Made in Collaboration with Madeline Cunningham

ycity is an urban speculation on the future of robotics and automation in architecture. The project creates an open and fluid environment that adapts to cultural change through a reconfiguration of communal and personal spaces. The project presupposes a new political and economic system that is more autonomous for both the group in terms of local self-governance and individual in terms of personal mobility.

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    ycity consists of three overlapping systems. Y-shaped modules house the city’s hard infrastructure in addition to a variety of public utilities from collective gardens to dining halls to bath houses. A network of pedestrian walkways provide circulation between Y-modules as well as spaces for individuals to continually resettle. Sleeping pods provide minimum individual space and maximum mobility.


    The project developed several design processes and techniques to interrogate strains of thought around the concept of autonomy. The form of the project is achieved using an algorithm that arrays Y-modules horizontally across a given site and then stacks them vertically based on a set of parameters that maximize spatial variability, allow for rapid iteration, and control for basic structural and circulatory conditions. Data from the aggregation script was then used to program a robotic arm to construct a 1:200 scale prototypical assembly of ycity consisting of 127 individually crafted Y-modules. Contemplating other forms of automation in cultural production, a workflow was established for transforming spatial aggregation data into MIDI data for the production of musical scores.