Designing (with) complexity: improving adaptive capacity of urban form by design

Tümtürk, Onur
In the last century, as parallel to the transitions and paradigmatic shifts in the history of science, urbanism has experienced important theoretical breakthroughs and transitions, as well. At that point, emerging paradigm of complexity theories has come into the contemporary agenda of urban planning and design agenda by representing a dramatic shift from the conception of cities as totally controllable and designed artefacts. In that sense, the complexity-based perspective in urbanism asserts that the settled planning and design approaches conceptualizing the city as a finite and static product of a single mastermind that tends to predict its future state via deterministic projection mechanisms, and designing it with a clear image of an optimal form inescapably fall short to operate effectively. Adoption of complexity theories’ perspective portrays a city which is far from-equilibrium, dynamic, ever-evolving and full of uncertainties. From this point on, it is explicit that designing cities as static and non-progressive physical artefacts by controlling and regulating everything beforehand in accordance with a fixed image makes urban form fragile against the emerging uncertainties and changing spatial needs; and, decreases its capacity to respond different circumstances in a successful manner. For that reason, planning theory and practice should discover and develop a new form of intervention which would be more responsive to the uncertainties by relying on the derived understandings of complexity theory. The most fundamental motivation behind this research is to develop a model approach improving the adaptive capacity of urban form to respond emerging uncertainties and changing needs by operating design within the revealed context of urban complexity. To that end, the research investigates the morphological and programmatic characteristics of an adaptable urban form by revisiting the theoretical implications of the notion of adaptability and examining historical plot-based urbanism examples demonstrating an enhanced capacity of responsiveness. Moreover, two different contemporary urban design and development projects – IJburg, Amsterdam (the Netherlands) and Middlehaven, Middlesbrough (UK) – are examined in detail to develop a better understanding about the kind of design approach which helps to achieve the morphological and programmatic characteristics required to improve the adaptive capacity of urban form.


Unfinishedness of place and the place-making project
Rangraz, Sina; Barlas, Mehmet Adnan; Urban Design in City and Regional Planning Department (2018)
Since the emergence of the profession of urban design in the mid-20th century, the concept of “place” has played a significant role in the development of the surrounding discourse. However, this turn within the profession pertained to a degree of confusion when it comes to the rhetoric of placelessness and the associated place-making agenda. By not being exactly in opposition with that endeavor, this thesis attempts to suggest an alternative understanding of place through the concept of “unfinishedness of p...
The Transformation of gecekondu phenomenon via visual and spatial narratives
Özalp, Öncü; Sargın, Güven Arif; Department of Architecture (2017)
This thesis aims narrating the transformation of gecekondu phenomenon from use to exchange value via visual and spatial narratives by starting from the 1940s to the first half of the 1980s in Turkey. While the concentration of important breaks and ruptures during this transformation process are evaluated through discussions on use value of space and representations indicating visual narratives of successive spatial changes of gecekondu in its commodification process, the spatial qualities it possesses are e...
Reconstruction of collective memory through spatial representations of İzmir waterfront, since the 1920s
Yüksel, Pınar; Sargın, Güven Arif; Department of Architecture (2015)
This study explores the spatial transformation of Kordonboyu and its representations under the theoretical framework of collective memory. Memory as a dynamic and evolving phenomenon with regard to the associated social frameworks of an everchanging present is a collective entity. Urban space that is under continuous transformation within political, economic, and social discourses constitutes the material background of these social frameworks. This research examines the construction and maintenance of colle...
Defining in-betweenness as a new spatial form the case of Durana, Albania
Alimadhi, Enkela; Akkar Ercan, Zübeyde Müge; Urban Design in City and Regional Planning Department (2015)
This thesis focuses on and explores the notion of ‘In-betweenness’ as a ‘third space’ or a ‘new spatial form’ that have been observed on the area between two cities. This new spatial form has emerged and has been continuously generated on the land between the two important cities of Albania; i.e. Tirana -the capital City- and Durrës - the port City. As an outcome of particular political, social, economic, and geographical factors, as well as the morphological transformation, this research studies the ‘In-be...
Structural and ideological transformation of public space: the case of Tabriz
Rad Yousefnia, Ali; Basa, İnci; Department of Architecture (2018)
Transformation of the public spaces in Tabriz during the early years of 20th century is the main problematic of this research. Regarding this, the previous urban fabric will be considered and the influence of state during Pahlavis on the built environment and public spaces will be discussed meticulously. Iran as a country which adopted the modernity with retardation, encountered a unique experience. It is very difficult to study Iran like other countries since she never became a colony in the region. In thi...
Citation Formats
O. Tümtürk, “Designing (with) complexity: improving adaptive capacity of urban form by design,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2018.