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The Multi-Scale Atlas: A trans-disciplinary tool for systemic inquiry and design

Format: Papers, RSD12, Topic: Architecture & Planning, Topic: Mapping & Modelling, Topic: Methods & Methodology

Elena Porqueddu

Lively cities and neighbourhoods have been widely framed as complex adaptive systems which emerge and evolve over time through processes of self-organisation and through adaptive cycles. On the one hand, their overall shape cannot be designed in advance because it emerges from the bottom-up interaction between human and material components. On the other hand, the action of designers can generate “good perturbations” which can enhance the system’s capacity to self-regenerate over time and self-produce the solutions to emergent problems. Such design actions emerge from a multiscale social-spatial analysis that is fundamental in exploring cross-scale effects. In this perspective, a “multi-scale atlas” is presented here as a trans-disciplinary tool for systemic inquiry which enables designers to (1) explore the cross-scale relationships in which specific spatial configurations are immersed, (2) frame them as parts of complex socio-material-environmental systems which include human actions and activity rhythms, and (3) identify leverage points for design actions. A key point is that the atlas enables designers to be simultaneously external observers (from above) and part of the system they seek to influence. Furthermore, it is conceived as an open trans-disciplinary tool that is designed to be constantly implemented through data collected from different fields of expertise and in relation to specific enquiries. In this sense, it could also be of use to experts from disciplines who are not familiar with mapping by enabling them to visualise the spatial implications of specific problems related to their field of expertise and to develop co-disciplinary strategies for sustainable transition. 

KEYWORDS: systems thinking, multi-scale mapping, socio-material systems, complex adaptive systems, leverage points, spatial design, trans-disciplinarity.

RSD TOPIC(S): Architecture & Planning, Mapping & Modelling, Methods & Methodology.

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Citation Data

Author(s): Elena Porqueddu
Year: 2023
Title: The Multi-Scale Atlas: A trans-disciplinary tool for systemic inquiry and design
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
URL: https://rsdsymposium.org/multi-scale-atlas-tool-for-systemic-inquiry
Host: Georgetown University
Location: Washington DC, USA
Symposium Dates: October 6–20, 2023
First published: 30 September 2023
Last update: no update
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404
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