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Computational Strategies for the Intervention in Informal Areas of Istanbul

Lila PanahiKazemi Andrea Rossi

SUPERVISORS: Krassimir Krastev Prof. Dr. Andrea Haase


Dessau International Architecture School Anhalt University Department 3 Š2012

cover artwork by Golbanoo Moghadas

We would like to thank our supervisors Krassimir Krastev and Prof. Andrea Haase for the help and support during the project. Special thanks go to Alexander Kalachev, Joris Fach and Jose Sanchez for their helpful insights during the development of the project. We would also like to thank Yasar Adanali and Prof. Murat Cemal Yalcitan for their precious help in understanding the complex urban dynamics of Istanbul. Finally, we would like to thank our parents for their continuous support during these years. Lila would like to thank Charlotte Haughton for her support and friendship.

Table of Contents





Part 1_Background


Part 2_Context


Part 3_Urban Simulation

Abstract Studio brief

Informal Settelements_Data Informal Settlements_Case Studies Michel Ecochard’s Work in Northern Africa Infrastructures in Informal Settlements – Urban Think-Tank Urban Agriculture Computational Urbanism Computational Urbanism Case Studies Kartal-Pendik Masterplan – ZHA Edible Infrastructures – AA EmTech Global Strategy Istanbul_Data Istanbul and Informality Recent Urban housing History_Timeline Contemporary Situation_EvictionMap Case Studeis TOKI 3ADA1ADA Bostans RoseWater Conclusion_Values and Needs Urban interface First Tests CA Simulation Income Gardens Roads Group Case Study _ Sarigol Case Study _ Buffalo WS Derbent

Complete Urban Simulation Global Structure and Logic Road Agent System Potentials for Growth Topographical Influence Building Growth Model Income Model Clustering Logics Services locations Scenarios Migrations Urban Agriculture Earthquake Apartamentization Game output


Architectural Development



Kit of Parts & Open-Source Architecture Open-Source Case Studies WikiHouse Elemental Self Assembly Logics Existing typologies Study Block Simulation Graph Simulation Block Simulation Circulation Logic Cells Optimization Block Simulation with Cell Classes Output

Informality as New Paradigm Computational Strategies Interfaces for Participatory Design and Construction A New Political Role For Architecture References Bios _ Contacts 5




0.1_Abstract This research proposes a set of architectural and urban strategies to deal with the issue of intervention in informal settlements, informed and empowered by the use of computational tools for modelling and simulation. The global aim is to find possible ways to integrate bottom-up self-construction processes with top-down planning rules, creating an interface to generate and discuss developments between citizens and planners. This is achieved by the study of the selected area, the neighbourhood of Derbent in Istanbul, and the construction of a set of algorithmic tools to simulate the existing growth processes and to generate different scenarios and spatial configuration for development. The developed algorithms are grouped into two main simulations: − An urban level simulation of settlement growth, based on a simple economical model, that can provide different scenarios for the growth of neighbourhood, and at the same time be used as a crowdsourcing game to collect statistical data about the predicted behaviours of citizens. − A block growth script, where the relationships between the different houses and between the elements of each house can be integrated with new elements, like gardens and service hubs, while maintaining the same nature of the spaces adjacencies. 8

This computational methodology is coupled with the idea of an open-source modular construction set, that would allow citizens to continue to self-build the city, while at the same time allowing the planner to embed a certain level of intelligence within the module itself, in order to foster the emergence of coherent assemblies of units. The resulting methodology offers a new perspective towards informality, allowing to study it as a valid alternative to current neoliberal trends, rather than as a problem for urbanity. Moreover, it challenges the role of the architect and the power of the architectural and planning disciplines in opening up towards a more participated and sustainable practice of city-making.

0.2_Studio Material Performance – From Material to Prototype With Krassimir Krastev

Visionary Prototypes The Material Performance Studio will continue the pursuit to develop visionary prototypes for habitation, from the scale of a single dwelling to an entire neighbourhood, creating tectonics that engage landscape, topography and infrastructure, while remaining flexible and adaptive to unpredictable behavioural patterns of the future occupants. Prototyping will be executed in different media: rough, malleable, analogue, hand-crafted mock-ups and precise, digitally calibrated structural assemblies will be developed in an iterative process of fabricating design alternatives, testing hypotheses, and progressively refining the prototypes while improving their performance.

Material and Simulation Matter, data and energy flows will be studied as the outcome of the interaction between differential gradients; experimental simulations will be carried out to test material properties and behaviour in a dynamic environment, in order to inform educat-

ed decisions early in the design process. Harnessing the power of computation to process environmental data, energy flow calculations, structural analysis and material behaviour simulation, the resulting designs will be charged with the power of fluctuating gradients that keep energy and matter in constant transformation.

Technology and Optimization Embedded sensors coupled with artificial intelligence algorithms will enable the prototypes to be responsive agents with realtime behavioural adjustment informed by collected data on trajectories of past behaviour. Taking advantage of computational power, interactive and sensory devices, the prototypes will be designed as agents situated in a dynamic environment, remaining tolerant and adaptive to the ever-changing demands of unpredictable occupant behaviour. Digitally calibrated assemblies with adjustable performance responsive to dynamically changing environmental pressures will ultimately re-define the meaning of Optimization, shifting the quality of efficiency towards multiple and variable optimal states.





1.1_Informal Settlements _ Data “In 2030, the population of the world living in cites will grow from 3 to 5 billion with 2 billion of these inhabitants below the poverty line. The equation that the world need to solve: to build a one million inhabitant city per week for the next 20 years with $10.000 dollars per family.” (Alejandro Aravena) The contemporary trend in urban growth is mainly driven by the burgeoning cities of the developing countries, where the continuous flow of inhabitants from the rural areas to the cities appears to be far from stopping. This uncontrollable growth often falls outside of any control, and of any assistance, from the government, often busy in exploiting latest neoliberal trends for the growth of “global cities”. The result of this lack of control is the creation of informal slum areas, often built illegally by incoming citizens on empty land, most of the time leftovers of a previous urban growth. These settlements, although are often painted by media as dangerous, dirty and unhealthy zones, nevertheless define a space of lively urban growth, with strong community feelings and vibrant entrepreneurial dynamics. Today, these settlements are everyday more under threats of eviction and demolition, mainly due to the fact of the growing market economy in these cities, asking for 12

more space for luxury hotels, offices and banks. The communities inhabiting them are often powerless against the machine of capitalist development, and by loosing their houses a whole system of social resilience is destroyed, making almost impossible to live in the city. Exploring the dynamics of these areas and attempting to build an open framework for interventions requires a deep understanding of the social and economical structures embedded in these settlements, since the absence of any regulatory constrain creates structures that are direct expression of the processes that generated them. Exploring these dyanmics offers also a possible model to define an alternative urbanism for the developed countries as well, such in a need of new models of development.

proportion of the population living in rural and urban areas.

proportion of the population living in slums and total urban population.

proportion of the population living in slums and total world population.

un habitat summit 2003


1.2_Informal Studies


1.2.1_Michel Ecochard’s Work in Northern Africa (Case Study) Michel Ecochard (1905-85) was a French architect and planner, known for his worldwide planning activities in Morocco, Senegal, Pakistan and Syria. He is related with the emergence of a new professional figure, the international planning expert, whose interventions always attempt to bridge the gap between local condition of developing countries and the international debate around architecture. The work for which he’s most known is the planning for the French protectorate of Morocco, where he developed an alternative methodology to deal with the pressing issues of rapid urbanization of these areas. This attempted to abandon a westernised view of architectural issues to embrace local conditions as unavoidable elements in the design process. In order to cope with this, one of the most relevant steps is the survey, conceived both as an instrument for the comprehension of local dynamics, and as privileged tool for the communication between the international expert and the local actors. All the urban designs produced are then articulated on a 8x8m grid, the so-called “Ecochard Grid”. This, far from being the rigid ruling instrument of the modern movement, is constructed within a complex set of layers of use, from the possibility of construction through simple and 14

diverse technologies, to consideration of climate needs, till the articulation of hierarchical public spaces through it. The grid is not planned as a complete entity, but rather as the base of a process of growth able to accommodate changes both in distribution and density. The current morphology of Casablanca, still based on this grid structure, but grown hypertrophically over it, shows how the underlying structure allowed to maintain a certain degree of urban quality despite the rapid urban development of the latest years. Advantages The work of Ecochard is seminal in breaking down the aspirations of the modern movement to build a global language, and rather try to construct a flexible methodology for effective intervention in a wide range of contexts. This couples with a shift in the consideration of subaltern urbanism as a simple copy of western modes of production, and rather engage with the specificity of developing world’s cities. Disadvantages The main faults of the project rely on its dependence on a grid system, that, by setting up a frame for subsequent growth, constrains partially the possibilities of change and adaptation of the structure. Moreover, the system is developed exclusively for the design of new neighbourhoods, ignoring the field of action opened up by existing settlements.


1.2.2_ Infrastructures in Informal Settlements - Urban Think-Tank (Case Study) Urban Think-Tank is a research and design practice based in Zurich, whose goal is the construction of a new understanding of the possibilities of architectural design within the real of informal settlements. Their work spans from research, to practice and teaching. Two of their project, both located in Caracas (Venezuela), show an interesting and effective approach to the intervention in slum areas, being both based on the introduction of infrastructural elements to enhance access and movement within the urban fabric. The first one, a modular set of stairs for a school, shows a simple and flexible design for the upgrade of walking infrastructure in these areas, often located on steep lands. Moreover, the project is based on a “kit-of-parts” logic, allowing both for scalability and adaptation to other situations. The second project, the “Metro-Cable”, is a network of cable cars interconnecting strategic points within the urban fabric. The cable based transportation allows for the construction of an effective system with a minimum amount of impact on the land, extremely precious and scarce in favelas. Each of the stations integrates a whole set of services for the neighbourhood, becoming a focal point and driving the redevel16

opment of the areas around it. Moreover, the project have been publicly discussed with all the involved actors, especially the municipality and the citizens of the area. Advantages Both the projects attempt to build a different understanding of the process of growth and intervention in informal areas, abandoning the idea of formalizing them to embrace ideas of management and to build processes that would attempt to drive the growth of these areas rather than rigidly planning it. The result is a radical shift from the idea of an design as form driven to a more purpose oriented social architecture. Disadvantages The projects avoid entirely to propose strategies for the upgrade of the settlements themselves. Even if it is possible to drive the growth of the area by changes in its infrastructural configuration, it appears nevertheless necessary, due to their critical conditions, to attempt to couple this approach to a strategy for the upgrade of the settlements. interview-life-line-forcaracas.html


1.2.3_Urban Agriculture Agricultural sector is responsible for 30% of the green gas emissions. Nearly 20% of national energy is expended in agricultural sector, 15% of that goes to transport and packing and storage. The average distance that foods travel from source to plate is more than 1500 miles. The economic model of food system relies on fossil fuels for storage, transport and fertilizer and pesticide. This assumption has led to separation of production and consumption. Urban regions are growing rapidly; UN estimated that by 2050 the world’s urban population would double, urban areas will shift to accommodate this population and distance from food production and cities will shift even more to underdeveloped countries. Humans were hunters following their food till 3500BC that in Sumeria Urban agriculture start to be practiced favoured by first urban infrastructure for irrigation. From this time agricultural land has been part of the cities. In Greek and Roman agricultural suburbs surrounded cities.After the transport innovations like railroad the distance that products could travel increased hence the green agricultural belt around cities start to disappear.


Advantages Considering food production as an integrated infrastructure helps the closed loops for energy recycling and waste management and water management. This can lower the price of food too by minimising the food travel. Community level food production can over come social segregation and maximising the crop size. Disadvantages The matter of how much agricultural land we need to support our cities is very objective, as most of the research has been done in popular western cities. A lot of criteria could affect this data considering peoples diet, food consumption habits to environmental factors. Studies show modern agricultural techniques like aquaponic and hydroponic and green house production can secure more yearly round harvest and minimising the land use.

Roman Domus integrated productive garden (Hortus) near the kitchen.

http://www.ancient. Howards garden-city. Broadacare city, Frank Lloyds wright


the Pig city

vertical farm chris jacobs, Dr. despommier Hydroponic farm

Aquaponic farm


Gotham Greens Building Massive Rooftop Farms

http://blog.archpaper. com

This calculations are subjective to climate and culture Viljeon & Bohn, C plus research shows that 259 modernare agricultural sqm per annual is needed to feed a household Viljeon & Bohn, C plus research shows that 259 sqm perand food diet. however This calculations subjectivetechniques to the crop and minimise thediet. land use. of 72 sqm in USAto(2.6 people) this isofbased forin USAhelps to maximise annual is needed feed a household 72 sqm climate and culture and food Vegetarian same in Turkey, (2.6 people)diet. thisinis the based for area Vegetarian diet.Gecein the however modern agricultural techkondu neighbourhoods, near 5 people live in the near same area in Turkey, Gecekondu neighbourhoods, niques helps to maximise the crop same in the same area. 5 people and minimise the land use.

Viljeon & Bohn, C plus research shows that 259 sqm per annual is needed to feed a household of 72 sqm in USA (2.6 people) this is based for Vegetarian diet. in the same area in Turkey, Gecekondu neighbourhoods, near 5 people live in the same area.

by practicing a community agricultural model the crop size can maximise mean while the participatory factor can help overcoming social segregation.

This calculations are subjective to climate and culture and food diet. however modern agricultural techniques helps to maximise the crop and minimise the land use.

diagram showing the benefits of community gardening


1.3_Computational Urbanism Computational tools have dramatically changed the world of architecture in the latest decades, and more recently have entered the realm of urbanism. The main shift that these tools allow is a change from the definition of formal determinations to the generation of dynamic processes, and, exactly for this reason, these tools appear as extremely useful to tackle the issues of the contemporary cities, where an everyday larger set of parameters are interconnected and influence each other in shaping the form and structure of the environment we inhabit. The second major shift, partially related to the first one, is the introduction of a thinking model based on bottom-up logics, that challenges the traditional overdetermination or architectural and urban forms. This, coupled with the previous aspect, allows for the simulation of a wide variety of urban phenomena, focusing more on the processes of emergence of cities starting from simple local interactions, able on the larger scale to give rise to a complex and articulated order. However, despite these possibilities would allow designers and planners to study, simulate and build a more efficient, sustainable and liveable urban condition, contemporary researches tend to focus most of their efforts around computational tools 22

with the aim of generating new and more complex shapes; if a research of this type may be reasonable in the architectural realm, in the field of urban planning these approach appear as inconsistent, and in some cases even dangerous. A more reasonable and interesting approach to both the themes of urban planning and computational tools seems to be the study of the relational dynamics that giver rise and shape urban environments; By exploiting the computational power offered by digital technologies and at the same time maintaining a continuous link with the social, economical and environmental operational fields, it appears possible to construct a new understanding of these dynamics, offering to architects and planners the possibility to regain the focal role they have lost in the processes of construction and management of the contemporary city.

http://www.kokkugia. com/







1.4_Computational Urbanism_Case Studies 1.4.1_Kartal-Pendik Masterplan ZHA The Kartal-Pendik masterplan, a large development in the Asian side of Istanbul designed by Zaha Hadid Architects and currently under construction, uses computational tools to administrate and develop a complex set of systems in a coherent new centre for the city of Istanbul, including a business district, high-end residential areas, concert halls, museums and theatres. The use of the computational tools is mainly focused in articulating the complexity of the program into a coherent and aesthetically pleasant urban form. This is achieved mainly by creating a “soft grid”, determined by the bundling of the main movement axes through scripted algorithms. Other sets of algorithms are use to generate and distribute hybrid architectural typologies through the site, creating an intricate network of built form and public spaces. Being the project deeply based on bottom up logics, it strikes to notice how this clashes with the socio-economical configuration of it: indeed, pursuing the aim of interconnecting the project in a global system of transnational flows of neoliberal capitalism, the development totally avoids to create any possible dialogue with the complex bottom-up processes of growth

taking place in Istanbul. More over, the whole system creates an unnatural network of public spaces, looking organic in form, but completely missing any real relational structure for the citizens of Istanbul themselves. Advantages The use of scripts allows for the creation of a large system of interconnected typologies, reunited in a coherent formal outcome. Disadvantages The project neglects to create any interaction with the socio-economical tissue of Istanbul’s urban structure, attempting to bridge the gap between the city and other “global” development centres, disconnecting from the surrounding context ad much as possible. The only connection point is based on the road network, failing in these way to create a continuous network of public spaces with the neighbouring areas. The use of computational tools aims exclusively at the creation of a complex and organic form, without any consideration for the possibilities given to integrate social, economical and political models of behaviour. Moreover, the scale and the complexity of the intervention requires a complete switch from bottom-up logics of generation to top-down processes of management and construction, completely ignoring the great potential lying in the selfconstruction processes within Istanbul.

Aerial veiw

Quarry veiw

Sea veiw


1.4.2_Edible Infrastructures Edible Infrastructure is a research project developed by Darrick Borowski and Jeroen Jannsen at the Emergent Technologies unit of the Architectural Association (London). The aim of the research is to develop alternative models of urban growth which would consider food production as an integral part of the urban metabolism. The research is conducted trough the development of a set of algorithmic tools, starting from a settlement simulation, based on a cellular automata model, that considers the urban form as a cellular organization where the densities of different activities are organized according to each other’s consumption, production and waste levels. The resulting simulation is then integrated with the topological analysis of emergent networks, allowing for the construction of an efficient communication system and at the same time the generation of a hierarchical network of public spaces, which allow for the construction of liveli neighbourhoods. The resulting “Productive City� shows both an attention to the positive social consequences of urban agriculture and addresses clearly the great possibilities lying in the use of mathematical and computational model for the organization of socioeconomical processes underlying the construction and functioning of the city. 26

Advantages The project clearly demonstrates the potential of the use of complex spatial models, and their liability as representation of real processes. Moreover, the construction of models as layered interconnected structure allows for the solution of independent problems and their successive integration in a complex pattern of settlements. Finally, the project develops an approach mainly based on productive dynamics, but at the same times attempts to use the potential of these processes to articulate a more socially and ecologically sustainable system of urbanization. Disadvantages The main downside of the project lies in the really loose relationship of the generated system with the surrounding context, mainly based on the road network accesses. Even if it appears necessary to construct radically new models of urban settlement, a deep connection with the cultural and social layer of existing urban tissues appears still necessary. Moreover, the model proposed is based on the construction on empty lands, failing to propose a method to integrated the described processes within built areas.

neighbourhood generated plan

simulation rules

cluster view



1.5_Global Strategy The coupling of the study of informal settlements processes, with their emphasis on on locality, relationships and open-ended growth, appears as a promising terrain for the experimentation with computational tools, with bottom-up algorithms generating emergent behaviours from simple local interactions. The global aim of this project is exactly to explore the interaction of these two systems, and in particular the possibilities of digital modelling to understand, foresee and drive urban growth. In this attempt, computational tools will be employed as relational tools, attempting to move away from a paradigm of pure shape generation and rather embrace the complexity of social structures. More precisely the global aims of the projects are: − Constructing an interface able to allow the communication between planners and citizens, between the top-down level of urban planning and the bottom-up processes of self-construction of the city. − Exploring methods to model and understand urban processes, and subsequently improve or steer them without the need of rigid planning frameworks. − Defining possible strategies of intervention in informal settlements, emphasising the need of avoiding large evictions and demolitions, and instead trying 28

to work within the existing processes to implement local changes able to influence the whole. In all this, the computational tools play a significant role as simulation and modelling tools, allowing to explore complex ecologies of interaction between social, economical and environmental parameters and to test possible outcomes before implementation. The final outcome, far from having resolved the complex and often contradictory dynamics in informal settlements, will nevertheless try to propose a study and intervention method, and outline possible lines for further exploration within the topic.

demolition statistics masterplan

planner rules in the book

social segregation Top-Down planning

buy from land mafia

no infrastructure

self build

citizens finding a land

no services Bottom-Up self built


coherent neighbour hood interactive plan

interface citizens

community communication platform





2.2_Istanbul Data Istanbul, Turkey’s second city, is situated between two continents and with its own 14 million inhabitants expands for 110 kilometres along Marmara Sea. The city is divided to 39 municipalities, acting under the control of the Great Municipality of Istanbul. The development of the city followed alongside the Marmara sea, due both to the presente of large natural forests on the north and to the tendency of Turkish people to live near the water. During the last 100 years, the construction of the Bosphorus Bridge and of the Faith Sultan Mehmet Bridge, urban growth has spread towards the north too, endangering natural water resources and forests. The current plans of building a third bridge in the north and a sea channel parallel to the Bosphorus in the west are making the situation even worse. The city centre is extremely dense, buth on the European side it drops quickly into the urban sprawl, while in the Asian side it mantains a high level for a larger distance, due to the presence of illegally formalized gecekondu settlements. Istanbul’s population is quite young therefore there is a need for jobs, education and small size houses. The city has the record of one of the fast growing economies in world. Turkish government is trying to lead 32

Istanbul’s economy towards service sector and powering tourism by representing the city with a global image. The sustainability of this model on the both long and short term is really hard to define, but what is clear is the fact that at them moment the leading sector of the city’s economical growth is the construction sector, greatly thanks to the gigantic urban transformation processes in act.

Evolution of Istanbul urban footprint

Istanbul_city of intersections, LSE research group London, 2008


Istanbul_city of intersections, LSE research group London, 2008


Istanbul_city map _land form with 39 districts





Istanbul_city of intersections, LSE research group London, 2008


2.2_Istanbul and Informality “Gecekondu is wrong and right. Even the squatters themselves can’t make up their minds. Clearly, building a gecekondu house is the only way someone who journeys to the city in search of work can survive. Yet – by contrast with everything American, everything European, everything rational and rich, everything people are told they should want – gecekondu is wrong.” (Robert Neuwirth) Istanbul is a city with a complex relationship with the informal settlements that cover almost 60% of its own surface: indeed, the city is one of the few places of the world where informality have been able to re-enter the formal city, acquire a juridical status and appear as the main process of urban growth during the last 50 years at least. Istanbul’s slums are commonly called “gecekondu” (from turkish, “built over night” or “built badly”) and are spread all over the city, from the centre till the most remote outskirts of urban sprawl. What is peculiar about these settlements is the fact that they do not constitute purely residential areas, but they integrate within their structures all forms of services, including schools, shops, medical facilities and service infrastructures, all built illegally and without any help from the municipalities. Some gecekondus, thanks to a law that allows the creation of new municipalities 36

from citizens initiative, have even been able to become recognized as official parts of the city, with a major and institutional powers. All this processes have forced Robert Neuwirth to define the situation of Istanbul’s slums as “the dream of squatters self-government”. The other interesting aspect is the fact that informality and illegality are not exclusive of low income classes, but rather a diffused trend in all the urbanization processes of the city. Many middle-high class gated communities have been built illegally on forest areas, and just recently a law allowed for the legalization of these constructions. This phenomena, coupled with the ongoing process of eviction and relocation of lower class citizens, as created a situation that has been defined by a recent publication as “living in voluntary and involuntary exclusion” (T. Kormaz, E. U. Yucesoy).

Istanbul living in voluntary and involutary exclusion .2010


2.3_Recent Urban History _ Timeline Till 20th century Turkish economy was based on agriculture and just 20% of the country was urbanized. From 1923, after declaration of the Turkish Republic, the governmental policies shifted towards industrial sectors and pushed towards a rapid modernization of the whole economical system. As these new modernization policies were based on rapid urbanization, cities need for labour market increased rapidly, eve if the urban fabric was not ready to house this strong increase of population. So this immigrant population started to claim less valuable lands in city’s periphery and built their houses. From this time the expression “Gecekondu” entered Turkish urban vocabulary. Commonly referring to a good or a product that has been built badly, in the urban context is used to define an accommodation, which has been built quickly on illegally occupied land. According to old Islamic mandate, if a person built a structurally sounded accommodation on public land, the authority wouldn’t be allowed to demolish it. Partially relying on this legal breakdown, government tolerated these settlements mainly for two reasons : first, with the modernization policies they had to deal with a complex conflict with the extreme religious parties, often really powerful in the informal sectors, and second these settlements were considered as transition phase which would 38

prepare rural people for urban life, while at the same time offering a quick and inexpensive way to host them in the urban areas. Due to their low wages and their rural background, inhabitants started practising agriculture inside the city in order to produce part of their food. To overcome water supply problem, inhabitants installed water storage tanks and created underground systems to store sewage.

housing time line _ Istanbul


Gazi,Zeytinburnu 1982

Gazi,Zeytinburnu 1982

Istanbul, unknown year

Istanbul, unknown year

Istanbul, unknown year

Istanbul, unknown year

Yondar Ayse.informal settelment in Istanbul, SCUPAD, Austria, 2006


In the mid sixties three new laws radically affected the development of informal settlements. The first one increased the power of district council on making local changes. The second law provided some funds for improving houses in Gecekondu and the last one enabled these small detached houses to be transformed into 4-5 storeys blocks, while at the same time allowing for the purchase of land rights . Unfortunately these end up imposing the economical power of new private development companies on these areas. This changed Gecekondu house owner’s social class. Most of them built apartment block with the help of developers and invested their capital, while at the same time building other houses and renting them to newcomers .

centre . With this in mind, the city has developed a non-sustainable survival strategy based on construction sector that is replacing residential areas with retail, offices and leisure facilities. Several urban transformation projects backed by political power continuously opened up new land for real state development. The result of this sort of urban transformation projects is the emergence of phenomena of gentrification, social segregation and spatial fragmentation, which had already affected historical inner city areas as well as some Gecekondu neighbourhoods.

Whilst neoliberal policies and planning timing pushed upper classes to start building illegally too. With their tendency to settle in north of the city, the forests, water basins and other natural resources became endangered. Government tried to moderate land price with the creation of the Land Office, while newly born TOKI (Turkish Mass Housing Organization) was created with the aim of providing housing for low income citizens . Today Turkish economy is shifting from heavy industry towards service sector and tourism. Turkish Government considers the so-called “global city� scenario for the future of Istanbul to survive as a financial 41

housing time line _ Istanbul


Gulsuyu 1982

Gulsuyu 1990

Yondar Ayse.informal settelment in Istanbul, SCUPAD, Austria, 2006


Istanbul, unknown year

Istanbul, unknown year

Istanbul, unknown year

Istanbul, unknown year

Istanbul, unknown year

Istanbul, unknown year

Yondar Ayse.informal settelment in Istanbul, SCUPAD, Austria, 2006


housing time line _ Istanbul


mass housing areas for middle and higher classes and illegally built-up areas.2007

diverse land use at the shore:farming and intense housing areas.2007

Illegal villas.2007

gated community inside the forest.2007

squatter housing dwellers viewing the “Nar city� .2008

Emrah Altinok,The effect of urban sprawl on spatial fragmentation and social segregation in Istanbul ISOCARP Congress 2008


Istanbul, unknow year

Istanbul, unknow year

Yondar Ayse.informal settelment in Istanbul, SCUPAD, Austria, 2006


2.4_ Contemporary Situation _ EvictionMap The contemporary situation of Istanbul’s housing processes is uncertain and highly precarious, especially for the low and middle class citizens. Indeed, a variety of processes, like property speculations, regeneration plans, mega-events and projects (airport, F1 racing track, Capital of Culture 2010...), is causing rapid and vast urban transformations,which in most of the cases fall over the shoulders of lower classes, through evictions, demolitions and relocations. Sulukule, Tarlabasi, Suleymaniye, GulsuyuGulensu, all this neighbourhoods, mostly inhabited by the lowest levels of the population, are all threatened by great projects of urban regeneration, mostly aimed at the capitalization of the land on which these settlements sit, most of the time strategically situated in terms of accessibility, distance from the city centre and environmental quality. The process, as it is described by a research by the Advisory Group on Forced Evictions (AGFE) for the UN-Habitat, is currently still in the beginning steps, but, if the plans by the municipality will be carried on, at least 80.000 people will face evictions and relocations. One of the striking facts that emerge from the study of the population move48

ment from the areas that has already been cleared out is the existence of a second wave of evictions, consisting in confiscation of social houses assigned to evicted people, due to their inability to fulfil regular payments for rent and services. In Bezirganbahce, a settlement where the former residents of Ayazma have been relocated after the eviction, already 650 families out of the total 1930 have been forced to leave their flat after not being able to keep up with the payments for more than six months. There are phenomena of resistance, such as in Guverncintepe, and the latest events in Istanbul clearly show how the situation of the urban life within the city is reaching critial levels of tension between the social parts and the government. Nevertheless, the process seems far from being stopped, and the plans of the Municipality’s secretary Irfan Uzun of “substituting 1 million out of the 1.5 million buildings of Istanbul” seems close to being brought into reality.

Istanbul living in voluntary and involutary exclusion .2010


Istanbul living in voluntary and involutary exclusion .2010


Istanbul living in voluntary and involutary exclusion .2010


2.5_ Istanbul_Case Studies 2.5.1_ TOKI Housing (Case Study) TOKI (“Toplu Konut İdaresi Başkanlığı”) is the Housing Development Administration of Turkey. Funded in 1984, its main goal was initially to provide affordable housing for low-income classes. More recently, starting from 2002, a series of internal and governmental changes transformed it one of the main actors in the housing development environment of Istanbul gathering public and private funds to develop residential projects of any scale and for any class. This focus on profit-generating ventures involved TOKI directly in the latest urban dynamics, especially in the process of eviction and relocation of gecekondus. The tower block is becoming a universal typology for the housing of evicted neighbourhood, without any attention for context and for the lifestyle of inhabitants. Most of these settlements are located in the outskirts of the city, with distances that can reach up to 60-70 km from the city centre. This, coupled with the instability of informal economy working places, is leading to second waves of evictions from the TOKI buildings themselves, with inhabitants that are unable to pay regular rent and bills, and for these reasons are


Advantages The main advantage of the TOKI model is its own attraction on the short term: indeed, it is one of the few models able to cheaply offer large amount of housing in rapid time to a growing population. Disadvantages TOKI building fail completely at trying to envision a strategy for the sustainability of urban dynamics on the long term. Moving people away from their homes, often historical areas, into newly built structures far away for the centre, in flats that are not designed for traditional large families, has the effect of destroying the social webs that allows low income classes to survive in the harsh environment of the neoliberal city. Moreover, the latest emerging interests of TOKI towards high class housing shows clearly how its way of operating is quickly contributing at increasing dramatically the level of tension and social segregation within the boundaries of Istanbul.

Toki dweller survival manual/Istanbul Biennle 2012


Not contectual, ignoring climate and terrain

Apartments are not flexible, their configuration is not considering Turkish culture, social relations and life style.

Playing areas, storage and communal spaces has not been considered in the design.

Toki dweller survival manual/Istanbul Biennle 2012


2.5.2_ 3ADA1ADA (Case Study) “3ADA1ADA” is a project proposed by a partnership of institutional and private organizations, with the aim of upgrading the situation of different neighbourhood of Istanbul, through a logic based on “development bonuses”. The main aim of the project is to overcome the detached-house organization typical of apartment and gecekondu areas, in order to increase density, while at the same time opening up possibilities for the introduction of services and green spaces. The proposed goal is implemented to an open call to neighbourhood associations, willing to undergo a program of renewal. The approach, named “3Blocks 1Block” (“3Ada 1Ada” in Turkish language), is based on a “Demolish & Build” method, that consists in the removal of the “risky” and unsafe existing buildings and their substitution with new typologies based on the measure of the block, rather that on single plots. The relevant point of the project is the fact that the transformation is made possible just relying on the local forces and finances, both by creating neighbourhood’s construction cooperatives and by the institution of a system of bonuses, where the choice of integrating services, parking spaces and green areas in the block is rewarded with a construction bonus, that can be sold and used to finance the transformation process.

Advantages The aim of the project of upgrading the neighbourhoods by relying simply on the economical and technical forces within it is really relevant, and shows a radically different possibility from the current neoliberal trends in the Turkish housing market. More than this, the attempt to pursue an increase of density, while at the same time introducing services and other necessary improvements, offers an interesting model of urban development. Relevant is also the attempt to bring together institutions, private companies and neighbourhood associations, in order to deal with the complex issue of negotiation of space within the city. Disadvantages The main fault of the proposal lies in the so-called “demolish & build” logic of it: indeed, in the current socio-economical situation of Istanbul, where the capitalist forces are everyday more extreme, it appears extremely complex and dangerous for the neighbourhood to open up a whole block for construction. In addition, most of the proposed project show a simplistic understanding of local urban patterns and their possibilities of transformation.


Diagram shows how the bonus system in scale of neighbourhood works.

http://www.3ada1ada. org/blog/aboutdestek-platform-2/


http://www.3ada1ada. org/blog/aboutdestek-platform-2/


2.5.3 _Bostan (Case Study) Istanbul has a long history of model of urban agriculture within the boundaries of the city; one of this, the “Bostans” are a traditional institution within Istanbul’s urban fabric. They are conceived as market gardens, producing a wide variety of fruit and vegetables to feed the city’s population. “Bostans” are an integral part of the formation of neighbourhoods’ identity, where each of them would be known for specific crops, creating in this way a dense and interrelated urban dynamics system. Their birth is related partially to the movements of populations between neighbouring countries, especially Armenia and Greece, due to religious segregation; moving from their home towns to Istanbul, Greek and Armenian muslims brought with them the structure of the urban productive garden, and they bind it to the city’s tissue. Bostans’ size is based on the size of the family owning and working on it, and it scales in order to provide enough income to sustain them. Th composition of the crops is extremely varied, in order both to cope with specific demands within the city and to built resilience in case of hard environmental conditions for some of the crops. Till 1990, most of the “bostans” were housing also livestock, used both as source of milk products and as natural fertilizer; however, this have been stopped by a law 58

that made illegal the presence of livestock within the territory of the Istanbul’s municipality. Today Bostans are facing a dramatic situation, by being some of the few empty spots of land and being absolutely unable to cope with the burgeoning land values created by liberalizer policies. Advantages Bostans offer at the same time an alternative economical model for the sustainability of low-income neighbourhoods and a way to maintain and increase the identity of Istanbul, everyday weakened by current trends towards the construction of a “global city”. The scalability of the system according to income needs and the ability to create lively community around this institution appear as significant parameters to improve the life in gecekondus and at the same time propose an alternative ubran model for other parts of the city. Disadvantages The traditional techniques used within Bostans are not always able to cope with a pressing market demand. At the same time, the farming exclusively on wide opened and flat areas appear economically difficult to sustain under a regime of neoliberal development of the city.

Bostans became endargered in the 1980s, when massive popularion growth combine with political corruption and speculative investment in housing and development to make real estate the highest profit sector in Istanbul.

istanbuls early masters of vegetable production were Greeks and Armenians. since 1990s however, municipal authorities have tried to remove large farm animals from the city.


in a historical map of Istanbul, from 1883, 102 Bostan were recorded with in the old city.


cucumber lettuce

Ulasilabilir Yasham Dernegi( UYD, accessible life association) non governmental organization dedicated to improving the welfare and economic opportunities of socioeconomically marginalized and underprivileged groups.

donum is “land enough to plow in a day�. crop diversification helps minimize the possibility and consequences of direct competition. typical size of an istanbul bostan is about 10-12 donum(1-1.2 hectars, size to feed a family of 5.

location of Bostans in Istanbul’s built form.


Yao Dong, Di Xia Bostan agricultural generators for istanbul’s urbanization 2010.


spanich radish cabbage



ga rlic






rry lbe mu

k apr


b fe n mo

lan t po me gra na te



gp c ce arro ler t / y








n um aut

au g


su m m er

ula arg

r te in w

ďŹ g

sp rin g

m ay


tom ato


wa lnu t

Full sun + 8hrs tomatoes and peppers... Partially sun 6-8 hrs onion, potato and root Vegatbles Partially shade 3-6 hrs Broccokoli and Leafy greens, Shad 1-2 hours mushrooms

duration of different seasonal crops from germination to harvesting in Turkey.


2.5.4_ ROSEWATER (Case Study) This student proposal, developed by Padraig McMorrow, under the supervision of Yasar Adanali at the University of Stuttgart, is an attempt to foster the upgrading of the Gecekondu areas of Gulensu-Gulsuyu through urban agriculture. The goal is to revitalize the public space of these zones, transforming steep unused plots into productive gardens, where to engage the population and at the same time rehabilitate the image of the district, reconnecting it to its own surroundings. The gardens occupy the steep lands around the stormwater channel, where it is possible to develop structures for the conservation of rainwater. At the bottom of the channel a productive park opens up the neighbourhood towards the city, offering both spaces for meeting, cultivation and market.

proposed plan

http://reclaimistanbul. com


The project engaged actively with the neighbourhood and with the municipality, attempting to meet the needs and necessities of both, through a long series of workshops and meetings with both sides. Advantages The project proposes an inexpensive, light and effective method for the upgrading of the life in the Gecekondu, both by involving the inhabitants in a productive cycle and by working on the image of the settlement. By integrating urban agriculture and

public functions, it offers the possibility to revitalize the neighbourhood and at the same time to reconstruct the lost public space of the city. Moreover, the attempt to build a realistic proposal based on discussions with all the stakeholders poses this project as a valuable example of strategic planning in informal areas. Disadvantages The main disadvantage of the project as an overall strategies lies in the specificity for the site: indeed, the approach of reusing empty plots appears difficult to perform in many areas of Istanbul, especially in the ones where massive “apartmentization� has consumed any empty land. Furthermore, other advantages derived from the introduction of urban agriculture haven’t been considered, especially regarding the economical and ecological sides of it.

neighbourhood views

neighbourhood section

http://reclaimistanbul. com


2.6_ Conclusion_Values and Needs The study of the conditions, processes and interventions within the urban realm of Istanbul allowed for the definition of a clear set of values and needs that will guide the development of the project, allowing same for a generalization of the processes thorough algorithms, while maintaining a strict connection with the selected context. The basic premise to any further development is based on the need of keeping residents within their neighbourhoods, aiming to an upgrade of the existing conditions and to the definition of processes of construction able to integrate with the built structures. The observation of the aggressive real estate market of Istanbul suggest to avoid radical interventions, such as demolition and substitution of existing neighbourhoods, and claims instead for models of growth on a larger time span, within which already built structures and new developments could create a common ground for a new model of urbanization.The environmental conditions suggest the need for a series of upgrades for gecekondu areas, such as structural reinforcement against earthquake (and against private investors using structural instability as excuse for demolitions), infrastructural networks management and requalification and expansion of green spaces. From the socio-economical point of view, evictions are for sure on of the major issues faced by these areas. This can partially 64

be avoided, or limited, by attempting to improve the overall quality of the settlements, in order to counter-balance the denigratory propaganda of the neoliberal system, and by providing ways to redefine the productive power of the communities that inhabits them. Moreover, the morphological structure of most of gecekondu areas, that has been able to maintain green spaces and productive gardens within the boundaries of one of the densest urban areas of the world, could be used to define gecekondu as a new model of vernacular urbanism, integrated within the city and at the same time able to maintain some rural character. From the political perspective, gecekondu are facing a severe loss of representative power, especially if compared with the second half of the 20th century, and this is mainly due to their complete exclusion from any productive network of the new global city. The project will then aim to regain this political relevance by redefining the gecekondu and its communities as a new and alternative productive subjectivity, linked but at the same time opposes to the current neoliberal trends. Structural and infrastructural upgrade, definition of a new vernacular and generation of productive possibilities: the project will attempt to drive towards these aims through a process rooted in the social structure of the neighbourhoods and distributed over time as a continuous dynamic system.

Context-Environment Earthquake

Lack of Infrastructure

Endangered Structure Demolitions

_Progressive structural upgrade without demolition

Increasing Food Demand


Gated Communities


Endangered Water Reservoirs

Food Scarcity

Open Spaces Consumption

Water Scarcity

_Coordination of productive gardens at the neighbourhood level _Increase of farming surface

Lack of Green Space

_Neighbourhood structure as water collector _Rainwater collection for urban farming

_Requalification of existing open spaces _Increase of green surface through city greening _Gecekondu as green-city

Socio-Political-Economical Construction Economy

Workers Relocation Evictions

_Structural upgrade _Productive power

Istanbul Global City

Social Segregation

Globalization Loss of Shared Identity

_Political identity of Gecekondu _Gecekondu as new Vernacular

Political Instability

Low-Class Exclusion No Representative Power

_Determination of Gecekondu as productive subjectivity _Neighbourhood associations

values and needs


Urban 3.0 Simulation

3.1_Urban Interface

Top-Down planning

Bottom-Up self built

communication platform


In order to tackle the complex phenomena of informal urbanization in Istanbul, this project proposes an attempt to build an interface between the planning processes and the citizens involved in them. By breaking down the division between bottom-up construction and top-down planning, it appears the possibility of using computational tools for simulation and modelling to create a “common ground” between the different actors involved in the urban processes. Specificially, this “interactive planning method” is constituted of a series of elements: − An urban simulation tool, that would allow planners to model spatial dynamics in relation to economical and social structures, and at the same time be used as a “game” by citizens, allowing for the creation of a certain level of awareness of urban processes and at the same generate statistical data on the choices within the urban realm. − A block simulation tool, that would allow for the generation and testing of a modular set of components based on selfassembly logics. − A construction set that would allow citizens to self-built their cities, but at the same time give the planner the possibility to embed a certain level of control and intelligence in the topology of the module itself.

demolition statistics masterplan

planner rules in the book

buy from land mafia

social segregation

no infrastructure

self build

citizens finding a land


no services

coherent neighbour hood interactive plan

interface citizens





people building the City.

material City

reading the City

setting up simulation urban simulation




statistical data awareness of building possibilities scenarios

physical layer service needs

location of services city growth tendencies

land value

virtual layer urban simulation block simulation

existing typologies. adjacency diagrams unit

setting up simulation set of rules

dwelling expansion

interface logic showing the participation of different parties in designing and building the city!


3.2_2D Cellular Automata Simulation 3.2.1_Urban Simulation with Cellular Automata “Cellular Automata are sufficiently simple to allow detailed mathematical analysis, but sufficiently complex to exhibit a wide variety of complicated phenomena” (Stephen Wolfram) Cellular Automata are a specific class of algorithms, constituted by a set of cells normally organized in a grid (although is possible to have other topologies), where the change in state of each of the cell is dependent exclusively on the states of the neighbouring cells. The main focus of these algorithms are in the study of emergent processes, where order arises from local interactions, without the need for any additional top-down control. The development of these powerful computational technique is in major part to be attributed to John von Neumann, John Conway and Stephen Wolfram, that in various way contributed to develop the necessary algorithms and the connected theory about emergent processes. The most known form of CA is the so-called “Game of Life”, developed by Conway and able to exhibit a really wide range of behaviours and formations. 70

The emphasis on local relations able to produce order at an higher scale shows these class of algorithms as interesting technique to model spatial and urban dynamics. The most extensive and coherent body of research on this topic have been produced by Michael Batty and the CASA (Center for Advanced Spatial Analysis), and it is widely described in the book “Cities and Complexity”. In this, the researchers offer an interesting expansion of the basic CA module, by introducing multiple states automata, where the cell itself can store multiple values, allowing in theis way to track and model the transition and changes of urban potentials for development in informal settlements. Cellular Automata present anyway a series of difficulties, based mainly on the inability of mantiaining a steady state and by the impossibility of model urban scenarios without the introduction of top-down “actions at distance”. Nevertheless, the appear as interesting starting point to explore bottom-up logics of urban agglomerations.









Segregation Model.





The model, although extremely simple, shows the emergence of complex patterns of interlocking dwellings, that over time spread to occupy the whole area of the simulation. The absence of any plot system and road subdivision leads to an extremely high density of the settlement.


The first step of the simulation is the definition of a basic income-based growth model. According to the incremental construction of gecekondu houses, each house is started as a simple cell, and is associated to a income counter, that is randomly increased at every step, simulating the unstable revenues of informal jobs. As soon as the counter reaches a critical threshold, the house adds a new cell to itself, randomly chosen within the neighbouring cells.




t=500 t=1000

By controlling the parameter of the size of this cells neighbourhood is possible to modulate the outcome on different densities, and at the same time it starts to become possible to experiment with basic planning prescriptions, like the imposition of a certain green areas rate for each dwelling. Under specific parameters complex interconnected blocks of dwellings and green spaces start to emerge from the simulation.


The first necessary addition to the previous model is the introduction of a plot system, that regulates both the pattern of dwellings and the density of the overall settlement. At the moment of creation, each new houses has assigned a neighbourhood of cells on which it is allowed to grow, and on which at the same time other houses are not allowed to.




t=500 t=2000

Each cell of the grid gets assigned a specific potential for development, calculated on the average distance from each of the roads locations within a defined range. The potential generated in this way is then used to affect the probability of generation of new dwellings, with an higher probability on the locations closer to the road network. In this way, it is possible to start generating articulated urban patterns, with varying densities in relation with the location of streets. The parameters defining the potential for development can be manipulated to intervene on this density, allowing for the generation of blocks of different depth and concentration.


In accordance to the process of generation of gecekondu neighbourhoods, based on the intervention of “land mafias�, able to control the growth of these settlements by imposing a road network previous to housing construction, a logic for driving the appearance of new houses related to roads location have been introduced.




t=500 t=1000

By creating new potentials, it is possible to overcome the dominance of the road potential and created more varied and complex patterns. After a certain timestep, the simulation starts to display emergent patterns of segregations, with different groups integrating or separating from the others according to the predetermined relationships.


The last step in the simulation is the introduction of social segregation dynamics between different religious and ethnic groups. This is modelled with the introduction of a graph model, constructed by interconnecting houses belonging to the same group and then defining a potential map for each of the different groups. Each of the new dwelling will then compute a potential for development, combining the road attraction with segregation logics, where the potential of each of the groups acts as attraction or repulsion according to the degree of friendliness between the groups themselves.




3.2.6 _ Sarigol Sarigol ia neighbourhood in the Gaziomanpasa municipality, on the eurpoean side and relatively close to the city centre. The settlement have been informally developed between the ‘50 and the ‘80, as result of waves of evictions in the more central areas of the city. Subsequently it went thorugh a partial process of densification and formalization during the ‘90, process that have been stopped in the latest years due to the threat of eviction. The urban morphology of this area is clearly subdivided by topographical configurations in two distinct areas: the eastern part of it, where the terrain slope is really low, that presents a higher density of dwellings and a more regular road pattern, and the south-western part, where the strong topography reduces the possibilities for high density, in favour of a more open and green structure. This subdivision can also possibly give clues about the processes that originated the neighbourhood, with the more formal part being layout previously by “land mafias” in order to sell parcels of land, and the more informal area left out of control due to its lower value.

Istanbul Map showing location of Sarigol.


This subdivision of the settlement morphology, together with the presence of buildings presentig the differen phases of Gecekondu development in the same moment, shows how Sarigol is a relevant area

for the study, creation and test of urban simulation algorithms: indeed, the differentiated urban structure allows for testing the adaptability of generic algorithms to specific local situations. The urban algorithm for Sarigol have been created by connecting all the steps previously developed in a single system, where each of them influences the other. The simulation shows the ability of generating different densities according to changing fields of potentials, related to roads and social relationship networks. Moreover, it clearly allows to define the emergence of patterns of segregation and integration between different social and ethnic groups.

http://schwarzemilch. wordpress. com/2010/12/06/ roma-and-urbantransformation-insarigol-istanbul/

http://www. gaziosmanpasa-sarigol-kentsel-donusumtoreni-bugun-yapilacak/158788

http://www. gaziosmanpasa-sarigol-kentsel-donusumtoreni-bugun-yapilacak/158788


urban fabric growth








dense sparse informal








formal informal













steep continuous ordered




rare abundant

road network.



green area.



simulation logic


Nevertheless, the generic simulation appears unable to represent all the differences and specificities of the settlement. For this reason, a set of local rules have been introduced specifically for this neighbourhood, relating to specific densities and locations of green areas. This has gretly improved the ability of the simulation to explain and model the processes in action in Sarigol. This approach also shows an attempt to overcome the limitations of computational design methods, where often the power of the algorithm becomes more relevant than the ability to answer to specific issues in a differentiated and effective way. By introducing local rules in the model, it is possible to exploit fully the computational tools, while at the same time maintaining a strong connection with the reality of the site.

existing plan

Generic simulation

localy adapted simulation






generic simulation





localy adapted simulation


3.2.7_Case Study _ Buffalo Ws (Buffalo, NY) In the attempt to keep the methodology of planning and design open and to develop a collective research effort, the authors organized a workshop during the MediaCities 4 conference, held at the University at Buffalo (NY), between May, 3rd to 5th 2013. Starting from one side from an understanding of the complex socio-economical processes happening in Istanbul’s urban realm, and from the other side from the exploration of the potentials offered by the use of algorithmic thinking in urban design, the students have been gradually introduced to techniques of scripted urban simulation in the Processing environment. The goal was to allow students to explore the complex ecologies of interaction between urban structure and the socio-economical processes that shaped it. This required the construction of a dynamic relational tool, based on the CA algorithm of urban simulation previously described, developed with an additive logic, that offers the possibility of creating a flexible environment for modelling while maintaining a pedagogically-oriented structure, where complex topics are tackled as sum of smaller and simpler issues. In just three days the students developed a simple but complete urban simulation, 84

exploring the possibilities of using these algorithms to understand and drive the growth of informal settlements. Moreover, each of the students subsequently developed an alternative simulation, integrating sets of rules of his/her own choice, and this showed how it was possible to use the same simulation approach into completely different contexts, from the definition of green spaces rates per house, to the modelling of urban concentration dynamics in relation to economical processes, to the study of the relationship between housing structure and topography.









green spaces growth model , Martha Ordonez



business centre density model , Hsinyu Chuang



study of influence of topography , Alya Grishko


3.3_Derbent Derbent is a neighbourhood in the Saryer municipality, at the urban fringe of Istanbul’s sprawl and adjacent to the first forest areas, which protect the main water reservoirs of the city. The neighbourhood has just been designated as urban renewal area, and, if the municipality plan will be put in action, the whole neighbourhood will be evicted and demolished to make space for a middle class gated development. Against this, a whole set of computational techniques of modelling and simulation have been developed to attempt to propose an alternative and feasible plan that would not imply evictions and demolitions as much as possible. The neighbourhood is sitting on a really variegated topography, and mainly for this reason it is particularly difficult to distinguish the usual patterns seen in more formalized gecekondus. The building stock is composed by a variety of building typologies, and presents the different gecekondu stages next to each other without any coherent transition.

Istanbul Map showing location of Derbent.


The road network is also structured by topography, with the main roads following the highest slopes and connection the neighbourhood from north to south and from east to west, and the secondary road

moving flat to interconnect the main ones. The previous study on the more formal area of Sarigol become extremely valuable in approaching the urban structure of Derbent: indeed, the growth rules extracted from the first have been implemented successfully in the second one, allowing to obtain different results from similar processes. The main addition to the previous simulations are related exactly to the two factor previously mentioned: roads and topography. By setting up an agent simulation to generate alternative road networks and by using the terrain characteristics to define geometrical data of the appearing plots, it is possible to generate outcomes that resemble, both in terms of process and form, the urban structure of Derbent.

views showing the diversity of built form.

citizens practicing urban agriculture.



secondary road

main road

road network.


built form.

green area.


building volume.



Masterplan proposal from Istanbul Greater municipality. the existing residents will be located on the bottom corner the neighbourhood will be replaced by middleclass gated community.



3.4_Complete Urban Simulation

according to specific needs and to topographical structures. − A plot simulation, representing the additive building process within Gecekondus. − A clustering algorithm, that allows for the understanding of the underlying structure of the settlements and feed the resulting data to − A service location generator, used to define possible areas where to insert services in relation to neighbouring houses. − A set of scenarios, that allow to test the resilience of the merging neighbour-

3.4.1_Global Structure and Logic After the initial tests, a complete simulation of the urban processes within the realm of Derbent has been created. The simulation is structured in different steps, that can be at any moment switched and interconnected, in order to explore a wide range of spatial patterns: − A multi agents system, used to generate the road pattern of the settlement

growth sequence.

existing road network .

existing topography .

road simulation .

primary and secondaryroad network .

road potential .

economic model.

house simulation .

urban pattern.

house potential .

earthquack scenario .

migration scenario .


walking distance .

service potential.

cluster formation.

cluster and sub clusters .

number of citizens.

number of citizens.

program req

service a

hood against different set of constrains. This structure have not been rigidly defined, but rather kept opened to possible changes. The simulation works with an additive logic, with each module that can be turned on or off and linked to different other modules to generate variable outputs.

input .

vice potential.

and sub clusters .

mber of citizens.

program requirements .

service addition .

service potential.

genetic algorithm.

adjacency diagram.

fitness criteria.

output/input .

algorithm .

service distribution .

block simulation .

urban growth model .

evaluate .

custom cells sets .

algorithm . service potential effecting houses .

apartment scenario .

existing building .

simulation logic


3.4.2_Road agent-systems The study of the road system of Derbent showed a clear dependence of this from the topographical structure of the area; specifically, roads can be divided in two categories representing both a specific role in the urban tissue and a particular relationship with topography. Indeed, the main roads, crossing the neighbourhood from east to west and from south to north, mostly follow the highest slopes of the area, creating lines that follow the ridges of the site. Instead, the secondary road behave exactly in the opposite way, departing from the main roads and mantling the lowest height variation possible. In order to generate this specific pattern as a dynamic growth model and not as a static determination, a multi-agents system have been used. Multi-agents systems (MAS) are specific classes of algorithms based on groupd of individual entities able to take decision locally, based on the configuration of their environment and the local communication with other members of the group. Without the need for any top down control, these systems are able to generate complex patterns of behaviour, exploring a dynamic space of possibilities and reaching stable states. In the case of Derbent, the MAS constist of two different groups of agents, each of them representing one of the two typolo94

gies of roads. Each group of agents follow a specfic behavior, influenced both by topography (wheter to follorw the highest or the lowest slope) and by the behavior of other agents of the same group (attempting to converge into less roads through a pheromone map) and of the opposite group (attempting to seek the trajectories of the other agents to create coherently connected networks.). The emerging pattern, without any control applied during the growth, resembles in many points the spontaneous network found in Derbent. In order to achieve an even more realistic behaviour, the creation of roads have been intertwined with the process of house creation, generating a feedback loop between the two algorithms.

lope agent seekst / lowest point the mesh .

++ ++ ++ ++

area /part of a neighbourhood in Istanbul .

topography .

vertices of the mesh acts as grid points .

random slope agent seeking highest / lowest point of the mesh .

flat agents starts from slope agents seek lowest difference of height.

++ ++

++ ++ ++

++ ++

flat agents starts from slope agents seek lowest difference of height.

++ ++ ++



++ ++



++ ++

agents writing pheromon field .

future location determination, highest Z + highest pheromone .

road network .

road potential map calculation based on road location .

future location determination, lowest delta Z + highest pheromone .

road simulation logic


t=0 t=50



vertex search radius: 10.0 slope agents search angle:90.0 flat agents search angle:60.0 flat agents creation factor: 0.015






vertex search radius: 25.0 slope agents search angle:90.0 flat agents search angle:30.0 flat agents creation factor: 0.015





vertex search radius: 25.0 slope agents search angle:90.0 flat agents search angle:60.0 flat agents creation factor: 0.1





vertex search radius: 25.0 slope agents search angle:90.0 flat agents search angle:60.0 flat agents creation factor: 0.015


98 t=450








road agents without house potential









road agents with house potential



t=0 t=80

Batty.M (2007)


The growth of an urban system is mainly determined by two factors: from one side, the physical structure already present in place, being it topography, road networks or existing buildings, and from the other side the potential for development, understood as the level of attractivity that an area can generate. These two systems are not independent, but deeply interconnected to form a complex feedback loop system, with the potential influencing the appearance of new structures, and these in turn influencing the potential. The simulation have been initially based on a simple model of potential, determined simply by the distance from the roads, with the locations close to them having high potential, and consequently higher probability of being chosen for development, and the farer having lower potential. Subsequently, in order to generate a more complex urban pattern with varying degrees of density, two other potentials have been introduced, a weak one with existing houses attracting new ones, and a stronger one based on the locations of services. The introduction of different potentials, similarly to how different social groups were influencing the output on the Sarigol simulation, allows for a more accurate modelling of urban dynamics, generation feedback loops that trigger the emergence of different degrees of densities within the same algorithm.



3.4.3_Potentials for Growth


house growth affected by Road potential.

t=0 t=50 t=150 t=300

t=0 t=160 t=450


house growth affected by Road potential and existing houses.

house growth affected by Road potential and existing houses and existing Service Hubs .


The influence of topography have not been limited to the generation of the road network, but rather extended to the formation of plots within the urban tissue. Specifically, the slope of the terrain have been used to influence the size of the plot, with larger sizes in the flatter areas and smaller ones on steep lands.


This allows to introduce a feature typical of informal settlements in Istanbul, where the flatter areas achieve from the beginning a more structured form, and also they get formalized more quickly, whether instead the steeper areas have a more irregular morphology, with smaller plots and larger green areas in-between.


3.4.4_Topographical Influence


simulation showing the influence of topography on plot size.

diagram showing the plot size and plot rotation.


plot rotation to align to the road .


plot size determined by the location the angle with X axis , angle with Y axis .

3.4.5_Building Growth Model

building the kitchen.

finding a suitable land or buying from land Mafia.

building the first room.

building the toilet.

building the second room.

building the hall.

sequence of growth of a house in Gecekondu.


The growth of the individual building have been based on a simple three-dimensional grid, with each cell of it representing a room. The blocks are expanded additively, according to the data coming from the income model embedded in the simulation. The growth grid is subdivided in smaller cells according to different parameters, referring both at the income level and at the topography. After being created, this grid is filled with a potential for development, determined calculating the normalized distance of each of the points from the closes

road. In this way, it is possible to drive the system to generate a plot configuration with the houses facing the street and the gardens in the backyard.


According to the observations made, the main issue to imply in a simulation of growth of informal settlement is the openended nature of the process. Houses are constructed with what is availabel at the moment, and expanded as soon as new resources are available. For this reason, the growth model of the building have been based on an additive logic, developed within a predefined plot.

rooms added one by one in the plot according to the plot potential.


3.4.6_Income Model

work market, and an estimated level of consumption for each member of the family. This consumption cost can be lowered by the introduction in the model of urban agriculture practices, that can provide a significant part of the family’s diet.

The driving element of the whole algorithm is a model for simulation the income of the families living in the settlement. Each of the building is associated with one or more families, and their revenues determine the speed at which the building is expanded.

By linking the income offset to the size of the empty part of the plot of the family’s house, it is possible to explore degrees of variation between urban density, agricultural production and economical performance.

The economical model is basic, but nevertheless able to represent complex dynamics and influence the simulation significantly. The model is based on an arbitrary definition of an average income for each family, randomized to simulate the unstable condition of informal

 Work



















income = 3u+1u expenses= 2u

starting the familly

 income = 3u+1u expenses= 2u

starting the familly

 income = 3u+1u expenses= 2u

simple economic diagram based on practicing urban agriculture


starting the familly


income = 3u+1u expenses= 2u

income = 3u+1u expenses= 3u

income = 3u+1u expenses= 4u

income = 3u+1u expenses= 4u gardening = 1U

0u starting the familly

 income = 3u+1u expenses= 3u

   income = 3u+1u expenses= 2u

   income = 3u+1u expenses= 3u

  

   income = 3u+1u expenses= 3u gardening= 2u

 

income = 3u+1u expenses= 4u gardening =2u

   

income = 1u expenses=2u

  income = 3u+1u expenses= 3u gardening= 1u

 

   

income = 1u expenses= 2u gardening =1u

income = 3u expenses= 2u

    income = 3u+1u expenses= 5u gardening = 2U

    income = 1u expenses= 3u gardening = 2U

  income = 3u expenses= 3u gardening = 1U

 


simulation showing the impact of the economic model on the growth of the neighbourhood

diagram showing the change of income in growth sequence

14 12



Average totalIncome

8 6

Average NetIncome




1 19 37 55 73 91 109 127 145 163 181 199 217 235 253 271 289 307 325 343 361 379 397


30000 TotalIncome

25000 20000 15000 10000




1 20 39 58 77 96 115 134 153 172 191 210 229 248 267 286 305 324 343 362 381



3.4.7_Clustering Logics In order to define the spatial distribution of service needs within the settlement, an algorithm for clustering have been introduced. This is based on a process called “KMean Clustering�, a recursive process able to determine a coherent subdivision of a set of points according to their proximity values.

In order to determine a hierarchy within the distribution of services, each cluster have been nester with a second clustering algorithm, determining smaller clustering groups for the distribution of the most basic services.

The process have been tuned in order to be based on two complementary parameters: number of people and distance from the centre of the cluster. The amount of people determines the initial subdivision in a certain number of cluster, while the distance from the centre acts as exit condition, stopping the creation of subdivisions when the maximum distance of an house from the centre of the cluster falls below a certain threshold.

creation of n- random cluster centers

k-means clustering logic


grouping of points according to distance

recomputation of the cluster centre

grouping of points according to distance

t=100 t=500 t=830


t=50 t=75



simulation showing the cluster and sub cluster logic


3.4.8_Services locations Services have been introduced within each cluster defining a hierarchy that determines whether a specific function should be provided for the whole neighbourhood or just for a specific cluster or sub-cluster. Starting on a research based on the city of London, specific quantities and walking distance from the houses to the closest service have been determined and introduced in the simulation. Moreover, a specific set of constrains have been introduced for each of the service typologies, determining its maximum size and the location within the cluster, determining in this way whether the

structure should work as a connection with the neighbouring clusters or if it should work as a central gathering space for the community of the cluster itself.



diagram showing services distance location and parameter effecting decisions


tio ta

op er sh corn productive community garden

a yc da ol\ ho sc

bourhood 830 igh ne


t hall




play gro un

tea house

5 41

yc en tre






tre en hc


work pla



ut rib

ou s






gr ee





neig hb



rg e


distr ic t




mosque co m

ed rvic se

ary scho


health centre

park yc en tre



p sho pub post offi ce pri ma ry s sh cho op ol



co m

od 600 rho ou

local 200 re

e ch cre green

es fir



ric t 2000 dist urban adjacencies


diversity of urban functions and urban distances based on Andrew wright diagram “size matters” for city of London.

urban distanced are based on walking distance “home_district 20 min “. the diversity of functions are based on need in Gecekondu and Turkish culture.



diagram showing diferent service locations regarding to the clusters centre





service locations regarding to the clusters .


simulation showing migration rate=1


t=50 t=870

The migration rate can also negatively affect the growth; in case of a negative growth rate, at every step a certain amount of population will leave the neighbourhood, leaving behind empty houses, that stop to grow. Once the rate of migration becomes positive again, the incoming population will start either to build new house in empty spots or to occupy the houses previously left empty, starting to grow them again.


In order to explore the different urban dynamics emerging from different patterns of migration within the city, the simulation integrates a way to dynamically define the rate of migration in and out from the neighbourhood. This directly affects the growth of the urban pattern, with an increasing speed responding to an increase in incoming population. The growth of population is affecting directly the neighbourhood till a certain threshold is reached, and after that the area becomes saturated with building, and there is no way to increase the amount of inhabitants houses, except that shifting to apartment phase.








simulation showing migration rate=5





simulation showing migration rate=10




t=500 t=1000

simulation showing the change on migration rate.




diagram showing the impact of migration on built form/ empty houses

3.5.2_Urban Agriculture In order to explore the potential of a business model based on agricultural production within the neighbourhood, a set of external variables have been introduced to the basic income model to test their effect. Between this, the most relevant has been the definition of a new unit within each house, with the function of greenhouse. By introducing greenhouses on the plot and on the roofs of buildings in the neigh-

bourhood, it appears possible to increase the average production of the area, and especially to overcome the production drop determined by an increase in density. This can be counterbalanced by moving agricultural production on the roofs, creating effective greenhouses that can collect a really high amount of sunlight during the day, maximising the crops.

diagram showing the difference in income considering green houses as productive units and without.

simulation showing greenhouse units addition to houses


3.5.3_Earthquake A simple earthquake simulation have also been added to the overall computational model. This has been linked to the overall process by imposing a connection between the cost of expansion of an house and its own earthquake resistance. Cheap house have a lower resistance, and, in case of an earthquake, are more likely to fall. The collapse of an house erases all the rooms, but maintains the plot for subsequent occupation by a new incoming population.

diagram comparing the built footprint to garden footprint

diagram comparing number of rooms per plot relative to number of people


The earthquake is generated by a simple random number generator, that compares the existing houses’ quality level with the number representing the strength of the earthquake. A long series of earthquakes has the effect of increasing the overall resistance of the neighbourhood, since all the lower quality houses get progressively removed.



earthquake scenario simulation








3.5.4_Apartamentization Another process that have been studied and introduced as possible scenario in the simulation is the shift from the first phase of gecekondu development, characterized by one or two storey detached houses, to the “apartman” phase, characterized by urban speculation and by the emergence of larger blocks of flats, usually between five and eight storey tall. This shift have been simulated by defining a set of threshold condition above which houses stop to grow room by room, and start growing one floor a time, consuming all the available land in the plot. The conditions for the shift have been defined in a double way: one is the increase in the land value, determined by the presence of an high amount of service blocks around the selected plot, and the second one is based on the evaluation of surrounding houses, defining an high probability of shift to the second phase if there is an high presence of already “apartamentized” buildings in the surrounding. This last condition introduces a positive feedback loop in the process, quickly driving the sistem to complete saturation with apartment blocks.

diagram comparing footprint of buildings with gardens


Looking at the income statistics, is appears clearly how the apartamentization process, by consuming the whole land available and not leaving any empty space, determines a significant drop in the income pro capita,

due to the complete loss of any space to practice urban agriculture and offset the instability of informal work markets.

t=5 t=200 t=500


t=200 t=500



simulation showing apartamentization scenario in plan and perspective


3.6_Game The generated simulation can be used also in “game mode”, allowing an individual user to take specific choices for his own property. The simulation would then calculate the whole neighbourhood outcome according to the choice of the user, modifying in this way the environment in which the user operates. This complex set of feedback loops between user and game environment allows for the generation of complex non linear dynamics and the exploration of unpredicted patterns of interaction between structure of the city and its inhabitant.

comes of individual choice in a complex environment. By playing an urban game where each choice is repeated on the whole neighbourhood, users could evaluate and understand the consequences of apparently innocuous individual decisions on a global scale. Moreover, due to the competitive nature of games, it appears also possible for the urban planner to use the game as statistical tool, attempting to understand the set of choice determined on the citizens by different external pressures.

Following the idea of “persuasive games”, defined by Ian Bogost, it appears clear the possibility of using a urban simulation game to explain the unpredictable outdiagram showing the game logic. PLOT CHANGES


expansion statistical use data

green spaces individual plot configuration

construction of the city in response to individual choices

greenhouse awareness of urban processes

apartamentization user needs and wills

built quality


frames of simulation showing different controls.


3.7_Output The developed algorithms, coupled with the testing carried out in the two neighbourhoods of Sarigol and Derbent, suggests the possibility to use this kind of simulation techniques to build a new approach towards the understanding and the intervention in informal areas of urban contexts. First of all, the simulation allows to build a deeper understanding of the mechanisms embedded in the urban fabric; indeed, if a “traditional” analysis could be able to find regularities and deduce possible rules of development, the use of an algorithm that unfolds these hypothetical rules over time, allows for verification of the result of these rules and helps to distinguish between apparent regularities and real dynamics at work in the area. This becomes even more clear with the introduction of a simple economical model in the system, and by doing this creating an environment for the study of the consequences of the invisible



economical and social forces that are shaping the urban environment. More than this, the model builds a rich set of possibilities for the planning and actuation of urban interventions in informal areas. These are: − The possibility to study and define functional differentiation in the neighbourhood based on the ongoing dynamics, while at the same time using the model to simulate the actual implementation of the changes and build scenarios of development. This is particularly relevant for the definition of possible locations for the service infrastructure (hospitals, schools, community centres...) , allowing for the maximizationof efficiency and accessibility and at the same time the minimization of costs, a fundamental issue in poor or underdeveloped areas. − The creation of a platform able to integrate top-down planning decisions and bottom-up developments driven by citizens, allowing for the production of scenarios of development based on different individual choices integrated in the urban context. This would allow to maintain a certain degree of freedom fro the inhabitants, while at the same time offering a valuable tool for the planner to define integrated strategies to drive this unstable and irregular growth, without the need of demolition and evictions.






Architectural 4.0 Development

4.1_Kit of Parts & Open-Source Architecture “Be lazy like a fox.” (Linus Torvalds) One of the main aims of the projects is the integration of new structures within the processes and the dynamics of the selfconstruction of the city. The main goal is to achieve a system able to allow citizen to continue to build their own city, generating a strong community feeling, but at the same time allow planners and municipalities to embed a certain level of infrastructural services and building quality in this process. In order to achieve this, a logic based on “kit-of-parts” appear to be useful, allowing the creation of a rule based components set for the construction of a city as modular entity, where the connection between units and the geometry of the units themselves determine partially the final output, while at the same time leaving spaces for individual expression and customization. This approach couples with recent ideas on architecture as an open-source process, where the traditional distinction between planners and citizens in blurred in favour of the emergence of collaborative practices of urban growth. In order to achieve this, it is necessary that urban planning and architectural professions abandon a tradition of obscurantist attitude, in order to open up 124

the design process to a wider public, able to integrate its own needs and knowledge in it. The main focus is in finding ways to couple the traditional dynamics of self-construction with the emerging field of open-source hardware, where the process of democratization of production processes opens up new spaces for the empowerment of citizens as designers of their own urban environment. This would possibly counterbalance the neoliberal trends of considering the city as a consumer’s product, and rather reintroduce human engagement with their cities.

www.plethora-project. com

Istanbul Biennale 2012


4.2_Open-Source Case Studies 4.2.1_ WikiHouse WikiHouse is an attempt to develop an open source construction set, based on online shared designs of housing prototypes, that can be freely downloaded, CNC-cut and assembpled by small teams in really few time (even less than a day). The project consists of three elements: the open library of parts, a collection of 3D models ready fro free download, a SketchUp plug-in, that allows for the visualization and the production of cut files for CNC machines, and an open community of designers, architects, engineers and software developers that work on the project and share the findings freely on the web. Togheter, these elements create an attempt to address the issue of local and self-constructed cities, offering a easy framework for the construction of cheap and effective housing typologies.

http://www.wikihouse. cc/guide


Advantages The system offers an interesting and effective way to integrate the effort of a global community towards the issue of housing all over the world. The free and simple approach allows for various development in a wide range of places. Moreover, the opensource logic allows for the creation of a wide research team on the topic.

Disadvantages The project at the moment is limited to the construction of single-storey detached houses, and in this way it doesn’t tackle the fundamental issue of density in cities. Furthermore, it relies completely on contemporary technologies, both in terms of softwares (World Wide Web, SketchUp) and hardware (CNC cutting), that are having a great expansion, but are still far from being mainstream, especially in slum areas of developing countries.

http://www.wikihouse. cc/guide


http://blog.wikihouse. cc/

http://www.wikihouse. cc/guide

http://www.wikihouse. cc/guide


http://blog.wikihouse. cc/

http://www.wikihouse. cc/guide


sequence of generation of structural frame

grasshopper definition


starting the assemblage

finishing the assemblage

1:20 structure model

1:20 structure model

1:20 structure model


4.2.2 _ Elemental Elemental is a for profit company, founded in 2000 at Harvard University, with the aim of offering professional skills in the construction of social housing, overcoming the traditional association between this kind of buildings with poor quality and lack of infrastructures. The main focus of this research is to provide fast, reliable and cheap housing for contexts with scarce resources. By identifying the limitations, both in economical and spatial terms, and working on them togheter with the inhabitants of the areas, Elemental achieved to build housing prototypes that, while offering a cheap and functional housing model, they also empower the inhabitants, by allowing them to expand and change their units for a small amount of money, so to consistently increase their market value.



Between the different projects, the Elemental Iquique (Chile, 2001) clearly represents the possiblity offered by this novel approach to the issues of social housing. Starting from a tough brief, that was to house 90 families with just 7500$ for each of them, the team proposed a prefabricated design, which included a small unit (36 sqm), designed to offer the possibility of doubling the size of it with a small investment. The strategy proofed to be right, since after 5 years all the houses were expanded to they full size, customized by

each of the inhabitants according to their needs and wills. Advantages The project offers a clear view of the possibilities offered by a rational approach to the issue of social housing, allowing for a model that at the same time lowers the prices of housing construction, speeds up the times with the use of prefabricated units, and at the same time empowers the citizens by allowing them to change, adapt and increase the value of their households. Disadvantages The use of prefabricated concrete units, while offering a cheap and reliable construction system, nevertheless it requires the presence of complex and expensive machines for the construction of the units on site, in this way not allowing the citizens themselves to take part in the layout of the basic structures of their houses. Moreover, the concrete structure offer small possibilities of reversibility and reuse in different contexts.





after vivienda-housing/ elemental/


4.3_Self Assembly Logics In order to define possible ways of partially determining the overall outcome of a modular system, while at the same time allowing for variations, self-assembly logics have been researched. Self-assembly is a process of emergence of order from simple interactions of individual units, but it differs from self-organization in the fact that it reached a stable state rather than a dynamic pattern. Self-Assembly process occur often in nature, from the basic chemistry of organisms to complex collective behaviours of social insects. The latter exhibit a specific set of behaviours, named under the label of â&#x20AC;&#x153;qualitative stigmergyâ&#x20AC;?, where the necessary communications between individuals are not carried out through chemical signals (quantitative stigmergy), but rather thought the architecture of the nest itself and the geometry of the interconnected cells. This behaviour appears really interesting for this research, since it allows to embed a communication language within the architecture, that drive the growth of the nest even if the interactions between the individuals are completely chaotic. On of the main field of application of selfassembly processes is the field of swarm robotics. Starting from this, a group of researches gathered around the mathematician Robert Ghrist developed a method to 134

represent, understand and foresee the assembly logic of a generic self-assembly robotic system. Through this method, based on graph grammar, it is possible to foresee all the possible combinations of the different elements of the systems, and, in this way, evaluating them against the predefined goal. Starting from this study, this research attempted to generate a graph grammar for housing typologies, in order to attempt to initiate a process of self-assembly of the city, able to regulate the current chaotic self-construction processes.


http://commons. FIle:Wasp_nest_2.jpg

http://www. suckerpunchdaily. com/2011/04/22/logicmatter/#more-13240


4.4_Existing typologies Study In order to understand the architectural logic of self-built houses, a set of existing typologies have been studied. The aim was to inform the subsequent algorithms with a topological logic derived from the existing construction, while at the same time finding ways to improve it. The units have been studied by firstly identifying the different components and then by determining the adjacency relationships between them. Each unit has been then defined as a topological cell with a center and a set of connections to other unit typologies starting from it. The next step have been em boding these diagrams in a volumetric unit of a room, combining each of the diagrams with different possible sizes in order to generate a large pool of construction elements. In this process some of the units have been changed or removed, in order to eliminate unsuccess-

ful configuration from the pool; in particular, toilets without access from within the house and kitchens with size below 2sq have been considered unfit for the creation of a functional housing unit. Subsequently, a set of architectural and urban constrains have been applied to the existing units, and from this new sets of cells have been generated. Specifically, the constrains and rules applied regarded the introduction of garden units, the substitution/integration of non-functional elements (toilets and kitchens), the introduction of staircases to expand the houses blocks vertically and the relationship with the road location. The knowledge and the cells sets generated through this study can then be applied in block generation algorithms, allowing for the exploration of different configurations while maintaining a degree of connection with the existing construction processes within the neighbourhood.


w w

existing housing unit


topological diagram of house

topological diagram of single cell


cell module with connections

kitchen toilet bedroom hall storage balcony corridor entrance window

colour and symbol key

20 typical Gecekondu houses, translated to adjacency diagram and cells.


house improving logic.

existing house configuration in Gecekondu areas.


evaluatin house performance in terms of function and dimensions.

elaborate the house configuration.

garden as screen of privacy.

road adjacency to entrance.

improved plans.


4.5_Block Simulation 4.5.1_Graph SImulation The first attempt to explore self-assembly logics for the creation of housing units has been done by combining the studies of Ghrist’s graph grammar with the analysis of the existing typologies of houses in gecekondu. Each house have been decomposes in individual rooms, and each room have been translated in a cellular diagram of its topology, defining a certain size according to surface needs and a set of connections, representing the adjacencies encountered in the houses’ structure. Once these diagrams have been generated, they are input in an algorithm that randomly attempts to combine these cells in housing configurations. The choice of randomness for this process have been determined by the need of testing different connectivity and adjacency rules in a completely unruled settings, to test the ability of different sets of cells to obtain coherent and functional configurations by simply combining cells according to bottom-up logics. The study have been developed both in 2d and in 3d, in the last allowing the creation of a “stair” type cell, transforming the horizontal connection in a vertical one and thus generating new layers. Volumetric options 140

for different shapes have been explored, by arranging different geometric cells around the connectivity diagram. Due to structural and construction constrains, as well as the need to generate differences while at the same time keeping the complexity of the system low, box-shaped cells appeared to be more suitable for the overall system to define a set of construction modules.

t=400 t=800 t=1000


t=100 t=200



simulation showing connections via graph grammar


4.5.2_Block Simulation The previous studies into graph grammars and the analysis of the existing typologies have been combined in a simulation able to generate new neighbourhood blocks, using the existing structures as scaffolding for the growth of the new parts of the neighbourhood. The connectivity-based cells uses in the previous simulation have been improved by embidying them in a volumetric box, determining in this way the geometrical configuration of the different connections. Moreover, connections of type â&#x20AC;&#x153;windowâ&#x20AC;? have been added, in order to define specific parts of the external surfaces to maintain free for light and ventilation. The environment of the algorithm have been structured on multiple levels, in order both to develop the neighbourhood vertically and to keep track of the relative location of each cell according to others; this have been considered fundamental both for organizing the circulatory logic and to define a stacking procedure that would allow any block in an upper level to have a block in the level below to support it. The levels works also as potential generators, attracting more cells in areas that are reached by either stairs or roads.


The simulation develops by continuously adding new units in available locations, being them on top of existing houses, or adjacent to them. Nevertheless, the geometrical configuration of the cells and the topology of the connections allow to control the density of the growing neighbourhood, by inserting gardens, balconies and open spaces.

random n number as number of cells in the house .

existing road network .

road potential .

existing building fabric .

surface potential .

stairs connecting levels .

level potential .

block simulation logic repeat this for n time till the house is complete.

random position .

cell set with entrance connection .

cell set .

random cell .

random cell with the right connection to the base cell .

check the intersections if not start a new house .

check the intersections road,existing houses,existing cells .

check for support from levels below .

attach cells .


t=5 t=250



perspective view of block simulation






perspective view of block simulation with sun analysis on gardens





plan view of block simulation





plan view of block simulation with showing the level connections


4.5.3_Circulation Logic

of each level to the ground.

In order to define a hierarchy within the neighbourhood and at the same time keep under control the density of it, the block simulation have been coupled with a set of strategies to define a communication network within the growing structure.

A set of thresholds have been inserted in order to better control the growth of this infrastructural network, limiting the maximum length of a connection between house and stairs (in order to avoid excess of networks), and the size of the start point of each stairs (in order to define distributed open spaces in the neighbourhood).

The ground level network branches from the existing roads, connecting this to the new appearing houses, calculating the shortest path within the existing buildings. The upper levels are served both by the stairs of the existing buildings, being these on the sides or in the interior of them, and by a set of new generated stairs on the walls of new cells in locations close to the existing roads. The stairs are then connected on each level with the houses close to them, creating an efficient network on each of the levels, that would allow the connection

Each step of the connection covers a distance of 2.4m, allowing for the design of modular systems that could be self deployed by citizens to create new network where needed. Moreover, these modules could be designed to incorporate the basic infrastructural networks, such as water, sewage, electricity, in order to generate a truly decentralized and opened infrastructural system.

circulation logic

new house and existing roads

Calculation of distances from the road for each cell

Selection of closest cell to road

repeat till the road is reached


generation of new road

calculation of new distances for each cell





simulation showing the circulation network in plan





simulation showing the circulation network in prespectice


built 50% garden 50% building

cell optimization logic


4.5.4_Cells Optimization In order to define set of cells optimized for specific tasks, a genetic algorithm have been used to evaluate the result of the block simulation. The parameters that has been attempted to optimize relate both to internal structure of the house, by defining the presence of the basic functional elements (kitchen, toilet, bedroom, garden) or by defining percentages between different elements (built space and green areas), and to external factors, such as orientation of the windows and solar exposure of the gardens. The genetic algorithm have been set up by defining a population of cells set, each composed by 20 cells (the â&#x20AC;&#x153;genomeâ&#x20AC;?) and by subsequently running the simulation for a predetermined number of steps; the output housing units of the simulation have then been evaluated according to the selected parameters, and the most successful sets passed to the mating pool to determine the next population. After a number of iterations, the simulation starts to select specific cells that, according to their geometry and connectivity configurations, can determine specific optimal outputs. Due to computational limitations, it has not been possible to run the algorithm for a really large number of iterations, so to determine marked increases in the fitness level, but nevertheless the use of this technique has allowed to determine sets of cells with a fitness doubled compared

to the starting sets. By expanding the computational power and the number of iterations, it would be possible to select highly adapted sets for specific tasks. Subsequently, the generated sets have been used to run different simulations, in order to test their actual capability of generating functional relationships even in an unruled environment, and this have proved to be successful in most of the cases (the less successful one would probably benefit for changes in the fitness functions of the genetic algorithm).

typical Gecekondu houses.

elaborate existing houses.

conectivity diagram of the houses.


number n as population size .

of connection cells(unites).

repeat this for n sequences.

random selection of m numebr cells as genome.

block sim

built complete house including, garden, kitchen and toilet built maximising sun on the gardens

built north facing windows

built south facing windows


ection of m s as genome.

block simulation.

Evaluation method checks to each house for toilet, kitchen and hall and gives a fitness value

additional Evaluation methods for maximising sunlight, solargain oriantation, ratio between built and unbuit.

selection based on highest fitness rate.

mating pool

save the best sequence.

selection sequences.


4.5.5_Block Simulation with Cell Classes The last step of the study is to use the different sets within the block simulation in response to specific conditions. The algorithm is designed as an interactive interface, in which the user would be able to track in real-time the different parameters characterizing the area (built/green ratio, percentage of complete houses, orientation of windows, sun exposure of gardens), and upon need, shift between different cells sets to maintain a balance between the parameters or to rather optimize a selection of them. This structure attempts to move away from an idea of algorithmic solution as a convergent option, and rather proposes a more

open and free search in a complex space of possibilities. Rather than searching for a global average, that would probably fail to satisfy most of the parameters, and would also generate repetitive and uninteresting spaces, the algorithm constructs a series of local optima, each optimized for a specific location and a specific parameters, and then build the city as juxtapositions of different optimized elements, creating a complex and vivid spatial configuration. This process parallels the main idea for the implementation of the project, where citizens would be allowed to continue to selfbuild the city, by aggregating geometrical modules provided by municipalities, while the planners would be able to track the development of the neighbourhood and provide specific cells sets in response to changes in the structure of the settlements.

Window Orientation NORTH

switch cells sets simulation output House Elements KITCHEN - TOILET - GARDEN


Window Orientation SOUTH


Built / Garden Ratio 50% - 50%









switch cells sets simulation


4.6_Output The output of the simulation shows one of the possible outcomes of the outlined design process, that would integrate selfconstruction with architectural and planning knowledge to create a new model of neighbourhood. The resulting configurations show complex patterns of interlinked spaces on different levels, with the infrastructural network that structures them in a coherent system. The overall density of the neighbourhood is highly increased, with the introduction of at least 1000 new units, btu at the same time the characteristics and the topological organization derived from the study of first-phase gecekondu is maintained; this Mahalleh number 7, plan.


would allow to keep a link between the self-built neighbourhood and the expansion allowed by the modular kit provided. Different configurations can be obtained by selecting different sets of cells and by attempting to optimize each area according to specific parameters. This would be extremely valuable for the extension of the system on an higher scale, and thus to resolve the need to create diversity in structure, functions and form between neighbourhood, in order to define different polarities and fields within the urban fabric and revitalize the urban life of these areas.

Mahalleh number 7, global view.

Mahalleh number 7, close-up view.

Mahalleh number 7, close-up view.

Mahalleh number 7, section.




5.0_Conclusions 5.1_Informality as New Paradigm Informal settlements and slums are today considered one of the main concerns of worldwide architectural and planning intelligence. However, what this research tried to demonstrate is the innate potential that lies in bottom-up processes of urbanization, both from the perspective of redefining design and planning procedures, and for the ability to construct sustainable livelihood within complex, and often hostile, urban situations. By constructing practices able to understand and embrace the complex productive dynamics of these settlements, it appears possible to construct a new paradigm for architecture and urban planning, where the traditional rigid determinations of form and function are substituted by the production and interpretation of weak tendencies within the city. This would allow to extract from informal area a new understanding of subaltern urbanism, where the tactics of illegally built housing become new architectural procedures to act in the field of neoliberal forces, freeing architecture from the impasse created by the absence of any governmental control and the dominance of market dynamics. This would be possible just by understanding the city as a dynamic set of economi156

cal, social and environmental fields in continuous movement, embracing flexibility and change as necessary conditions for a redefinition of contemporary architectural practices. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The endless summer is a global pursuitâ&#x20AC;? (Reiser+Umemoto).

5.2_Computational Strategies In this process, the role of computational tools for urban design needs to be redefined in order to move from processes of form-making to procedures of relationship-making. Understanding the basic nature of computation, based on the construction of connectivity networks between informations, being them physical or virtual, allows for this shift: indeed, the informational and relational nature of these tools shows them as effective instruments to generate complex models of social, economical and ecological relationships, and would allow to operate the design process within these models, to achieve an adaptive design process.

complex feedback loops between conception and construction, and in doing this, between computational techniques and construction craft. This would allow for a deeper openness of planning processes, able to accommodate self-construction processes as part of the development of a city, and thus envision tactics to understand, foresee and drive the outcomes of these processes.

The second shift necessary is the one, already partially discussed within the realm of informal settlements, from processes of elaboration of designs as finished products to a more dynamic interconnection between design and construction, understanding architectural practice as a process of management and control over a continuously shifting reality. By accepting the impossibility of producing perfectly adapted designs, due to the continuous shift of the conditions to which design itself is exposed, is appears possible to redefine architecture and urban planning as continuous processes of adaptation, creating 157

5.3_Interfaces for Participatory Design and Construction This repositioning of the computational tools needs to be paralleled with a repositioning of the role of the architect within the process of city planning and construction: if the computational tools shift from form-making to procedural modelling, simulation and management, the role of the architect shifts from the designer of objects to the designer of the system that generates and manipulates these objects. When the objects of the algorithms are social systems, it appears necessary to open up the process to a wider audience, allowing not just to simulate urban processes, but to actually integrate wills, needs and choices of citizens within the model itself. This process requires the architectural profession to challenge its traditional selfunderstanding, in order to allow to a larger field of influences to be integrated in the design process, increasing the complexity and the possibility of generating successful outcomes. But at the same time, this apparent loss of control over the design process could redefine in a stronger way the role of the architect, not just as the expert in his/ her own discipline, but rather as a figure able to combine different tendencies and field of knowledge, apparently incompatible, into a coherent and functional whole.


In order for this to happen, there is a need to understand the design process as the creation of interfaces between different actors and different expertises, allowing each of them to pursue its own interests while at the same time joining the forces in the creation of a more sustainable and liveable urban environments,

5.4_A New Political Role For Architecture The outlined process attempted to create new strategies to deal with the interventions in informal settlements, aided by the use of computational tools. Even if the study is really specific on the gecekondu areas of Istanbul, the findings and methods developed could be extended to a larger set of urban context, both in informal areas of developing cities, as well to the consolidated sprawling cities of developed world. The main aim is to find whether informal practices, always considered problematic for urban development, could rather offer a radically new view on urbanism, claiming for openness, flexibility and sustainability. Moreover, this practices attempt to bring architectural back to its own political power as organizer of people and activities within space, through tactical practices of â&#x20AC;&#x153;urban guerillaâ&#x20AC;?, acting in the leftover spaces of neoliberal development to construct radical alternatives to the current marketdriven trends.

This research is far from giving answers to these topic, also because each challenge the ethical sensibility of each architect and planner, but it anyway attempted to open up the discussion and propose a different direction of study within the discipline itself.

This would open up questions in term of authorship, property and the role of an architect within its own social environment, and would attempt to bring architecture out of a bubble of self-criticism and selfreferentiality, in order to engage with the social, economical and ecological materials of the real world. 159


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Lila PanahiKazemi holds a Master degree in Architecture from the Dessau Institute of Architecture, a Bachelor degree in architecture from Leeds Metropolitan University and a Bachelor degree in industrial Engineering from Elm O Farhang University in Tehran. She worked at Sturgeon North architect in England and, after finishing first year of MArch dealing with bioregional, closed loop urbanism with Greg Keeffe, she moved to Germany, dealing with computational design, trying to bridge the gap with her previous research in Leeds. She collaborated with Co_Des (peer to peer education) in Dessau, organising various workshops on digital design tools.

She has exhibited in Slovenian pavilion at XIII Venice Biennale as part of “Maribor 2112 YC” and in the upcoming ACADIA Conference at the University of Waterloo (CAN), presented at EnCodingArchitecture conference at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, USA), at the PerformanceDriven Exhibition at the FUGA Gallery (Budapest, HU) and been one of the workshop leaders at “MediaCities 4” conference at the State University of New York (Buffalo, USA).

Andrea Rossi holds a Master degree from the Dessau Institute of Architecture and a Bachelor degree from Politecnico di Milano. He worked as intern for NuMiStudio (Milan) and then he moved to Berlin, working as architect in AnOtherArchitect (Daniel Dendra) office. He took part to various workshops on digital design tools, and recently he started teaching these topics in different workshops in Italy, Germany and USA. He has been the initiator and the main organizer of the group Co_Des (peer to peer education) in Dessau, where he was teaching design tools to other students. He has exhibited in Slovenian pavilion at

XIII Venice Biennale as part of “Maribor 2112 YC” and in the upcoming ACADIA Conference at the University of Waterloo (CAN), presented at EnCodingArchitecture conference at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, USA), at the PerformanceDriven Exhibition at the FUGA Gallery (Budapest, HU) and been one of the workshop leaders at “MediaCities 4” conference at the State University of New York (Buffalo, USA).

Contacts Lila PanahiKazemi Mail: Phone: +4915784598430 Andrea Rossi Mail: Phone: +491731415497 (Germany) +393334343458 (Italy) Web


Profile for Temporary Autonomous Architecture

Spatializing The Social | Computational Strategies for Intervention in Informal Areas of Istanbul  

This research proposes a set of architectural and urban strategies to deal with the issue of intervention in informal settlements, informed...

Spatializing The Social | Computational Strategies for Intervention in Informal Areas of Istanbul  

This research proposes a set of architectural and urban strategies to deal with the issue of intervention in informal settlements, informed...