The organic structure of medieval towns in Europe and Middle-East has always been something between mild inspiration and pathological fascination to me. The spatial experience in old towns often makes it feel like a very carefully crafted environment with each building fitting naturally between its neighbours and meeting the common requirements for access and light. The overall plan on the other hand, seems to be unregulated and fairly chaotic. Regardless, such towns are pleasant for walking and the street network is surprisingly efficient in taking you to where you want to go.
Well…inspired by old towns, I came up with a generative housing model that may be helpful not only in understanding the morphogenetic processes in medieval towns but also reusing the model in planning contemporary settlements. The model presented in this post is by no means finished or conclusive. But it is a start towards using principles of self-organisation and object-oriented approach in designing housing.
In principle, the model works as a agent-based system where each housing unit has certain control over its actions but also aligns its shape and size with its immediate neighbours. Houses pull away from areas without enough sunlight or access, glue to one another forming organic clusters. The “settlement” looks almost like a low level organism responsive to its environment, trying to find a comfortable configuration by re-positioning its cells.
The animation below shows an early test. More to come in due course…