Adaptive Urbanism: A Process of Perpetual Engagement

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For many urban observers, and especially urban planners, the design of the city as an ‘end state—a vision to be first created and then fulfilled.

Adaptive urbanism takes a contrary position. It looks at urban design as a process of perpetual engagement and reiteration. In an adaptive approach, cities are dynamic ecologies that take immersion and collaboration to re-shape, not from outside or above, but from within. The concept of adaptive urbanism is often attributed to New York urbanist Brian McGrath.

McGrath’s approach is a significant shift from how we current plan and manage cities. It is important to consider though, especially in our current economic and social upheaval. If cities develop the flexibility and capacity to respond to shifting demands and external pressures, they will be better able to deal with future economic, environmental or political crises.

For more on adaptive urbanism, see On the Origin of Cities: Adaptive Urbanism.

Other ‘A’ urbanisms:

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Yuri Artibise

Yuri Artibise is an experienced policy analyst, community engagement practitioner and social media specialist. I have a Master of Public Administration degree with over 10 years of public policy research, analysis, and advocacy experience.