Urbanisation is the fastest, most intense phenomenon that ever happened to humankind, yet most in authority can do almost nothing to guide urban change: Unprincipled neoliberal development creates inflexible, undemocratic urbanism. Fuelled by inequality and demand outstripping supply, slum urbanism spreads ever faster. Without the essential conditions to develop into successful urbanism it is stuck in a dangerous state of arrested development.
The planning systems of the developed world - now exported to the developing, attempt to treat the city as a machine where every variable must be entirely understood, painstakingly controlled and legalistically prescribed for. But cities are not like this. They consist of innumerable interrelated agents and factors creating richness, diversity, unpredictability and chaos. In such a system of complexity this perspective is doomed to fail.
Working with complexity requires a full systems perspective: Massive Small’s mission is to gather the necessary theory, language, systems, ethos and collective knowledge into an open collaborative platform that will provide this.
Our primary project, the Massive Small Compendium is a crowdsourced collection of ideas, tools and tactics for working with this complexity. It will recover the lost lessons of city making, explore the essential conditions that give life to a city, and investigate how to create a planning, design and delivery system that works for all.