This paper uses two diverging interpretations of resilience to review and assess current UK policies and guidelines for urban resilience, a term generally associated with the strength of key systems and cities and their capability to maintain functionality in the face of external shocks. Both developed in scientific studies, the first interpretation (engineering resilience) is based on a mechanistic model of systems that can recover their original state aftershocks, and the second (ecological resilience) is based on an evolutionary model enabling adaptation to disturbances. Through a literature review, practical applications to planning are discussed for each model in terms of long-term efficacy. The contribution of this paper to an understanding of urban resilience is therefore twofold. First, an identification of the long-term consequences on the built environment of the policies associated with each model is provided, with the mechanical model ultimately hindering, and the ecological model favouring, adaptation. Second, some approaches to generate effective responses to environmental and societal change are identified, together with enabling tools. Ultimately, this paper emphasizes that the idea of a resilient city is fit for this age characterized by uncertainty, although it requires the recognition within planning practice that urban adaptation cannot be attained with current methodologies, and that much can be learned from theories on the resilience of ecosystems.
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- urban resilience
- urban systems
- urban adaptability