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Modern cities modelled as “super-cells” rather than multicellular organisms: Implications for industry, goods and services

Chang, Jie, Ge, Ying, Wu, Zhaoping, Du, Yuanyuan, Pan, Kaixuan, Yang, Guofu, Ren, Yuan, Heino, Mikko P., Mao, Feng ORCID:, Cheong, Kang Hao, Qu, Zelong, Fan, Xing, Min, Yong, Peng, Changhui and Meyerson, Laura A. 2021. Modern cities modelled as “super-cells” rather than multicellular organisms: Implications for industry, goods and services. BioEssays 43 (7) , 2100041. 10.1002/bies.202100041

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The structure and “metabolism” (movement and conversion of goods and energy) of urban areas has caused cities to be identified as “super-organisms”, placed between ecosystems and the biosphere, in the hierarchy of living systems. Yet most such analogies are weak, and render the super-organism model ineffective for sustainable development of cities. Via a cluster analysis of 15 shared traits of the hierarchical living system, we found that industrialized cities are more similar to eukaryotic cells than to multicellular organisms; enclosed systems, such as factories and greenhouses, paralleling organelles in eukaryotic cells. We further developed a “super-cell” industrialized city model: a “eukarcity” with citynucleus (urban area) as a regulating centre, and organaras (enclosed systems, which provide the majority of goods and services) as the functional components, and cityplasm (natural ecosystems and farmlands) as the matrix. This model may improve the vitality and sustainability of cities through planning and management.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 1521-1878
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 9 June 2021
Date of Acceptance: 16 April 2021
Last Modified: 05 May 2023 02:36

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