The Parametric City Analysis Toolbox for Urban Development

What is PACIAN?

PACIAN - The Parametric City Analysis Toolbox for Urban Development, is a software that links with common CAD Software and uses the strength of parametric algorythms to calculate and simulate szenarios and development procecsses concerning urban growth and in particular ifrastructural capacities. PACIAN enables city planners to quickly generate a varriation of concepts or solutions to tackl or prevent occuring problems.


Fast & Easy GIS-Data management and realtime analysis

The Analysis is the interpretation of existing conditions. Therefore 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 realtime data graphs, a modular data management system and on the fly contextual feedback of related parameter changes.


Simulate population growth and related future 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 occuring 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.

Fast Decision Making

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 future urban planners. A paradigmatic example is the 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.

Simplify your workflow


CAD Sync

Easyly syncronize your familiar CAD software with PACIAN, too analyse any of your new or old developments and datasets.


Create & Organise Planning Stages

Set planning stages to calculate and prevent shortcomings over a periode of time, step by step. A variable number of planning stages let your customize and adapt to different development projects.


Visualizing co-relations between datasets

Get an easy and well visualized access to corelated parameters. Structured and interactive handling of information, keeps it understandable and makes it comprehencive in their origin.


Reenect future scenarios

Simulate possible scenarios, and be able to prevent negative outcome up front.


Quickly create Concept Variations

Spent more time evaluating your variations then creating them.


Fast Print & Share

Share or Print your ideas and concept for colleges, supervisors and clients via a quick export function.

Interview Partners

  • “[...] “It is nearly not possible to plan anymore. You can only prepare as good as possible.””

    City Councillor for Building and Construction Julius Mihm

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

    Dipl.-Ing. Roland Gross

  • ““If Grasshopper can change the way of thinking – Can our tool change the way we see and think about town development?””

    Prof. Abdulmalik Abdulmawla

Cooperations & IN³

IN³ is an international and interdisciplinary cooperation between the BUW and the EiABC. “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.

Hochschule für Gestaltung Schwäbisch Gmünd
Bauhaus Universität Weimar


Research Trip to Ethiopia

Due to our cooperation with the BUW and the financial support of both the BUW and HfG, we were able to actually visit Ethiopia for twelve days of intense user research. During the visit, we were able to take part in a three-day excursion to develop our use case, on the example of the village Wurer.



Countries visited


kilometers traveled


Hours Interview Material




Days in Ethiopia



Very high urbanisation rate & uncontrollable city growth

In the past years, the population of Ethiopia has multiplied. The number of young people and the traditional way of inheriting land is not practical anymore. A lack of land and just few job opportunities in the countryside force young people to move from rural communities into the near urban areas or the capital Addis Ababa. This results in so called Moonshine Settlements, illegal shacks which are constructed over night and general lack of main infrastructure such as water supply, waste water drainage and electricity.


Lack of staff and expertice

Urban planners in Ethiopia are hired by the goverment. Due to the complex political history of the country and other reasons there's a lack of qualified staff and expertice. This intensifies the problem of planning and providing the necessary infrastructure and appropriate housing within a very short time frame. Therefore the biggest challenge is the participation of the people, providing necessary data about local areas and the fast development of individual sustainable town concepts. Due to the huge cultural and climatic diversity in each region of Ethiopia, individual concepts have to be developt for each region itself. Therefore the main goal must be to provide a toolbox which enables local staff to quickly evaluate local scenarios and enable a fast decision process.

Growth and Transformation Plan

In order to contain the rate of urbanisation and relieve infrastructure of existing hinterlands, it is necessary to decentralize the capital focused industry and therefore establish and expand new industry in rural areas. In 2015, the GTP II set urbanisation and industrialization as a central aspect of urban development. Until 2020, it should provide methods and concepts for the sustainable transformation of small rural settlements into towns. From 2020 onwards, the planning and construction of 8000 towns is scheduled, which is a mammoth task that cannot be implemented with local capacities and traditional methodologies. Therefore, urban planners and architects of the near future are challenged with the development of enormous amounts of sustainable and individual town concepts in a short time frame.

Interview Partners

  • “[...] in urban planning you have just really few [software] options to use. Creating more options for planners is a plus since we need a lot of plans in a short amount of time.”

    M.A.Sc. Israel Tesfu

  • “It is obvious that this huge task cannot be done by the traditional way of doing things.”

    Dr. Zegeye Cherenet

  • “[...] Information is the most important part. What is reality on the ground and what is our problem? By simulating our data and information, we could solve the problem at the end of the day.”

    PhD Dipl.-Ing. Tesfaye Hailu Bekele


Fieldtrip to Ethiopia

To develop our Use Case, we ew to Ethiopia to interview urban planners, professors, students and staff of the Emerging City Lab in Addis Ababa (ECL-AA) and the EiABC.