Complexity theorists tend to ascribe to Popper’s (1957) notion that the future is fundamentally unpredictable or at least unknowable for non-trivial systems of interest—in our case human systems—and broadly speaking, the longer the time scale for prediction, the less predictable the outcome. This makes cities— which are about as long term as physical products can get—intrinsically unpredictable. So a future city cannot simply be the built-out product of a creator’s imagination, in the way a building can be. Nor is a city growing like an organism: there is no knowable optimal form of target organism to be steered towards. The idea of the planned city as a knowable utopia is a chimera. Nevertheless, we continue to try to plan in the belief that the world will be a better place if we intervene to identify and solve issues that are widely regarded as problematic. But this must be tempered with an awareness of the limitations of planning, not least through an awareness of the evolutionary nature of urban change.(Marshall 2009:266)

Michael Batty and Stephen Marshall, The Origins of Complexity Theory in Cities and Planning in Complexity Theories of Cities Have Come of Age (2012) Springer

‘The idea of the planned city as a knowable utopia is a chimera.’

(via gordonr)

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