ESRG/Project Workspace

This is a dynamic project workspace that includes updated news and notes -- ESRG members please feel free to add your own

Latest Update September 10, 2007

Environmental Structure Research Group (ESRG)

The ESRG is an interdisciplinary, international partnership of basic and applied researchers and practitioners in the disciplines of the built and natural environments, and the disciplines with which they interact.

New Orleans Pilot Project - "Neighborhood Centers Development Project"

Successful symposium on October 18-19 - see ESRG/Bulletin_Board for symposium notes.

Very frank and useful meeting with Andy Kopplin, head of Louisiana Recovery Authority, and NCDP team members on October 12.

The draft specifications are complete and can be seen at . Versions of the proposal are in the Unified New Orleans city-wide plan, the District Plan for District 6 (Gentilly, where we did the workshop and proposed the pilot) and the Neighborhood Plan for District 6. Ed Blakely has pledged to implement a version of the concept.

We have a remarkable set of partners ready to collaborate on a pilot, as the draft shows. (Since this was written several partners have been added to the project.)

Book Project

"Organizing Complexity: Essays in an Emerging Science of Sustainable Cities"

Routledge Press has accepted the project as a candidate in their Planning, History and Environment series, in partnership with the Alexandrine Press. This is the series where Emily Talen's book was recently published. Comment from editor Ann Rudkin there: "…has great potential and, in terms of the series, would fit well."

In addition, Island Press in the US also responded positively and we will continue talks with them also.

We will need to develop the structure and the individual contributions. The current draft prospectus can be seen at

Brian Hanson is drafting a proposed introduction, which should help to suggest the broad themes and particular elements for development. More on this ASAP.

Favelas Project

Work led by Nikos Salingaros, growing out of the paper by Salingaros, Brain, Duany, Mehaffy and Philibert presented at the Ibero-American Congress for Social Housing, "Social Housing in Latin America: A Methodology to Utilize Processes of Self-Organization." As cities grow, the growth of favelas around the world is a huge phenomenon, with major negative impacts upon human health and well-being, ecological integrity, economic opportunity and many other issues. Yet the favelas include some important properties of self-organization that can be studied and re-applied to more humane pattern of settlement. The effort to raze such settlements and replace them with monotonous "warehouse" structures has in many cases also proved disastrous.

Mexico Research

Work by Ernesto Philibert on "Social Housing and Self-Organization", now part of a major research grant application to the Mexican government. More news as available.

Paper on Self-Organization

Paper, "Social Housing and Self-Organization", with Ernesto Philibert, Nikos Salingaros, David Brain and Andres Duany now being edited by MM for publication in Brown Journal of World Affairs.

Research on a Pattern Language for the planning of Un-recognized Bedouin Villages in the Negev, Israel

Yodan Rofe` is working with Architect Yaara Rosner, on developing a pattern language that captures the order of informal settlements of the Bedouin in the North Negev area. A language that could be used in planning and developing them after formal recognition.

SUGGESTIONS: Topics for further collaborative investigation

It might be useful to maintain a working list of topics, so to that end here are several initial suggestions. Many of these are already under investigation by individual colleagues but there are interesting opportunities for collaborative development. (That's the idea!)

These are admittedly broad; but it may be useful to broadly define the larger territory, thereafter to pursue coordinated explorations of more detailed subjects.

1. Evidence-based design: methodologies, policy implications, further research needed

2. Biophilia - its potential, implications, implementation, methods of evaluation etc.

3. Self-organization in the human environment: how it happens, how to exploit, facilitate and manage it

4. Generative rules and codes: modifications to rules to produce desired classes of outcome ( e.g. morphological characteristics, locational efficiency, etc). Heuristics and game-theory analysis of particular classes of rule. Combinations of SmartCode (form-based code) with generative elements.

5. New applications of pattern languages in architecture and planning, using open-source methodologies as clearly worked well in computer science.

6. New diagnostic tools to assess qualitative environmental issues in design (e.g. "feeling maps" etc)

7. Further work on particupatory and emergent design processes

8. Further work on strategies to reform current conventions that cause damaging unintended effects (e.g. Euclidean zoning, safety laws, etc)

9. Implementations of all of the above, and follow-on research.

8. Others?...

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