Procedural Design: The Future of Planning and Design
It's about Intent
A city looks and feels the way it does because of human intention. Early civilizations built their settlements next to
waterways, designing them to take advantage of these resources and ensure their survival. During the beginning of the industrial revolution, cities were designed with ever evolving
rules, for example, ensuring that city streets were wide enough to accommodate the full turn of a horse and carriage. In this way, the values of the people were encoded
into the very DNA of the city.
The New Rules
A complex built environment can be reduced to three basic elements: links along which travel can occur, nodes representing the intersections where two or more paths
cross and public spaces form, and buildings where most human activities take place. The functionalities of place are all defined by rules and procedures, which make up the core
design vocabulary of a place. Procedural design techniques automatically generate urban designs through predefined rules, which you can change as much as needed, providing
room for limitless new design possibilities.
Whole City Design
Procedural design of a new urban ecosystem starts with a street network. Street blocks are then subdivided into lots, resulting
in a new urban form. By selecting all or some of the lots, you can then generate buildings with appropriate setbacks and
architectural characteristics. Procedural design technology lets buildings vary from one another to achieve an urban aesthetic.
At this point, the city model can be redesigned quickly and iteratively by changing simple parameters.
Design by the Rules
Procedural design allows designers to write rules directly into the code of a rule set, essentially encoding anyone's values
directly into how the city will look and feel. Any zoning code can be used to instantly model a city. Procedural design allows
you to create complete city designs, not just a building at a time but entire neighborhoods with complete infrastructure
Urban Design is Changing
Procedural design opens the world to a new set of opportunities for urban planning. Today, a building must
be designed as an integral part of the urban ecosystem to be considered sustainable. While design is not inherently
dependent on metrics, during the realization process, even a cursory look at today's architecture reveals the need for a
standard method of accountability. Procedural design provides advanced analytical tools in response to the growing need for
measurable, performance-based design.
By using defined performance indicators, procedural design enables the rapid launch of community design
and implementation strategies enabling design at several scales simultaneously. Scenarios supporting the geodesign
framework can then be easily evaluated and reevaluated by comparing key performance indicators.
A New Way to Design
Procedural design creates a new relationship between people and their urban ecosystems. It's a technique that helps us to
develop a better understanding of how we shape our cities and, in turn, how they shape us.