Agent Based Semiology: Simulating Contemporary Office Occupation Patterns with Simplified Social Models

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Neumayr, Robert R.
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Knowledge economy has become an increasingly important factor in recent years. Office environments have changed accordingly, and contemporary office space layouts have become more complex, as their qualities rely on their capacity to enhance the continuous transfer of knowledge and information rather than the exchange of work or goods. As the performance of these types of spaces becomes more difficult to assess, new methods need to be developed. The research methodology described in this paper aims to predict the complex emerging spatial occupation patterns in contemporary office environments. Its ambition is to develop a novel method of architectural design that generates spatial environments with high social performativity. Embedded in the conceptual framework of agent-based simulation, this research does not foreground the configuration of space itself (like other tools such as space syntax) but rather focuses on devising behavioral rules of social interaction for a set of active agents within the space in question, with the goal to develop a population of agents that is sophisticated enough to allow for the emergence of an abstract, yet plausibly life-like collective event scenario, within an office space that features typical elements of interaction such as tables, desks and coffee bars. Behavioral patterns are driven by a carefully constructed simplified social model that differentiates agents according to their “social attractiveness” and their “social alignment”, which govern the rules of interaction with other agents and objects in space. Results show that all simulations exhibit an overall life-like behavior when run and observed. Agents show differentiated behavior towards other agents and frame dependency to the varying distribution of objects in their space. Different space layouts result in differentiated spatial occupation patterns. While the overall number of interactions remains stable across all scenarios, the numbers for interactions with objects differ considerably depending on their location in space, indicating that different object formations within the same space influence the individual number of interactions and therefore render a space more or less performative.
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