Algorithms Can Design Buildings Now

Introducing "algorithmic space planning." The last word in that phrase shows that planners should take notice of the new technology just as much as architects and engineers.

2 minute read

July 11, 2019, 1:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Suburban Neighborhood

Alan Sheldon / Shutterstock

Several companies have successfully achieved an idea long-thought possible but never proven in the real world: "algorithmic space planning." It's like autonomous vehicles, except it's autonomous building design.

"Humans have been trying to harness the power of computers to automatically generate building designs for decades. Like turning lead into gold, it seemed like a foolhardy endeavor that consumed many hopefuls. But after years of tepid results, a number of companies are finally cracking the alchemy of algorithmic space planning," writes Daniel Davis.

Algorithmic space planning is already primed for deployment too, in the city of Alkmaar, located 20 miles north of Amsterdam.

"The mastermind behind one of the proposed development schemes is The Living, a New York–based research group founded by David Benjamin and acquired by Autodesk in 2014," explains Davis. "The prospective project developer, the Van Wijnen Groep, had seen how The Living employed generative algorithms to create Autodesk’s MaRS Office, in Toronto, and believed a similar process could generate housing development plans."

The source article includes renderings and a lot more on the implications of the newly demonstrable technology for designing the built environment.

Then there's the other examples of algorithmic space planning, including "Higharc, which is creating software to automatically lay out residential designs; SpacemakerArchistar, and TestFit, which are all doing the same for commercial real estate. Davis also notes that he manages an effort by WeWork, "which is developing tools to automate office layouts."

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