A look at the various technological advances currently taking place in architecture and construction sectors make it appear like the future cities are already here. With Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality formats being used for design presentations, to use of robotics for printing buildings, to big data analytics driving the very structures and forms of our future streets and spaces, the future of architecture definitely holds a promise of exciting times ahead.
One of the greatest challenges of architecture is that the very first vision of the built space exists in the architect’s mind. His job then is to translate this on paper and help his team and his clients see the vision as richly as he can see it. This is a difficult task as the traditional architectural drawings are 2D, and were then followed by 3D walk-throughs.
Today, visualsation and sharing of this visualization with multiple users is fast becoming the objective of technologies being implemented in architecture. While early experiments in Virtual Reality have been lauded, the problem is that while one person wearing the VR glasses is immersed in the space, all others in the room are looking at a projected image. The impacts are completely different.
Taking cues from video and online gaming products, some of the leading architectural firms are today investing in software development that will let multiple users experience VR simultaneously; and explore a given space from different perspectives simultaneously. The large data files are being stored and accessed from the cloud computing facilities.
Another aspect of architecture where new technologies are being used extensively is project management. Given the sheer size and scale of the teams and the scope of work that is undertaken during each project, apps and software that let managers track progress, manage timelines and predict deliverables in real time are all important tools in today’s competitive markets. These are constantly evolving.
Augmented reality, where a computer-generated image is superimposed on the on a user’s view of the real world, to provide a composite view, is yet another much experimented with technology today. This lets clients see how the completed project will appear in a given plot, the dimensions it will acquire etc. Holograms and projections are being used to create the lifelike exteriors of structures to give clients a better idea of what the architect team is proposing.
Use of big data of better understand the project requirements and pre-empt how the same will be used on completion, use of drones for on-site surveys, use of robotics to handle mundane tasks such as painting of walls, layering bricks or other such materials in a standard format – these are all examples of how leading architectural firms are adopting the new work methods.
How will these new introductions change the way we do business? How will it impact the client expectations and architect’s deliverables? These are questions that are now being asked in conference rooms and those of us who wish to stride ahead into a connected future must consciously look for answers. We hope the next few pages, though essentially focused on how technology is transforming construction will get you thinking on how you can automate, enhance and empower your offerings with new age tech!