Application of Fractal Growth Patterns in Housing Layout Design


  • Subhadha Battina Assistant Professor, K.S. School of Architecture, #15, Mallasandra, Off Kanakapura Road, Bengaluru -560109, KARNATAKA, INDIA



Fractals, Computation in Design, Housing Layout Patterns, Organic Growth Patterns


In early phases of design, during the process of form-exploration, architects -- knowingly or unknowingly -- have used mathematics as their guiding tool to evolve a formal methodology of design. Fundamental compositional principles such as symmetry, rhythm and proportion are based on specific mathematical underpinnings. However, very often the designer comes across a situation where these underlying mathematical principles need to be overlapped or interfaced. Applying fractal concepts to the order can accommodate this complex diversity. Fractals allow us to provide a combination of order and surprise in a rhythmic composition using a specific mathematical geometry. Fractals are typically unit-based and, can thus allow exploration in architectural designs which have a ‘unit’ as a fundamental issue or necessity.
The design of housing layout stands out prominently among such architectural problems and, can thus be one such instance in which fractals may be used as a design tool. Commonly seen organisational patterns in housing layout designs create rigidity and monotony, while others like clustered groups are too inconsistent and can create disorder. The research tries applying fractal ordering principles to strike a balance between these extremes by creating an orderly arrangement of houses with an underlying variation in the pattern. The traditional processes of creating housing layouts is quite cumbersome. With the mathematical power of computers, fractal ordering principles are used as Iterative functions to generate multiple design options. The research investigates the potential of the emergent patterns of fractals as an organisational principle in designing housing layouts, while limiting it based on site constraints, size and the transforming rules. In doing so, the objective is to explore the computational and mathematical basis of repetitive patterns in architectural order and compositions. The study also aims at developing a computer application, based on algorithms using fractals, which offers capabilities as a conceptual and organisational tool for a housing layout. The application is implemented, tested and its results are demonstrated using a live terrain data.

Search Keywords for This Page

Fractals in architecture and design, Fractal geometry in architecture, House patterns designs, Fractal geometry in architecture and design, Fractals in architecture, Fractal houses, Housing layout design, Fractals architecture, Fractal architecture building


Download data is not yet available.


[1] ALEXANDER, C. et al (1969) Houses generated by patterns. Berkley, California: Center for Environmental Structure.
[2] ALEXANDER, C. et al (1977) A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction. New York: Oxford University Press.
[3] ARNHEIM, R. (1977) The Dynamics of Architectural Form. Berkeley: University of California Press.
[4] BATTINA, S. (2004) Exploring non-deterministic growth patterns to generate housing layout designs: Fractals as a framework. Unpublished thesis (M.Arch.) Arizona State University, Tempe, USA.
[5] BATTY, M. and LONGLEY, P. (1994) Fractal cities: a geometry of form and function, San Diego: Academic Press, London.
[6] BOVILL, C. (1996) Fractal Geometry in Architecture and Design. Boston: Birkhauser.
[7] CHING, F.D.K. (1996) Architecture: Form, Space and Order. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold,
[8] DEVANEY, R. L. (1995) Mathematics and Statistics. Boston University. Available from: [Accessed:April 30, 2016]
[9] EASTMAN, C.M. (ed.) (1975) Spatial Synthesis and Computer-aided Building Design. London: Applied Sciences.
[10] EMDANAT, S., STINY, G. and VAKALÓ, E-G. (1999) Generative Systems in Design. Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design Analysis & Manufacturing,13(4). p. 239-240.
[11] KALAY, Y. (ed.) (1987) Computability in Design, New York: Wiley.
[12] KARMILOFF-SMITH, A. (1995) Beyond Modularity: A Developmental Perspective On Cognitive Science: Learning, Development, and Conceptual Change. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
[13] MITCHELL, W., LIGGETT, R. and KVAN, T. (1987) The Art of Computer Graphics Programming. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.
[14] MITCHELL, W.J. (1989) The Logic of Architecture: Design, Computation, Cognition. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
[15] PEITGEN, H.O., JURGENS, H. and SAUPE, D. (2004,1992) Chaos and Fractals -- New Frontiers of Science. New York: Springer Science.
[16] SALINGAROS, N. (1998) A Scientific Basis for Creating Architectural Forms. Journal of Architectural and Planning. [Online] 15(4). p. 283-293. Available from: [Accessed: April 30, 2016]
[17] THOMSON, D.W. (1945) On Growth and Form. New York: Cambridge University Press. Available from: [Accessed April 30, 2016]
[18] WEBER, R. (1995) On the Aesthetics of Architecture: A Psychological Approachto the Structure and the Order of Perceived Architectural Space. Brookfield, USA: Avebury, Aldershot.
[19] William, J.M. (1990) The Logic of Architecture: Design, Computation and Cognition. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.
[20] WRIGHT, F. L. (1992) The machine and the unit system. Unknown Binder
[21] ZELANSKI, P. and FISHER, M.P. (1984) Design Principles and Problems. NewYork: Harcourt School Publishers.




How to Cite

Subhadha Battina. (2016). Application of Fractal Growth Patterns in Housing Layout Design. Creative Space, 3(2), 185–207.