Over the last two decades, the construction industry has been subject to dramatic changes, paving the way for a future architecture in which traditional spatial concepts are longer valid.
Now, compost is being used for building materials, crowdfunding and collaborative design have become increasingly popular approaches to architectural projects, there is a focus on the importance of green infrastructure and energy efficiency, and the line between private and public space is becoming increasingly blurred.
Collaboration and the ‘Architect’ as we know it
Architecture as we know it is likely to disappear and, in the future, the role of architects may be very different from how we recognize it today. Specialists in, for example, environmental science and social anthropology will become active team members in design studios, working on complex projects that require knowledge in different fields.
It is reasonable to expect that the emergence of specialists from various fields will eliminate many of the job profiles currently existing in the construction industry. Experts say collaboration with system leaders is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for meeting complex structural needs.
Immersive Future Architecture and Virtual Reality
Imagine an artificial world that you can observe, walkthrough, reach out to touch objects and see everything around you respond in real time. This is immersive virtual reality and these spaces are created using a combination of computer graphics, wireless tracking technology, headsets, HD projectors, polarised glass and more, all working together to create interactive and real-life experiences. The world of 3D virtual design and engineering is a fast-growing field and there’s some seriously forward thinking happening in these fields.
Virtual reality technology has seen rapid developments in recent years and this is most apparent in the architectural, engineering and construction industry. Every design will soon be made using virtual reality; enabling the user to fully immerse himself in a 1:1-scale, 3D (BIM) model which can be manipulated and provides an incredibly accurate sense of presence in a space that’s yet to be built. Our SpaceShapers YouTube channel demonstrates how we are using this technology within our rail sector design for clients to visualise the spaces in person.
The potential for human analysis is already obvious. This makes Big Data a perfect and integral part of the planning and creation of smart cities. As populations grow and resources become scarcer, the efficient use of these limited goods becomes more important. Smart cities are a key factor in the consumption of materials and resources. Built on and integrating with big data, the cities of the future are becoming a realization today.
With the growth of our population and the advent of ideas such as big data and the Internet, the natural step cities will take is to become more interconnected. There are millions of sensors in place already, monitoring various things in metropolises. In the near future, these sensors will multiply until they can monitor everything, from streetlights and trashcans to road conditions and energy consumption. We at SpaceShapers have been involved in exactly this within our design role on Dubai Expo 2020.
These smart cities will allow us to make more efficient use of our resources. They will lower our energy consumption and build our cities to maximize efficiency.
Big data is essential to understanding how
- people in cities move,
- energy is used,
- various aspects of infrastructure interact, and much more.
the integration of big data and interconnected technology — along with the increasing population — will lead to the necessary creation of smart cities. To continue providing people with safe, comfortable, and affordable places to live, cities must incorporate techniques and technologies to bring them into the future. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing the advances that will come to my city in the near future.
The BIM is already an old idea but it has started to build massive momentum in the architectural community. The BIM (Building Information Model) is based on several principles that can be implemented with relative independence. We can:
- design a project using a unique 3d model that we can modify throughout the project’s life
- store the 3d model in a multi-client database in the cloud. So, it can be accessible at the same time by several people
- define multi-user permissions on the model precisely to reflect team member responsibility on the project
- classify all construction elements using standard categories, namely the IFC
- insert libraries of construction products in the model and even get actualisation if the product version changes
- this 3d is not only volumetric surfaces. In fact, it also has metadata (like the material of the element) and parametric modifiers (like the height of a wall)
BIM will probably be the mainstream tool to design architecture in the coming years. For this reason, at SpaceShapers we are using this within our rail sector work.
Parametric future architecture
Another area that’s having a moment in architecture is parametric design. Parametric design is a generative design system. Adjusting the parameters will compute to create different types of outputs. Also, it will create forms and structures that would not have otherwise been possible.
The parametric architecture uses internally a geometric programming language that can be used directly by coding. Or you can design parametrically using a software extension of Rhino called Grasshopper and make the same operation visually with a User Interface. Grasshopper shows you the shape of the building and gives you a way to define handles to control it.
It allows you to do some once impossible tasks when using traditional 3D modelling software. But moreover, it changes the relationship we have with the finished building. We actually don’t build a building, but a shape that is controlled by a series of parameters or constraints. The computer and human imagination play together to design architecture. The second important point is that it moves architecture closer to the programming language. As it is code behind the shape, everything we can make with code becomes possible. Share the code, fork it, make libraries!
Future architecture robots and 3d printers
The way we make things has changed?—?but will change more drastically still. Robotics is coming to the construction industry. It won’t be long before we are assisting in designing to a construction process that involves assembly robots. Assisted robotics, in which a human and robot work together to direct the construction process, is also on the horizon.
We’ve seen 3D printing of consumer items. However, new algorithms can actually value engineering a structure while solving the equation for structural resilience and material use. In architecture, we have seen parametric design tools assist in creating amazing structures. Now the use of large-scale 3D printers will help push the materiality of those structures. 3D-printed construction will greatly expand the limits of construction technologies. Indeed we are now able to ‘print’ a whole house!
Internet of Spaces
The “sharing economy” (or, “collaborative consumption”) has had the greatest impact on the housing and real estate market. Peer-to-peer online platforms like Airbnb, as well as shared workspaces and driverless cars, are paving the way towards a future in which infrastructure is the dominant aspect of the built environment.
Regarding residential future architecture, the concepts of interconnectivity and smart design will redefine the way we create living spaces. Transformable spaces that adapt to the homeowner’s age, economic status and personal preference will become mainstream.
The land is becoming scarce as the world’s population grows. Also, environmental changes shrink the amount of livable space on Earth. Some creative thinkers say the solution is to build up. But with land increasingly becoming scarce, how will our already busy cities cope with accommodating millions of more people?
To be sustainable, cities will need to become more space savvy. They must make room for not only more commercial and residential spaces but infrastructure and public services. These will be able to cope with an increased population, such as roads, schools and hospitals.
It is clear that the Architectural world and the people who design and make it, is changing enormously. Technology is advancing our generation faster than any other and with it, we must adapt and evolve. Here at SpaceShapers, we are pushing boundaries to ensure we meet our client’s ever-changing expectations.