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 Smart City Forum | Digital – Kollaborativ – Nachhaltig
Smart City Forum | Digital – Kollaborativ – Nachhaltig

Using artificial intelligence to aid densification

Berlin, 20. February 2020

At the Smart City Forum with its focus on “Digital – Collaborative – Sustainable” that took place on Tuesday (18.2.) at the Building Practice Centre in Hall 3.2 at bautec, contributors included the architect Tobias Nolte from the Berlin practice Certain Measures – Office for Design Science, with methods of seeing and designing by machine. “We are not concerned with recycling”, said Tobias Nolte, “but with redistribution. In other words, arranging things in a new and possibly better way.” He has been involved in the development of a form of artificial intelligence (AI) that can design something completely new, using individual parts. In the first version the architect and his team have made the working processes of an algorithm into a sensory perception. The traditional approach has been to create a concept and then produce it. Nolte’s algorithm reverses the process and considers the resources. The “mechanical eye” of his AI registers the available material and plans its re-use. In this way, and with the aid of Big Data, completely new objects can be created from building waste. An impressive practical example is provided by the chalet project from Certain Measures entitled ‘Cloudfill’: A chalet in Berlin was completely dismantled and each individual component was digitally recorded by means of AI, from single screws to the toaster, the bird cage and the floral wallpaper. In the next step AI was used to re-assemble the individual pieces like a puzzle, to create something new, in this case a new and futuristic chalet, which is now being exhibited in a museum.

However, this technology also has very practical applications, such as the densification of urban spaces. For example, Certain Measures has digitalised all the layout plans for Los Angeles and the AI has search this database for potential spaces in which to erect so-called tiny houses. Given the pressure to build new houses in large cities and urban conglomerations, this process could make a useful contribution to ecologically acceptable densification.