Emergence in Urban Environments: Agent-based Simulation of Environment Reconfiguration

Online PDF PhD Thesis, supervisor Assoc. Prof. Dr. Henri H. Achten, MOLAB FA CTU

Online version of the Dissertation Thesis Emergence in Urban Environments: Agent-based Simulation of Environment Reconfiguration. Abstract: The paradigm of emergence that we are dealing with within the framework of several scientific disciplines (e.g. artificial intelligence, cybernetics, evolutionary biology, systems theory, cognitive sciences and others), also appears in architectural and urban context as an essence of design processes and methods of production or development of architectural and urban forms. This concept can be applied in observations and simulations of the unpredictable behaviour of the urban environment as well as validation of its characteristics in various simulated environmental scenarios and conditions by means of using information technology. It is a spontaneous creation of an organized whole out of a disordered collection of interacting parts. This phenomenon is very well legible in the field of architecture and urbanism as so called “bottom-up” concept of environmental development, where city urban structure emerges from low-level rules and negotiations between local participants to a higher-level sophisticated environment. This bottom-up strategy of city urban development should promote better understanding of inhabitants' needs or demands in our dynamic post-digital era in comparison with standard long-term urban planning (top-down strategy). This phenomenon with its own characteristics based on nonlinearity and uncertainty can be examined from different perspectives and points of view. One of them is the qualitative description in the context of architecture and urban design, which is currently an object of the interest of scientific research with certain deficiency that architects and urban planners are still trying to complement in collaboration with other professions. One of the area is dealing with computer based models and sophisticated simulation techniques in order to obtain better understanding of this phenomenon within artificial behaviour of the city and exploring its dynamic properties that can lead to certain predictions in its further growth or thickening. Typical formal simplified techniques and methods for modelling emergent behaviour are using appropriate agent-based models, fractals or cellular automata. A city as a complex phenomenon and an entirety of events (according to object-oriented ontology a city is defined as an object with relations or an assemblage), its communication flows (information and data telecommunication networks and their access points), energy, goods and materials distribution and movement of users themselves and their spatial interactions with the environment nowadays no doubt has been creating new conditions and demands on the city's spatial organization, infrastructure, its growth and its thickening. Urban space today is an aggregate of complex dynamic processesthat contribute to its configuration and mutually influence each other. Thus, urban environment shows emergent qualities and contains multi-layer scenarios of its own development and reconfiguration in time. This stratification is impossible to be comprehended by a linear model of a single predicted concept (top-down strategy). Architects and urban planners may, however, cover these specifics by a prediction of space development with a multi-layer result that would take into account the requirements of users at the lower level (bottom-up strategy). Architects can use simulation models of cities as analytical tools for their designs and decisions in order to make relevant and proper qualitative description of behaviour of internal components of urban environment. Such a model would be acceptable to serve as a platform for better understanding of wider characteristics of a city as a living dynamic system in terms of its internal alignment, relationships, hierarchy and connections between its particular constituent parts which participate in the city as a complex whole. The aim of this particular research is therefore a spatial simulation of city environment developmentwhich would simulate its growth and reconfiguration based on demands and requirements on a lower level and its qualitative description. This spatial simulation would serve as a decisionmaking tool for architects when applying various spatial scenarios of environment configurations and thereby it would create a basis for spatial planning decisions in subsequent stages of zoning proceedings, mainly in the early design stages. The core of the interest of this research is definition of the spatial alignment of the urban pattern based on bottom-up requirements. In particular, this embodies approach walkable distances in the places of interests in the selected urban environment, the stand-off distances between the urban elements, and the definition of appropriate graininess of the urban fabric and its density. In that manner it is possible to specify an equable spread of urban activities and volumes in the structure and therefore define a relevant diversity of the environment with different measure of the densities of the spatial alignment. As such, the observer is allowed tosimulate the spatial relations and explore its qualitative potentials in already existing environment, eventually define its inadequacies. Emergent behaviour of structures in geometry can be visualised by using advanced scripting techniques in the field of agent-oriented systems and iterative protocols, in this case in the Processing language taking into account spatial demands and rules in the lower-level. We can encompass more complex structural and spatial configuration of the urban environment and better understand its behaviour by visualising these spatial relations and rules. The final result of this research shall be a simulation geometrical model of spatial environment reconfiguration that could be serviceable also in the internet environment. This result implemented in a software tool can also serve as a design platform of urban structure based on simple rules of a lower level that would, however, consequently simulate the complex urban entirety. The dissertation thesis contains also computational strategic base in terms of emergence phenomenon simulation models in order to define its significance for architectural and urban design within the framework of contemporary post-digital architectural discourse. The thesis summarizes selected philosophical and theoretical approaches of emergence as well.

Tokyo Pop Culture Lab

Honorable Mention Award

OPEN

Tokyo Pop Culture Lab

Early Conceptual Models

OPEN

Altar wall "Flames of Holy Spirit" Brno

"Do not quench the Spirit." 1 Thessalonians 5,19

OPEN

Iterative Protocols

Processing sketches exploring the iterative and coded rules-based behavior of the emerging animated custom brushes.

OPEN

Pheromonics design strategies

Natural behavior of the artificial living creatures can be reflected and embeded into the computational models used in urban speculations in order to discover and explore emergent phenomena and potentials of selected urban dynamics.

OPEN

Synthetic landscapes

Artificial landscapes emerged from disruptive processes which can be observed in computational models whilst the potential of their spatial organization and surface character can be understood as a novel type of pattern and tectonics of the future cities.

OPEN

Emergent articulation field

Speculative urban formations.

OPEN

Symbiosis

Test of user defined and controlled behavior of the moving agent-based system in order to disturb the spring elements in the field. Can two diferent systems live in mutual symbiosis?

OPEN

CHURCH OF HOLY SPIRIT BRNO

Jesus said to them,Have you never read in the Scriptures:The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this,and it is marvelous in our eyes? Matthew 21:42

OPEN

Hylacka-Vetrovy tower

Tower as a significant symbol in the countryside of Vetrovy, fully respects natural characteristics of the environment and whole scenery-practically melts into it.

OPEN

Disruptive Eco-logics

Observation of disruptive natural processes in computational models.

OPEN

Architectural and Urban Design

Selected architectural and Urban design projects.

OPEN