Over the last decades ‘resilience’ has particularly arisen as an attractive perspective with respect to cities. As cities continue to expand, their susceptibility to uncertainties and new challenges, such as climate change, has increased, rendering ‘urban resilience’ an increasingly favoured concept in the realm of Urban Development, Planning and Management (UDPM). Despite recent reviews, an updated analysis of the concept is required to understand whether there is in fact scientific evidence to support the expansion and favouring of ‘urban resilience’ in UDPM. The need to understand how the concept evolved is further emphasised by the need to perceive how the distinct sciences have contributed to its development, and which were the focuses and conceptual underpinnings of such evolution. Thus, the objective of this paper is to provide a broader review of the multidimensional concept of ‘urban resilience’, while understanding how distinct research fields have contributed to its inception and expansion, and how distinct conceptualisations of resilience have influenced its evolution. Supported by a bibliometric analysis of urban-centric publications, this paper highlights the recent extensive growth and expanding application of ‘urban resilience’ to distinct research fields, as well as an apparent theoretical stabilisation of the concept, which reemphasises the idea of a three-dimensional conceptual resilience perspective in scientific literature: (1) ‘engineering’, (2) ‘ecological’, and (3) ‘social-ecological resilience’. Consequently, this research emphasises that, if the related conceptual underpinnings are clear, ‘urban resilience’ can potentially serve as an ‘integrative metaphor’, adapted by diverse stakeholders, to reinforce UDPM initiatives.
Decades of theoretical research in the empiric and formal sciences have contributed to a better understanding of the dynamics of singleequilibrium, multiple-equilibria, and non-equilibrium behaviours. This knowledge has subsidised the establishment of ‘resilience theory’ (Holling et al., 2001; Redman and Kinzig, 2003; Curtin and Parker, 2014) as a formal approach to understanding how systems respond to, persist under, and adapt to disturbances. Although early literature was conceptual and focused on developing a baseline for ‘resilience theory’ (Bhamra et al., 2011, p. 5380), over time a broad range of practical studies were developed (Redman and Kinzig, 2003; Shaw, 2012; Béné et al., 2014). Resilience-focused research grew from its original formulation in Engineering, to its application in Ecology (Mcaslan, 2010; Bhamra et al., 2011; Martin-Breen and Anderies, 2011), and to its applied development in urban-centric research (Cartalis, 2014; Hassler and Kohler, 2014a). The seminal work of Holling and colleagues (Holling and Goldberg, 1971; Holling, 1973, 1986; 1996, 2001; Folke et al., 2002) formed the foundation for the development of resilience studies and reinterpretations (Mcaslan, 2010; Bhamra et al., 2011; Martin-Breen and Anderies, 2011). Their work, along with continuous processes of social, economic and ecological change (Vale, 2014, p. 192), and increasingly unforeseen disturbances (Walker and Salt, 2006; Hodson and Marvin, 2009; Balaban, 2012), have highlighted the value of resilience research (Redman and Kinzig, 2003; Shaw, 2012; Hassler and Kohler, 2014a).