Take voxels (a way of representing volumes in pixels), add a little of John Conway’s legendary Game of Life system, and make architecture. The result: crazy-delicious generative urbanism, built in Processing.

Like its precedent, Voxopolis begins with a set of conditions and variables that, when implemented, require no further human input for its subsequent generations. Each new generation is based on its predecessor.

What is different now is that it is three dimensional plus it happens at multiple levels at the same time. The voxels inside one building change their state according to neighbour-checking rules but the plots containing the buildings do it as well at an urban scale with different variables like building type, height, occupancy etc.

But the really interesting point, where the structure of the city is getting complex, is that these various scalar layers interact with each other. The voxels influence the buildings, which in turn influence the urban structure and vice versa. The whole city is a complex relational network operating at different scales, from the large city scale down to the voxel scale. Everything follows it’s [sic] own rules but is also interconnected with the rest of the city and therefore informs and influences everything else as well.

Discussion: Processing forums

By the way, if you’re interested in working with the Game of Life in Processing, there’s some useful code and discussion on implementation linked from that same thread:
Game of life and others .. [yelele_eu, also on Processing forums]

It may be well worth extending those ideas in English, as well.

This work is by:
Jeannette Kuo
Dino Rossi
Dominik Zausinger

ETHZ MAS CAAD 2009/2010

Flickr gallery

What’s most striking about it is that, based on this generative framework, they can create a wide variety of aesthetic results, including exporting to separate 3D software and rendering with photorealistic visuals, as seen in bottom.

Processing City – Sandy City (Trailer) from mjchen on Vimeo.

Gorgeous work. I expect readers know of some similar projects, so as always, don’t be shy.