Biomimicry most commonly describes creations from designers that are inspired by the many forms and functions of living things. Nature, as if working with an invisible hammer and chisel through the ages, has been able to fine-tune design in a way that can only be achieved with vast experience. While humans copy and implement into the man-made world with great success the many forms of something created by nature, it may also be a worthwhile endeavor to copy the process that has proven the natural world such a brilliant designer. Galapagos seeks to mimic, not a form of nature, but the system of evolution by the way of natural selection.

While designers are able to utilize the collective knowledge of past generations and draw upon their own creativity and intellect, they don’t have the tremendous advantage that nature has in its billions of years old trial and error experiment that is evolution. However, with the advent of computer science and smart A.I., the process of natural selection and evolution is being simulated digitally with increasing proficiency. Galapagos is a proposal for an artificial intelligence system that uses the key concepts of evolution to create beautiful and functional designs. Although it could be used in many design fields, this demonstration will express how it could be useful in architecture, with the end goal of creating a successful residential building. A few parameters are necessary:

  1. Turnover Rate – Like nature, evolution occurs most rapidly in organisms with short lives and generational turnover, during which mutations occur. In this application, temporary housing provides the quickest visible manifestations of evolution.
  2. User Feedback– The AI will be responsible, through polling, reviews and market viability, for getting a sense of what aspects of the building the inhabitants enjoyed, found useful, found beautiful, or otherwise considered a positive, and what the inhabitants considered a negative.
  3. Mutations – For use in Architecture, Galapagos will have a range of possible architectural mutations that can randomly be made after each generation. These will code for “genes” that may include anything from the general arrangement of the building in plan, to the type of finishes, windows, fixtures, landscape, etc. Although given certain restrictions to ensure the building is at all times livable (minimum width and height of rooms, for example) infinite mutations are still possible in an architectural application. The success of these genes is determined from the user feedback. Successful genes re-appear in further design, unsuccessful genes gradually leave the gene pool of architectural ideas.
  4. Reproduction – Instead of a child forming in a mother’s womb from the genetic information of the mother and father (and looking like the two of them), the existing building, with the help of automated construction robotics, undergoes a period of re-assembling based off of the random mutations and the determined evolutionary success of prior mutations.

The key concept of Galapagos is that the resultant forms are not designed, in the conventional sense, but emerge through the most organic process known, evolution.