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Cities as implements or facilities: The need for a spatial morphology in smart city systems
School of Architecture, Chalmers University of Technology.
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Architecture. (Critical Morphology)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7089-4244
2016 (English)In: Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science, ISSN 23998083, 1-22 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In light of the urgent threats presented by climate change and rapid urbanisation, interest in ‘smart city systems’ is mounting. In contrast to scholarship that poses ‘smartness’ as something that needs to be added to cities, recent developments in spatial morphology research pursue a view of the built fabric of cities as an extension of the cognitive human apparatus, as well as a material formulation of social, cultural and economic relations and processes. The built fabric of cities needs to be understood as a highly intelligent artefact in itself, rather than simple, dead matter. The current focus on high-tech systems risks concealing the fact that the machine is already there. In contrast to the technological ‘implements’ of smart city systems, this article looks at cities as ‘facilities’ – that is, as technologies that slow down, store and maintain energy as a resource for a variety of purposes. The article builds on space syntax research in order to give precision to the understanding of the affordances the cities offer their various processes and the ways in which cities operate as information storage and retrieval devices for individuals and for society. The city must be considered, we argue, in terms of a range of tangled, interdependent systems, reaching from individual buildings to the whole city, an understanding anchored in notions of ‘diversity’ and ‘density’ (recently gathered under the concept of ‘spatial capital’) and in research addressing how the distribution of space and artefacts serve as means of knowledge communication (specifically, in complex buildings such as libraries and department stores). In conclusion, we argue that existing discussions on ‘smart city systems’ would benefit acknowledgement of the role of cities as facilities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2016. 1-22 p.
Keyword [en]
smart city systems, space syntax theory, cognition, spatial capital, spatial positioning
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-199212DOI: 10.1177/0265813516685565OAI: diva2:1060767

This is the "Online First" article, or Published ahead of Print. Volume, issue, and pages will be added when included in a printed journal issue, but the article is available as published online at the Environment and Planning B website. QC 20170112

Available from: 2016-12-29 Created: 2016-12-29 Last updated: 2017-01-12Bibliographically approved

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