AA Shanghai 2014

AA Shanghai 2014

Social Algorithms & Urban Agency

AA Visiting School Shanghai  2014// Urban formation

2014 Jul
























Though one of the largest cities in the world, Shanghai is at the same time a quintessential 21st century city, as well as a historical city, given its unique history. This comes as a product of overlap between the tradition and rapid urban development in the 2nd half of 20th century. This interesting mixture and contrast is what gives this city its unique characteristics.  However, the newer developments in Shanghai are largely detached from human scale – call it the software of the urban – which was until recently the dominant shaping force of Shanghai’s urban fabric. It is very interesting to examine how the software – human, community & social aspects of everyday life, rather than hardware of the city – built environment itself, will drive the further evolution of Shanghai, without losing  the cohesion of local communities in the process of (re)development.



During the workshop, we will use Processing to introduce students to techniques and methodologies of algorithmic design and procedural modeling, through the use and customization of pre-made scripts and enable them for further individual work. We will focus on application of non-linear design strategies, investigating relationship between the input data and the resulting urban formations. All the work will be conducted in groups and each group will establish a unique generative system which will be developed during the workshop. Computational models will be based on adaptive agent systems, operating on multiple scales, evaluating and remodeling the existing urban conditions, while negotiating programmatic and functional characteristics.

Data sets representing social behaviors, on a community scale, will form the information basis of this unit, and the numerical input to Processing with which to generate new urban arrangements. We will focus on application of spring physics simulations, dynamic mesh deformers as well as use of multi-agent simulations as generative design strategy and form finding tool. Starting from the second phase of the workshop, students will be given a specific site around historical part of Shanghai. During the testing phase of the geometry prototypes, which will be implemented into larger scale scenarios, the main focus will remain on Shanghai’s traditional style of living and social behavior patterns. These geometry prototypes will then shape different urban spaces for an array of purpose, creating a mixed use / residential & commercial district which can be inserted into Shanghai’s urban fabric.