The computer is increasingly helping to design the city –

Globally, area developers are struggling with the ever-expanding cities. Turkish scientists studied how urban expansion can be designed simultaneously using the computer in an original, sustainable, diverse and in line with the surrounding neighborhoods.

No, conclude the Turkish scientists Olgu Çalışkan and Yavuz Baver Barut in their research, the computer can not take over the role of professionals working worldwide with a healthy expansion of urban areas. But according to the couple, so-called “parametric design” can complement “static, top-down urban planning methodology that is unable to master the rising forces of modern urbanism.” ✱ Parametric designs already used in spatial development, Çalışkan and Baver Barut examined in their article the applicability of this way of designing for cohesion in cities.

Create unity

In the study, published last month in Journal of Urban Design, the researchers explore the method by which gradual urban development can be modeled so that the different districts both have their own identity and are mutually adapted and radiate unity. The computer must not only ensure the cohesiveness of the urban structure of urban expansion, but also prevent excessive differences between the old and the new city. In addition, stakeholders can work simultaneously with the development of the city via the model, without having to wait for each other.

Equal attention to both the composition of the city and the structure of the city is necessary to arrive at a good design

According to the researchers, area developers around the world regularly manage to steer urban expansion in the right direction. In African cities, it is not possible to maintain the spatial quality of the suburbs. In Latin America, the cohesiveness of urban expansion is disappearing, while in countries such as China and Turkey, monotonous neighborhoods are being created mainly due to urban growth. The lack of a clear legal framework, often combined with a lack of determination on the part of (local) government, is also a factor. This combination leads to incoherent urban expansion in American cities.

Step by step

Parametric design at the city level is based on four indicators that determine the structure of the city: the street pattern, the size of the building blocks, the size of the building plots and the external characteristics of the buildings (eg height and size). With these four indicators, the model ensures that diversity, coherence and continuity are created at the same time in comparison with the surrounding neighborhoods.

The researchers use their model to design an area of ​​150 hectares in the Turkish city of Istanbul. Compared to other cities in the country, the metropolis is changing “fast and uncoordinated”. In the area that lies between two important traffic arteries, the developers are currently developing the different parts step by step.


The basis of the model is a framework within which the computer will eventually work. The basis for this framework is the selection and drawing of the neighborhood’s backbone. This central line not only connects all parts of the district, but also immediately gives an idea of ​​spatial continuity. Then a central point, a pivot point, is selected for each block, which forms the basis for the rest of the block, eg in terms of density and height of the buildings.

Development in Growing Istanbul, Turkey

‘Development in Growing Istanbul, Turkey’ by – (source: shutterstock)

Drawing transition areas in the neighborhood is the last part of the framework. Internal transition areas are the places where the different neighborhoods meet, external transition areas are the boundaries of the surrounding neighborhoods. Once the framework is established, the computer can design the rest of the area based on the four indicators. The researchers’ view is that equal attention to both the composition of the city and the structure of the city is necessary to arrive at a good design.

Individually and together

The results of the study show that the model can not take over all the work of the area developers in Istanbul. But, say researchers, the model can be a very valuable addition. Because professionals can easily adjust one of the indicators, it is possible to immediately look at the consequences for the coherence of the area for each change in design. Changes may be bottoms Up installed in the area.

The case in Istanbul proves that the computer model is an addition to the current models

In area development practice, this means that the strict working method in a “static, top-down” master plan no longer has to be followed. Individual developers and design teams working individually on one part of the neighborhood can use the model to directly control the implications of their ideas for unity, continuity, and diversity throughout the area. The model offers an open platform within which stakeholders can consult and negotiate in the development process.

The case in Istanbul proves that parametric design at the city level complements the current models. Precisely because the model does not redesign the city from above, but can be seen through the framework as a tool with which the individual development in a neighborhood, and between different parts of the city, can be managed and coordinated. The structure of the area to be developed is not predetermined, but can be worked out by all parties involved independently and jointly.

Front page: ‘Istanbul’ by 4.murat (source: shutterstock)


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