Architecture Research Lab

About ARL News
Architecture Research Lab works to take full advantage of the spectrum of digital and physical tools available for rigorous evaluation and elegant manipulation of a building project throughout the design process.
02.13.2014 - Thesis at UC Berkeley
07.24.2013 - Workshop and Keynote at AIAS Conference in DC

Housing Agency System [HAS]

Housing Agency System (HAS): Multi-Criteria Satisficing & Mass-Customization of Homes is an article describing a generative design system for the design of single family homes. The field of architecture and houses demands a radical re-invention of methodology in order to scale design and regain agency in the design of dwellings. The design of houses has become a highly mechanized process with the most recently available AIA data indicating a maximum of only 28% of houses have direct involvement with an architect or licensed design professional.

The occupants or clients that will eventually inhabit the house are not accounted for in the design process – they have no agency in the design of their home, and marginal agency in the selection as the market provides a limited variety in the housing stock. The result is an urban and neighborhood character that is shaped using mass-production tract housing methods where similar home plans are copied, mirrored and rotated to create standardized communities. These houses are typically built for expedience, fast and cheap. The design process is essentially eliminated in favor of speed and profit.

By contrast, in the Housing Agency System, a distributed network of design stakeholders contribute to an accretive library of component workflows that build up a database of potential solutions, which can be dispatched based on input from the various stakeholders. In the HAS, Search Constructors combine to create a robust “design space” that represents the range of possible design solutions to be analyzed by the solver. Computationally, each search constructor is described as sets of parametric constraints, rules and relationships defined collectively by design stakeholders. These interact to form a FPM or Search Model. When implemented on a design project, each search model requires description at six architectural scales to be complete: Site Model, Planning Strategies, Formal Strategies, Construction Systems, Surface/Detail Systems and Building Components.

A distributed network of collaborators contribute to a component workflow that integrates to the Housing Agency System. The component system allows for combinations of the various strategies that support the accretive library of options. The result is a series of algorithms that make the design of houses a customized process, reducing the costs traditionally associated with custom design that can run into the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a home, a figure that makes custom building out of the realm of possibility for most American families.

An Interface for Viewing Results of Optimization Routines
By viewing a large sample of options and searching through them to find acceptable solutions, the generative production of designs increases the ability of the architect to evaluate a large sample of alternatives. These alternatives are accompanied by performance criteria generated from simulations and may be sorted dynamically.

Tools for Generating House Designs
Working with several programming and modeling environments, a series of tools for creating and documenting design space models are being developed. The diagram below shows the flexing of a design space model as it was constrained for a given site and client.

The design space is overlaid in the image below to describe the space of options evaluated in the generative design routine. A research article, co-authored by Prof. Kyle Steinfeld, documenting the Housing Agency taxonomy will be published soon by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture.

20 Responses to Housing Agency System [HAS]

  1. Greg Howes says:

    Very interesting research. I look forward to the publication of Kyle Steinfeld’s research. I would also like to know the extent of construction industry involvement in the HAS design system? Also, is digital fabrication being considered as a production process for the design applications? I certainly hope so. Please do post additional information on tis as it becomes available.

    We are also doing software development in this area including cad/cam fabrication data as well as some applied building science.



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