Using Artificial Intelligence In Your Design Process

I remember when Google Earth was launched many moons ago. It was overwhelming, all of a sudden, I was getting lost in some footpaths in Tibet, acidic lakes, following river Amazon down its stream, rocky landscapes of Patagonia, dark green forests of Borneo and so on. It was amazing and addictive, curiosity would stop only for a much-needed shuteye somewhere in the AM zone.

I just had a similarly immersive experience with Midjourney, an AI web-based service that will render a previously nonexistent image according to the combination of keywords you inserted. It “produces a proprietary artificial intelligence program that creates images from textual descriptions, similar to OpenAI’s DALL-E and the open-source Stable Diffusion.”

The results are astonishing. It will basically synthesise anything you want. The above image was produced according to the keywords »urban biodiversity landscape architecture«. It is indeed amazing and scary at the same time. It is as if you suddenly have access to the collective unconscious or as if you are looking into the mirror of civilisation.

So how does it relate to landscape architecture?

Midjourney will not necessarily save you hours of work, probably on the contrary. But it may help you get more interesting results. It comes as a super powerful tool when we work with genius loci. The part of the design approach where we would normally use mood boards and collages, and when we construct atmosphere and ambience. It will give you clues, that is its main power. You will still need to take it from there and translate it and adapt it to the brief of your project. You will also need to work on your keywords. They will need to make sense and be rooted in the site, in the project brief, and in the goals that you need to achieve.

To use Midjourney, you’ll need to sign in with a Discord account and then you’re ready to go in minutes. Then type “/imagine” and put your keyword string after that. These keyword strings are called ‘prompts’ in Midjourney.

So what happens if you simply write a couple of hot keywords? Here are a couple of results. 

/imagine urban biodiversity landscape architecture

/imagine landscape architecture

/imagine urban ecology public space people plaza

One of its strengths is that it can, to some extent, of course, respond to localities. Below is an example where the same prompt was used six times, I only changed the location. The prompts for the following six images were:

/imagine roof garden marrakesh landscape architecture

/imagine roof garden oslo landscape architecture

/imagine roof garden barcelona landscape architecture

Notice how the Barcelona image reflects Gaudi, perhaps Sagrada Familia, how Oslo may radiate the facades of the Barcode and how Marrakesh is amazingly Marrakesh. It is about images, but it is also a useful reminder of what else is there for you to think about when adding some extra value to your designs.

You can also play with the materiality, maybe you’ll get some abstract results that will take you places you otherwise wouldn’t go.

/imagine tree leaves shadow on concrete pavement brass detail

/imagine wooden bench white concrete pavement perennials

/imagine urban concrete bench public plaza white bright

/imagine footpath coral pattern concrete pavement in grass

Try inserting unexpected combinations, the following blend refers to Malevich’s suprematism.

/imagine suprematism garden

/imagine kazimir malevich landscape architect

/imagine post-modern landscapes

/imagine perennial garden carlo scarpa architecture line drawing

/imagine frederick law olmsted sr taking selfie

written by Zaš Brezar

Published on October 26, 2022

2 thoughts on "Using Artificial Intelligence In Your Design Process"

  1. Anna C. says:

    This is amazing!

  2. Quico says:

    fascinating !

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