Metabolic Cities

[2017]



Metabolic Cities is a geographic simulation that models how surficial conditions of land, such as ground classification and slope, engender spatial patterns of extraction, production, and settlement. In animating potential futures, this agent-based model explores how land classification shapes our relationship to nature and yields a particular geography of urban expansion.

Using three regions of Washington State as a case study, my collaborator and I constructed an intelligence for agricultural, forested, and urban land uses. Agricultural resources represent crops that sustain a population; logging resources represent physical construction supplies; and the urban area utilizes these two resources to grow and maintain its spatial footprint, given particular rates of depreciation and seasonal regrowth.

By modeling how logging and agricultural business locate capital and deplete resources against real land characteristics, we have attempted to derive a more nuanced understanding of the upkeep values facing urban populations. Parameterizing this metabolism enables us to reimagine how such spatial patterns might manifest more optimally and environmentally sensitively.

Agriculture - Yellow
Logging - Green
Urban - Red