Juval Portugali (Tel Aviv University)


From 13:30
to 15:00
From 13:30
to 15:00


Course description

Space, Place and Environment represent three approaches to society at large as well as to urban and environmental planning and design. Space represents an attempt at an objective quantitative approach, viewing planning and design as social engineering. Place refers to a phenomenological approach emphasizing that planning & design should focus on the subjective relations between people and their homes, lands or neighborhoods; while Environment commences from a structuralist and system perspectives to planning and design thus encompassing the social, cultural and physical structures within which people conduct their activities. Throughout most of the 20th century space, place and environment provided the foundations to modernist planning and design approaches; in the last decades they became playing tools of post-modernism. More recently, however, space, place and environment are perceived as spontaneous self-organized products that emerge out of the interaction between the many human agents.



In line with the above, the 24 lectures of the course are planned to develop in four sequential parts, when the last two meetings are devoted to students’ presentations:

Part I: Space.
Part II: Place and structure.
Part III: Environment.
Part IV: A complexity theory perspective on space, place and environment.

Part I: Space

1-2. Spatial perspectives on the built environment.

  1. The rational comprehensive planning approach.
  2. Design methods at a city scale.
  3. Criticism: advocacy planning, incrementalism and wicked problems.

Part II: Place and structure

  1. The phenomenological approach to planning and design.
  2. Structuralism as an approach to planning and design.
  3. The third way: Kevin Lynch, Christopher Alexander and jean Jacobs.

Part III: Environment

  1. First generation system view on the relations: the “Club of Rome”.
  2. The environmental crisis of the 21st century: A theory of four economic-environmental failures.

Part IV: A complexity theory perspective on space, Place and Environment

11. A concise introduction to complexity theories and CTC.
12. A complexity theory perspective on space, Place and Environment.
13-14. Students presentations


Evaluation criteria

10% attendance and participation
10% individual out of class discussion with professor
10% oral presentations in class
70% written final research paper



  1. Batty, M. 2005. Cities and Complexity. MIT press, Cambridge Mass.
  2. Batty, M. 2013. The new Science of Cities. MIT Cambridge Mass.
  3. Haken, H., Portugali, J. 2015. Information adaptation: The interplay between Shannon information and semanticinformation in cognition.SpringerBriefs. Springer, Heidelberg, Berlin.
  4. Portugali, J. 2000. Self-Organization and the City. Springer, Heidelberg.
  5. Portugali, J. (Ed.). 2005. Complex Artificial Environments. Springer, Heidelberg.
  6. Portugali, J. 2011. Complexity, Cognition and the City. Springer, Heidelberg.
  7. Portugali, J., Meyer, H., Stolk, E., and Tan, E. (Eds.) 2012. Complexity Theories of Cities Have Come of Age. Springer, Heidelberg, Berlin.
  8. Portugali, J. and Stolk, E. (Eds.) 2016. Complexity, Cognition Urban Planning and Design. Springer, Heidelberg, Berlin
  9. Sassen, S. 1999. Globalization and its discontents. Essays on the New Mobility of People and Money;
  10. Simon, H.A. 1969/1996. The Science of the Artificial. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
  11. Snow, C.P. 1964. The Two Cultures and a Second Look. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ Press 
  12. Spencer, H. 1852. A Theory of Population
  13. Stiglitz, J.E. 2002.Globalization and its Discontent. W. W. Norton & Company



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