Category Archives: Geodesign

Planning Knowledge and Research

Here is a useful and interesting book on the nature of planning knowledge and research. My own contribution – click here to get the original PDF – is about scientific method and how theory and models pertain to the field of planning. But mine is old hat and there are some really sharp and focussed contributions here.

This is from the publishers blurb: The field of urban planning is far-reaching in breadth and depth. This is due to the complex nature of cities, regions, and development processes. The knowledge domain of planning includes social, economic, technological, environmental, and political systems that continue to evolve and expand rapidly. Understanding these systems is an inter-disciplinary endeavor at the scale of several academic fields. The wide range of topics considered by planning educators and practitioners are often based on varying definitions of “planning” and modes of planning practice. This unique book discusses various elements and contributions to urban planning research to show that seemingly disparate topics do in fact intersect and together, contribute to ways of understanding urban planning. The objective is not to discuss how to “do” research, but rather, to explore the context of urban planning scholarship with implications for the planning academy and planning practice.

And here are the contents:


Introduction: Planning Knowledge and Research: Thomas Sanchez

Part I

How Theory Links Research and Practice: 70 Years’ Planning Theory: A Critical Review: Ernest Alexander

Mapping the Knowledge Domain of Urban Planning: Thomas W. Sanchez and Nader Afzalan

Planning Research in the Service of Planning Practice: Process and Implementation: Carolyn G. Loh

Striving for Impact Beyond the Academy? Planning Research in Australia: Paul Burton

Part II

Planning Culture: Research Heuristics and Explanatory Value: Karsten Zimmermann, Robin Chang, and Andreas Putlitz

The Relationship of Green Places and Urban Society: Understanding the Evolution and Integration of City Planning with the Ecological Sciences: Charles Hostovsky

Evolution in Land Use and Transportation Research: Dea van Lierop, Geneviève Boisjoly, Emily Grise, and Ahmed El-Geneidy

Monitoring Sustainability Culture: An Overview of a Multi-Year Program of Evaluation Research at the University of Michigan: Robert W. Marans and John Callewaert

Part III

Towards an Object-Oriented Case Methodology for Planners: Robert Beauregard and Laura Lieto

Urban Morphology as a Research Method: Brenda Case Scheer

The Unwarranted Boundaries between Urban Planning and Design in Theory, Practice and Research: Davide Ponzini

Part IV

Use of Planning Magazine to Bridge the Gap Between Researchers and Practitioners: Kathryn Terzano and Reid Ewing

Planning from the Inside Out: Using GIS Technology & Citizen Science Post-Disaster in New Orleans: Michelle M. Thompson

Planning Our Future Cities: The Role Computer Technologies Can Play: Robert Goodspeed, Peter Pelzer, and Chris Pettit

Science in Planning: Theory, Methods and Models: Michael Batty

Postscript: Tom Sanchez



Virtuální Geografická Prostředí


Well I don’t know what it means either. But if you read Czech you should be off to a flying start, and the Czech guy who translated it assures me that all of Eastern Europe read Czech so there you are. Well, Virtuální Geografická Prostředí or in more familiar terms Virtual Geographic Environments is the term increasingly used to embrace a range of technologies that seek to extend GIS into wider digital contexts – the web, VR, and associated ways of interacting with spatial media. Hui Lin at the Chinese University of Hong Kong popularised the term through a series of conferences and papers over the last decade or longer, and our English version of the book contains the papers presented at the second conference held at the CUHK in 2008. It is published by ESRI Press in the west. It contains the papers from the second conference on VGE held in January 2008, and some of our colleagues in CASA have papers in the volume. The picture of the ‘death star’ type globe was generated by our illustrious Director Andy Hudson-Smith. More information on the recent conference at CUHK is available on the web site.

Rediscovering the Old Days


I first met Leo Kadanoff in Cambridge, England in the summer of 1974, I think. He would not remember me but he had been invited to give a talk on urban dynamics at the second Cambridge Land Use and Built Form Studies Conference on Urban Development Models as he had published an article in Simulation (From simulation model to public policy: An examination of Forrester’s ‘Urban Dynamics’) in 1971 which speculated on how to improve Jay Forrester’s model which was an example of how to apply Systems Dynamics to Cities. Forrester’s work attracted a lot of attention in those days as he had produced a simulation of a city which had no space – it was the central city but – lots of time – dynamics – and it did not manifestly allude, by his own admission, to anything that had been produced in urban theory and models so far.

Kadanoff gave an inspiring talk, I remember, but I did not know his background other than the fact that he was a physicist and assumed his interest in cities was a one off. It was not until many years later once I had encountered ideas about fractals and scaling, that I realised that it was the same Leo Kadanoff who had been one of the architects of renormalisation theory in statistical physics. And his YouTube clip puts all this in perspective.

More recently, I came across another article by him and his colleagues (Computer Display and Analysis of Urban information Through Time and Space) published in the second volume of Technological Forecasting and Social Change published in 1970 one year earlier than his Simulation article. What is amazing about this first paper is how prescient it is. Not only is it about early computer graphics in our field and those who follow my blog will know that I spent a few years in the 1980s reskilling in computer graphics but it is also about the limits to modelling. On my blog you will find a potted history of computer graphics in our field but this article is one of the first to show the power of interactive visual display. Not only is planning support and interactive visualisation anticipated, but the notion of interactive design of urban futures is hinted at.

You may say what is remarkable about all this. Many people anticipated this and yes they did. Well, it is very early work of course and fills in a bit more of the picture. It happened in parallel to Alan Schmidt’s East Lansing movie and the genesis of GIS at the Harvard Computer Graphics Lab. And it also built on the first interactive devices used in the Chicago Area Transportation Study in the late 1950s where Illinois Institute for Technology was pioneering the Cartographatron (There is a picture in my New Science of Cities book). All of this is on my blog but the Kadanoff paper is well worth looking at and you can get a copy if you click the link here. The article which is online by the journal is an awfully bad scan and the one I have made here is better.

Last but not least, what all this implies is that we are able to rediscover the past as virtually everything gets scanned and published on the web. I would not have found this but for the web. I never would have gone back to look at this journal. I don’t think it was even in the Reading University library back in 1971 when it appeared when I was a lecturer there. I would have had to get it on interlibrary loan and my guess is that it simply didn’t appear on my radar. There are many others things now that we are discovering about the past which help fill in the picture of how our field has evolved and is evolving. My last post about large scale models also linked to literature from past times that we are only becoming aware of. This to me is as important as new work for it establishes a perspective on our field.