Emergent Intelligence in the city enables survival, adaptation and regeneration of the whole human system.  Last week I was exploring how designers apply Emergent Intelligence in Arnhem, NL working with Alliander and Freedom Lab to explore Energetic City 2050.

Over the next six months, three teams are exploring how people in the city could generate their own power. Each with their own manifestos, and with a diversity of approaches, Innergy, Markt and Netwerk will explore energy, regenerativity and energetics apparently from all four quadrants of the Integral City.

As designers, in the Human Hive, I am curious to see how they will explore regeneration as it occurs through biological reproduction and inner renewal, shared learning and teaching and coaching others in roles, competencies and capacities? Will self-organizing energy production enable new forms of renewal as the city, like all living systems, will develop new cyclical habits that enable the accumulation, exploitation, distribution and redeployment of resources (the four stages of resilience identified by Gunderson and Holling et al)?

While Arnhem is set in the verdant food production area of eastern Netherlands, by shifting energy sources, how will emergence (a characteristic of living systems), arise from the resonance and coherence of the city system with its agricultural environment? How will the teams design resonance to emerge as the new city systems align externally to the city’s environment? Will they find new ways for the city to literally resonate with its surroundings? With the imaginations of artists, engineers, architects, social workers and IT designers, I am anticipating some surprising emergences and coherences will arise from the realignment of all the elements of the city system so that energy can be optimized. And when both resonance and coherence become synchronized what new capacities may emerge in the city system?

I am excited to see what new capacities for sustainability may emerge as a newly energized city invents new ways to embrace order, strategic planning, caring and sharing and systemizing.

This Experiment is an Inspiring Route to Liberating City Design! Before I left the first (of four) Energetic City 2050 Intensive, I could see the teams were already operating as if the city was not a system of parts, but a whole system of the human species (essentially an ecology of whole-parts or holons). Thus as they explored designs for a system of wholes, the city’s holarchy of  communities, organizations, groups, families and individuals and the built environment were going to open up to whole new potentials.

Kudos to the imaginations behind this daring experiment (Karin Rikkers of Alliander, and Alex VanOost especially) – it opens the way for  the healthy functioning of all the holons in one city and demonstrates how emergence can be a whole new learning methodology for other cities to practise.


This blog is a prologue to the Integral City webinar conference  City 2.0 Co-Creating the Future of the Human Hive . We are inventing a new operating system for the city.  Click to get more details re the Free Expo and eLaboratory membership  scheduled September 4-27  2012. You are invited to attend and participate.