Emergent Urbanism

Rediscovering Urban Complexity

rural city

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.

The collapse of rural cities

The advent of low-cost motoring and extension of expressways through rural areas made possible a form of urbanisation that few people had foreseen. Le Corbusier had dreamed the automobile to allow the working man to live in the country and work in the city. The suburbs made that dream real, or at least as far as the suburbs were a pastiche of the country. What the automobile did to radically transform rural landscapes was make it possible for someone to live in the country and work a hundred kilometers elsewhere in the country.

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