Core Course: Unfolding City Complexity

  Silhouette of a city with construction cranes Copyright: © Fabio Bayro Kaiser

Summer Semester 2023

The complexity of a city can be observed in spatial arrangements, the daily routines of its inhabitants, and the unique character of local areas. Urban complexity is evidenced in the composition of physical artefacts, social patterns, and the type and distribution of activities. Notably, this complexity is expressed through the intricate interactions and mutual influences between morphological, social, and functional systems.

A multitude of questions surround this topic: why do certain areas exhibit higher levels of attractiveness than others? What makes certain streets more appealing than others? Why do some parks thrive while others fail? Why do specific economic activities cluster together, and how do primary urban functions shape their surrounding areas? These and many other inquiries will be the focus of our semester investigation.

In this course, students will develop analytical methods to assess urban complexity at the local scale. The course aims to achieve two key objectives: (I) to examine the primary factors and conditions that influence the spontaneous functioning of urban contexts; and (II) to visually represent urban complexity and disseminate its comprehension to a broader audience.

The seminar will be marked by a collaborative learning process. Students will work in small groups to explore the spontaneous order of specific urban areas. The discussion of urban complexity and development will be based on Jane Jacobs's work, "The Death and Life of Great American Cities." The course will include a thematic field trip aiming at providing a practical understanding of the principles and concepts covered in the seminar.


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