Technology has always worked symbiotically with architects to help them realize their ideas and enhance their creativity. Think about it, if the basic numerical control programming system, PRONTO wouldn’t have been conceived in the 1950s or the rudimentary CAD system, Urban 5 in the 1970s, we wouldn’t have spoken about architecture design and computation in the same breath. From there to Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, this human-technology relationship has come a long way.
*URBAN 5, a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) system developed in 1973. Source: openarchitectures.com
So, what are the technologies that will make an architect’s life simpler in 2020? We will tell you:
- Mixed Reality Tools
- Data Driven and Generative Design
- Parametric Tools
- Cloud Services
- 3D Printing – Models & Real Houses
- Robotics & AI
1. Mixed Reality Tools
Do you often find your clients having a tough time deciphering your 3D renderings? Do you feel a little stuck, when they ask questions in the third meeting like, “But can we change the direction of the French window?” or “Extend the sink a little”? Because you know it took weeks of planning and time to come up with those renderings, and any further iterations will mean more delays.
What if you could present your concepts as true-to-life layouts in physical space and make changes with a finger swipe or a command? With futuristic mixed reality technology like the improved Hololens 2 and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Layout, you can pick up holographic components, literally out of thin air and edit or remove any portion of your layout in minutes. Visualize and design in a real-world environment, present a lifelike walkthrough to clients and move or remove any component around in space. Mixed reality technology can help you iterate on the spot and shorten your design cycle drastically.
2. Data Driven Generative Design
“*80% of important design decisions are made during the first 20% of the design process.”
Most of the architects around the world still move between two to four different software at the concept design stage, along with hand sketching. These tools often don’t talk to each other, making the architect’s job time-consuming, unnecessarily extending project timelines as well as costs.
Today, you can use data driven design software that generates design based on set inputs. One that would instantly extract area statements by sketch recognition, split the floor plan intuitively and convert it into 2D & 3D models accurately within a few minutes, while adding materials and making iterations in all renderings in real-time.
With such advanced software, you no longer have to measure the dimensions physically in the drawing using a measuring tool and calculate the areas in an excel sheet separately. It does away with mundane manual work and iterations due to incompatible tools. Once you set the scale, you can focus on creativity, while the software automatically calculates everything else.
Such software creates a bridge between creative designing and Building Information Modelling (BIM). The technology helps you test ideas as fast as you can imagine in multiple formats of 2D and 3D.
3. Parametric Tools
Imagine remodelling even a small element like the windows in a complex, fluid structure because of a slight tweak in the dimensions of the structure. You know how laborious the task can be. Or, making an earthquake resistant building without any meaningful data on the environment factors?
Parametric tools come to your rescue.
While parametric tools have been around, they will add even more value going forward with the growing demand of building spaces with unconventional, complex forms and sustainable properties. The innovative technology can help architects generate complex and dynamic shapes, in a jiffy while simulating environment conditions and working quickly with multiple variables. The tool empowers architects with real climatic data, for example the position of the sun and its movement through the day to create solar-powered roofs or the impact of lighting on different facades of a building.
Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport in China is a good example of a parametric designed structure by the firm Knippers Helbig, Stuttgart. Source: Wikimedia Commons
4. Cloud Services
When we talk about the future of technology, it is usually a given that it lies in the cloud. With cloud software, the ease of collaboration and sharing floor plans, models and any changes can be instant between all your team members and clients in real-time. While cloud has been around forever, the adoption of cloud still has a long way to go in the architecture space. Also, using a cloud-based architecture design software can ensure you that are future-ready and can help you seamlessly work with newer upcoming technology.
A lot of popular tools used by architects are on-premise and require specialized rendering hardware to support it. In a world where companies are doing away with traditional software on computers, cloud-based architecture design software is the answer to faster, simpler and smarter ways of working.
5. 3D Printing - Models & Real Houses
When it comes to winning pitches for an architect, presentation is key. 3D printing technology simplifies the concept modelling stage for architects and gives a lot of freedom to experiment with forms. Creating tangible scale models with a lot of detailing, incorporating complex shapes and including different materials can be supported easily by 3D printing. Also, editing and re-printing is simpler with a 3D printing machine. You can use transparent elements, gray elements and multicolour components and a lot more variations. With traditional hand modelling being too time consuming, especially for large scale projects, 3D printing is the way to go.
While 3D printing for scale modelling is widely known, the future of 3D printing is in actual houses and buildings being 3D printed in less than 24 hours. It is a revolution in the construction industry and is what we would look out for in 2020.
And, if you hadn’t heard, NASA plans to 3D print houses on Mars.
There’s also something more we would keep our eyes open for: 4D printing.
4D printing is when your 3D printed structure changes its shape, usually triggered by water, heat, light, or electrical currents. 4D printing is currently being researched and developed upon and we would love to see its application in architecture.
6. Robotics & AI
Robots are already being used by universities, architects and construction firms in creating buildings faster at a lower cost. Through the use of 3D printing, robots can also build small scale models accurately. Robotic arms and robotic helicopters are helping place bricks and other elements, thus doing away with scaffolding. Edge monkeys or small robots are also being installed directly in the building to patrol building exteriors, monitor the energy, lighting and other conditions. With a lot of research happening in the area of robotics in architecture, the year ahead could be a revelation of sorts.
Young and progressive architects are increasingly refusing to be just CAD monkeys and are looking for newer technologies to enrich their profession. With innovations taking place even as we write this article, we are sure the future will tech up the game of architecture.
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