Conceptualizing the Urban System as a System of Flows

  • Pavel HolubecEmail author
Part of the Understanding Complex Systems book series (UCS)


With increasing part of humanity living in cities and with the complexification of urban issues, there is a growing need of the theory of the urban. My question is, how to put the various strands of research on urban matters together. I suppose that a theory of complex self-referential systems is well equipped for this task. Therefore, I respecified Luhmann’s concepts in the urban realm. As a result, I suggest a theory of self-referential systems of flows. Such systems reduce the complexity that is resulting from spatial dispersal of people and social systems. What emerges as constraints of systems of flows are channels, accumulations and centers, that, when solidified, may become cities.


Systems theory Self-referential Complexity Differentiation Flow City Urban Center Emergence System of flows Flow theory of cities Çatalhöyük 



This work was supported by the Grant Agency of the Czech Technical University in Prague, grant No. SGS15/183/OHK1/3T/11 “Public spaces as an intersection and treatment of the problems of contemporary settlements.”


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Civil Engineering, Department of Urban Design, Town and Regional PlanningCzech Technical University in PraguePraha 6Czech Republic

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