Major steps have in recent decades been taken when it comes to understanding how cities work. Essential is the change from understanding cities as locations to understanding them as flows (Batty 2013). In principle this means that we need to understand locations (or places) as defined by flows (or different forms of traffic), rather than locations only served by flows. This implies that we need to understand the built form and spatial structure of cities as a system, that by shaping flows creates a series of places with very specific relations to all other places in the city, which also give them very specific performative potentials. It also implies the rather fascinating notion that what happens in one place is dependent on its relation to all other places (Hillier 1996). Hence, to understand the individual place, we need a model of the city as a whole.
Extensive research in this direction has taken place in recent years, that has also spilled over to urban design practice, not least in Sweden, where the idea that to understand the part you need to understand the whole is starting to be established. With the Urban Calculator that we present here, we take a important leap towards integrating this knowledge in the daily practice of urban designers and other professionals active in urban development. The objective of this project is to provide a user-friendly software that allows for effective knowledge transfer. The software will support the evaluation of different urban scenario’s as well as mirror these against a references database. The project is expected to impact decision making in urban development projects, especially during the initial phases.