The latest edition of the School of Cities City Research Insights features the Urban Genome Project. Below is a selection, you can read the whole piece here.

“A multidisciplinary working group, established under the banner of the
Urban Genome Project (UGP), is renewing connections between the life and physical sciences and the social sciences to decode the DNA of the city. Supported by the School of Cities, co-leads Daniel Silver (Sociology) and Mark Fox (Industrial Engineering and Computer Science) are exploring how the concept of evolution can apply beyond the study of living things to help us better understand our cities and the processes that influence change within them.

Originally inspired by the Human Genome Project, UGP has involved ongoing collaboration among faculty and graduate students from sociology, industrial engineering, computer science, architecture, biology, economic geography, and others at U of T and partner universities.

While the application of evolutionary concepts to cities is not entirely new, the Urban Genome Project is attempting to join them together into a novel general evolutionary model for cities. The model provides a framework for understanding how various city characteristics appear at different rates and in different places, and for understanding how those characteristics may have shared or divergent development patterns across time and space.

An urban evolutionary approach can reveal why and how certain urban characteristics – such as porches, cul-de-sacs or racial segregation – exist within cities, how those characteristics come into being, and why the number of them and how they function changes over time. Using an evolutionary lens can also tell us about how urban neighbourhoods and communities adapt to changes in built form or changing demographics, how our views of places change as the city evolves, and how to introduce policy interventions that are informed by and responsive to what is happening in a given place and time.”