The tension between stability and adaptability, and the pursuit for mechanisms that allow cities to face internal and external pressures, is a fundamental question for contemporary urban planners. To understand this tension and to develop a complexity-based perspective for planning action that deals with this tension, we describe the city as a complex assemblage employing adaptive mechanisms in front of rapid change. We argue how processes of coding, decoding and recoding continuously take place in the urban setting and are part of such adaptive mechanisms, in particular where community’s informal codes diverge from formal practices. In this context, we examine ‘placemaking’ as an urban mechanism whose function is not only to allow different local voices to express themselves, but also to assist in updating and adapting the ‘urban DNA’ to the city constituents and their diversity. The placemaking project that took place in Jerusalem over the period 2016–2018 is analysed in this framework. We show how Jerusalem municipality is experimenting with new ways of working with very diverse populations via wide-scale community-led methodologies viewed as part of the city capacity to learn and adapt within a changing environment. We turn to epigenetics, a biological field researching micro- and macro-evolutionary mechanisms, to provide us with a theoretical descriptive model that can help represent the impact of such a wide project in both short-term and long-term recoding at the level of urban rules and regulations. This allows us to identify relevant operational mechanisms yielding novelty in approach to the co-existence between formal urban codes and local communities’ strong sub-codes.

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Keywords Urban codes, assemblage theory, placemaking, epigenetics, adaptive planning
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Journal Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design
Manor-Rosner, Y., Borghini, S.G., Boonstra, B, & Silva, P. (2019). Adaptation of the Urban Codes – A story of Placemaking in Jerusalem. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design. doi:10.1177/2399808319867712