Spatializing The Social


Spatializing the Social – Computational Strategies for the Intervention in Informal Areas of Istanbul

Location: Derbent, Istanbul (Turkey)

Typology: Urban Research Project

Team: Lila PanahiKazemi, Andrea Rossi

Master Thesis at the Dessau Institute of Architecture – Supervised by Krassimir Krastev, Prof. Andrea Haase – Awarded the “Robert Oxman prize” for Best Thesis project 2013

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.

holecodeThis 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.


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