Dec 13, 2011

Biological Clock of City : Collective Dynamism of Population

By- Anoop Jha

Relevance of City Dynamism in Urban Planning

Biological clock of a city can be understood as a collective activity of resident population across the hours, days, seasons, and decades. These varying patterns and shift in activities depend on the characteristics and collective traits of cities or urban settlements like – Character of city like historic, metropolitan, ecological or place of tourist interest, industry type i.e. service, manufacturing or agro business, Economy and business of city, Trade and commercial activities, Religious activities, rituals, Public transit system availability and regulations, political stability and governance.    

A city or town metaphorically behaves like a living organism and hence each one of them has a unique signature activity pattern. In spite of static nature of cities it has lots of innumerous dynamic activities going on within it’s envelop and beyond. Pace and extent of these activities are cyclic in nature and varies across days and hours in somewhat predictable ways and seem synchronized with diurnal variation i.e. cycle of day and night, e.g. two visibly distinct peak hours of activities in any given particular day across the cities. Cities also seem synchronized to different seasons and show different patterns of daily activities as per that season, e.g. Majority of population getting off to sleep early in winters and shops being closed early, accompanied by lesser traffic and activities on street in winter w.r.t. summer.

The reason studying “biological pattern of city” can be an interesting and important are for planners is that till now, while planning or developing a city they have historically and inevitably always assumed that city is a static entity and then they prepare a Masterplan for that city, While it’s a fundamentally wrong assumption and process of planning for a city. Let’s take a fresh look on any random city, you will find that it’s a living, thriving and dynamic entity. The word morphology which is synonymous with mutation, when used in context of urban pattern itself states that city characteristically resembles a living and dynamic entity.

Challenge for the new age planners is to recognise and accept the fact that they are planning for an active, constantly changing and mutating dynamic entity called “City” rather than the past and contemporary notion of city as a static built mass, with some activities being marked in static zones of Landuse in different color on Masterplan. Urban planners not only have to consider the character of the particular city to be built or redeveloped but they also have to consider the present or future activity pattern as well as temperament of the city. 

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