Swarm Planning Theory

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Swarming Landscapes: The Art of Designing for Climate Change, 2012, Advances in Global Change Research 48 pp. 117 - 139
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In this chapter a new planning theory is developed. The rationale for needing this new theory lies in the fact that current spatial planning paradigms both seen from an academic as practice perspective, lack the possibility to deal with problems that are not straightforward, clearly de fi ned and predictable: wicked problems. The majority of planning literature is still focusing on well-known problems and is operational within a governmental context. Despite the fact that a debate is emerging about the need for planning approaches that incorporate dynamic environments, look at the future from a change perspective and focus on the emergence of spatial order initiated by key actors outside government, recent publications show that 94% of the articles discuss traditional topics and approaches. If planning needs to be prepared to incorporate wicked problems it is attractive to use complexity theory, which deals with complex adaptive systems. However, the majority of research in complexity theory in relation to planning and cities focuses on the understanding of emergence and self-organisation by developing ever more advanced computational models. This mathematicalisation of the city distracts the attention from intervening in these systems to improve preparedness in dealing with wicked problems. The gap as shown above can be fi lled through the launch of a planning theory that deals with unpredictability of the future and incorporates complex systems behaviour. The theory is called Swarm Planning, because it emphasises swarm behaviour of the system to be bene fi cial for the overall resilience and lessen the impact of uncertainties, complexity and change. Swarm Planning introduces two planning strategies: intervention in the system as a whole and free emergence through the attribution of individual components with Complex Adaptive System (CAS)-properties in order to perform self-organisation.
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