Nature Inspired Approach: An Emergent Form Generation Method
Istanbul Technical University, Faculty of Architecture,
Taskisla, Taksim, Istanbul, Turkey
Nowadays, there is one unique design solution diagram in common design approaches, which generally emerges. Indeed, architectural design is a multi-level process where sometimes opposite but epistatic phenomena fight to form a complex, in contrary organized formation as well. This research briefly aims to establish a new design method, based on a dynamic fusion of different architectural design processes, such as self-organization, emergence etc. which focus on taking the design matter in hand within a natural bottom-top approach, in order to eliminate the general architectural disadvantage of approaching to a design problem with specific pattern designs.
The location of the project is the specific old villages in Istanbul. A natural formation as a rock cliff but an artificial island since a century, just in front of these villages sits on the waves of the Bosphorus: Kurucesme Island. Extreme attributes such as located on the water, bounded with historical virginity and urban violence make this land piece an excellent work area for this project carrying the similar chaotic behaviors.
The multi-level architectural design process begins with analysis of different qualities both natural and handmade, affecting the global character of the project site. After having gathered data required, it is time to organize them, better to say, let them organize themselves. Data collected is directly interpreted to small virtual genes. When a continuous equilibrium is reached between the genes carrying data of different qualities, designer begins more to handle the situation with a genetic approach. The main aim here is to obtain varieties of genotypic constitutions without breaking the epistas established. After a simple reproduction of a static volume gene with a dynamic water effect gene an extraordinary solution abruptly emerged: fluidity. It is finally time to handle all the projections we gathered from last processes and then interpret them to morphogenesis. The basic morphological element chosen is the fibres which extremely carry the opportunity to act under several stresses.
This research aims to consider architectural design as a whole organized process where different conceptual design systems must behave together for the purpose of generating a synergic relational space; and most importantly, chooses not only to occupy with gathering the final matured fruits falling on the ground, but also to search the all design generation, maturation and demise phases, in order to acquire more fruitful, more natural and healthier harvests.
Keywords. Evolutionary design, morphogenetic, self-organization, emergence.
Most of common design approaches are generally trying to clarify the design paradigm, within one design possibility. The problem indeed is more complex than handled. Periodically, because new ways of making observations arise, new frameworks for thinking also evolve, as happen in design area. Form generation in architectural design is one and maybe the richest field in the manner of generating several different design solutions for a unique problem. This consequently makes the architectural design process, a multi-level process where sometimes opposite but epistatic phenomena fight to form a complex, in contrary organized formation as well. This research briefly aims to establish a new evolutionary design system, based on a dynamic fusion of different architectural design processes, such as self-organization, emergence etc. which focus on taking the design matter in hand within a natural bottom-top approach, in order to eliminate the general architectural disadvantage of approaching to a design problem with specific pattern designs.
2. Multi-Level Fusion
It is more helpful first at all to hierarchically explain what kind of evolutionary design strategies are integrated in the proposed design method, why they have been chosen for the system and which qualities of them may trigger a dynamic form-generation process.
It is extremely clear that form generation methodologies are a huge area of searching for evolutionary architecture. Natural phenomena actually play a key role of inspiration during the generation of design structures, shapes and most recently processes. The most astonishing part of natural systems and the most used attribute in design methodologies at the same time is the perfect hierarchical organization established between several levels of the system. The sensitive control of the hierarchically positioned components is the work area of self-organized complex systems. Self-organization is a spontaneous action happening in different areas of multi-level structures to achieve a perpetual epistas in the whole system. This one exactly refers to the ability to make a successful adaptation between the genes at the lowest level of the system in highly unstable environments. Collectivity, adaptation, organization and hierarchy potentially help to achieve an unbreakable equilibrium and order in this phase. On the other hand, general behavior causing such a differentiation of level between these genes is the variety from simple rules attributed to them. Genetic Algorithms (GAs) in design methodologies, especially focuses on establishing heterogenic gene pools firstly, to obtain matures with variant quality and quantity; secondly, to support the information flow between distinct location of the system. In such a high degree of complexity; both in quantity (self-organization), both in quality (GAs) may sometimes unavoidably trigger reactions small in appearance, but highly big in content . These unpredictable emergences fabulously distinguish the design process. According to Johnson (2001), emergence refers to the movement from low-level rules to higher-level sophistication and a higher-level pattern arising out of parallel complex interactions between local agents . The recursive local behavior normally affects the global morphogenetic sensitivity of the system. Shape and behavior get an intricate relation exactly at this phase of the process.
3. Empirical Phase
After having briefly explained the main conceptual components of the system, it is time to highlight the general interactions between these different design processes to understand the synergy desired to emerge within this multi-level fusion and to focus on the physical applications of such a fusion within the example proposed for suggestion. The key point is the high degree of synergy that is obtained from different evolutionary design processes at different phases of design process. Architectural design must to be taken as a meeting point of different dynamic approaches where the sequence of production becomes an endless process that large cumulative interactions happen in. This point of view in design area can be helpful to open new possibilities to bridge the gap between several traditions of design. This idea is more realistic in the evolutionary design area because of its process- oriented attribute. The most simple and quick way to conclude this multi-component equation is to pit the fighters against each other.
The location of the project is the specific old villages in Istanbul. The most dramatic features of these villages are their preserved virginity against urban violent behavior and their spontaneous and nature-inspired formation next to the famous fluid in Istanbul: the Bosphorus. A natural formation as a rock cliff but an artificial island since a century, just in front of these villages sits on the waves of the Bosphorus: Kurucesme Island. Extreme attributes such as located on the water, bounded with historical virginity and urban violence at the same time make this land piece an excellent work area for this project carrying the similar chaotic behaviors.
Analysis of different qualities natural and handmade that affect the global character of the project site is the first phase of this multi-level architectural design process. The focus point here is to handle the present architectural formations in the light of natural dynamics shaping the site morphology. Global situation of the periphery habitations should not be forgotten as source of information during this phase. There are two potential source of information about the project site: first, concerning input about environmental habitations, so the static one; second, concerning the natural inputs such as topography, water etc., so the dynamic one.
Data gathered from analysis phase must be organized and then to be interpreted to virtual genes. This self-organization phase determines at the end, the global habitation concept of the project site and its periphery. It conceptually consists several apart criteria to be examined such as form, size, style etc. The static data here shows a homogeneous expansion of small and similar old habitations, but on the other hand a heterogeneous low presence of new design typologies. The projection of the static genes under self-organization concept aims to establish a resolute organization on the site with these two different approaches. A determined order in the network between the opposite existences of habitations in the manner of age, style, form and size will undoubtedly help to the next stage of the system. The images below describe the process of environment-space evolution in the manner of size (Fig.1). Numbered images describe the change of periphery habitations and especially the change of our beginning form according to last ones during the simulation, in the manner of size.
The spheres here represent the size of buildings. Their ability to get bigger, smaller; to kill, to reproduce, to affect directly the neighbor etc. is the subject of the next phase. Simulation was subjectively stopped at 96th phase because after this point, changes happening at our sphere were not affected of periphery changes, so were not so important to be cared.
After a determined time, the orientation of the simulation begins to be more stable (96th stage); differentiations between genes are less than beginning. The continuous equilibrium reached at this simulation helps designer to handle the process within a genetic approach. The main aim of this sequence is to obtain varieties of genotypic constitutions without breaking the epistas established at the last organization stage. Data genes can now be included in a mutation pool where they will meet some cyclic actions such as evaluation, selection, reproduction, kill, move, crossover etc. The perfect offspring will probably derive at the very end of these mutations, with its quality of surviving. It is more coherent to name this sequence a test and evaluate phase. The organization established in last sequences is tested.
Figure 1. Evolution and self-organization of genes at a scheduled simulation.
This sequence indeed focuses on the determination, resistance and especially on the congruence of the data genes for the present project site and of course for the designers’ criteria. This period of the sequence concerns some subjectivity about the perfect time to stop the simulation happening in the gene pool but to choose the final phase of the cyclic before it repeats itself as a vicious circle seems the most logical behavior.
All of studies applied to the design process until now, determined a sufficient amount of data to start a form-generation application. The emergent idea, fluidity, can be used as a catalyst during the form-generation phase. Fluidity of fibres will generate astonishing design examples at the end. Because fibres extremely carry the opportunity to act under several stresses coming from data gathered. Local and global interactions happening between the fibres (curves) will positively affect the final surface of the design shell. Fibres behave here as a DNA spiral, not only as carrying the genetic information belonging to the final design, but also as shaping the whole structure  (Fig. 2-3).
Same simulation study applied at last processes is used to generate an adaptive morphology. Data gathered at organization and genetic applications is directly interpreted to the morphogenetic simulation phase by phase. Fibres behave so under the guide of these instructions. Quantity of fibre shaping the final design executively determines its sharpness too.
Figure 2. Stress points situated at many location of the fibres are being conducted according to the data interpreted from genes’ behavior (size, age, style etc.) at the self-organization phase and also according to their own physical interaction.
Figure 3. Morphogenetic aspects of fibres during evolution.
Generating new form-finding methods in the light of traditional evolutionary design methodologies clarifies that architectural design has still a great dynamic to open new design spaces. Evolution here plays an important role to orient present plugged design methodologies with a different focus on processes instead of final results. This research aims to consider architectural design as a whole organized process where different conceptual design systems can behave together for the purpose of generating a synergic relational space; and most importantly, chooses not only to occupy with gathering the final matured fruits falling on the ground, but also to investigate the all design generation, maturation and demise phases, in order to acquire more fruitful, more natural and healthier harvests .
 Johnson, S., 2001, Emergence, the Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software, Penguin Press, 2001, UK.
 Gurer, E., Cagdas, G., 2006, “A Multi-Level Fusion of Evolutionary Design Processes”, Proceedings of the eCAADe 2006 Conference: Communicating Space(s), Ed: V. Bourdakis, D. Charitos, University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece, September 6-9, 2006, pp. 904-907.