A Closer Look at Rule-Based Design in Urban Planning

In recent decades, pre-determined plans have gradually lost ground in managing the form and performance of cities. The use of smart design techniques may be a method of managing urban complexity, according to current urban planning theories. Despite this, the proposed approach has received limited experience in practice, and further research is needed to determine how to integrate them into urban planning.

Best urban design software allows for the shift from predetermined urban plans to design rules; this study provides an insight into rule-based urban design. Comparative analyses of some cases in the north of Europe were used as the basis for the methodology. The integration of smart design techniques into urban planning is driven by the ability to provide both variety and harmony, the separation between the roles of the code writer and the building designer, and the ability to support the implementation process and to prescribe specific qualities.

Smart design techniques, rule-based design, urban planning and complexity. The concept of managing the city form and performance through pre-determined models, such as master plans, standards, or grand schemes, has been drifting from the mainstream urbanism of the last few decades, mainly due to the growth of different topics in urban planning. Prigogine developed his theory of Dissipative Structures during an era of complexity and uncertainty , and this idea has developed through urban theories and practices characterized by the notion of complexity resulting in unpredictable patterns on a large scale .

Designers are less accustomed to dealing with urban rules, which have been conceived as abstract patterns intended to define physical relationships that lie behind the urban form, which are usually left to municipal building authorities, their administrators, lawyers, and economists. Although rules are often viewed as restrictions on artistic creativity, it is easy to argue that they have always underpinned urban composition and design. Throughout recorded history, different forms of regulation of the built environment have occurred according to Carmona et al. As an example, codes date back to ancient times;

For instance, Roman street standards, or Vitruvius, whose Nine Books on Architecture discussed issues including city layout, construction of city walls, orientation and public spaces, and building materials. Ecological considerations, connected with information and communication technologies and devices, social interaction and self-governance-were some of the many aspects questioned and undermined.

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Predicting the form of cities with deterministic models. A new generation of urban studies has been born out of a recognition of the limitations of conventional approaches to the theme of urban complexity. Consequently, an updated perspective on urbanism has emerged that emphasizes bottom-up collective pattern formation and control rather than predetermined models. In this context, several new forms of hybrid and flexible urban planning strategies have emerged, often based on ‘soft’ relationships and interactive governance between actors and institutions. Eventually, this trend points to a generative approach to urbanism that goes hand-in-hand with the phenomenon of planning without a strategy.

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