Word for a decaying and renewing system, like a coral reef

Jungles and coral reefs are built in a piecemeal way: parts of them are always decaying, being patchily replaced by the fresh new bits springing up. The whole ecology acts as a single discordant organism. Whenever I go to old cities I feel the same way — old flats being torn down and replaced by modern buildings, a medley built up over decades.

I’m looking for an adjective to describe something that has been built this way. Any ideas?

I thought “patchwork”, but that does not convey the time-dependency, the fact that it is a process.

Edit 1: In talking with someone about this, I was recommended the word “lapstrake”, which actually refers to a kind of boat, although I like the way it sounds.

Edit 2: I’d also think the word should also convey a sort of messiness, a discord.


What about “organic” – that’s sometimes used to describe eg. cities that have the quality you describe.

So, somewhere like “Canberra” is not organic – it was built all of a piece at one time. You could say the same about Paris, Napoleon built it all at once in the one style.

But Tokyo or something is a crazy “organic” city, an amalgamation built over various periods all jumbled together.

Source : Link , Question Author : hrothgarrrr , Answer Author : Fattie

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