Planning for emergence: Confronting rule-based and design-based urban development
Licentiatavhandling, 2016

Increasing urban populations, climate changes, financial instability, global conflicts, depletion of resources, and increasing land consumption all contribute to the complex and unpredictable urban challenges we are facing today. A compact urban form is promoted by global and local policies, and research has shown the benefits of dense and diverse properties for their capacity to provide complex responses to complex challenges. However, more focused studies on the urban processes involved in generating such qualities are lacking. The present thesis looks into the properties of urban density and diversity through the lens of complex adaptive systems theory, the goal being to understand how different planning approaches produce different outcomes. The research is carried out in two phases, with the first phase focusing on studies of density and diversity both as quantifiable form variables and as qualitative perceptions. The difference in density and diversity outcomes between ‘rule-based’ and ‘design-based’ planning approaches are studied both quantitatively and qualitatively, using a building footprints analysis as well as a geo-location-based perception survey. The second phase pursues the topic further in an attempt to understand how ‘emergence’ can be created in unbuilt sites by applying a ‘rule-based’ planning system. The thesis outlines some of the adaptable qualities of ‘rule-based’ systems, which seem to generate similar outcomes regarding compact city properties, as evidenced in ‘emergent’ urban forms. The present findings provide a better understanding of the extent to which different types of planning systems and approaches do or do not result in compact cities.


compact city

rule-based approach


design-based approach

urban resilience

planning by coding

emergent urban form

Opponent: Luca D’Acci


Hye Kyung Lim

Chalmers, Arkitektur


Building Futures (2010-2018)




Opponent: Luca D’Acci

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