The Application of Evolutionary Algorithms and Shape Grammar in the Design Process Based upon Traditional Structures

Document Type : Research Article


1 Associate Ph.D., Full-Time Lecturer at the Department of Architecture, Near East University, North Nicosia, Northern Cyprus.

2 Professor of Islamic Azad University, Department of Architecture, Science and Research Branch, Tehran, Iran.

3 Professor of Department of Architecture, Tarbiat Modarres University, Tehran, Iran.


Problem statement: Although the application of shape-based methods in the generative design systems has been studied as a means for describing or analyzing a style, regional architecture, or a specific design in numerous works of literature, the complexity and multiplicity of the structural grammars, as well as the lack of flexibility in the system for evaluation and optimization of new models has somewhat dwindled the applicability of these approaches. However, in addition to investigating and extracting the shape grammar of a traditional structure, the potential of generating novel designs based upon the shape rules indicates the necessity of further examination of the shape-based approaches.
Research objectives: Addressing the issue, this study proposes a hybrid generative evolutionary approach. The use of generative evolutionary methods can provide fresh insight into the process of analyzing traditional structures and designing new ones based on these structures.
Research method: The methodology is based upon library studies with the analytical-descriptive approach to examine the related literature review. Furthermore, with the consideration of Kashan’s traditional houses as a case study, it applies the combination of shape grammar method for analyzing configuration characteristics and physical-spatial relationships in historic houses, with genetic algorithm for optimizing the new generated forms.
Conclusion: The results of the study indicate the effectiveness of generative evolutionary methods in improving and accelerating the process of analyzing the characteristics of traditional structures as well as producing a variety of new designs that can preserve the spatial essence of traditional structures.


AbdulRaheem, O. B. (2016). Design of generative model for the language of traditional Suakin using parametric shape grammar. International Journal of Computer- Aided Technologies (IJCAx), 3(2/3), 1-18.
Bäck, T. F. (2000). A history of evolutionary computation. In Introduction to evolutionary algorithms. In Evolutionary computation (pp. 40-59). New York: Taylor & Francis Group .
Benrós, D. (2018). A generic housing grammar for the generation of different housing languages: a generic housing shape grammar for Palladian villas, Prairie and Malagueira Houses (Doctoral dissertation), UCL University College, London.
Caldas, L. (2002). Pareto Genetic Algorithms in Architecture Design: An Application to Multicriteria Optimization Problems. Toulouse, France: Proceedings of PLEA 2002 (pp. 37-45).
Downing, F. & Flemming, U. (1981). The Bungalows of Buffalo. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 8(3), 269-293.
Duarte, J. P. (2005). A discursive grammar for customizing mass housing: the case of Siza’s houses at Malagueira. Automation in construction, (14), 265-275.
Ekici, B., Kutucu, S., Sarıyıldız I. S. & Taşgetiren, M. F. (2015). Addressing the high-rise form finding problem by evolutionary computation. Sendai: 2015 IEEE Congress on Evolutionary Computation (CEC) (pp. 2253-2260).
Flemming, U. (1987). More than the sum of parts: The grammar of Queen Anne Houses. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 14(3), 323-350.
Frazer, J. (1995). An Evolutionary Architecture. London: Architectural Association publication.
Granadeiro, V. P. (2013). A general indirect representation for optimization of generative design systems by genetic algorithms: Application to a shape grammar-based design system. Automation in construction, (35), 374-382.
Ligler, H. & Economou, T. (2015). Lost in translation: towards an automated description of John Portman’s domestic architecture. XIX Congresso da Sociedade Ibero-americana de Gráfica Digital 2015 (pp. 657-661).
Hensel, M. (2010). Performance-oriented Architecture - Towards a Biological Paradigm for Architectural Design and the Built Environment. Formakademisk, 3(1), 36-56.
Janssen, P. F. (2005). Generative evolutionary design: a framework for generating and evolving three-dimensional building models. Innovation in Architecture, Engineering and Construction, (1), 35-44.
Kicinger, R. A. (2005). Parameterized versus generative representations in structural design: an empirical comparison. In Proceedings of the 7th Annual Conference on Genetic and Evolutionary Computation (pp. 2007-2014). New York: Association for Computing Machinery.
Kielarova, S. W. & Pradujphongphet, P. (2015). New interactive-generative design system: hybrid of shape grammar and evolutionary design - an application of jewelry design. Advances in Swarm and Computational Intelligence, ICSI 2015. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, (9140), 302-313.
Knight, T. W. (1991). Designing with grammars. Zürich: Computer Aided Architectural Design Futures: Education, Research, Applications, CAAD Futures ‘91 Conference Proceedings (pp. 33-48).
Knight, T. W. (1999). Shape grammars: six types. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 26(1), 15-31.
Koning, H. &. (1981). The Language of the Prairie: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie Houses. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 8(3), 295-323.  
Lee, J. L., Ostwald, M. J. & Gu, N. (2015). A syntactical and grammatical approach to architectural configuration, analysis and generation. Architectural Science Review, 58(3), 189-204.
Mckay, M. H. & Pennington. A. (2006). Combining evolutionary algorithms and shape grammars to generate branded product design. In  J. S. Gero (Ed.), Design Computing and Cognition 2006. Dordrecht: Springer.
Mitchell, W. J. (1990). The Logic of Architecture: Design, Computation and Cognition. New York: MIT press.
Sadeghi Moghadam, M. R. (2009). Material flow modeling in supply chain management with genetic algorithm approach. Industrial Management Journal, 1(2), 71-88.
Schroeders U., Wilhelm, O. & Olaru, G. (2016). Meta-Heuristics in Short Scale Construction: Ant Colony Optimization and Genetic Algorithm. PLoS, 11(11), 1-19.
Sims, K. (1994). Evolving virtual creatures. New York: Proceedings of the 21st annual conference on Computer graphics and interactive techniques (pp. 15-22).
Stiny, G. & Gips, J. (1971). Shape grammars and the generative specification of painting and sculpture. Ljubljana: IFIP Congress, Information Processing 71 (pp. 1460-1465).
Stiny, G. &. Mitchell, W. J. (1978). The Palladian grammar. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 5(1), 5-18.
Van Buelow, P. (2009). A comparison of methods for using genetic algorithms to guide parametric associative design. Valencia: Symposium of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures (50th. 2009. Valencia). Evolution and Trends in Design, Analysis and Construction of Shell and Spatial Structures.
Von Buelow, P. F. (2010). Optimization of structural form using a genetic algorithm to search associative parametric geometry. Guimarães: Proceedings of the First International Conference on Structures and Architecture (ICSA 2010).