In philosophy, science, and art, emergence is a process whereby larger entities arise through interactions among smaller or simpler entities such that the larger entities exhibit properties the smaller or simpler entities don't exhibit.

In philosophy, emergence is often understood to be a claim about the etiology of a system's properties. Emergent structures appear at many different levels of organization or as spontaneous order. Emergent self-organization appears frequently in cities where no planning or zoning entity predetermines the layout of the city.

The interdisciplinary study of emergent behaviors is not generally considered a homogeneous field, but divided across its application or problem domains. Architects and landscape architects may not design all the pathways of a complex of buildings. Instead they might let usage patterns emerge and then place pavement where pathways have become worn in.

Building ecology is a conceptual framework for understanding architecture and the built environment as the interface between the dynamically interdependent elements of buildings, their occupants, and the larger environment. But the formation of new features or structures of a system due to the interplay of its elements can be found in all fields of our lives.

For example, Sika Peru has established a hydroponic greenhouse for educational purposes. 30 employees from Production plus another 30 from Administration and Sales are actively involved in the project. New possibilities for self-harvesting healthy food have been identified, and the nutrition of employees and their families can be improved with crops high in iron, such as spinach or watercress.

Furthermore, construction of the biggest timber school building in the world is creating a lot of new diversity and possibilities. Providing places for 800 pupils, the complex accommodates an elementary, middle and a high school. The building also includes space for non-governmental institutes and a sports club. The four elements together cover a total surface area of 9.700 m2.

Elsewhere, Swiss artist Monica Jäger reflects on social housing utopias from the 1960s. Paying homage to the construction material used, she creates a complex configuration of plants evoking the shape of the original development and lending a novel form to new features.