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Ka-care: energy / landscape / urban design / BioCities / bio-computationJanuary 10, 2011

ecoLogicStudio was invited by Carlo Ratti Associati and the MIT Sensable City LAb to be part of the design team for the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (Ka-Care) in Saudi Arabia. The brief of the invited competition was to design of an eco-city in the desert near the capital Riyadh.
Focusing on algorithmic urban design, ecoLogicStudio developed an urban code that would guide the growth and the evolution of the city accordingly to site specific environmental parameters and design rules devised by the architects and engineers within the team.
The urban algorithm is conceived as a machine, typically defined by a list of instructions for completing a task or for solving a problem. Starting from an initial state, the instructions describe a computation that proceeds through a well defined series of successive states, eventually terminating in a final ending state. Within the framework of this project these rules have been set in order to embed information extracted from environment and architectural prototypes in a coherent and unitary outcome.

Starting from data of landscape morphology, water proximity, solar radiation and wind direction, the algorithm was initially used as  a sieve in order to produce a series of maps and to highlight a mesh of plots with different degrees of attractiveness to host the first nuclei of the city. Feeding this virtual spaces with information related to economical and technological conditions as well as building typologies and degrees of connectivity within the city, a range of different scenarios of evolution would emerge for evaluation and comparison.
The simulation of possible scenarios of growth become the the key element of the algorithmic approach; planners, developers and prospective citizens can use the parametric model to read the actual situation of the system tune its evolution adjusting the decisions they input in the algorithm. Making its rules visible and understandable, this never-ending process will be embedded within the frame of the new town; an algorithmic-city that is the real-time output of its self-organization process and the first input for any future evolution.
The video below ose one of the main outcomes of the project illustrating the urban algorithm in action.

Design Team:
Carlo Ratti Associati [Lead Architect]  
ecoLogicStudio [Parametric Urban Design]
Atkins [Engineering]
Atmos Studio [Architecture]
Accenture [Survaying]
Agence Ter [Landscape]
Squint Opera [Video]

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