Simulating complexity of urban systems in the context of climate change through system dynamic modelling

11:15 Thursday 30 May


Room S10


Cristobal Reveco (Germany) 1; Dmitrii Kovalevskii (Germany) 1

1 - Helmholtz-Zentrum Geeshacht, GERICS

System’s analysis is a strong tool for urban planners to develop a holistic and consented view of how urban complexity interacts in unexpected ways and provokes unexpected – and many times, undesirable – outcomes, such as risk creation. While the analysis of exposure provides a strong basis for planners to adjust planning processes to reduce risk, the dynamics of risk creation are many times hidden behind complex interactions between unexpected feedbacks that emerge from past and present-day policies. In this context, we pose the question: how can cities better visualize feedback loops while integrating better scenario planning for urban development in ways that highlight the dynamic of risk formation? We propose a method that integrates core elements of system dynamics into gaming. Departing from the underlying assumption that lineal planning is not sufficient to tackle complexity of urban systems, our goal is to facilitate the visualization of urban system’s dynamics in a way that city planners can be guided to construct their own narrative of complexity while portraying it into a system dynamic diagram, thus helping them to visualize elements and relationships that compose complexity as emerging from feedback loops, pulses and system delays.

In this context, we present the prototype game ‘complex-city-easy’, which is a ludic method to help planers to tap on the methodological complexities that emerge from diagramming the city urban system from a dynamic perspective. The game allows exploring the ‘what-if’ scenarios of urban dynamics in relation to diverse social, economic, and climate / environmental factors, putting particular emphasis on supporting the generation of consensus regarding challenges presented by urban adaptation to climate change. The core aim is thus to facilitate the construction of a comprehensive system narrative that encompasses climate risks, city logistics, economic development and social security with the central elements of system dynamics.

‘Complex-city-easy’ can be piloted while in a presentation together with participants, or presented in a poster format or be used as a facilitation tool as part of a side-event.