Homeostatic Urban Morphologies: An Evolutionary Model for Intelligent Urban Proliferation

Milad Showkatbakhsh

Supervisors: Michael Weinstock, George Jeronimidis

Nature was conventionally considered a source of formal and metaphorical inspiration in the architectural discourse. However, the contemporary reconfiguration as it is reflected in the difference between the revised and original editions of Steadman, 1979 ‘The Evolution of Designs: Biological Analogy in Architecture and Applied Arts’, has changed the idea of nature from formal metaphor to a repository of interconnected dynamic processes available to be analysed and simulated. Seeking deeper insights into the biological processes has sped up in the past two decades for reasons such as environmental crisis and a belief that architecture in closer conformity with nature needs to take lessons not only from organic forms but also from natural systems and processes.

Natural systems develop efficient means of adapting to the extreme environmental stresses throughout their evolutionary developments. This research examines the potential of homeostatic principles, and their connection to morphogenesis and evolutionary development of natural systems, to inform the design of singular and collective architectural morphologies across a range of scales. Homeostasis is the term for the biological processes by which individual beings and collectives maintain equilibrium in their environment, and there is a wide range of morphological and behavioural traits across multiple species. To examine and reflect on the interrelations of forms, processes, and behaviours can yield useful strategies for architectural design processes that require significant environmental performance enhancements. Although biomimicry has been established for many decades and has made significant contributions to engineering and architecture, homeostasis has rarely been part of this field of research. The ambition of this research is to abstract principles of homeostasis, morphogenesis, and evolutionary development of natural systems, to define and develop those principles through experiments to produce a computational design engine to generate testable mathematical models with specified degree of mutability, or adaptation to different circumstances or environments, together with an expository conceptual and computationally simulated design, evaluations and principles of implementation.

Image: Geometrical representation of highly organised and dense fractal morphologies generated by Milad Showkatbakhsh.

Biography: Milad holds a BSc. In Architectural Engineering from Shahid Beheshti University, school of architecture in Tehran, Iran, and Master of Architecture from Pratt Institute school of architecture in New York, the U.S.A. where he graduated with Sidney Katz award for design excellence in 2015. Milad is currently a Doctoral candidate at the Architectural Association researching under the directorship of Dr Michael Weinstock. Milad has been working and collaborating with different architecture and design studios in Tehran, New York, Washington, Shanghai and London as a computational design specialist. He was the project lead at Contemporary Architecture Practice (CAP) – Ali Rahim and Hina Jamelle where he has led several different architectural projects across a range of scales from 2015 to 2016. Alongside practising architecture, he has been a fellow researcher in different computer-aided design research projects which were culminated as published papers in peer-reviewed journals and conferences, posters and digitally fabricated installations. Milad has been actively teaching algorithmic thinking and computational strategies since 2010 in the forms of workshops and highly specialised classes. He was a teaching assistant at Pratt Institute for advanced computational courses and design studios. Milad is the Emergence and Evolutionary Computation seminar tutor at Emergent Technologies and Design program at the Architectural Association and the co-director of the AA Visiting School Istanbul branch. Among many professional and academic activities, He is the Co-Founder and Co-Developer of ‘Wallacei’, an evolutionary multi-objective optimisation engine with an embedded analytics engine that allows users to have full control over their optimisation problems in Grasshopper 3D. Milad’s current research focuses on the application of homeostatic principles in biology within architectural design processes and correlation of such principles with evolutionary development and morphogenesis of species.