Does the tree have a detailed plan or blueprint for its configuration in shape, color and materials? The answer from biologist is: no. It does not have a detailed blueprint for its existence and growth. Instead, the tree has DNA to dictate the growing process and the configuration of its leaves, branches, trunks as well as its color and materials. The process of development of the tree is always based on existing conditions that adapt to the new stage of development. This process of development is named as the generative process.

Urban researchers find that traditional cities all over the world have evolved in this same generative process, much like the tree. Furthermore, the quality of public space in traditional cities, such as medieval towns in Europe or the Mediterranean region, is highly evaluated and appreciated. In traditional cities squares, streets, and buildings were developed based on existing conditions and adapted to each new stage of development. More specifically, these cities followed rules or regulations that dictated urban environment development but they were still allowed much freedom to develop organically.

My project aims to find the appropriate rules for this development process in today’s context. I simulate the generative process of development in one part of the City of Phoenix to assess the most applicable rules. During his career as an architect, urban designer, and scientist, Christopher Alexander created 15 rules of urban development. These rules are based on the assessment of historic development of traditional cities as well as from analogies of advancement in sciences such as computer science, science of complexity, biology, etc. I employ the simulation program NetLogo, a program that is based on agents or individual entities acting to pursue their goals.

With appropriate generative rules, I will build the Generative Module that can be fitted within the SmartCode, another reformed planning code that is widely-used in the United States and around the world. While the SmartCode provides the overall framework of development for the whole cities or region, the generative code supplies greater adaptability for small areas. By embedding the generative code inside SmartCode, we can have highly adaptable rules for a highly applicable planning code to produce quality urban spaces.

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