor's permission until the complete article appears exclusively in the journal's upcoming issue.

The complex grid

In a medieval-era city the pace of urban growth is slow to a point where the growth of the city is not consciously noticed. Buildings are added sporadically, in random shape and order, as the extremely scarce economic situation makes no other pattern possible. Typically this means that the shape of streets will match the existing natural paths of movement, giving the street network an organic structure that is preserved through successive transformations in the urban fabric.

A demonstration of complexity in New York City

This discussion originally appeared on the Wired New York forums.

Allow me to point to a great example of contemporary emergence in New York City, and perhaps clarify the principles involved.

This, as most of you probably know, is Times Square.

Further comment

Please send your comments by email at mthl@mthl.info, or find me on Twitter @mathieuhelie. The commenting system is closed at the moment as no measures can hold back blog spamming bots.

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