An emergent city is an urban area that evolved according to the spontaneous contributions of individual land owners, neighborhoods and citizens. Large districts of many cities have emerged over time without thought to centralized planning or design. In many cases, such areas are valued for their character and charm but are expensive to develop, maintain and service.
Emergence vs PlanningEmergence often results in narrow streets and adhoc infrastructure that are ill prepared for future needs. Traditionally, urban planning and design are focused on correcting problems with emergent cities with practical designs that can be extended in future. The efficiency and calculation of modern planning often leads to similar solutions from one city to the next decreasing the uniqueness of cities. For example, functional but unattractive concrete seawalls and highways that look much the same from one city to the next.There is currently widespread interest in urban planning and design techniques such as placemaking that incorporate localized creativity. Such strategies seek the uniqueness and character of emergence within context of a big-picture plan for a city's future.
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