Finally, a book on the science of cities!! Geoffrey West’s Scale explains the universal laws that govern cities and how growth, innovation, sustainability, companies and economies contribute to the patterns of city dynamics.
Every couple of years a new book is published that corroborates key tenets that Integral City has framed for cities as living, complex human systems. A seminal contribution to our Integral City bibliography will probably be the book of the year 2017. Geoffrey West, a theoretical physicist by training and experience, asked the very question that prompted me to write Book 1 in the Integral City series: Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive. His question was, “where is the science of cities”?
Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovations, Sustainability and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies and Companies walks the reader carefully through explanations for complexity, scaling, fractals. It not only proposes a basis for the science of cities, but how the same laws might govern a science of companies. West applies his knowledge of physics to its application to biology and sustainability – at multiple scales right up to the scale of the planet.
Like a veritable junky, I must confess that I devoured every page of Scale, as West’s research seemed to corroborate the conclusions that I had reached and attempted to offer as a new paradigm of the city as a complex adaptive human system in Book 1 – published in 2008. My copy of Scale is scratched with annotations from margin unto margin. I was so exhilarated to learn of West’s research journey, his unexpected discoveries, his multi-disciplinary teams of collaborators, and many digressions of the genuine struggles scientists face in their own disciplines and within the academy.
When I finished the book, I was both exhilarated and overwhelmed with the breadth of West’s plethora of research data and interpretations of various data sets. They seemed to support my contention that cities are the critical scale for human systems to make a difference to all life on earth as “Gaia’s Reflective Organ” (a term coined by James Lovelock).
Now that I have had a few days to reflect on the implications of West’s publication. I am asking myself: how can Integral City Meshworks combine the theory from our Book 1 and the field work we offer in our newest publication, Book 2, Integral City Inquiry & Action: Designing Impact for the Human Hive, with the insights of Scale to optimize Gaia’s Reflective Capacity for our Planet of Cities?