Is there a Procedural Logic to Architecture?


Urban models are key to navigation, architecture and entertainment. Apart from visualizing facades, a number of tedious tasks remain largely manual (e.g. compression, generating new facade designs and structurally comparing facades for classification, retrieval and clustering). We propose a novel procedural modelling method to automatically learn a grammar from a set of facades, generate new facade instances and compare facades. To deal with the difficulty of grammatical inference, we reformulate the problem. Instead of inferring a compromising, one-size-fits-all, single grammar for all tasks, we infer a model whose successive refinements are production rules tailored for each task. We demonstrate our automatic rule inference on datasets of two different architectural styles. Our method supercedes manual expert work and cuts the time required to build a procedural model of a facade from several days to a few milliseconds.


Procedural Parsing gives Power!
Is there a Procedural Logic to Architecture?
J. Weissenberg, H. Riemenschneider, M. Prasad, L. Van Gool, CVPR 2013 (PDF, Poster)


The core essence is to have a procedural parsing of a facade. For this we use a novel shape grammar parsing to extract the parse tree and hence the logical structure of the facade layouts.

We now study different architectural styles from two datasets (ICG Graz50 and ECP Paris2010). ICG Graz50 contains architectural styles like Classicism, Biedermeier, Historicism, Art Nouveau and post-modern styles. ECP Paris2010 only contains Hausmannian architecture.

Computational time with respect to the number of Haussmannian facades given as input (left); number of rules with respect to the number of Haussmannian (centre) and Gruenderzeit (right) facades given as input, using no compression, n-ary compression and n-ary and rule inference compression (log scale).

Further, we can use this understanding to build a facade similarity measure to cluster similar architectural styles.

Also, knowing the variation within the architectural style, we can generate virtual facades which resemble the typical distribution. For example, the generated rule set for Haussmannian summarizes the main features of the style:

7 floors (including the ground and roof floor), 4 window columns,
running balconies on the 2nd and 5th floors and shops on the ground floor.

This page has been edited by Hayko Riemenschneider