Enquiries: Assoc Prof Dr Silvio Carta
Supervisors: Assoc Prof Dr Silvio Carta, Dr Ian W. Owen
Originality. With a new PhD student, we would like to apply and further develop our ongoing research on data-driven spatial configuration and modelling. We want to develop a novel design and development model that encodes social and cultural values (aspiration, aims) of multi and diverse communities into a data-driven approach to ensure that future housing schemes strongly cater for resilient, net-zero and sustainable communities. This aligns with UN and UK targets for net-zero communities, housing and sustainable living.
Significance. By developing and testing a new workflow and design guidelines, this research will bring significant contribution to both the academic field of computational design and design studies, as well as to practical applications, specifically in the domain of housing and construction in the UK.
Rigour. The PhD student will work following the methods we developed in previous research (e.g. Carta et al. 2020, Jankovic and Carta 2021, Carta et al. 2021), as well as well-established computational models, already explored by the proposed supervisory team (e.g. Papadopoulou et al. 2022). Methods include Squarified Treemap (Marson & Musse, 2010), spatial graphs (Tabari 2021), space syntax (Hillier et al. 1976; Dawes et al. 2021), Magnetizing Floor plan Generator (Bielik 2019; Egor et al. 2020; Hellguz 2021).
Contribution to knowledge. This work will advance the existing knowledge and body of work on computational and automated approaches to spatial design, with the encoding of key factors (including social, cultural and sustainable aspects of communities) in the design and construction of housing in the UK. Such aspects are currently overlooked if not neglected, and the proposed work will offer a simple and streamlined way to include them in the design process.
Problem. This study tackles the housing crisis in the UK. Currently, designers, developers and policymakers prioritise financial and legislative elements, including investments return, national and local regulations, and health and safety measures. If focusing on such aspects ensures financially viable and regulation-proof new developments, the quality of living, resilient, net-zero and sustainable communities is almost entirely considered with lower priority. From a sustainable community viewpoint, these new developments will suffer from social and sustainable issues in the mid/long-term. Local values are often ignored or underrated, especially in communities with diverse social and cultural backgrounds.
Background. Our research focuses on the encoding of human aspects in algorithmic-driven approaches. In particular, we have been developing methods to generate spatial configurations using social aspects in healthcare settings with NeuroEvolution of Augmenting Topologies (NEAT) (Carta et al. 2020) and nature-inspired methods (Jankovic and Carta 2021). We apply these methods to measure the resilience of communities and suggest ways to improve it (Carta et al. 2021). We defined the extent to which automated processes based on ML have limitations in including human aspects (Carta 2021).
Research question. With this funded PhD, we would like to address the question of: how resident aspirations, values and living qualities of local communities can be encoded in algorithmic-driven design methods (mainly self-organising floor plans) to ensure that the future UK housing design and developments will address resilient, net-zero and sustainable communities?
Bielik, M. (2019). Magnetizing Floor Plan Generator. [Online] Available from:
Carta, S., 2021. Self-Organizing Floor Plans. Harvard Data Science Review HDSR.
Carta, S., Pintacuda, L, Turchi, T. and Owen, I.W., 2021. Resilient communities: A novel workflow. In Jankovic, L., Carta, S. Pathways to Resilient Zero Carbon Cities. Frontiers.
Carta, S., St Loe, S., Turchi, T. and Simon, J., 2020. Self-organising floor plans in care homes. Sustainability, 12(11), p. 4393.
Dawes, M.J., Ostwald, M.J. and Lee, J.H., 2021. Examining control, centrality and flexibility in Palladio's villa plans using space syntax measurements. Frontiers of Architectural Research.
Egor, G., Sven, S., Martin, D. and Reinhard, K., 2020. Computer-aided approach to public buildings floor plan generation. Magnetizing Floor Plan Generator. Procedia Manufacturing, 44, pp.132-139.
Hellguz (2021). Magnetizing Floor Plan Generator [Online] Available from:
Hillier, B., Leaman, A., Stansall, P. and Bedford, M., 1976. Space syntax. Environment and Planning B: Planning and design, 3(2), pp.147-185.
https://toolbox.decodingspaces.net/magnetizing-floor-plan-generator/ [Accessed: 26th March 2021]
https://www.food4rhino.com/en/app/magnetizing-floor-plan-generator [Accessed: 26th March 2021]
Jankovic, L. and Carta, S., 2021. BioZero—Designing Nature-Inspired Net-Zero Building. Sustainability, 13(14), p. 7658.
Papadopoulou, F, Carta, S. and Owen W. I. Safe Houses: Design Principles, Potentials and Limitations. An Analysis through Data-Driven Approaches. 12th Annual International Conference on Urban Studies & Planning 30-31 May & 1-2 June 2022, Atiner. Forthcoming (2022).