A City is Not a Tree: 50th Anniversary Edition


A really nice idea. Michael Mehaffy has put together a superb collection of comments on Chris Alexander’s famous 1965 paper “A City is Not a Tree”. The comments which are presented in slightly longer papers and shorter contributions are from those (like me) who were and continue to be much influenced by his writings. I can’t reproduce the copy here but urge you to take a look at it somehow – click here for Amazon.com link – it is a very nicely presented paperback book. I quote from the blurb:

‘With new commentaries by leading urban scholars including Mike Batty, Luis Bettencourt, Howard Davis, and Bill Hillier. In 1965, the architect and design theorist Christopher Alexander published a landmark theoretical critique of modern urban design, and by extension, modern design in general. His critique was different from others of the day in that it was not based on a social or political argument, but on a structural analysis, rooted in then-emerging insights from the fields of mathematics and cognition. Here, published again on its fiftieth anniversary, is Alexander’s classic text, together with new interpretive commentaries and discussions by leading theorists and practitioners. This volume is destined to become an invaluable resource for a new generation of students and practitioners. “One of the classic references in the literature of the built environment and associated fields.”- Resource for Urban Design Information (rudi.net)”At a time of increasing concern over the adequacy of design methods, “A City is not a Tree” broke open and reoriented the debate.”- Charles Jencks and Karl Kropf “It pointed clearly to a change in the way we need to think about cities.” – Bill Hillier, Chairman of the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, University College London “Remains a landmark in our thinking about cities and design…It is a new beginning — for Alexander and for urbanism — to discover what the city really is.” – Luis Bettencourt, Santa Fe Institute’

Enjoy, and Read

A multilevel portrait of shrinking urban Russia

Shrinking Russia

A really nice article from Clementine Cottineau, one of our researchers, on how Russia is shrinking (Read in English or French, from Espace Populations SociétésTechniques that we may be able to apply in our new Digital Economies research project to shrinking Britain, in parts. She says and I quote from the abstract: “The demographic shrinkage of Russia, as measured by harmonised data at different geographical scales, appears unique in comparison with any other example in time and around the world. Using multivariate and multilevel statistical analysis, we show that shrinkage in cities is associated with different urban functions, and that these functions are distributed unevenly in the Russian territory. This sophisticated description of urban and regional attributes of shrinkage allows to gain insights on the probable consequences of different demographic policies in tomorrow’s Russia.”

Enjoy click here or above to get the article online

Agglomeration, The Keys to the Good City?


In CASA, in a project lead by Clementine Cottineau, we are working how economic and social attributes of cities scale with size. This is one of our longstanding foci in our ERC Mechanicity Work and it will also be central to our new project, the UKRDFC (the UK Regions Digital Research Facility) which will look at how the digital economy in Britain is influencing our cities and regions and their performance. Clementine has just posted an analysis of these issues with respect to regions and cities in France. You can download the paper from the ARXIV and if you read the paper, then it is worth noting that Clementine and the group’s previous papers are useful background. The paper on Paradoxes of Scaling is key to the analysis and these are all in ARXIV – if you click here and then on any of the authors noted there, up will come the paper trail. Enjoy.