Confronting Urban Planning and Design with Complexity: Methods for Inevitable Transformation

Organization: Manchester School of Architecture

Venue: Manchester School of Architecture

Location: Manchester, United Kingdom

Event Date/Time: Jan 16, 2014 End Date/Time: Jan 17, 2014
Abstract Submission Date: Sep 30, 2013
Paper Submission Date: Jan 01, 2014
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Confronting Urban Planning and Design with Complexity: Methods for Inevitable Transformation

12th meeting AESOP’s Thematic Group on Complexity and Planning, Manchester School of Architecture, 16th & 17th January, 2014

Urban transformation has increasingly become recognised as both inevitable and complex. Processes of urban change can take various forms, from evolutionary to emergent, and are driven by trans-scalar and dynamic relationships ranging from policy and infrastructure to local and bottom up agency. Working with these complexities requires innovative new approaches and tools which can incorporate and utilise the inherent potentials of urban change. These could support spatial planners and designers in managing transformation and retaining dynamics and adaptability within systems.

Processes of urban transformation incorporate multiple and parallel assemblages of dynamic change. It is often within the comparative timelines of the processes of change and the differences between the types of transformation, that opportunities for intervention and management in such processes can be identified and negotiated. With this in mind, spatial planners and designers of the urban realm are asked to demonstrate, identify and propose innovative approaches and methodologies which utilise complexity as the filter through which morphological urban processes can be addressed in a variety of ways, from spatial acupuncture and pattern formulation, to stakeholder negotiation and policy design.

This call is aimed at exploring more closely the potentials and parallels between processes of Spatial Planning and Urbanism/Design. In particular, how the complexity sciences can create and enhance this discourse through an examination of processes of inevitable transformation. Papers may address:

  • The relation between processes of planning, urban spatial design, urban transformation and complexity;
  • Approaches and tools to work with ongoing and inevitable urban transformation;
  • The potential of utilising multiple timelines and dynamic relationships between spatial development processes to enhance planning and design methodologies;
  • Complexity as the basis for communication and collaboration between planners, designers and policy makers.

We will work towards a themed issue for the journal Environment and Planning B: Planning & Design.

Important information & dates:

  • A full paper is required
  • Make sure the paper is not only conceptual/theorectical but includes also empirical and technical data suitable for publication in EPB
  • The paper is requested to meet the
  • Deadline submission abstracts (): September, 30th, 2013
  • Acceptance of abstract: October, 31th, 2013
  • Deadline full paper: January, 1st, 2014

Abstracts can be submitted my email:


Chatham Building
United Kingdom


Manchester School of Architecture
Chatham Building
M15 6BR
United Kingdom

Conference Speakers


Michael Weinstock is an Architect, currently Director of Research and Development, and Director of theEmergent Technologies and Design programme in the Graduate School of the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. Born in Germany, lived as a child in the Far East and then West Africa, and attended an English public school but ran away to sea at age 17 after reading Conrad. Years at sea in traditional wooden sailing ships, with shipyard and shipbuilding experience. Studied Architecture at the Architectural Association and has taught at the AA School of Architecture since 1989 in a range of positions from workshop tutor, Intermediate and then Diploma Unit Master, Master of Technical Studies and through to Academic Head.

Over the last decade his published work has arisen from research into the dynamics, forms and energy transactions of natural systems, and the application of the mathematics and processes of emergence to cities, to groups of buildings within cities and to buildings. Whilst his principal research and teaching has been conducted at the Architectural Association, he has published and lectured widely, and taught seminar courses, studios and workshops on these topics at many other schools of Architecture in Europe, including Brighton, Delft, Rome, Barcelona, Vienna and in Stuttgart; and in the US at Yale and Rice. He has made a significant contribution to the theoretical discourses of architecture, to the pedagogies of the discipline, and on practice. He has been a leader in bringing awareness and understanding of natural systems and the historical and current impacts of complexity, climatic and ecological changes on human architectures, and of the natural and human dynamics that are currently driving changes in all the systems of nature and civilisation.

Recent Book: Weinstock, Michael. The Architecture of Emergence: The Evolution of Form in Nature and Civilisation. London/Chichester: Wiley, 2010.

Additional Information



Exhibits included


Contributor Guidelines


Paper proposals are now being accepted. The official language for the Conference is English. Unfortunately submissions in other languages cannot be accepted. Paper proposals intended for presentation within the Conference should be e-mailed to

Submissions should include the following information:

  • Author(s) - In case of multiple authors, please indicate presenter with an asterix (*)
  • Name and contact information (phone number, email and postal address);
  • Institutional affiliation
  • Biography: indication of educational and professional background, andresearch interests, in a single paragraph up to 100 words.

Abstract Template:

  • Title of the paper;
  • 3 keywords;
  • Abstract: outlining the aims, scope and conclusions of the paper in maximum 250 words;
  • 5 key bibliographical references.

PAPER (based on guidelines Environment and Planning B: Planning & Design)

  • Papers should be submitted as Word or pdf files.
  • Papers should be written in English, in nonsexist, nonracist language.
  • Please think very carefully when writing your title so that it contains the keywords that readers would use when searching for papers on the same topic. Describe your work fully in the abstract, reiterating key phrases (the abstract should not be repeated in the first paragraph). We also ask that you select 3 – 5 keywords from the choices given on the submissions website.
  • Papers should be double spaced with 12-point font size. Papers should be no longer than 8000 words (including tables, equations, etc). Please embed all tables within the document. Please attach figures separately, as these are appended to the end of the manuscript document.
  • Papers should be formatted as per the style guidelines provided below, and particular attention should be paid to the style of references and accepted figure formats.

Style Figures

  • Figures should be submitted in TIFF or EPS format, with at least 300dpi resolution for greyscale TIFFs and atleast 600dpi resolution for black and white TIFFs. PDFs are also accepted. Other formats are not accepted (JPEG, GIF, BMP, Powerpoint, Excel, etc).
  • All figures and tables should be mentioned in the text and should be numbered according to the order in which they are mentioned.
  • Figures should be submitted in black and white unless colour is really necessary. Colour printing is expensive and is charged at cost—though, alternatively, colour figures can be made available online free of charge. Any figures intended for colour printing, either in print or online, should be indicated as such. References
  • The full list of all references cited in the paper should appear at the end of the text, in alphabetical order by author, and in ascending chronological order for each author. They should be formatted in the house style. If you are an Endnote user, there is an output style called Environment and Planning.ens
  • References must be cited in the text, and should be cited alphabetically in the format shown by the following examples: Batty, 2003; 2005a; Batty and Xie, 1994; Webster et al, 1999b.
  • Where more than one reference appears for the same year, labels a, b, c etc should be used, in the order in which the papers are cited.
  • All authors and editors should be listed for each citation.
  • Any unpublished material, or material published by an organisation or department (such as conference proceedings) must be accompanied by full contact details of availability, as shown in the example references (it is notsufficient, for example, to provide the name and year of a conference and the place at which it was held).
  • full contact address is required for any organisations.
  • Acts of Parliament, statutes, government publications, legal judgments, etc, must be fully referenced as shown in the example references.
  • First and last pages should be provided for all articles published in journals or books


  • Mathematics
  • If mathematics feature in the manuscript, care should be taken that they are formatted according to mathematics style of the journal.