Article

Urbano: A Tool to Promote Active Mobility Modeling and Amenity Analysis in Urban Design

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Abstract

Modern planning paradigms promote the design of walkable neighborhoods. To allow urban designers to understand the consequences of design choices regarding the street network and the allocation of density, program, and amenities, it is imperative to develop new modeling capabilities to facilitate the design of healthy and sustainable urban habitats that promote active mobility. This paper introduces a new, easy-to-use urban design tool called Urbano, which can import and translate urban data into actionable urban design feedback using active mobility simulations. The tool evaluates accessibility and utilization of amenities, streets, and public spaces, introducing two new urban design metrics called Streetscore and Amenityscore while offering an expanded version of the well-known Walkscore. The tool and metrics were tested in a series of test studies.

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... The Space Syntax theory proposed by Hillier and Hanson (1984) describes the spatial relations of a given location through a set of syntactic measures, which make it possible to understand essential aspects of an urban fabric, such as accessibility and connectivity. Accordingly, an extensive body of research has addressed physical or topological metrics for assessing urban areas from various perspectives, from physical activities estimation to environmental and transit-oriented practices in urban planning (Brewster et al., 2009;Carr et al., 2011;Dogan et al., 2020;Feng and Peponis, 2021;Koohsari et al., 2016;Lima et al., 2016aNourian et al., 2015;Sevtsuk et al., 2016). Nonetheless, optimizing physical metrics does not necessarily mean optimizing topological metrics, often resulting in a trade-off that must be addressed. ...
... However, considering only algorithmic-parametric environments in the Rhinoceros/Grasshopper platform-the one adopted for this research- (Nourian et al., 2015) explored accessibility measures through an "easiest path" algorithm toolkit that provides distances between locations. Dogan et al. (2020) introduced a computational toolbox to evaluate active transportation and assess pedestrian accessibility to public transport and urban amenities. In a comparable setting, presents the set of Grasshopper tools used in this research, which allows one to consider physical (distance) and topological metrics (e.g., connectivity and integration). ...
Chapter
Artificial intelligence is increasingly being adopted to optimize, simplify, and extend operations in various areas of knowledge. Over the years, AI has been defined in many distinct but connected ways, encompassing different subfields and methods. Although in recent years, AI has been equated with machine learning, this chapter explores another AI paradigm, search, and optimization. In the urban design context, artificial intelligence has great potential to enhance decision-making and various assessment processes by performing complex iterations and carrying out predictions speedily and accurately. Proximity, in turn, plays a fundamental role in promoting urban dynamics, influencing city arrangements, and impacting the overall quality of life. Important urban features related to sustainable urban design practices such as transit accessibility, density, land-use diversity, and walkability, which are crucial for easing traffic congestion and improving public health, can be either assessed or explained by proximity indicators. This chapter investigates the utility of computational optimization techniques at the urban design scale, aiming to improve the performance of urban grid layouts according to the physical and topological proximity metrics. To this end, we employ evolutionary multiobjective optimization, a subset of evolutionary computation, and a generic population-based metaheuristic optimization algorithm in the generation of urban fabrics and analyze the outcomes of orthogonal and nonorthogonal grid typologies, including regular orthogonal grid, irregular orthogonal grid, irregular nonorthogonal grid, and Voronoi-shaped grid. During the generation of optimal urban grid layouts, computational tools measure the shortest physical distance between locations in a neighborhood and verify Space Syntax measures such as integration and connectivity. Our results indicate the advantages and drawbacks of each grid typology, identifying that orthogonal grids are more appropriate for car-oriented cities, while nonorthogonal ones are more suitable for walkable areas.
... Although such a strategy is widely used in many generative urban design studies [13,14], it remains questionable in terms of speed of convergence and stability [15]. Although such a trial & error approach is unavoidable for certain ill-defined design problems, this paper proposes a simplified, efficient and transparent approach using the Urbano toolkit [16]. In this workflow, the first step is to build a mobility model with urban data such as streets, buildings, amenities and population densities. ...
... If required information, such as building-level population, is not accessible from the sources, Urbano provides functions that can infer data or can help to synthesize this information using other data sources. For example, it can estimate building-level population size using total building floor area, customized area usage breakdown, and generalized occupant densities [16,17]. ...
Conference Paper
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This paper proposes a novel generative workflow for walkable neighborhood design. Key components of the workflow include automating the process of parsing the map data, building contextual models with population and amenity data, conducting an integrated mobility simulation, and generating a street network and amenity allocation plan accordingly. The proposed framework is versatile and adaptive by allowing designers to tune simulation parameters and customize the decision-making process. The applicability and effectiveness of the workflow are tested in a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood design case study. Three scenarios that adapt to different design goals and boundary conditions are presented. This research equips designers with capabilities to co-design of mobility solutions and urban form early on in the design process. Further, it can be leveraged by more stakeholders in sectors such as real estate, public services, and public health to make decisions as the urban built environment has a fundamental impact on all these fields.
... The traditional and car-centric transportation planning has not only significantly contributed to increasing greenhouse emissions but has also detrimentally influenced air quality, traffic congestion, fatalities, and road injuries [1], [2]. With the world facing a climate crisis, there is a need for a paradigmatic shift towards a more sustainable and active mobility [3]. Sustaining and attaining significantly higher rates in cycling and walking as modes of transportation (also known as active mobility), and nudging people to walk and cycle more, represent one of the most powerful and significant instruments to achieve social goals and sustainability [4]. ...
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Mobility plays a fundamental role in modern cities. How citizens experience the city, access its core services, and participate in city life, strongly depends on its mobility organization and efficiency. The challenges that municipalities face are very ambitious: on the one hand, administrators must guarantee their citizens the right to mobility and to easily access local services; on the other hand, they need to minimize the economic, social, and environmental costs of the mobility system. Municipalities are increasingly facing problems of traffic congestion, road safety, energy dependency and air pollution, and therefore encouraging a shift towards sustainable mobility habits based on active mobility is of central importance. Active modes, such as cycling, should be particularly encouraged, especially for local recurrent journeys (i.e., home-to-school, home-to-work). In this context, addressing and mitigating commuter-generated traffic requires engaging public and private stakeholders through innovative and collaborative approaches that focus not only on supply (e.g., roads and vehicles) but also on transportation demand management. In this paper, we propose an end-to-end solution for enabling urban cyclability. It supports the companies' Mobility Managers (MMs) acting on the promotion of active mobility for home-to-work commuting, helps the city administrators to understand the needed urban planning interventions, and motivates the citizens to sustainable mobility. To evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed solution we developed two analyses: the first to accurately analyze the user experience and any behaviour change related to the BIKE2WORK initiative, and the second to demonstrate how exploiting the collected data we can inform and possible guide the involved municipality (i.e., Ferrara, a city in Northern Italy) in improving the urban cyclability.
... Several scholars have assumed that pedestrian accessibility, as estimated by the proximity to everyday urban services, has substantial implications for the walkability of an urban area [27][28][29][30][31][32]. As the likelihood of walking trips decreases with greater distances [33], a robust body of research has estimated pedestrian accessibility by calculating distances to facilities, focusing on grid layout and the location of amenities. ...
Article
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Providing pedestrian accessibility to urban services is a big challenge and a key factor in creating more walkable urban areas. Moreover, it is a critical aspect of climate-resilient urban planning as it is broadly assumed that neighborhoods with greater walkability discourage automobile use and reduce CO2 emissions. The idea of 15-minute cities, defined as urban environments where most places that residents need to access are within a 15-minute walk, is gaining increasing attention worldwide. Because aspects of urban performance are increasingly quantifiable, generative, and data-driven design approaches can explore broader sets of potential solutions, while optimization can help identify designs with desired properties. This work demonstrates and tests a new approach that combines shape grammars, a formal method for shape generation that facilitates the elaboration of complex patterns and meaningful solutions, with multi-objective optimization. The goal was to optimize the design of urban fabric layouts and the location of amenities to provide 15-minute neighborhood configurations that minimize infrastructure cost (as estimated by cumulative street length) and the number of amenities, while maximizing pedestrian accessibility to urban services (as assessed by overall integration and the average distance from all plots to nearest amenities).
... The first step involved the acquisition of the regional technical map in ESRI shapefile format through the website dedicated to the thematic cartography of the Apulia region. Subsequently, using "Urbano" plugin (Dogan et al., 2020), it was possible to import this file through the use of ''ImportSHP'' tool: points corresponding to the vertices of each building will be returned in Rhinoceros. Subsequently, the code ''Polyline> Boundary Surface'' was linked to the ''Points'' parameter in order to recreate the base surface of each component belonging to the shapefile. ...
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3D modelling of buildings using modern tools and techniques is an important objective for the management and planning of urban areas. Rhinoceros with Grasshopper is a powerful 3D modeller in the field of architecture, engineering and construction. In this paper, 3D modelling of several case studies based on the joint use of Rhinoceros and Grasshopper are shown. In particular, different levels of geometric complexity and detail are investigated. In order to achieve these objectives, adequate canvas designs have been developed according to the different case studies examined; specifically, several cases have been analysed, starting from simple volumes up to complex geometries and even large dimensions. The input sources for the elaborations in Grasshopper can be multiple; for example, numerical cartography, geodata from Open Street Map and point clouds generated by airborne LIDAR sensors were analysed. The 3D models generated in this way have parametric characteristics that are useful for integration into Building Information Models (BIM) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), for analysis and simulation, or for visualising projects from illustrations to photorealistic renderings.
... Lima et al., (2016) explored algorithmic systems for generating and evaluating urban morphologies, setting the distance to amenities as a criterion. In a similar context, Dogan et al. (2020) presented a computational design toolkit to model active transportation and evaluate pedestrian accessibility to amenities and public transport, while Sevtsuk et al. (2016) assessed the pedestrian accessibility of different grid layouts. Most recently, Koohsari et al. (2021) concluded that WalkScore was positively correlated with several perceived walkable environmental attributes, and there was a medium correlation between WalkScore and overall perceived walkability. ...
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Designing urban areas that provide smaller distances to their amenities is a key factor toward more walkable environments. Moreover, this is a critical aspect of climate-resilient urban planning since it is broadly assumed that areas with greater walkability discourage automobile usage and reduce CO2 emissions. Generative and data-driven design approaches, in turn, increase designers’ ability to explore wider sets of potential solutions. In this sense, identifying designs with an optimized performance out of the vast possibilities that computation can provide is crucial. Shape grammars are a formal method of shape generation that facilitate the elaboration of complex patterns and meaningful designs. This paper hypothesizes that coupling shape grammars with multi-objective optimization can help address trade-offs and decision-making in urban design. It focuses on the pedestrian accessibility and infrastructure cost (as estimated by cumulative street length) trade-off in urban fabrics as a case study to verify the suitability of a grammar-based optimization approach for more dynamic and efficient solution-finding in urban design. Our findings suggest that a grammar-based optimization approach is helpful in addressing urban trade-offs as it could be used to filter the design space and provide optimal alternative fabric layouts with increased pedestrian accessibility and decreased infrastructure cost.
... As a result, the team developed an automated process in Rhinoceros3D and Grasshopper utilizing geospatial data processing tools provided by Urbano.io (Dogan et al., 2019) in combination with newly developed scripts to generate the required urban building geometry (Fig. 1). ...
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... Thus, the accessible POI area per capita was generated using the mobility simulation tool Urbano. io (Dogan et al. 2020). For each CBG i, its residential population p i can go to all accessible POIs on the map with more people using the closer ones and fewer people choosing the distant ones. ...
... > The same parametric model that generates single or clustered buildings are connected with tools, such as Urbano (Dogan et al., 2020) and DeCodingSpaces (Reinhard, Bielik and Schneider, 2018), that create and analyze urban networks for vehicular and pedestrian movements, functional connections and amenity locations. > The parametric model can be of larger areas and entire cities via software tools such as Urban Weather ...
... > The same parametric model that generates single or clustered buildings are connected with tools, such as Urbano (Dogan et al., 2020) and DeCodingSpaces (Reinhard, Bielik and Schneider, 2018), that create and analyze urban networks for vehicular and pedestrian movements, functional connections and amenity locations. > The parametric model can be of larger areas and entire cities via software tools such as Urban Weather ...
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... > The same parametric model that generates single or clustered buildings are connected with tools, such as Urbano (Dogan et al., 2020) and DeCodingSpaces (Reinhard, Bielik and Schneider, 2018), that create and analyze urban networks for vehicular and pedestrian movements, functional connections and amenity locations. > The parametric model can be of larger areas and entire cities via software tools such as Urban Weather ...
... > The same parametric model that generates single or clustered buildings are connected with tools, such as Urbano (Dogan et al., 2020) and DeCodingSpaces (Reinhard, Bielik and Schneider, 2018), that create and analyze urban networks for vehicular and pedestrian movements, functional connections and amenity locations. > The parametric model can be of larger areas and entire cities via software tools such as Urban Weather ...
... > The same parametric model that generates single or clustered buildings are connected with tools, such as Urbano (Dogan et al., 2020) and DeCodingSpaces (Reinhard, Bielik and Schneider, 2018), that create and analyze urban networks for vehicular and pedestrian movements, functional connections and amenity locations. > The parametric model can be of larger areas and entire cities via software tools such as Urban Weather ...
... However, as in shape grammars, the adoption of parametric urban design approaches is not as developed as in architecture. Nevertheless, the works of Steinø and Veirum (2005), Beirão (2012), Lima et al. (2017), Nourian et al. 2018, andDogan et al. (2020), for instance, explore the use of parametric tools in the analysis and generation of urban areas. In this sequence, the work of Lima et al. (2019) presents a parametric approach to walkability, diversity, and density analysis in low-income neighborhoods in the city of Juiz de Fora, Brazil. ...
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République Française. 2019. "Paris: Plateforme Ouverte Des Données Publiques Françaises." data.gouv.fr. https://www.data. gouv.fr/fr/territories/commune/75056@latest/Paris/.
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