Lorenzo Villaggi is a Research Scientist in Autodesk Research. He's an architect, researcher, and educator based in New York City. Lorenzo explores the future of architecture with The Living focusing on generative design, new materials, and the quantification of qualitative spacial experience (i.e., putting numbers to how much people like places). His experiments have been further explored through his teaching of graduate seminars at Columbia University. Lorenzo presented the pre-conference keynote at the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habit (CTBUH) Future of Vertical Urbanism conference, inspiring international participants on the opportunities and benefits of generative design for architecture and for the city.
The era of the traditional Metropolis, fanning out in waves of decreasing density from a single core central business district, may be coming to an end. As we approach the new normality of cities housing 10 million or more inhabitants, those best positioned for the future are evolving along polycentric, multi-nodal lines, with several central business districts, ideally all offering something slightly different to the urban inhabitant. When focused around transit nodes and well-planned infrastructure, embracing high density, public space, and civic functions, this amalgamation of “several cities within a city” perhaps offers the best opportunity for a sustainable future for the many millions of people who will move into cities over the coming decades. [2018.ctbuh.org]
When Autodesk first developed generative design technology, it was used in the product design and manufacturing industry. It was a way for a designer to specify a set of requirements and have the software generate a set of designs that meet that criteria. The requirements often depicted a quest for shape optimization with a set of forces that define where an object needs to be strong and where it could get away with being lightweight. Though generative design is still used in this fashion, it's actually a multi-variable problem solver. Given a set of requirements, the variables, generative design computes various combinations and evaluates them regarding those variables. So it's no surprise that generative design has made the leap from product design and manufacturing to Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC). Generative design was used by Autodesk for the floorplan of our MaRS Office in Toronto as well as by Autodesk customer, Van Wijnen, for designing the layout of a community of neighborhoods. Generative design can make the computer a partner in many design processes.
Autodesk has always been an automation company, and today more than ever that means helping people make more things, better things, with less; more and better in terms of increasing efficiency, performance, quality, and innovation; less in terms of time, resources, and negative impacts (e.g., social, environmental). Generative design is a technology that helps Autodesk customers do more and better with less, whether they be in the product design and manufacturing industry or the AEC industry. We are thrilled that Lorenzo helped CTBUH attendees come to that realization.
Urbanism is alive in the lab.