Chaotic Clockwork

There are only patterns, patterns on top of patterns, patterns that affect other patterns. Patterns hidden by patterns. Patterns within patterns. 
If you watch close, history does nothing but repeat itself. 
What we call chaos is just patterns we haven’t recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can’t decipher. what we can’t understand we call nonsense. What we can’t read we call gibberish.
There is no free will. 
There are no variables.
― Chuck PalahniukSurvivor


‘Let Chaos Storm!

Let Cloud Shapes Swarm!

I wait for form.’


Before the ocean was, or earth, or heaven,

Nature was all alike, a shapelessness,

Chaos, so-called, all rude [ruse] and lumpy matter,

Nothing but bulk, inert, in whose confusion

Discordant atoms warred: 

                               ‘The Creation’ by Ovid (43 B.c. – 17 A.D.)


Man has always been trying to capture nature’s design principles to achieve the goals that were beyond his capabilities. Even when he came close, he wasn’t able to comprehend them. But now, due to the advancements in science, mathematics, genetics, astronomy and other related disciplines, man is now able to accept the non-linearity of nature and study it. This led to the world that was far more complex than the clockwork universe that newton laws predicted, and the study of these non–linear dynamics gave rise to theories like complexity and chaos. These theories were not very alien to mankind; their traces can be found in old texts too, since it’s inherited it all of nature.


For want of a nail, the shoe was lost;

For want of shoe, the horse was lost;

For want of a horse, the rider was lost;

For want of a rider, the battle was lost;

For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost;

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

                                                    John Gower (1390 A.D.)


Emergence, the spontaneous creation of order and functionality from the bottom up, is all around us. If we look at the physical world, we can see emergent patterns everywhere, spiral galaxies, our own solar system, even the giant red spot on the surface of Jupiter. All of these are emergent phenomena. On our own planet, we see emergent structures everywhere, mountains and rivers take wondrous shapes, animal and plants exhibit beautiful patterns. Even inside us, our body is made up of nervous system, skeletal systems. Each of this system is comprised of small structures, Cells, which interact in such a way that they create something emergent which is more than the sum of their parts.


How these wonders of creation are assembled from such simple building blocks? How same laws that turn nature chaotic can also turn simple dust into living human being?  How cells that start identical, known to become skin or eyes? How can a simple system that works in a regular manner, becomes unpredictable?’ [1]

We see emergent structures all around us and we see it at every scale. It’s true if we take a telescope and look at the cosmos, or take a microscope to look inside the human brain. Not only we see structure, we also see that it has functionality, heart beats, rivers carry water, antelope run, all of this happens without a central planner. It emerges from bottom up.


  ‘Nature throws grotesque shapes and turbulent events, yet we are able to find patents within them. Man has struggled to put order in a perversely irregular world. And these imperfections he didn’t understand. Now man has a new weapon a computer. Man challenges the kingdom of chaos’.[2]

Due to these computational capabilities, we are now at a platform, where we can finally decipher the laws of nature and uncover its deepest secrets.


 But then, It is one thing to generate images or forms that resemble real objects: Quite another to devise the rules that made them that way in the first place.[3]

Architecture in contemporary times is shifting its role from a ‘medium of statement’ to a ‘tool of exploration’[4]. Historically it was used as a form of domination and authority, now it is more of a means to develop new knowledge, to discover new plateaus. This contemporary shift triggered from emergent technologies and the sole credit goes to the computational advancements. Twenty years back computers were only used for presentation and visualization in architecture, now it has evolved into a sophisticated, smart assistant in design. The diagram (presentational media) becomes the conceptual engine allowing human bias to step aside a bit as in this intuition finds an indirect way to feed the process.


Thus, the role of the architect then becomes to design systems and frameworks that guide these tools to generate forms and functions.


The Site


Lahore – Kot Lakh Pat

Area : 5771480 Sqft. – 132 Acre







The Project


‘EMERGENT DESIGN SYSTEMS IN ARCHITECTURE’ feeds on the understanding of these behaviours and focus to find an architectural translation and application of these phenomenon, in an attempt to broaden our dimensions. Emergent systems not only achieve structure through emergence but functionality too, thus all the systems would be designed to achieve at least one functionality, and when combined will create new levels of complexity.

The system will consist of three stages


Macro Level Organization

Designing the schematics of the master Network through Emergence (Pattern generation)

  • This would start by Solid Void Agent based model, with the circulation as an bottom up emergent outcome
  • Rules will incorporate the proximity between different agents like residential, commercial, institutional, religious and their role in the whole network and in reference to the agents within the city
  • It will also include the social, spatial and architectural aspects of planning
Pattern generation

The growth of the pattern is bottom up, starting from residential units  (personal and combined) with each

commercial, institutional and religious activity distributed at equal interval of iterations determined by area proportions of the whole scheme

Spatial Organization
  • Spatial organisation of each commercial, institutional and religious activity
    depends upon the zone permeability of the similar activities in the neighboring schemes.
  • At each iteration, the system predicts the permeability of each activity outside the site and the area it can satisfy using the strength parameters.
  • Then the system evaluates the available empty spaces and places the activity to the best possible region


Evaluation of Different Permutations of Master Network

  • All the permutations generated by the system are then evaluated for programmatic permeability, in order to filter the optimized result on the basis of the data provided to the system
  • The design with the most efficient activity permeability will be selected for further fine-tuning (if necessary)
Permutations of Master plan

System produces many permutations for the problem, which is then fed to the evaluation system in order to filter optimized amongst all the permutations



Permutation Filter

System tests each permutation for inner network permeability of activities and spatial distribution,  to filter out the most optimized result

Analysis of two permutations




Micro level Organization

Analysis of the site:

A similar analysis for the micro climate was done to generate Comfort zone, Visibility and CFD diagrams, to feed the system for internal zoning


Design the schematics of the Sub- Master Network

  • All the agents in the Master networks are themselves a micro network thus would be designed in a similar way to incorporate agents
  • Agents of sub-network will be devised as per program of Master Unit
  • Rules will incorporate the proximity between different agents, containment in site, climatic and social factors.


Evaluation of Different Permutations of Sub-Master Network

  • System then goes through all the permutations to evaluate the fitness function as devised by pressures of variables involved in order to filter the optimized result on the basis of the fitness value
  • The design with the most efficient activity permeability will be selected for further fine-tuning (if necessary)
Internal Zoning Permutations

The system Produces 3^5102 permutations for internal zoning of the given site, which are then fed to the evolutionary solver to find the fittest result





Towards Design:

Designing Of Structure/ form as Agent based Model

Form itself is another sub-network, with its own issues like structure, stability and aesthetic appealing. Thus , form will be designed as another sub network, incorporating the spaces generated by the algorithms. The exoskeleton will cater to structure issues, as well as climatic and visual connectivity to the surroundings


 Incorporation of Evolutionary Computation

Evolutionary Computation will allow the systems to adapt according to the context and site of different programs, thus introducing a new level of Complexity. At Each Stage, Evolutionary computation will be incorporated to allow the system to adapt to different circumstances.



The Feedback loop


The Video



[1] BBC 4, the Secret Life Of Chaos.

[2]  Bbc 4, Chaos.

[3] Original script of chaos.

2 Bernard Tschumi; 6 concepts in contemporary architecture.