Generative urban design - Envisioning the redevelopment of Viikinranta

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Master’s Programme in Urban Studies and Planning
In the recent times, the urban characteristics of cities are an identifiable aesthetic, highlighting the diversity, paradigm shifts, and expressions associated with a place. In contemporary times, the design of cities has become a constantly evolving exercise, tackling diverse issues, scales, infrastructures, amenities, streets, public spaces, whilst practicing some form of sustainable actions. Such explorations have had a major shift towards using modern digital tools, while at the same time, taking an integrative approach. This thesis sheds light on the use of digital design methods - specifically, generative design, on the site of Viikinranta, and how they could be used as an open-ended and collaborative tool towards envisioning the urban realms in Helsinki of the future. With a brief introduction in Chapter 2, towards why and how is generative design a tool in the urban process, the thesis aims at proposing a simple, logical and coherent framework which can become the groundwork for utilizing the said processes in many scenarios. Keeping in mind the various stakeholders which are involved in the urban process, the thesis provides a pathway to integrate highly manipulative digital models, in conjunction with conventional intuition, to recommend a flexible approach to urban design. Outlooks and inference from the literature and core theory reviewed in Chapter 3, shed light on the emergence of generative and parametric practices in urban design. While being mostly experimental, the inferences from an ever-expanding literature consider the influence of the use of digital methods as being both qualitative and quantitative drivers towards an integrated urban design and planning approach. The site of Viikinranta is introduced in its completeness in Chapter 4. Sandwiched between vintage and modern developments, surrounded by nature and having no immediate positive opinion, the site is a veritable ground for experimenting with a process like generative design. While looking at the prospects and propositions from the past, present and future; guiding principles, concepts and a vision gets established for the area. In support of achieving the vision for the site, categorized case studies have been examined in Chapter 5, for diverse considerations, which extend an insight to proposing an involved and exceptional urban design and planning concept for the area involved. Forming another theoretical core of the thesis, these case studies provide an invaluable outlook towards reinventing an urban area. Chapters 6 and 7 finally establish all the ideas, concepts and visions gathered from the previous chapters to apply them in a real-time scenario. From a combined vision framework, the master plan is hence developed incorporating two scenarios that can be utilized in the development of Viikinranta. The thesis concludes with its findings and future prospects in Chapter 8. Answering the likes of - Where does the importance of this process lie? Can generative design be positively useful in collaborative urban design and planning? What does the future hold for utilizing a framework like this in future Helsinki urban projects? This thesis hopes to answer them.
Hewidy, Hossam
Thesis advisor
Jama, Teemu
Jama, Kaisa
generative design, urban form, Helsinki, urban diversity, Viikinranta, topography, optimization, architecture
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