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The Model City - Working Paper Series 113

Professor Michael Batty at our lab is one of the leading lights in city based modelling, in his latest working paper he defines how the term ‘model’ is now central to our thinking about how we understand and design cities.

In the paper:

We suggest a variety of ways in which we use ‘models’, linking these ideas to Abercrombie’s exposition of Town and Country Planning which represented the state of the art fifty years ago.

Here we focus on using models as physical representations of the city, tracing the development of symbolic models where the focus is on simulating how function generates form, to iconic models where the focus is on representing the geometry of form in both two and three dimensions.

Our quest is to show how digital representation enables us to merge and manipulate form into function and vice versa, linking traditional architectural representation to patterns of land use and movement. Mathematics holds the key to simulation of many kinds and computers now enable us to move effortlessly from the material world of atoms to the ethereal world of bits and back.

These new tools also provide us with powerful ways of showing how the real is able to morph into the ideal and vice versa. We argue that this digital world which parallels the material, now gives us unprecedented power to understand and explore cities in ways that Abercrombie could only speculate upon, and we conclude by anticipating how we might respond to the new challenges posed by unlimited access to these virtual worlds.

The paper is well worth a download (2.3Mb, PDF) and covers a lot of the work and topics featured in the blog.

We will have a new Working Paper, entitled The Visual City available for download shortly.


  1. paper 113 is not fresh (it says February '07) so I am waiting for that new one.

  2. Anonymous12:54 PM

    Ok its new on the blog and although dated Feb 07 its a really good paper so thought it was worth posting..

    We have over 120 working papers at CASA now for those interested :)