Design Agency

Prototyping Multi-agent Systems in Architecture
  • David Jason GerberEmail author
  • Evangelos Pantazis
  • Leandro Soriano Marcolino
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 527)


This paper presents research on the prototyping of multi-agent systems for architectural design. It proposes a design exploration methodology at the intersection of architecture, engineering, and computer science. The motivation of the work includes exploring bottom up generative methods coupled with optimizing performance criteria including for geometric complexity and objective functions for environmental, structural and fabrication parameters. The paper presents the development of a research framework and initial experiments to provide design solutions, which simultaneously satisfy complexly coupled and often contradicting objectives. The prototypical experiments and initial algorithms are described through a set of different design cases and agents within this framework; for the generation of façade panels for light control; for emergent design of shell structures; for actual construction of reciprocal frames; and for robotic fabrication. Initial results include multi-agent derived efficiencies for environmental and fabrication criteria and discussion of future steps for inclusion of human and structural factors.


Generative design Parametric design Multi-Agent systems Digital fabrication Form finding Reciprocal frames 



The work has been supported by grants from Autodesk Inc. and the National Science foundation. This project is partly supported by the National Science Foundation funding under the contract 1231001. Any discussion, procedure, result, and conclusion discussed in this paper are the authors’ views and do not reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. We would also like to acknowledge the contributions from Ye Tian, Arsalan Heydarian, and Joao P. Carneiro, Jingbo Yan, Yuze Liu and Rheseok Kim.


  1. 1.
    Adriaenssens, S., et al. (eds.): Shell Structures for Architecture: Form Finding and Optimization. Routledge, London (2014)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Anumba, C., Ren, Z., Ugwu, O.: Agents and Multi-Agent Systems in Construction. Routledge, London (2007)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Balmond, C., Smith, J., Brensing, C.: Informal. Prestel, Munich (2002)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bhooshan, S., El Sayed, M.: Use of sub-division surfaces in architectural form-finding and procedural modeling. In: Proceedings of the 2011 Symposium on Simulation for Architecture and Urban Design. Society for Computer Simulation International, Boston, Massachusetts, pp. 60–67 (2011)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Block, P., Ochsendorf, J.: Thrust network analysis: a new methodology for three-dimensional equilibrium. Int. Assoc. Shell Spat. Struct. 155, 167 (2007)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Braumann, J., Brell-Cokcan, S.: Parametric robot control: integrated CAD/CAM for architectural design. In: ACADIA 11 Integration through computation, Calgary/Banff, pp. 242–251 (2011)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bullinger, H.-J., Bauer, W., Wenzel, G., Blach, R.: Towards user centred design (UCD) in architecture based on immersive virtual environments. Comput. Ind. 61(4), 372–379 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Burry, J., Burry, M., Tamke, M., Thomsen, M.R., Ayres, P., Leon, A.P., Davis, D., Deleuran, A., Nielson, S., Riiber, J.: Process through practice: synthesizing a novel design and production ecology. In: ACADIA 12 Synthetic Digital Ecologies, San Francisco, pp. 127–138 (2012)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Chandru, V., Manohar, S., Prakash, C.E.: Voxel-based modeling for layered manufacturing: computer graphics and applications. IEEE 15(6), 42–47 (1995)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Chilton, J., Isler, H.: The Engineer’s Contribution to Contemporary Architecture, p. 168. Thomas Telford Publishing, London (2000)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    DeLoach, S.A., Wood, M.F., Sparkman, C.H.: Multiagent systems engineering. Int. J. Softw. Eng. Knowl. Eng. 11(03), 231–258 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Evans, R.: The Projective Cast: Architecture and its Three Geometries. MIT Press, MA (2000)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Scheurer, F., Schindler, C., Braach, M.: From design to production: three complex structures materialised in wood. In: 6th International Conference Generative Art, Milan (2005)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Fallacara, G.: Digital stereotomy and topological transformations: reasoning about shape building. In: Proceedings of Second International Congress Construction History, Queen’s College, Cambridge, pp. 1075–1092 (2006)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Gerber, D.J.: Paradigms in Computing: Making, Machines, and Models for Design Agency in Architecture. Gerber, D.J., Ibanez, M. (eds.). eVolo, Los Angeles (2014)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Gerber, D.J.: The Parametric Affect: Computation, Innovation and Models for Design Exploration in Contemporary Architectural Practice. Graduate School of Design (GSD), Cambridge (2009)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Gramazio, F., Kohler, M.: Digital materiality in architecture, vol. 1, p. 111. Lars Müller Publishers, Baden (2008)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Heydarian, A., Carneiro, J.P., Gerber, D.J., Becerik-Gerber, B., Hayes, T., Wood, W.: Immersive virtual environments: experiments on impacting design and human building interaction. In: Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia (CAADRIA), Rethinking Comprehensive Design: Speculative Counterculture, Kyoto, pp. 729–738 (2014)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Hoes, P., Hensen, J.L.M., Loomans, M.G.L.C., De Vries, B., Bourgeois, D.: User behavior in whole building simulation. Energy Build. 41(3), 295–302 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Kaczynski, M.P., McGee, W., Pigram, D.: Robotically fabricated thin-shell vaulting: a method for the integration of multi-axis fabrication processes with algorithmic form-finding techniques. In: ACADIA 11: Integration through Computation, Banff, Alberta, pp. 114–121 (2011)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Kilian, A., Ochsendorf, J.: Particle spring systems for structural form Finding. J. Int. Assoc. Shell Spat. Struct. IASS 46, 147 (2005)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Lachauer, L., Rippmann, M., Block, P.: Form finding to fabrication: a digital design process for masonry vaults. In: Proceedings of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures (IASS) Symposium (2010)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Larsen, O.P.: Reciprocal Frame Architecture. Elsevier, Oxford (2008)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Lin, S.-H.E., Gerber, D.J.: Designing-in performance: a framework for evolutionary energy performance feedback in early stage design. Autom. Constr. 38, 59–73 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Lorensen, W.E., Cline, H.E.: Marching cubes: a high resolution 3D surface construction algorithm. In: ACM Siggraph Computer Graphics, ACM, pp. 163–169 (1987)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Maher, A., Burry, M.: The Parametric Bridge: connecting digital design techniques in architecture and engineering. In: ACADIA 03: Crossroads of Digital Discourse, Indianapolis, pp. 39–47 (2003)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Marcolino, L.S., Pantazis, E., Kolev, B., Price, S., Tian, Y., Gerber, D., Tambe, M.: Agents vote for the environment: designing energy-efficient architecture. In: AAAI Workshop on Computational Sustainability (AAAI 2015), Texas (2015)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Marcolino, L.S., Xu, H., Jiang, A.X., Tambe, M., Bowring, E.: Team formation in large action spaces. In: 17th International Workshop on Coordination, Organisations, Institutions and Norms (COIN 2014), Paris (2014)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Menges, A.: Morphospaces of Robotic fabrication. In: Brell-Cokcan, S., Braumann, J. (eds.) Rob| Arch 2012, pp. 28–47. Springer, Vienna (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Pantazis, E., Gerber, D.J.: Material swarm articulations - new view reciprocal frame canopy. In: Thompson, E.M. (ed.) 32nd eCaade: Fusion, Newcastle, pp. 463–473 (2014)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Piker, D.: Kangaroo: form finding with computational physics. Archit. Des. 83(2), 136–137 (2013)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Pine, B.J.: Mass Customization: the New Frontier in Business Competition. Harvard Business Press, Cambridge (1999)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Pottmann, H., Eigensatz, M., Vaxman, A., Wallner, J.: Architectural geometry. Comput. Graph. 47, 145–164 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Pugnale, A., Parigi, D., Kirkegaard, P.H., Sassone, M.: The principle of structural reciprocity: history, properties and design issues. In: IABSE-IASS Symposium- Taller, Longer, Lighter: Meeting Growing Demand with Limited Resource. Hemming Group Ltd., London (2011)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Reinhart, C.F.: Lightswitch-2002: a model for manual and automated control of electric lighting and blinds. Sol. Energy 77(1), 15–28 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Reynolds, C.W.: Flocks, herds and schools: a distributed behavioral model: ACM Siggraph. Comput. Graph. 21(4), 25–34 (1987)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Rippmann, M., Block, P.: Digital Stereotomy: Voussoir geometry for freeform masonry-like vaults informed by structural and fabrication constraints. In: Proceedings of the IABSE-IASS Symposium, London, vol. 9 (2011)Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Rippmann, M., Lachauer, L., Block, P.: Interactive vault design. Int. J. Space Struct. 27(4), 219–230 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Schumacher, P.: Parametric order – architectural order via an agent based parametric semiology. In: Spyropoulos, T. (ed.) Adaptive Ecologies – Correlated Systems of Living. AA Publication, London (2012)Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Sycara, K.P.: Multiagent systems. AI Mag. 19(2), 79–92 (1998)Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Tachi, T., Epps, G.: Designing One-DOF mechanisms for architecture by rationalizing curved folding. In: Proceedings of the International Symposium on Algorithmic Design for Architecture and Urban Design (ALGODE), Tokyo (2011)Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Terzidis, K.: Algorithmic architecture. Architectural Press, Oxford (2006)Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Van Mele, T., Lachauer, L., Rippmann, M., Block, P.: Geometry-based understanding of structures. J. Int. Assoc. Shell Spat. Struct. 53(4), 285–295 (2012)Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Weinstock, M., Stathopoulos, N.: Advanced simulation in design. Archit. Des. 76, 54–59 (2006)Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Wooldridge, M.: An Introduction to Multiagent Systems, p. 453. Wiley, Glasgow (2009). 1 edGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Jason Gerber
    • 1
    Email author
  • Evangelos Pantazis
    • 1
  • Leandro Soriano Marcolino
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations