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Architecture and Urbanism Project

Adaptable Masterplan: Parametrization

Finding the right software

For people, who can´t write a single line of code but still need to create a script which outputs geometry, visual programming method is the best option. The most popular software that have implemented it are Rhino with its Grasshopper extension and Blender with its Geometry Nodes modifier. After considering pros and cons of both, the decision in favor of Blender was easy to make, even though I wasn´t experienced with this program yet. The fact that it´s a free open source software means that the script can be easily accessible for literally everyone interested in it. It reduces the barrier for potential users of starting to work with it. In addition, I discovered that Blender community is huge: open source enthusiasts from around the world together contribute to making this program better. They often share advice and tutorials, as well as different assets and pieces of their visual code on designated forums and online marketplaces, which makes it easier for beginners to get started with Blender.

Geometry nodes

With Blender Geometry Nodes, it is possible to “pre-record“ certain steps of modifying geometry and apply them to different contexts. It is a very powerful tool, the complexity of which is unlimited. It was designed for setting and controlling parameters of geometry without deleting its previous versions (parametric non-destructive design). The nodes are easy to replicate, share between the files and for a non-programmer they are way easier to understand than any programming language.

Dissecting urban space

In order to create a script that is capable of generating different plausible solutions for residential areas, one should be aware of how the single elements of built structure are related to each other. It´s like assembling a puzzle: to create a nice picture, you have to take a look at each element and consciously put every single piece in its place.

But in order to assemble a picture, i had to disassemble built structure into the most important elemets first and due to the time limitations, only focus on the most important ones. What are the most important features of the street or of the building? What is the relationship between them? What do I have as an input and which steps do I have to take to achieve a desired output? In which order do I have to take those steps? These are typical questions everyone askes themselves while working on a parametric model.

Much helpful theory has been written about the characteristics of good built structures. Authors such as Kevin Lynch, Christopher Alexander have devoted their work to the study of the relationship between them. Ernst Neufert, along with contemporary authors and professors Leonhard Schenk and Christa Reicher, have given much thought to the appropriate dimensions and spacing between these elements and have been a tremendous source of knowledge for me. This knowledge has been used as the basis for defining minimum and maximum values for the features that my script deals with, which are shown in Tables 1 and 2 for road elements and building elements respectively.

Table 1: Street Parameters
Table 2: Building Parameters

Defining inputs and outputs

Inputs

For the sake of simplicity in terms of usage, I tried to keep required inputs as simple as possible. Everything one needs to start working with my script is:

1) simple lines for streets, joined by type. It is easy to download street networks for almost any existing place using QGIS software for querying OSM (Open Street Maps) data. It should already contain information about the road type. Join street geometry, so that every type is on a separate layer and use BlendGIS plugin for Blender to upload them in your project. This is exactly what I did for the site I am working on. If your project contains streets which are in planning, but not yet exist within OSM database, draw them in manually either in QGIS or directly in Blender. Important is only that they are all joined by type and that the lines all lay on the same plane (flat surface). The script will work best with tidy, continuous geometry, where there are no breaks between the line segments.

2) polygons for development areas, where buildings should be placed. The facades of generated buildings will align themselves along the perimeter of the polygon. Every polygon should be it´s own, separate geometry. Don´t join them.

3) don´t forget to write down an approximate expected average housing area per person into a corresponding input slot so that the model can calculate how many people the generated housing can provide accommodation for. If you don´t do this, a default value 30m2 will be automatically chosen. You will still get the results, because this input is not mandatory, but it´s recommended to think about it.

And that´s it! Enjoy the process, as you experiment with different controls while your 3D model changes “on the fly“.

Outputs

What you should see after providing all the necessary inputs, is a responsive 3D model, adaptable in real time. In addition to geometry output, it calculates and outputs following values, which urbanists often use to compare and evaluate diferent housing solutions:

1) approximate number of people for each development area;
2)building coverage ratio (BCR) for each area;
3)floor area ratio (FAR) for each area.

Generative process

In this abstract I will explain the logic behind the algorithm that creates geometry throughout the whole journey from input to output.

Street generation

The street is the city’s most important element. (Pallson, 2020) Kevin Lynch also noted that paths were predominant elements in people´s image of space with other elements being arranged along them. (Reicher, 2016, pp 212-213)

The process of creating street geometry out of a line is very simple. The algorithm is set to extrude those lines symmetrically into both directions perpendicularly to the spline tangents on the XY plane (flat ground). Users can control the length of the extrusion vectors, which is equal to the road width. If you uploaded different road types as separate layers, you can control the width of each of them separately. Usually, roads of the higher hierarchy are also wider. After the extrusion, the overlapping geometry at the intersections is being deleted.

Same principle is being repeated for each additional road element. The width of every element is being added to the ones, that are closer to the initial line. Thus, the overall width of the road increases.

One can add more elements either by checking corresponding boxes or by setting the width of the element from 0 to a desired value. By checking boxes, the user is reseting boolean values and depending on this, different geometry is being parsed. Boolean geometry nodes always have two input sockets and one output socket. For example, by checking a box “Tree Alley”, instead of an empty geometry, a geometry is being called now, where the curve is resampled by length (equal to Tree Interval) and tree models are distributed on corresponding curve´s vertices.

Available street elements are listed in the table 1.0 (above). Separators are safety barriers between different road elements. In reality, they often come in a form of pillars, concrete bars, stripes of lawn or tree alleys.

Also in my model it is possible to put tree alleys at the separators. I differentiate between the middle separator (between car lanes) and the side separator (either between a car lane and a bike lane or between a bike lane and a sidewalk).

It is possible to change appearance and atmospheres of open space along the street through experimenting with configuration. Just try to play with controls and see for yourself!

Secondary Streets:
Roads which are on top of the hierarchy (like primary and secondary, sometimes tertiary, dependent on country´s classification), often have more than just two car lanes. There is a possibility to add two more lanes to secondary roads.

Tertiary Streets:
Here are shown some of, but not all possible configurations of tertiary streets.

Residential Streets:
Here are some examples of how residential streets
could look like.

Secondary Street Section: Example 1
Tertiary Street Section: Example 1
Residential Street Section: Example 1
Secondary Street Section: Example 2
Tertiary Street Section: Example 2
Residential Street Section: Example 2
Secondary Street Section: Example 3
Tertiary Street Section: Example 3
Residential Street Section: Example 3

Moreover, roads which are on top of the hierarchy (like primary and secondary, sometimes tertiary, dependent on country´s classification), often have more than just two car lanes. There is a possibility to add two more lanes to secondary roads.

Click here to download a Blender file with Geometry Nodes setup for street and buildings generation.
Click here to download an adaptable masterplan for Irpin (Hostomel highway district).

Watch video tutorial

Categories
Project

Primary School

Location: Bad Mergentheim, Germany
Team: Iryna Vakulyk, Sebastian Nitka

Bad Mergentheim is located in the northeast of Baden-Württemberg, centrally in the Taubertal at the confluence of the Tauber and Wachbach rivers, in the Heilbronn-Franconia region. The city offers a wide variety of educational opportunities and, as a medium-sized center, therefore has an important function in the field of education.

Building Concept
Campus Concept

With the new construction of the 3.5-class elementary school, the “Auenland” education campus will be more powerful and efficient. It will give the children of the adjacent existing residential areas and the future residential areas to the east and north of the school location the short ways to school, as well as the option to approach all educational qualifications according to their talents and abilities.

Ground floor plan
First floor plan
Second floor plan

The new 3,5-grade elementary school in a small town Bad Mergentheim including a possible future extension with a cafeteria and additional rooms for all-day care is to be situated between existing kindergarten and secondary school in a mainly living area. It should serve as an urban orientation point and identification point for the neighborhood. Due to the location of the planning site and the structure of the building, the connecting axis between the school buildings will become the central point of the school campus. The aim of the competition is to develop a primary school that uses the existing premises such sports halls and outdoor sports fields initially in synergy and meets the requirements of a future-oriented, modern educational establishment, where children from 1 to 4 grade have access to high-quality, light and spacious classrooms, as well as smaller group workrooms and break areas with possibilities to exercise.

Section A-A
Section B-B
North facade
East facade
South facade
West facade

The main entrance is on the northern side where the car park and the bus stop are located. Behind a simple but clearly perceptible two-storey portal, a spacious and representative foyer opens up, from where school facilities such as library, gym as well as teacher’s area can be reached. In the middle you find a grandeur, spacious staircase which leads to the classrooms in the first and the second floors. This staircase fulfills a function of a common break area and consists partially of a climbing wall, where pupils from all grades can play and develop their physical abilities. In addition, benches for sitting are also integrated into the staircase. Each floor (except for ground floor) has two smaller multifunctional areas, which are accordingly assigned to each grade. They can be used both for free time or learning in small groups. From there pupils have access to the loggias, which when needed can be used as emergency exits.

Energy concept
Ventilation concept

The new primary school is made of regional and low-CO2 building materials such as perforated bricks. The playground roofing is made of colored solar glass, which on the one hand touches the surroundings with pleasant colourful shades and on the other hand ensure the solar profits. The flexible floor plans offer the possibility of possible usage change to office units in the future. Durable and easily joinable materials, used economically, support the idea of sustainability. Although the school is equipped with a cooling system, it is possible to achieve pleasant room temperature without it. The doors and windows are provided with special slits for night ventilation. Massive building components are naturally cooled and the warm air will go out through the dormer windows, letting the cool air in.

Facade section
Categories
Project

Trees’n’Peace (Part 1)

Location: Chungcheongnam-Province, South Korea
Educational institution: Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)

The aim of this project is to design a new multi-functional administrative city in South Korea. The main objective is to obtain outstanding and innovative urban design and planning concept to present a driverless city as a 21st century urban paradigm for a new future city. It should be able to face and offer solutions to such important problems as climate change, centralization and “education fever” – the largest social problem of Korean society. Naturally, a mixture of multi-functions in the field of new knowledge industries, education, R & D, IT services, and global exchanges is crucial to the success of the New City as well as to realize the innovative synergic effect between the public and private sectors.

Masterplan

It is assumed that automated vehicles and car sharing will drastically reduce the number of private cars and traffic jams accordingly. The outdated and harmful idea of possession a car will not be promoted, that’s why I designed this city to be free from on-surface long-term parking lots. Instead, there will be multi-storey garages withing 5 minutes walking distance from every corner of the city. They will offer parking spots for automated shared vehicles while they are not in use, as well as for many visitors of this new spectacular city. For the citizens who still have private cars, underground parkings in their houses and at work should be sufficient.
Even the most remote neighborhood is well-connected to the city centre due to partially automated public transportation system. The new city is designed to be built mainly on the flattened land on the both sides of the river, leaving the three mountain peaks almost untouched. They will be used as hiking spots, promoting healthy way of living and connection to nature.
There are three bridges across the river which connect the both sides of the city. The middle bridge is a part of car-free city centre and the other two are large multifunctional platforms where public occasions such as concerts, exhibitions etc. take place.

Land use/Circulation
Density/Open space
Section: Primary road
Section: Secondary road

Overcoming “education fever” citizens and world visitors will rejoice and respect diverse lifestyles, with an affection of such human values as democracy, spontaneity, autonomy, freedom, creativity, imaginativeness, nomadic spirits and meaningful human contacts. Not only educational institutes and research institutes of various levels, but also art schools and conservatories will be accommodated, so that everyone can feel needed and included and find something special to him/herself.
Non-polluting industries equipped with innovative technology in the New City will provide source of new employment.

The city of short distances consists of many various self-sufficient neighborhoods, each of them with their own administrative communities, educational, commercial and high-quality green recreational areas.

Mostly car-free city centre will accommodate government ministries and other government agencies as well as many other state-run organizations. Convention center, international organizations, and cultural facilities (exhibition halls, performance centers, art galleries, etc.) will complement the main administrative function of the city. Multifunctional open spaces, green alleys and high amount of green facades are important characteristics of high-density city centre. On this 3D model you can see so called “urban jungle” – new kind of a mixed use block which consists of a common ground floor, used for commercial purposes, and a few “towers”, some of which are residential while the others contain bureaus. Members of each block decide themselves how they want to use the public roof of the ground floor.

Neighborhoods in European style, inspired by the structure of wonderful city Barcelona, are close to downtown areas with a high plot ratio. Blocks with three to six storey houses have common green yards in the middle and ground floor is used for commercial purposes, attracting visitors from adjacent neighborhoods and tourists from afar.

Slightly remote areas with a low plot ratio will be perfect for families, who would like to take a rest from the city hustle. This neighborhood is similar to the previous one, except here every household has a possibility to have their private gardens inside the block.

Terraced houses with a low plot ratio are located around the mountain except its northern side. Small private gardens and wilderness of the mountain is something you rarely find in the cities nowadays.

Remote and peaceful area with a very low plot ratio looks rather like a village. One to three storey detached houses with spacious gardens will probably attract elderly citizens. Adjacent agricultural fields will be a main source of food for the whole city.

Categories
Project

Oceanographic Institute

Location: Triest, Italy
Educational Institution: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

The Oceanographic Institute Triest is a marine science institute and forms together with the Acquario Marino della Città di Trieste a lighthouse for education and research. An institute building is to be created on the special location on the pier which is a prominent place in the city that connects the old town, port and industrial area.

In addition to observation of the Mediterranean Sea, the research of overarching relationships and changes in the world’s oceans is taking place here. With its heterogeneous program it offers besides the specific research rooms and laboratories also areas for open discourse and education. In addition to the institutional uses, there is a plausible public part with a café and exhibition space. Moreover, educational, commercial and public uses are not clearly separated in the building, which means the visitors can take a look at some of the institute facilities in order to become inspired by science. In addition to the public orientation, the purpose of the house is to become a meeting place in which culture and research are lived and where the pressing problems such as climate change, sea level rise and species extinction can get attention of the public.

Urban context
Floor plans

From the foyer with an information stand you can enter the exhibition area. The cafe is located on the northwest side, where you can enjoy a wonderful view. Cavitation channel is integrated into the exhibition.

There are two access cores between which an atrium spans. It has a different, special character on each floor. The cavitation channel can be seen from the 1st floor. There is also a reading room with a small library, a study room where you can see the laboratories and where two more water basins are located. The 3rd floor is completely private with its laboratories, workshops and a conference room in the middle. A table is organized around an opening in the ceiling.

South-East facade
North-East facade
North-West facade
South-West facade

Section A-A
Section B-B

Oceanographic institute and the neighboring Acquario Marino della Città di Trieste will become a striking ensemble at the port of Triest. At the end of the pier there is a movable filter that cleans the harbor water from garbage and industrial oil stains before it flows into the open sea.

Axonometry
Facade section

Moreover, the institute’s adjustable shading slats are made of recycled plastic waste, which has been removed from the sea. Solar panels are attached to the roof and they can almost entirely cover the electricity usage of the institute. This way, I wanted this building to become a manifestation of how architecture and planning can help in solving the ecological problems, which Triest is facing.

Lamella manufacturing