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FEATURE ARTICLE

Breeding Better Buildings

Civil engineers may be able to design more innovative and improved structures by borrowing from genetics

Rafal Kicinger, Tomasz Arciszewski

Figure%201.%20Swiss%20Re%20Tower%20in%20LondonClick to Enlarge ImageEngineers tend to be conservative in their designs of buildings, to err on the side of safety. However, some modern structures may benefit from a more creative approach. Taking inspiration from genetics, Kicinger and his colleagues have created software that "breeds" basic building structures. Pieces such as beams, columns and bracings are "genes" and how they are combined becomes the "genome" of the building. The best results are recombined to produce subsequent generations that improve on their parents. The authors' programs have automatically produced some designs that mimic known, strong building structures, and they hope the programs will soon produce some creative designs that improve on human ideas.


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