Habitat 1000 – Can we crowdsource design?
This studio explores the topic of high-density housing at a large scale. The six projects are designs for a habitat for 1000 people that negotiates high-quality living with a very compact architecture.
We are currently facing a significant increase in world population. The resulting demand for additional housing is dramatic. State of the art architectural design tools and methods are not suitable to cope with this enormous challenge. Already today 95% of buildings worldwide are designed without the involvement of architects. If the enormous crowd is the problem, we are wondering whether it can also become part of the solution?
Can we crowdsource design?
Crowdsourcing means that experts algorithmically chop a complex problem into many small tasks that are distributed in the internet. Here thousands of users complete these tasks, which are subsequently assembled by algorithms and applied for solving the complex problem. The approach has been successfully implemented in various fields: Crowdsourcing is wrapped into exciting games that help to solve important scientific problems or it is linked to the necessary Turing tests that exclude spam bots from websites.
In the framework 20.000 BLOCKS which was used by the students in the studio we sought to migrate crowdsourcing into the architectural design process. 20.000 BLOCKS is an online, collaborative, architectural design platform developed by the Digital Design Unit at the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany. It addresses the early phase of any architectural design and creates an immersive perception for a one-to-one architectural scale. The framework allows architects to encode their expertise into game rules and elements. In this environment players design architecture while playing a game. The goal is to let the experts (architects) algorithmically analyse and learn from the large number of generated solutions.
by Annabell Koenen-Rindfrey and Julia Schäfer looks at the use of plants to substitute the mechanical devices employed in today’s buildings. For example an oxygen supplying plant can improve the quality of air and by that reduce the need for a larger room volume as well. The project consists of two main types of elements: hexagons, representing the various types of rooms in a flat and edges, representing various types of plants offering different benefits to the inhabitants in the building. These two elements are the basis for a story-based game that explores important architectural and environmental issues such as overheating in the cities in a humorist manner thus engaging the players. The architects give an outlook how various game results from their board game, augmented with a digital story component can be interpreted as architectural designs.
ADAPT by Roger Winkler explores the problem of high-density from the perspective of ever more varying durations of stay – from the 1-2 day AirBnB traveler to the family that inhabits the same flat for 10-15 years. The project allows more design flexibility to long term inhabitants and prescribes very efficiently organized residential units to the short term ones. The game rules position the players in three roles – Luke a long term inhabitant with his family, Mark a character interested in medium length stay and Sarah, a short term visitor. By completing five chapters of challenges the players generate different versions of the same building which the architect then automatically transforms into raw designs using a Grasshopper tool that architecturally distinguishes the three types of residential units.
Shift it up
SHIFT IT UP by Robin Find and Sarah-Maureen Weidlich dissolves the conventional notion of the WALL. The project distinguishes between acoustical, visual and access separation and aims to increase the area of commonly shared spaces between the inhabitants in order to increase the residential density. An elaborate catalogue of more than a 100 architectural transitions from one space to another allows the construction of an inhabitable, artificial, high-density landscape where privacy levels gradually shift. These principles are translated to a game concept realized with 20.000 BLOCKS in Minecraft and allowed the architects to collect various possibilities to structure their proposal for Habitat 1000. The designs created by the players were analysed to check whether all living units receive sufficient sunlight. This way the game rules could be calibrated so that players do not have to think about architectural concepts such as daylight access or arrangement of functions such as sleeping, cooking and personal hygiene and yet be able to create a feasible building solely by focusing on achieving the highest possible score.
SUNNY CAVE by Yingbo Sun, Alessia Weckenmann and Lufeng Zhu works with the notion of subtraction instead of aggregation. Maximizing the entertainment factor of the game medium the project lets players use semi controlled explosions to create designs for Habitat 1000. The game is implemented in 20.000 BLOCKS and Minecraft and challenges the players to place 5 walk paths and 20 suntunnels around which housing units, community centers and commercial areas, as well outside public areas are arranged. The goal is to make the building complex 100% accessible and still lit by natural light.
ZOTIL by Joern Rettweiler, Yadi Wang and Mehmet Erkan Eker is in essence a game of three dimensional Tetris aiming to create a balanced distribution between residential units and circulation and public areas such has parks. The five tetris shapes Z, O, T, I and L form both the title of the project as well as the design proposal that players generate in 20.000 BLOCKS and minecraft. Five sets of algorithms which the architects implement help understand the qualities of the design from the perspective of walkability, access to daylight, connectivity, view of the sky and density.
BALANCE by Viola Abu-Salha and Alexander Kay Mayer explores the territorial conflict between the solid and the void. Solid, stands for the indoor, residential spaces and is represented by black, and the void — the public, open-air, green spaces is represented by white. In 20.000 BLOCKS the black and white players take turns to mark a square as theirs while a system of rules ensures that moves that bring more points also result in buildings where residential units have more surfaces open to the outside green areas as well as that sunlight falls equally onto both apartments and gardens. The architects have devised a systematic approach to turn game results into building proposals by shifting the consecutive levels horizontally in order to create possibilities for vertical and horizontal access between the public space and each flat.
Viola Abu-Salha, Mehmet Erkan Eker, Robin Find, Alexander Kay Mayer, Annabell Koenen-Rindfrey, Julia Schäfer, Sarah-Maureen, Joern Rettweiler, Yingbo Sun, Yadi Wang, Alessia Weckenmann, Weidlich, Roger Winkler, Lufeng Zhu
Anton Savov, Oliver Tessmann
Johan Bettum, Ben Buckton, Bjoern Hekmati, Martin Knöll
This project and the accompanying book was only made possible due to the engagement and the help of many people.
We are grateful to Johan Bettum, Ben Buckton, Bjoern Hekmati and Martin Knöll who were our guests at juries throughout the semester for their conceptual input. We would also like to thank Sebastian Oschatz and Max Rudolph who gave lectures about their work and inspired the students to explore new concepts in their projects.
The projects and the ideas in this studio benefited from the diverse expertise of our colleagues from DDU: Martin Knoll, Yvonne Machleid, Samim Mehdizade, Andrea Rossi, Alexander Stefas and Bastian Wibranek.
The book and the final exhibition would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts of Lukas Loddoch, Viola Abu-Salha, Julia Schäfer and Roger Winkler.