The Complex City: Social and Built Approaches and Methods

Caroline Donnellan (Ed.)

by Emil E. Jonescu (Hames Sharley, Australia), Viktoria K. Holmik (University of Canberra, Australia), Alia Alaa Sherif (Brandenburg University of Technology, Germany; University of Alexandria, Egypt), Edna Langenthal (Ariel University, Israel), Shuang Fei (University of Copenhagen, Denmark), Hanna Rodewald (TU Dortmund University, Germany), Jie Chen (Tongji University, China), Yiming Wang (Tongji University, China), Alaa El-Habashi (Menoufia University, Egypt), Angela Foster (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand), Abbey Jia Feng Wuu (Curtin University, Australia), Khoa Do (Curtin University, Australia), Jens Christian Pasgaard (Aarhus School of Architecture, Denmark), Karen Olesen (Aarhus School of Architecture, Denmark), Tom Nielsen (Aarhus School of Architecture, Denmark), Morten Daugaard (Aarhus School of Architecture, Denmark), Caroline Donnellan (Boston University; Global Programs, London, UK), Aliaa Khalil Zidan (Menoufia University, Egypt)

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'The Complex City: Social and Built Approaches and Methods' explores different ways of understanding the city. The social city approach proceeds from the ground-up, it focuses on human interactions shaped by economic and environmental processes. The built city method looks through a top-down lens, examining policy and planning for buildings and infrastructure, including utilities and energy networks. This volume is different from other city anthologies in that it explores them through their differences, by presenting each chapter in one of the two categories. While there is invariably an overlap between the two areas, they are distinct positions. In doing so the book identifies how, despite their often adversarial approaches, they both belong to the same city. As essential components of the city they should not necessarily be resolved, as it is in this friction where creativity and innovation happens. 'The Complex City: Social and Built Approaches and Methods' is concerned about the ideas and solutions that they both offer. The book’s originality stems from this duality, and from its recognition that cities are living, organic, protean places of opportunity, crisis, conflict and challenge. The chapters demonstrate the complexity of cities as a set of ideas concerning what they engender, how they function and why they continue to act as a catalyst for different kinds of human activity. They explore issues of socio-political import and questions of the city as a physically constructed space. The themes are diverse and include the inception of the city as a place of competition to centres of regeneration and urban withdrawal. They cover a range of city and urban regions from Athens to Wellington from site specific singular perspectives to comparative assessments. The questions they raise include how do we inhabit urban areas, how do we make plans for them, and how do we, at times, ignore them entirely.

List of Illustrations
Introduction: The social and the built: cities, complexity, and Jane Jacobs
Caroline Donnellan
Boston University Study Abroad London, UK

Part 1: The Social City

Chapter 1
Re-clustering historic Cairo through the creative economy: A study of the revitalization of the traditional carpentry along Souq al-Silah Street
Alaa El-Habashi
Menoufia University, Egypt
Aliaa Zidan
Menoufia University, Egypt
Alia Sherif
Brandenburg University of Technology, Germany; University of Alexandria, Egypt

Chapter 2
Agōn (Ἀγών) in ancient Athens and conflict in the modern city
Edna Langenthal
Ariel University, Israel

Chapter 3
Public space in the West Bund, Shanghai
Shuang Fei
University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Chapter 4
Creative frontiers: Germany’s Ruhr area as a space of polyrational possibility
Hanna Rodewald
TU Dortmund University, Germany

Chapter 5
Power relations in industrial land redevelopment and loss of industrial heritage in Chongqing, China
Jie Chen
Tongji University, China
Yiming Wang
Tongji University, China

Part 2: The Built City

Chapter 6
Developing a collage city methodology: a case study of Canberra
Viktoria K. Holmik
University of Canberra, Australia

Chapter 7
A case for a multi-dimensional development grid for Perth, Western Australia
Emil E. Jonescu
Hames Sharley, Australia
Abbey Wuu
Curtin University, Australia
Khoa Do
Hames Sharley, Australia

Chapter 8
The unsmart city: pitfalls of predictability — Copenhagen
Jens Christian Pasgaard
Aarhus School of Architecture, Denmark
Karen Olesen
Aarhus School of Architecture, Denmark
Tom Nielsen
Aarhus School of Architecture, Denmark
Morten Daugaard
Aarhus School of Architecture, Denmark

Chapter 9
Bankside, SE1 — A central London concerted waterfront regeneration strategy?
Caroline Donnellan
Boston University Study Abroad London, UK

Chapter 10
A comparative study of the barriers and opportunities for urban development in Wellington and Melbourne
Angela Foster
Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand


Caroline Donnellan undertook her B.A. and M.A. in History of Art at University College London. She undertook her PhD at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in Cities through an Arts and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Award. The Cities Programme is part of the Department of Sociology for interdisciplinary graduate research on cities, space and urbanism. Donnellan has previously taught for UCL and Birkbeck, and is presently Lecturer in Architectural History for Boston University Global Programmes, Study Abroad, London, where she teaches courses including “London Architecture and Urbanism.” Her interdisciplinary research takes a politically-engaged approach that draws on culture, architecture, urbanism and cities. Related publications include ‘Towards Tate Modern: Public Policy, Private Vision’ (Routledge, 2018). Donnellan is currently working as editor on an AMPS (Architecture, Media, Politics, Society) Special Issue “Out of the Studio and into the Field” due for publication in 2022 with UCL Press. Her own article “Decolonizing the Curriculum – Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning: London Architecture and Urbanism” reflects her own changing attitude to the ethics of teaching. Future research projects include “Slave in the Museum” where she is presenting “Slave in the Museum: Slave in the City.” The research is for the Colonial Slavery in European Museums: Arts and Representations / L'esclavage colonial dans les musées européens: mises en récit et regards d'artistes colloquium in October 2021 in Paris. Donnellan is also involved in other research projects and case studies including a chapter on King’s Cross relating to values and uses, regeneration and heritage to be published by Leiden University Press.

Cities, Social, Built, Complexity, Urban, Planning, Design, Architecture, Challenges, Urban Solutions

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Bibliographic Information

Book Title

The Complex City: Social and Built Approaches and Methods





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm


30 B&W

Publication date

October 2022