Ecological Resilience as a Foundation for Urban Design and Sustainability

  • Jianguo Wu
  • Tong Wu
Part of the Future City book series (FUCI, volume 3)


Cities are prototypical complex adaptive systems that are faced with a myriad of disturbances, most of which are unforeseen and unpredictable. Urban design principles are increasingly influenced by ecological ideas of heterogeneity, non-linearity, hierarchy, and multiple stable states. Ecological resilience has emerged as a major approach to understanding and managing social-ecological systems, including urban design. This theory suggests that, to design sustainable cities, our emphasis should be on creating and maintaining urban resilience – the ability of a city to persist without changing its basic structure, function, and identity. What underlies a truly resilient city is not how stable it has appeared, but whether it can withstand an unforeseen shock that would fundamentally alter or erase the city’s identity. For cities to be sustainable, urban design must explicitly account for the influence of both internal and external changes now and in the future.


Ecosystem Service Regime Shift Complex Adaptive System Urban Design Urban Sustainability 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



JW’s research in urban ecology and sustainability science has been ­supported in part by National Science Foundation under Grant No. BCS-0508002 (Biocomplexity/CNH) and DEB 9714833 (CAP-LTER).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Life Sciences and Global Institute of SustainabilityArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.Center for ForestryUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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