We are a recently formed, externally funded [EU/UK] research laboratory – Complexity Planning and Urbanism [CPU] – at the Manchester School of Architecture [QS world rankings place MSA 6th globally], a joint school between the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University.

Complex systems are a transdisciplinary area of research. Concepts from physics, economics, biology, sociology and computer science form an evolving body of knowledge aimed at understanding real-world phenomena characterised by temporal change, unpredictability and – particularly in the case of biology, ecology or sociology – evolution. From a complexity perspective, the urban is a temporal open system of dynamic flows, demonstrating nonlinear and adaptive phenomena. Transdisciplinary development of and engagement with complexity theory provides the opportunity to overlap typically separate soft and hard sciences and disciplines. The need for this is obvious in that the urban combines natural, social and engineered systems.

In CPU, we combine urban complexity research with the development of new digital tools allowing simulation and experimentation of previously impracticable temporal urban phenomena.


We currently work with the following theoretical/conceptual areas:

  1. Transdisciplinary complexity theories:
    1. Complex adaptive systems
    2. Self-organisation
    3. Emergence
    4. Hierarchies/Scales
    5. Soft/Hard systems
    6. Fuzzy Problems
    7. Evolutionary complexity
  2. Theories of Computational modelling:
    1. Simulation
    2. Data Analysis
    3. Visualisation
  3. Urban Futures:
    1. Sci-Fi based methods of projection/extrapolation.
    2. Forecasting
    3. Technological Disruptions
  4. Open Data:
    1. Sharing economies
    2. IoT enabled services
    3. Socio-technical transitions

We have a specific strength in methodological research and this can be applied to combine natural and social sciences to create transdisciplinary areas. Our researchers are currently engaged in:

  1. Computational / Digital processes
  2. Spatialized / Geo-located / Morphological processes
  3. Bottom-up processes
  4. Agent-Based modelling
  5. Network / Graph-Based modelling
  6. Data Visualisation
  7. Data Mining
  8. Innovation Management
  9. Governance

Our current projects are:

1) Innovate UK (CAV2) ‘Synergy’ Autonomous Vehicles, £5 Million

2) H2020 SynchronicitySynchronicity’ IoT- Large Scale Pilots, EURO20 Million

3) Innovate UK CityVerve ‘CityVerve’ Internet of Things, £10 Million

4) ESRCStrategic Network: Data and Cities as Complex Adaptive Systems’, £100,000


If you believe your research is complimentary or that we could address specific research gaps together, we would be happy to hear from you.




About | October 23, 2016 4:03 am