Sidewalk Labs Debuts New Generative Design Tool

A new generative tool developed by Sidewalk Labs uses machine learning and computational design to generate millions of comprehensive planning scenarios.

1 minute read

December 12, 2019, 7:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Violet Whitney shares news of a new generative design tool developed by the team at Sidewalk Labs, including the demo video shared above.

Whitney describes the need for the project as follows:

Today, the various experts on a planning team often run separate analyses to produce a neighborhood design: an architect uses one type of software to simulate sunlight, an engineer uses another to plan streets, a real estate developer models economics in a spreadsheet, and so on. The time and cost needed to coordinate all these competing elements often means a project can only afford to develop a handful of designs for the project team, with limited insight into how these options will impact the community.

The new tool does two things previously unavailable among design software options:

First, using machine learning and computational design, it can help planners generate not just one or two but millions of comprehensive planning scenarios. Second, it can help evaluate all kinds of impacts these different scenarios could have on key quality-of-life measures, producing a set of options that best reflects a community’s priorities.

The article includes a case study, set in a two-block urban area—to show how the new generative tool works. The post also imagines that this kind of generative design tool could eventually become a powerful tool of community engagement.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019 in Sidewalk Talk

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