The Parametric City Analysis
Toolbox for Urban Development

PACIAN - The Parametric City Analysis Toolbox for Urban Development, is a software solution that helps urban planners to predict and simulate development processes. The Interface was crafted within the international and interdisciplinary research project IN³.
IN³ is an international and interdisciplinary cooperation between the BUW in Weimar and the EiABC in Addis Abeba. The main objective of IN³ is to create knowledge, tools, and networks for establishing high-quality, interdisciplinary, cross-continental research and education on planning and building of resilient cities in Ethiopia and Germany.

The University of Applied Sciences Schwäbisch Gmünd cooperated within the PACIAN Bachelor Project with the BUW and EiABC to development a custom-made UI for the IN³-Toolbox currently in development.

Field trip to Ethiopia

Due to our cooperation with the BUW and the financial support of both the BUW and HfG, we were able to visit Ethiopia for twelve days of intense user research. During the visit, we took part in a three-day excursion to develop our use case, on the example of the village Wurer as well as visiting the Emerging City Lab Addis Abbeba to conduct interviews test ideas and hold workshops.

Outlining the Bachelor Thesis

With overwhelming tendencies, we discovered through our research, that there are two major aspects or potentials of improvement in nowadays city planning.
First fast decision making and second participation.

We decided to tackle the second mentioned, which can be split into four subcategories:
Inventory, Analysis, Simulation and Implementation. As Analysis and Simulation, are the most time-consuming steps with the least reliable tools at hand, we set our goal to improve these steps.

It is nearly impossible to plan anymore. You can only prepare as good as possible.


The help and insights we could generate through our contacts with the Institute for Experimental Building (ifex) in Weimar, the architecture buro in Ravensburg and the Emerging City Lab Addis Abeba (ECLAA) made this possible.

Defining the Use Case in the Ethiopian Context

The toolbox developt is supposed to be used in the upcoming Groth and Transformation Plan III (GTP), starting 2020. The GTP is a five-year plan forwarded by the Ethiopian government and integrates certain goals the county aims to achieve within its next five year of legislation. This includes as well the development of 8000 small town centres till 2025.

Fast & Easy GIS-Data management and realtime analysis

The Analysis is the interpretation of existing conditions. Today it mainly relies on the experience of the urban planner and the calculation of correlations between parameters. We automized those calculations and enhanced the time-consuming evaluation process with real-time data graphs, a modular data management system and on the fly contextual feedback of related parameter changes.

Simulate population growth and related conflicts

The Simulation is the interpolation of given dynamic parameters into the future. Calculating several scenarios is a very time-consuming task. With PACIAN you get visual feedback of the simulation process and of the potential occurring conflicts related to on-site conditions. This enables a preventive workflow improving your quality of concepts as well as it facilitates fast multiple scenarios creation with full control over population growth parameters.

More time evaluating concepts, less time creating them

Accelerating and enhancing the analysis and simulation workflow creates a shift towards a computer-aided process which enables fast decision making - an urgent user need of the future urban planners.

“[...] Urban planning, in general, assesses three different states. Growth [...], the decline [...] and conversion [of processes].”


A paradigmatic example is diversity in topography, climate and culture in Ethiopia. Ongoing processes challenge future city planners and architects to create sustainable city concepts in a very short period of time. Concepts that normally take years in the planning have to be applied to a plurality of use cases within this short timeframe. The problem of fast demographic changes and so-called black swans (unforeseen events) does not solely occur in Ethiopia. It is a global problem many countries will face in the future.


The BUW and the EiABC try to solve an important real-world problem with IN³ which is a difficult and ambitious undertaking. The development of the IPS is not just something that works in Ethiopia. Ethiopia could rather be seen as an example of a new planning approach that could be applied in many other countries. It is imaginable that even highly developed countries could learn from this approach as well. For us, it is very exciting to be part of this endeavour. It is a great opportunity for us as designers to contribute to the project‘s framework. We look forward to supporting the Simulation part of IN³ by applying our methodical and analytical approach to enhance and accelerate the planning process for future urban planners.

Download the documentation of this project!