Unit 3

The Island + The Grid:

Infrastructure Systems in the City

Unit Tutors: Laure Michelon + Case Miller


1. Abstract:

Researching and designing infrastructural mutations through algorithmic systems Intervention. Using technical research, machine vision, and intelligent agents to mutate city infrastructure systems at the urban scale, and create a researched and technologically literate design across multiple scales.

2. Organization:

The workshop will be split into two sessions, a research portion, and a production portion. These sessions will be taught back to back so as to further the design and the students’ understanding of the project and allow for the information gathered in the research portion to be integrated and applied into the production portion. There will be 4 hours of intensive workshop research and tutorials each day followed by daily project development assignments. The workshop will require participants with high-commitment involvement during the entire workshop period to develop a holistic and intensive project.

Part 01: System Research

Multiple city-wide infrastructural systems will be presented, and workshop students or groups will choose

one and research the various components, inner workings, and needs of this system. Options of this infrastructure

include wastewater, sensing/monitoring, power grid, and waste. Some examples of questions the students will be

expected to answer by the end of the workshop include:

• How many people or buildings or city blocks does this system serve?

• How is this system currently organized or located?

• Where does the energy/power of the system come from? Are there more sustainable alternatives?

• What existing infrastructure does the system interface with or rely on to function?

• What sort of maintenance infrastructure does it require?

• What are the physical limitations of the system? If the system (or part) fails, is there a backup?

Students will learn how to gather, filter, and analyze data, and then create technical diagrams, drawings, and design

limitations and requirements. Students will think critically about these limitations and requirements, as this is what

will set up constraints of the script in the production section.

Part 02: Mutation Production

First, students will implement image segmentation neural nets to generate, edit, and mutate the existing

city and site. Second, using Grasshopper, C#, and intelligent agents, students will grow, mutate, and constrain the

infrastructure system within that site. The script for the mutated system is influenced by the research from Part 01,

allowing for new ideas of how the system might be designed while still being constrained by researched and realistic

design limitations and requirements. Any previous knowledge in visual scripting and system infrastructures is not

required but highly appreciated.

3. Expected Outcome:

Each project will have an understanding of how to research technical systems and design, technical drawings and diagrams illustrating these research ideas, and how to translate that into a project. Each project will also have imagery, a city model, and/or drawings, showing how the system integrates, grows, and mutates.


Laure Michelon

Architectural Technologist

Case Miller

Design Researcher &

Creative Director