Spatial cognitive dissonance and sociospatial emergence in a self-organizing city

J. Portugali*, I. Benenson, I. Omer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


By conceiving the city as a self-organizing system, we highlight and examine three interrelated phenomena of residential sociospatial segregation in a city: the gap which exists between intentions, preferences, and motives, on the one hand, and actual spatial behavior, on the other; the existence and role of local regions of instability within an otherwise stable urban system; and the conjunction between these two phenomena and the processes related to the emergence of new sociospatial entities. We examine the interplay between these interrelated urban phenomena and illustrate their role in urban dynamics. The discussion throughout the paper is elaborated partly by reference to empirical evidences but mainly by means of 'city games' played on a heuristic model (City-2) designed specifically for this purpose. City-2 can be described as a two-layer model composed of a migration submodel, which describes the intercity and intracity migration movements, superimposed on a cellular automata (CA) submodel describing the dynamics of the urban landscape itself. City-2 elaborates on, and extends, two previous heuristic models designed by us: (a) City, which is a probabilistic CA simulation model designed to examine the sociospatial relations between large social groups in a city, and (b) City-1, a planning-oriented cell-space model which introduced, in addition to the sociocultural properties of individuals, their economic status and the changing land value surface of the city.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-285
Number of pages23
JournalEnvironment and Planning B: Planning and Design
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1997


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