Could Algorithms Best Architects in Designing Variety for the Suburbs?

What if an algorithm could meet the needs of the economic system driving suburban housing development while also designing more diverse building types? One architect has already experimented with this provocative thought experiment.

1 minute read

March 23, 2017, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Old Timey Ticky Tacky

Stacey Newman / Shutterstock

"American architects have masterminded dozens of suburban housing styles," writes Diana Budds to introduce a radical, technology-enabled departure from that suburban tradition.

One of the problems with that tradition, according to critics of the suburban model, is that the industrialization has "exerted the most influence over how much of the country lives today," according to Budds. That's where John Szot, a Brooklyn-based architect, comes in.

[Szot's] proposal for introducing more diverse architecture into the suburbs is on view in Mass Market Alternatives, a new exhibition at the Boston gallery Pinkcomma. The project shows how algorithmic design could make it just as easy and cost-effective to build diverse suburban architecture as it is for developers to design and build boring tract houses.

The idealistic hope of Szot's experiment: that more visually diverse architecture would appeal to different people. The article includes lots of renderings and plan views to get a taste for the ability of algorithms to take suburban housing to a new stylistic level.

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