Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The End of Urban Planning? (1)

The picture below shows three neuron cells (two red and one yellow) of the brain of a mouse, with their connections.

The picture below was generated, and shows a large cluster of galaxies (bright yellow) surrounded by thousands of stars, galaxies and dark matter (web).

The relationship between these two pictures was reported in The New York Times, August 14, 2006. The next picture shows Brazil by night.

The picture below is a cutout from the picture above. I turned it upside down in order to show the striking resemblance with the pictures of the mouse's brain and the galaxy. The bright spot at the upper left, near the coast, is Curitiba. The middle spot, with the roads radiating out, is São Paulo. The white spot at the bottom left of the picture, near the coast, is Rio de Janeiro. It is said that the chain Campinas - São Paulo - Santos - Rio de Janeiro is the world's biggest urban agglomeration . It includes a 500 km long transport axis of all medium sized cities between São Paulo and Rio and is commonly known by geographers as the Rio/São Paulo Extended Metropolitan Region (RSPER). With a current population of 37 million this megalopolis is already larger than Tokio-Yokohama. (Mike Davis, Planet of Slums, p. 5)

Seeing these pictures, it seems spontanious networks are a law of nature. Consequently it would mean that urban planning is pointless, as the urban configuration seems to be self-organizing.

Does this mean the end of design? It is an interesting theme to explore. I will get back to this later.


Erik, Amersfoort said...

Dear Maurits, I guess this means we must ask ourselves the following question: What is more beautiful, human planning or chaotic organisation?

Maurits said...

Erik, I totally agree. This is the single most important question in relation to sustainability. Once we are ready to understand the dynamics of a spontanious natural organisations, learn to appreciate them, and make our own human organisations and designs subject to them, that would be sustainability in its true sense.

Martin Smit said...

Hi Maurits,

Congratulations with your interesting blog. It shows connections and similarities between seemingly totally different aspects. Mayby the links between element are more important than the elements themselves !

Maurits said...

Thanks Martin, I think you might be right in your idea that the connections in a network are more important than their nodes. In this perspective, in the case of a social network we could say: it is not important what you know, but who you know.

I'll get back to this idea later.

Erik said...

Dear Maurits, Maybe it is more complicated. The value of nodes and connections may differ per node and per connection. After all it is not important what you know, but who you know and what he knows.

Maurits said...

Erik, I would like to invite you to continue our discussion at my new posting Cities as the Nodes of a Network.