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Title: Towards a Neo-Geomantic Language of Place? Chaos, Complexity & Implicate Order in Urban Design
Author: Odeleye, Delle
ISNI:       0000 0004 2668 026X
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2007
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The realities of climate change and diminishing resources now require that each discipline re-examines its ontological relationship with nature. This is likely to involve are-examination of its own origins and development, and may require restructuring its models and practices in line with the most up to date scientific thinking about natural processes and reality. The modem movement in architecture and planning, which treated urban components as isolated objects in an abstract space, failed because it oversimplified reality, based on a mechanistic view of the world -summed up by Le Corbusier's; -A house is a machine for living in- statement. Modemism's deficiencies, the need to improve 'quality of life' in expanding urban areas, and people's desire for greater interaction with their immediate surroundings, have highlighted a polarisation of views conceming recently popularised geomantic practices. These range from uncritical acceptance on one hand, to total dismissal without investigation, on the other. The design of settlements, urban design, has long-forgotten roots in such traditional, geomantic (i.e. earth-centred) ways of environmental modification in cultures across the world. These are commonly thought to be archaic and irrelevant in our contemporary era. However, they were often a key basis on which settlements that are vital &vibrant, or are now much loved, were planned. The integrated way in which places were considered, appears to resonate with the mu/ti-dimensional ways in which we perceive the world, and is beginning to be reflected in some wholistic views being suggested by the 'New Sciences'. The post-modernist sciences of chaos and complex systems have revealed some of the deep structures and dynamic processes that underlie the diversity and complexity of the natural world. These are reflected in the way our brains are structured and by our perceptual processes, appearing to extend even to the social and economic systems people create. Such leading-edge paradigms promise more useful methods for dealing with complex built-environment issues. Over the last two decades, the traditional idea of 'place-making' has been effecting a comeback into urban discourse and regenerative practice. This study explores what this might mean for urban design theory as seen through the lenses of ancient and traditional geomantic approaches on the one hand, and the emergent concepts of chaos, complexity and implicate order in the sciences, on the other hand. It also uses relevant insights from post-modem design trends, to explore the usefulness of geomantic approaches in understanding place-complexity. This is done by firstly seeking to detennine what, if any, links might exist between geomantic and scientific worldviews, and secondly, by synthesising the implications of empirical studies underlying such a reconciliation, to formulate aConceptual Framework of place structure. Key elements of this place-structure are then used to propose a Generative Framework of the possible dynamics underlying urban morphogenesis. Ageneric mapping of attributes comprising our 'sense-of-place' with those ofageomantic 'meta-language' is outlined and briefly applied, to assess its usefulness andfile prospects for generating place complexity in various cultures. It thereby proposes a method for integrating extant urban design methodologies -and suggests through their mapping, the basis of a derivative language for representing key aspects ofthis complexity in urban design.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available