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Dense urban typologies and the game of life: evolving cellular automata.

Dounas, Theodoros; Spaeth, Benjamin; Wu, Hao; Zhang, Chenke


Theodoros Dounas

Benjamin Spaeth

Hao Wu

Chenke Zhang


Gülen Çağdaş

Mine Özkar

Leman Figen Gül

Ethem Gürer


The ongoing rate of urbanization in China is the motivator behind this paper. As a response to the observed monotonous housing developments in Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) and elsewhere, our method exploits Cellular Automata (CA) combined with fitness evaluation algorithms to explore speculatively the potential of existing developments and respective building regulations for increased density and diversity through an automated design algorithm. The well-known Game of Life CA is extended from its original two-dimensional functionality into the realm of three dimensions and enriched with the opportunity of resizing the involved cells according to their function. Moreover, our method integrates an earlier technique of constrcuctivists - namely the social condenser as a means of diversifying functional distribution within the Cellular Automata - as well as solar radiation as requested by the existing building regulation. The method achieves a densification of the development from 31% to 39% ratio of footprint to occupied volume whilst obeying the solar radiation rule and offering a more diverse functional occupation. This proof of concept demonstrates a solid approach to the automated design of housing developments at an urban scale with a limited evaluation procedure including solar radiation, which can be extended to other performance criteria in future work.

Start Date Jul 12, 2017
Publication Date Jul 14, 2017
Publisher Istanbul Technical University
Pages 648-666
Institution Citation DOUNAS, T., SPAETH, A.B., WU, H. and ZHANG, C. 2017. Dense urban typologies and the game of life: evolving cellular automata. In Çagdas, G., Özkar, M., Gül, L.F. and Gürer, E. (eds.) Proceedings of the 17th International conference on computer aided architectural design futures (CAAD Futures 2017): future trajectories of computation in design, 12-14 July 2017, Istanbul, Turkey. Istanbul: Istanbul Technical University [online], pages 648-666. Available from:
Keywords Evolutionary design; Generative urbanism; Integrated strategy
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