Handbooks of Research on Public Policy series
Edited by Robert Geyer and Paul Cairney
Chapter 21: Going for Plan B – conditioning adaptive planning: about urban planning and institutional design in a non-linear, complex world
Cities co-evolve, which means that they do not simply emerge from nowhere or grow linearly. Co-evolution is the non-linear transformation of a city’s structures and functions, through which cities change physically, socially and institutionally. Cities are subject to institutional constructs which frame the coherent development of the daily environment, while aiming to create a space for people to live together decently, perhaps even pleasantly. These institutional constructs supposedly mirror a sense of community, either through democratic mechanisms or other mechanisms through which a society’s desires can be taken into consideration. Cities emerge over time and new functions, meanings and perspectives consequently co-evolve along with them (Geddes, 1915; Mumford, 1961; Castells and Hall, 1994). Throughout this evolutionary path the city’s institutional reality will repeatedly be redesigned. It is a trajectory of continuously adjusting towards a fit between what is appreciated by communities and the changes that have emerged within the physical environment. This institutional reality represents all the mechanisms which enable a community to express its desires and worries regarding the communal environment, resulting in frameworks of conventions (including those representing conventions of ‘good governance’).
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