Design, Control and Autonomy: The role of AI in the making of urban environments

Silvio Carta, Davide Pisu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter investigates the impact of artificial intelligence on contemporary cities through the lens of architectural and urban design. It explores design computing approaches where computers characterise the production and management of design. These include Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) as a subset of AI, and, in general terms, generative approaches to urban design where AI components are employed to create spatial configurations. We look at these systems as invisible forces that have significant consequences for both the built environment and people living in cities, providing examples and considerations of how intelligent systems and designers are reshaping cities today through a new form of agency. We present two intentionally polarised paradigms that underpin the idea of authorship in the design process and the extent to which designers (or machines) are in control of the design process and final outcomes. These are the digital demiurge, where designers have full control of their project and, contra, the black box, where AI determines the final design outcome in an opaque and often inscrutable way.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUrban AI
Publication statusSubmitted - 15 Mar 2022


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