Edition 2 
July 2022

» A briefing on complexity, resilience, interdisciplinarity and ideas»

A nineteenth century American essayist and advocate of social reforms Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote to a friend asking him to imagine doors and windows without hinges. He meant to suggest that hinges are connections between objects and ideas, and perhaps it is better to let people imagine for themselves what those connections between ideas are. He thought that there is no harm done when people guess a bit and try to work out what is written. He concluded, “we are prone to take too much for granted, which grants us too little’. That Emersonian idea is a little of what we hope to foster with SINTEZO. 

Suppose we apply the Emersonian way of thinking to the ideas of urbanism, urban futures, the role of resilience and emergence. In that case, we are confronted with two things: there are too many ideas to consider synthesising them meaningfully, and yet it is still possible to get a picture of how urbanism can work well when we consider how only a handful of interplay. We glean something.

In this edition SINTEZO explores how some of those ideas may be useful to the way we understand, envisage, and feel about urban spaces. How we may sense a complexity of a city, a town, or any urban form by examining it through a prism of resilience as a commonality.  In more pragmatic terms we look for ways to reinterpret cities, which are visibly subject to perpetual disruption, recovery, and growth cycle. This implicitly means built environment, social life, ecology, technology, and commerce are interdependent. One of those interdependencies is how each of the domains is limited in their capacity to deal with acute and chronic disruptions by their relationships with each other. Resilience in this picture is then a mechanism and not a formula with a clear trajectory despite the often-repeated idea that all recovery has a knowable trajectory. 

Urban environments are complex, and their complexity creates yet to be understood rules of resilience. This edition of SINTEZO explores that not by asking contributors to think about complexity as much as about how they see how to answer some more straightforward questions that explore what is it that we take for granted? Simple in this sense refers to building blocks. What is taken for granted in terms of how we plan cities, how we manage green spaces in urban environments, how we organise our social life, how our commerce works, and how our technology provides fuel for all the above? Contributors come from different professional backgrounds and lived experiences. In this edition, they bring their thought and build a mosaic that may yield new insights in this edition.

Jelenko Dragisic and Caroline Austin
Editorial team
July 2022