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From systems to patterns and back – Exploring the spatial role of dynamic time and direction patterns in the area of regional planning

June 10, 2021

This master thesis presents a data-driven framework to explore the role of dynamic time and direction patterns in the area of Finnish Lapland in order to improve decision-making in urban planning and design tasks. The Arctic Ocean Railway project is chosen as a case study.


In an era marked by dramatic environmental, political and societal changes, the Arctic region becomes more global and complex. An increasing number of actors are involved in its spatial transformations. Due to melting ice, the Northern Sea Route gains attention from the shipping and trade industries that are manifested in new port and infrastructure projects. Eco-tourism is booming in the Arctic due to its imaginary remoteness, while local Indigenous People try to preserve traditional livelihoods.


In order to cope with the increasing complexity of such dynamic urban and regional challenges, Systems Thinking, dynamic patterns, modelling and use of simulation are researched to open up novel ways for complex regional planning methods.


This is achieved by designing an agent-based model and using different representation and abstraction features for different dynamic data packages. The project is integrated within the GAMA simulation platform (a modeling and simulation development environment for building spatially explicit agent-based simulations) and embedded in the MIT CityScope framework - a medium for both, analyzing agent’s behavioural patterns and displaying them to the relevant stakeholders.

The project attempts to address the necessity to handle the increasing complexity by presenting a dynamic, evidence-based planning and decision support tool called CityScope Lapland. The main goal of CityScope Lapland is to use digital technologies to incorporate variables like time and direction in urban spatial analysis and methodology; secondly, to improve the accessibility of the decision-making process for non-experts through a tangible user interface, and third, to help users evaluate their decisions by creating a feedback through real-time visualization of urban simulation results when facing less and less predictable futures.

The project provides an alternative design approach, introducing new forms of urban imagination and different ways of perceiving and measuring complex spatial transformations.

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Ayda Grisiute

Thesis Supervisor

Pia Fricker

Thesis Advisor(s)

Pia Fricker

Year of Publication



Systems Thinking, simulation, agent-based modelling, patterns, Arctic Ocean Railway, decision support tools