Research

Research

Research

The urban body as a network configuration: autopoietic and intentional function
2017, Athens, Greece - PhD Thesis
The urban body as a network configuration: autopoietic and intentional function
2017, Athens, Greece – PhD Thesis

Supervisor: Giorgos Parmenidis, Professor, National Technical University of Athens (NTUA)

Hypothesis: The urban body can be described as a configuration of related elements on which qualitative and quantitative features are inscribed.

Design: Application of a similarity function on all variables/properties of the urban body minimum units.

Correlation of pairs and sets of properties is applied per network node, in order to explore similarities between properties and generate respective groupings. The autopoietic properties appear as a set of values, allowing for the application of a clustering methodology of objects and their characteristics. The complexity of the relationships of the elements of the urban body is examined through their network configuration.

Results: Two distinctive property groups arise, one which includes properties resulting from the autopoietic network function and a second one which includes properties arising from the intentional research-design process. As the urban body and the environment change simultaneously, changes in the broader economic-social-political environment translate into changes of the composition of the urban body. Quantified changes, both of the autopoietic properties of the minimum units of the system and of properties arising from the intentional design process are noted.

Conclusion: The adoption of a method which takes into consideration the complexity of the urban body and therefore the cross-reference environment and operates under a sliding definition is proposed. A tool describing the urban body as a network configuration is introduced, where the complexity of the urban body qualities becomes interpretable and manageable through the discipline of the Graph and Network Theory.

Urban body network configurations through attributes of network elements
SIMAUD: Symposium on Simulation for Architecture and Urban Design
2016, London UK
Urban body network configurations through attributes of network elements
SIMAUD: Symposium on Simulation for Architecture and Urban Design
2016, London UK – Conference Proceedings

Two major categories of mixed attributes of the urban body are analyzed. The first category includes urban characteristics such as geometry, traffic and accessibility. The second category includes quantified attributes of the position of each element (node) in relation to other elements of the network. These attributes are not related to the Cartesian topology but they emerge from the reconstruction of the urban body as a network configuration.

A methodology which aims in mapping of the multiplicity of the elements’ structure is proposed. Identity is redefined with the application of crowds of elements (scatttergrams) and sets of attributes’ values. Families of things of different qualities still maintain similarity within the immaterial and evolving boundary of urban identity.

Autopoietic Features of the Urban Body's Elements - Similarity studies on network elements' attributes
eCAADe 2016: Complexity & Simplicity
2016, University of Oulu, Finland
Autopoietic Features of the Urban Body’s Elements – Similarity studies on network elements’ attributes
eCAADe 2016: Complexity & Simplicity
2016, University of Oulu, Finland – Conference Proceedings

Adopting a methodology towards an understanding of the urban body whose elements include material ingredients (nodes) and their inscribed properties (attributes) through the construction of a network configuration, the autopoietic dynamics of the urban body emerge, as properties of things -urban areas inscribed on the Attic peninsula in Greece, revealed through the application of autopoietic -network functions, measuring qualities which reflect the network structure.

We call autopoietic those nodes’ features which emerge from the inner structure of the urban body and are quantified through the application of community detection (Blondel et al., 2008, Rosvall et al., 2009), centrality (betweenness centrality, degree centrality, closeness centrality, Newman, 2010) and other algorithms which capture the network qualitative features of the network nodes and reveal the real-time self-adaptation of the parts and components of the urban body, on the basis of the successive introduction of nodes with different autopoietic features (Figure 1).

We focus on the autopoietic properties of the network’s nodes as they are quantified through the application of certain autopoietic processes which reveal the nodes’ interrelations, translating the relationships between things into dimensions (attributes’ values) of elements. Through the quantified expressions of the inner dynamics of the  network configurations the autopoietic properties emerge. These define the ‘species’ of the elements according to their inner relations (network attributes in general), the parts of the urban body as articulated fractions/sub-networks (centrality measures), as well as the components of the urban body as areas of stronger interrelated elements (community detection), where the areas’ boundary changes according to the desired threshold of the interrelated strength. The emergence of those features of the urban body elements which are inherent in the network structure and the generation of the urban body parts and components through the application of autopoietic processes, reveals the inner structure of the urban body, as a reflection of its inherent dynamics and made possible through the examination of the urban body as a network configuration. Following this methodology and in order to reveal further relationships between network and urban body structures, supra-local nodes are regarded as multidimensional objects and the attributes emerging from the network configuration appear as a set of values (dimensions), allowing for a clustering methodology of objects and their attributes, based on similarity studies and made possible through the application of  different distance and linkage functions (Hastie, Tibshirani, Friedman, 2003). The application of  the distance and linkage functions results in a data tree where nodes, as well as their autopoietic attributes, are visualized in a color mosaic which captures the proximity of data values to each attribute’s lowest and highest extreme values and in an hierarchical tree, where the position of each element reflects its relational similarity following a gradual procedure of  selection of two sets of elements based on the strength and the direction of their relation. This approach suggests the transition from a clear perception of an object/urban site to the ambiguity of multiple properties of things, a set of data values rendered in the form of scattergrams, color mosaics and dendograms. Among the possibilities originating from this approach is the understanding of the concurrent alterations taking place in a given network construction among all node’s characteristics with the shift of one property, a kind of structural coupling between body and environment (Maturana,  2002).

Urban identity through attributes of urban body network configuration
Changing Cities II: Spatial, Design, Landscape & Socio-Economic Dimensions
2015, Greece
Urban identity through attributes of urban body network configuration
Changing Cities II: Spatial, Design, Landscape & Socio-Economic Dimensions
2015, Greece – Conference Proceedings

The methodology presented here is grounded on the analysis and relational relocation of mixed attributes of the urban body, deriving both from the reconstruction of the urban body as a network configuration as well as from geometric, economic or social urban attributes. Cluster analysis is applied in an attempt to restructure those attributes of the urban body which emerge from the position of each element (node) in relation to other elements of the network and not from the Cartesian topology. The urban body is defined as the part of the urban tissue which distinguishes itself from the whole of the urban landscape, either because of constructed boundaries, or because of  the strengthening of a specific attribute, which would result in a kind of an immaterial boundary, or, in other words the formation of an identity. What is more, being able to represent material and non-material elements as nodes (Hillier, 2007),  counter-bodies of mixed proprieties emerge, including physical presence and their attributes. In contrast to the hierarchical constructions, network constructions allow for multiple connections between elements (Alexander, 1965), therefore being closer to the complexity of the associative forces found in the structure of the urban body.

Urban body network configurations: Attica
eCAADe 2014: Fusion
2014, Newcastle, UK
Urban body network configurations:
Attica
eCAADe 2014: Fusion
2014, Newcastle, UK – Conference Proceedings

The methodology presented here is grounded on the reconstruction of the urban body as a network configuration consisting of material and non-material components (Bateson, 1972). It is based on the assumption that if one can describe the rules that define the nodes and the connections of the network construction/urban body, as well as their attributes, then the differentiation on the relationships between elements, or even a shift from one value to another, would result in different network constructions, that would produce a time-based sequence of the self-adaptational and self-organizational reconfigurations occurring during the mutational procedure (Figures 1,2).  The urban body is defined as the part of the urban tissue which distinguishes itself from the whole of the urban landscape, either because of constructed boundaries, or because of  the strengthening of a specific attribute, which would result in a kind of an immaterial boundary, or, in other words the formation of an identity.

The partitions (Blondel et al., 2008)  and centrality studies (Newman, 2010) made possible through the network configuration, reveal attributes of the elements which emerge from the position of each element (node) in relation to other elements of the network and not from the Cartesian topology.  Through the application of certain algorithms measuring the different types of centrality (betweenness centrality, degree centrality, closeness centrality) the self-adaptation of the urban body is revealed, on the basis of the alteration of the nodes’ connections or the differentiation of the attributes and identity of the nodes themselves.

What is more, being able to represent material and non-material elements as nodes (Hillier, 2007),  counter-bodies of mixed proprieties emerge, including physical presence and their attributes. In contrast to the hierarchical constructions, network constructions allow for multiple connections between elements (Alexander, 1965), therefore being closer to the complexity of the associative forces found in the structure of the urban body.

Urban body mutations through the network configuration
eCAADe 2013: Computation and Performance
2013, Delft University of Technology
Urban Body Mutations through the Use of the Network Configuration
eCAADe 2013: Computation and Performance
2013, Delft University of Technology – Oral Presentation,  Conference Proceedings

The adoption of a methodology which involves the examination of the urban body as a network construction consisting of elements of material and non-material qualities, allows for the detection and description of the urban body mutations. The methodology described here, involves the construction of the network configuration and the production of a time-based sequence of the self-adaptational and self-organizational reconfigurations occurring during the mutational procedure. The network configuration relies on nodes, connections and identity in order to reconstruct the urban body. The clusters (Blondel et al., 2008) and proximities between elements emerge from the topology produced by the strength of the connections or from the identity of the elements and not from the Cartesian topology. Betweeness centrality and closeness centrality studies (Brandes, 2001), made possible through the network configuration, reveals the self-adaptation of the urban body, provoked by the changes of the enclosing environment and by the alterations of the connections of the body elements. What is more, being able to represent material and non-material elements as nodes (Hillier and Vaughan, 2007), counter-bodies of mixed properties emerge, including physical presence and socio-economic attributes. In contrast to the hierarchical constructions, network constructions allow for multiple connections between elements (Alexander, 1965), therefore being closer to the complexity of the associative forces found in the structure of the urban body.(betweenness centrality, degree centrality, closeness centrality) the self-adaptation of the urban body is revealed, on the basis of the alteration of the nodes’ connections or the differentiation of the attributes and identity of the nodes themselves.

The reconstruction of the urban body mutations through the use of contemporary technology
Changing Cities I: Spatial, morphological,formal & socio-economic dimensions
2013, Greece
 The reconstruction of the urban body mutations through the use of contemporary technology
Changing Cities I: Spatial, morphological,formal & socio-economic dimensions
2013, Greece – Oral Presentation,  Conference Proceedings

Athens consists of different neighborhoods characterized by their own and unique spatial, social and economic elements.

My contribution in the research project entitled “Strategies for the Networking of Urban Interventions in Athens Metropolitan Center” held at the N.T.U.A. focuses on developing methodologies which reform the parts of the urban body to create a coherent structure. Selected urban elements, such as urban greenery, land use, value and population mix form a network structure. The project’s aim is to decompose and reconnect these elements by analyzing the connections of both the segregated areas as well as the extended areas of Athens.

Strategies for the Networking of Urban Interventions in Athens Metropolitan Center
Research Program
2012-14
Strategies for the Networking of Urban Interventions in Athens Metropolitan Center
Research Program
2012-14

Scientific Director of the Research Program: Giorgos Parmenidis, NTUA, Contracting Authority: The Region of Attica, Project Recipient: School of Architecture, NTUA

The objective of this research project is to identify, evaluate and specify a complex set of actions which will lead to improvement of the urban living conditions in strategically selected urban areas of Athens.

Research Program for the Upgrade of the National Garden of Athens
Research Program
2009-10
Research Program for the Upgrade of the National Garden of Athens
Research Program
2009-10

Scientific Director of the Research Program: Konstantinos Moutzouris, NTUA, Main Researcher: Konstantinos Moraitis, NTUA, Contracting Authority: Athens Prefecturem Project Recipient: NTUA

The objective of this research program is to propose strategies to upgrade and therefore rehabilitate the National Garden of Athens.