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Mosaic-i generative design tool for site appraisals cuts days off design work

Words:
Stephen Cousins

Master planning software aims to give architects more decision-making power by simplifying feasibility studies

The parametric software, developed in house, allows Gebler Tooth to quickly look at the implications of maximising building area on defined sites
The parametric software, developed in house, allows Gebler Tooth to quickly look at the implications of maximising building area on defined sites Credit: Gebler Tooth

A generative design masterplanning tool developed by London-based Gebler Tooth Architects is helping the practice drastically reduce the amount of time spent preparing feasibility studies for industrial and commercial sites.

Mosaic-i optioneering software was developed in house to quickly crunch through data and identify layouts that maximise building coverage on defined sites, based on a set of design parameters.

According to the practice, the app takes just a few minutes to accurately identify optimal layouts from thousands of options, where previously a human architect took around 48 hours to prepare just 2-3 drawings to a basic level of detail.

Gebler Tooth associate Adrian Short said: ‘After you set the parameters at the front end, Mosaic-i analyses the geometry down to the nearest millimetre and quickly churns out results. Results for a simple site normally take a few minutes, or sometimes longer if we set the sensitivity to high.’

The app was developed over a period of a year on live projects before the official launch last summer. Gebler Tooth has used it on a consultancy basis to assess sites for clients including the CBRE, commercial real estate broker Cushman & Wakefield, various small developers and the large US-based multi-disciplinary architect HDR.

Mosaic-i was created to assist with the early stage masterplanning. Briefing parameters are input to the programme, including building size and type, parking and yard requirements, the percentage of green space and site constraints. The tool then develops all possible permutations of the site masterplan and their prioritisation and identifies a shortlist of optimal solutions.

  • The firm has been using the software with CBREand Cushman & Wakefield to determine viabilities for large commercial sites.
    The firm has been using the software with CBREand Cushman & Wakefield to determine viabilities for large commercial sites.
  • Building size and type, parking and yard requirements are examples of the input parameters.
    Building size and type, parking and yard requirements are examples of the input parameters. Credit: Gebler Tooth
  • The software prioritises site geometry rather than, say, daylight and density, so demands humanistic interpretation by architects.
    The software prioritises site geometry rather than, say, daylight and density, so demands humanistic interpretation by architects.
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‘If a developer wants to make a business case for a project stand up, it might need a 44% net to gross site area. Mosaic-i can give the firm confidence that what it has produced is sensible and meets their requirements,’ said Short. ‘It quickly enables them to make an informed decision about how much to bid for a piece of land.’

According to Short, the optioneering tool is ‘straightforward and deterministic’ with a key focus on site geometry, compared to other optioneering software packages that use algorithms to analyse and prioritise many possible factors influencing a site, such as daylight, density and access to amenities etc.

‘With that type of “black box” software there are so many variables competing that while it might be moving towards a better solution, it's not really optimal,’ he said. ‘I'm very sceptical of algorithms and their reliance on defined input because one thing they could be doing, inadvertently, is reaffirming our prejudices. Mosaic-i just works out the amount of site coverage, the number of buildings, which conform to a certain ratio and the grid layout. But where we go with that and what the buildings ultimately look like is all left in the hands of our designers,’ he concludes.

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