New Generation Infrastructure, module 1: readings

Course subject(s) Module 1: Complexity of Infrastructure

Here are our readings for this module , which may help you to understand the social and social-technical complexity issues in infrastructures and why we talk about complex adaptive systems :

  • Margot P.C. Weijnen & Ivo Bouwmans, Innovation in Networked Infrastructures, Coping with Complexity, 2004, Delft University of Technology
    This paper provides a deeper look into the socio-technical complexity of infra-systems. It gives a number of examples of technical, social and social-technical complexity issues in infrastructure systems and it will be very helpful to get a structured overview of the content that has been discussed in the web lectures of this unit.
  • Margot P.C. Weijnen, Paulien Herder & Ivo Bouwmans, Designing Complex Systems, A Contradiction in Terms, 2008, Delft University of Technology
    This paper goes one step further. It does not just describe the characteristics of complex socio-technical infra-systems, it also aims at prescribing ways to design these systems. We learned that a socio-technical systems exists of a physical and a social (or actor) network and that the interaction between these networks results in a new domain of complexity, that of socio-technical complexity. For both the physical and the social networks, design processes exist that could be applied separately. However, a socio-technical network requires a integrated approach.
    Through discussing three case studies concerning a district heating system, a gas network and a seaport development, the following research question will be answered: can physical system design and social system design be combined to acquire a better understanding of the behaviour of socio-technical, complex systems and to effectively support better designs and design processes?
  • Chapter 8.3 of the e-book titled ‘Transport System and Transport Policy’This book gives an introduction to the transport system in general, the impact the transport system has on accessibility, safety and the environment and  transport policy issues. Chapter 8.3 is about systems innovation and you will recognize the challenges mentioned in the web lectures.
  • Time to wake up (Chapter 7) 
    As we have seen, infrastructures are complex systems. Dealing with grand challenge like climate change, water scarcity &equity and energy transition requires understanding of  the legal, cultural, social, economic, technological and geo-political dimensions. We will have to live with uncertainty.
    The report ‘Time to wake up’  from The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies is about these  geo-political dimensions . Please read chapter 7 (conclusions). The report is written from a EU perspective but after reading you will understand why a road towards a world fueled by renewable energy is likely to be a rocky one with geo-political implication
Creative Commons License
Next Generation Infrastructures by TU Delft OpenCourseWare is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at
Back to top