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Advanced Digital Tools for City Design

The future of our cities is becoming more and more complex as we build more data and as the potential impacts of climate change become more tangible. Advanced digital tools are showing the potential to design for this complexity and for change. This hands-on course will provide an explanation of these tools for professionals working with the ever-increasing demands of urbanism.

About this course

The course investigates how advanced digital tools can be used to better understand, and consequently design, future cities so they are more robust in the face of an ever-changing climate. Using 3D software (Rhino 3D), parametric software (Grasshopper 3D) and generative and evolutionary software (Wallacei), you’ll explore the challenges associated with solving complex design problems that are inherent to the design of urban settlements. To do it, you’ll use an approach that prioritises the process (i.e. how the design problem is formulated) rather than the end product (i.e. the actual design solution). This approach starts by exploring the processes of adaptation in biological systems in nature, where continual change is the norm. This allows us to reflect on the nature of the design problem in the city and its evolution. 

Throughout the course you will engage with varying computational methods to better understand what constitutes a ‘design problem’ and to identify the most efficient approach to formulate the problem in order to generate the most optimal results.

Course outline

Using Rhino 3D and Grasshopper 3D, you’ll work with other students in the course to develop a parametric computational model of an urban block. You’ll also run your own evolutionary simulations using Wallacei to evolve a population of urban design solutions, which you’ll then analyse using both statistical and visual methods.

Course content is split across three learning outcomes:

  • Understanding the theory behind biological evolution and how it equips natural systems to adapt more efficiently to environmental changes. Course materials will highlight the ways in which this knowledge can be used by designers to create urban settlements that are more appropriate to an ever changing climate.
  • Utilising advanced computational tools, with a focus on parametric and generative approaches, to develop a framework for the design of an urban patch that resolves conflicting design objectives.
  • Understanding and applying an evolutionary algorithm to evolve urban design solutions that mimic the adaptability of natural systems to their environment. You’ll run your evolutionary simulations and present your findings to the class, allowing for critical feedback that will further develop the skills and knowledge you gain throughout the course.

Course learning objectives

By the end of this course, you will:

  • Understand the biological and computational theory of evolutionary computation
  • Have hands-on experience with generative and parametric design in Grasshopper 3D
  • Understand the applications of evolutionary algorithms using the plugin, Wallacei 
  • Be able to develop and formulate multi-criteria optimisation problems
  • Be able to analyse the results of evolutionary algorithms using statistical methods
  • Be able to understand and apply unsupervised machine learning algorithms.

Key benefits of this microcredential

Successfully completing the course will equip participants with knowledge and expertise in innovative and emerging digital tools. Participants will gain relevant skills in the application of these tools within the design field allowing for their use in various parts of industry-based projects.

This microcredential aligns with the 3-credit point subject, Advanced Digital Tools for City Design (80112), in the Master of Technology. This microcredential may qualify for recognition of prior learning at this and other institutions.

Who is this course for?

The course is for design professionals and academics in the built environment who want to advance their knowledge of computational methods and systems, as well as gain an understanding of the application of cutting edge computational algorithmic principles for the development of urban settlements.

Teaching and learning strategies

Face to Face learning through the use of digital tools

Assessment criteria

Assessment will be Pass/Fail

Minimum requirements

To pass the course, participants must have full attendance and complete all submission requirements as per the assessment criteria stated in the course outline.

Mandatory requirement

  • Participants must have previous knowledge of and experience using Rhino 3D
  • A basic understanding of and previous experience using Grasshopper 3D is preferred.


Morning and afternoon tea provided

Fees and Discount

Full price: $2,500 (GST free)

Special price: $1,500 (GST free) 

To help you build future-focused skills during COVID-19, this course is currently offered at a reduced rate of $1,500 (Full price $2,500).

Please note that discounts cannot be combined. A limit of one discount applies per person per course session.

Register Your Interest

Additional information

NSW Health advice

UTS is undertaking a number of social distancing initiatives, informed by NSW Health advice, to help reduce social interactions in support of the government’s efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. As it stands, the date of the microcredential is yet to be impacted by these initiatives and so the course will move forward unaffected. In the instance that the course cannot move forward as planned and will require to be postponed, participants can choose to remain enrolled and attend during the course’s revised date or request a full refund. Should there be any updates to the above, we will contact all participants with the revised information. If you have any questions in the interim, please do not hesitate to email Dr Mohammed Makki:
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