Environmental Engineering Reference
In-Depth Information
Techne . Interdisciplinary Examination
for an Integrated Vision. Case Study:
the Adriatic City
When Galileo caused balls, the weights of which he had himself previously
determined, to roll down an inclined plane, and Torricelli made air support a
weight that he knew to be equal to the weight of a known volume of water …
a light broke upon all students of nature. They learned that reason only has
insight into that which it produces after a plan of its own, and that … it must
force nature to give answers to questions of reason's own determining; and
must not allow itself to be kept, as it were, in nature's leading strings; because
otherwise our observations, made in obedience to no previously thought-out
plan, can never be made to yield a necessary law… Kant (1787) Preface. In:
Critica della ragion pura , Laterza, Rome-Bari.
The different forms of environmental determinism (starting with the intu-
ition of Ian McHarg) [1], which accompanied the interpretation of territorial
dynamics in the last century, extinguished themselves without the need to refer
to Kant 's thoughts regarding “students of nature.” Finally, we are convinced
that nature does not design itself, let alone areas originating from a deep com-
plex interaction between natural and anthropic dynamics, such as agrarian
landscapes or settlements. On the contrary, it is necessary to develop design
interpretations capable of structuring themselves amid the complexity of sys-
tematic visions .
The complexity of systems that describe a territory or a city is not an intrin-
sic property, but depends both on the model used for the description and on the
variables considered. The greater the number and variety of relationships
between the elements of a system, the greater its complexity, insofar as the
relationships between elements are non-linear. Today, confronting the sustain-
able design of the city means immersing oneself into reading the behavior of
complex systems characterized as much by numerous different elements as by
the numerous non-linear connections 1 .
1 The Santa Fe Institute is one of the most important research centers for complexity theory. It is par-
ticularly dedicated to the study of complex adaptive systems, i.e., complex systems capable of
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