Dr Sina Shahab has been appointed as an AESOP group leader for the Planning and Law theme. Along with Professor Rachelle Alterman (Israel Institute of Technology) and Dr Linda McElduff (Ulster University), he will also serve as a liaison and extended ExCo member of the International Academic Association on Planning, Law, and Property Rights (PLPR).
Dr Shahab is a Senior Lecturer at Cardiff University (UK) whose research focuses on the ways in which decision-makers can design planning, housing, and land policies that are more effective, efficient, and equitable in achieving their goals. Informed by the theories of new institutional economics, his recent published work focus on the self-build and custom housebuilding sector in the UK, land policy in Switzerland, housing development in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Sina’s research is highly regarded by experts in the field. He has been the winner of two prestigious awards: The Royal Town Planning Institute Award for Research Excellence 2018 and the Journal of the American Planning Association Article of the Year Award 2019.
- Parent Category: THEMATIC GROUPS
- Category: Planning Theories and Practices for the Global South & East
Topic: TG Global South Lecture 1(1)
Time: Feb 15, 2023 09:00 AM London
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Meeting ID: 876 6942 2227
Topic: TG Global South Lecture 1(2)
Time: Feb 15, 2023 09:40 AM London
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Meeting ID: 863 9972 2095
20-22 April 2023, Manchester (UK) - The 21st meeting
Complex [Cognitive] Cities: Sensing, planning and design in urban transformations
We still have a few spaces left for the 21st AESOP Planning and Complexity thematic group conference, hence we are accepting a final round of abstracts until 23rd of January 2023
Planning and complexity engages with the plurality of the urban as a complex relational web of systems, processes and flows. The research field is an emergent combination of multiple and transdisciplinary perspectives attempting to analyse, understand, influence and design future trajectories of urban transformation using a complexity framework incorporating the temporal dimension. Complexity Theories of Cities (CTC) have incorporated a multitude of conceptual perspectives over time, including uncertainty, wicked problems, system dynamics, self-organisation, non-linearity, graph-based systems, emergence, path-dependency, transitions, coevolution, interdependencies, open systems, cognitive behaviour, adaptivity, soft and hard systems.
Today, societal transformations linked to technological change such as datafication, AI, automation and virtualisation, encapsulate new dimensions of potential risk and solution-oriented action, while suggesting the need for an updated CTC framework. In parallel, faced with catastrophic climate change and related undesirable sustainability outcomes, the ‘urban’ is seen as the site of influence, exacerbated impact and potential solution. Can engagement with complexity provide frameworks and approaches that have eluded us so far?
In 2012, the collection of papers in the publication titled “Complexity Theories of Cities Have Come of Age'' suggested that urban planning and design researchers had arrived at a moment in time that marked the convergence of a research field into a united understanding of the underlying theoretical frameworks. The complexity sciences have since continued to enrich urban planning and research conceptually and methodologically. Planning and design continue to draw from multiple areas in the complexity field by building on historic concepts such as economic complexity and associated ideas of equilibrium and the invisible hand, complexity in physics and mathematics with reference to the systems on the edge of chaos and non-linear systems, ideas of bottom-up organisation from the social-sciences and evolutionary perspectives from ecology through complex adaptive systems. The theories from different disciplinary areas have been conceptually and sometimes metaphorically incorporated into urban planning and design to understand and intervene within transformative urban processes.
Ten years later, we continue to acknowledge cities and processes of operating with and in them as examples of complexity. We know that urban systems and sub-systems are dynamic, temporal, emergent and cognitive, requiring interdisciplinary research frameworks. We utilise methodological approaches from complexity to understand urban phenomena and the organisational complexity of intervention within these complex (cognitive) systems. However, we have yet to bring the conversation back to the city and how core concepts of complexity might in turn be informed by research from the urban fields.
- Foundations of Complexity: Unravelling key complexity concepts, their meaning, opportunities and barriers to use. Leading on to the ‘fundamental questions’: What are the useful connections between complexity, urban planning and design and what these fields can in turn contribute to complexity theories?
- Sensing Complexity: Exploration of new opportunities to utilise complexity perspectives based on new types of urban data and practice as part of the Digital Turn and the 4th Industrial Revolution (datafication, Smart Cities, digital exclusion, Big Data, IoT, AI, Machine Learning, automated data collection, data analytics). Methodological research exploring different perspectives and approaches in this context, including disciplinary transfer for measuring, describing and analysing complex phenomena and developing new data driven scenarios.
- Designing ‘in’ Complexity: Design can be speculative, communicative, solution oriented and value based. The list is longer, but the focus remains on changing the current towards more desirable futures. In urban planning and research, this ambition necessitates engagement with the complexity of existing systems, trajectories of change, implications of interventions and recognition of unknowns. We welcome experiments with complexity towards sustainable futures through approaches embracing adaptability, flexibility, conditions, pre-conditions and pathways. This event will have a special focus on an updated ‘design science’ approach, involving the development of computational tools to design and co-design alternative possibilities and test ex-ante performance based on identified values and societal goals. Alternative design approaches engaging with complexity are welcome towards a design debate.
- Planning and Complexity: Complexity theories in planning emphasise the need to open the planning process for unexpected crises (system disruptions) and unplanned incremental adaptations. The potential of complexity-related concepts (co-evolution, emergence, self-organisation, adaptive capacity) to improve decision-making in such uncertain contexts is not yet fully explored. We welcome empirical and conceptual studies related to: How are planners and public policy makers dealing with uncertainty in their daily practice? How do they explore potential futures and learn from such explorations? And what kind of skills and roles require more attention in navigating uncertainties in decision making processes?
Self-organisation, Emergence, CAS, Non-linearity, Adaptation, Anticipation, Cognition, Resilience, Evolution, Systems, Planning, Roles in Planning, Urban, Design, Scenarios, Smart, Data, IoT, Design Science.
Date and Location
20th, 21st and 22nd (half day) of April 2023
Manchester School of Architecture, Manchester Metropolitan University
Paper Submission Requirements
Abstract submission deadline (extended): 23rd Jan 2023
The abstract should be 450-500 words (word or pdf format), with title, authors, affiliations, 5 key references, 5 key words and type of paper identified (conceptual, methodological and/or original research papers are welcome).
Outline paper deadline: 15th April 2023
The organisers are currently finalising a special issue with a leading academic journal. On this basis, the outline paper submissions will be a formal process using a conceptual, methodological or original research paper template (to be provided on abstract acceptance) related to a 3500 word submission prior to the event. We believe researchers from all levels of experience can engage with this opportunity for quality publication.
The keynote speakers will be announced shortly (please see some prior keynote videos here: https://www.complexurban.com/video/)
Abstract acceptance will also mean you will be informed of two online events on key complexity theory areas prior to the event (a warm up).
Email Address for Abstracts
In Year Two, the AESOP thematic group PLANNING THEORIES (PLURAL) continueS with a two-day online conference called
Beg, Steal, or Borrow
In 1972, The New Seekers landed second place in the Eurovision Song Contest with this title (https://hitparade.ch/song/The-New-Seekers/Beg,-Steal-Or-Borrow-231). They crooned about love, but we shall examine begging, stealing, and borrowing in the context of planning theories. Andreas Faludi already noticed that many planning theorists have an inclination for »comparisons and the transfer of experiences« (Planning Theory, 1973, pp. 9–10). Indeed, many planning theories beg, steal, or borrow from geography, sociology, economics, legal theory, political philosophy, gender studies, cultural theory, psychology, ethics, social policy, computer science, art theory, and other fields. We do not consider this transfer of knowledge from a moral perspective. Planning theorists add so much value to ideas from other fields that hardly a suspicion of plagiarism arises. We want to examine the transfer of knowledge to learn
- Which ideas from other fields inspire planning theories?
- Under what circumstances is the transfer successful or futile?
- What do planning theorists add to ideas from other fields that turns those ideas into valuable contents of planning theories?
Our online conference will be on 16th and 17st March, 2023.
Please let us know if you want to present a successful or futile transfer of ideas into planning theories at our online conference. Each presentation of a particular example of begging, stealing, or borrowing for planning theories will last 30 minutes maximum with 30 minutes discussion. If you want to present, please send your abstract with title (300 words) not later than 31st December, 2022, to
Please write to
We are looking forward to beg, steal, and borrow with you!
As recently announced, we would like to establish the habit of meeting annually in December online, in addition to our TG meeting at the AESOP congress in July. This year’s meeting will take place on December 15th 16:00-17:30 (Central European Time) via Zoom.
Everybody is welcome to join and bring their ideas and suggestions!
You can join the meeting through this link: https://aalto.zoom.us/j/69189393809
The goal of the meeting is to discuss developments and events relevant for the TG members, such as the upcoming AESOP Congress or collaboration on project applications. We will share an agenda for the meeting in early December.
Wishing you all a great autumn!
Eva & Alois