The world is currently entering what has been deemed “the fourth industrial revolution”. Consequently for professionals within all industries, and architects specifically, a host of changes are expected to take place as we move through this time – from technological advancements and the workforce as we know it to the way in which we do things. The question from a technology perspective is – where does South Africa stand? Are we lagging behind or are we actually up to par? We investigate.
There is no doubt that social media has taken over both daily life and business – and this is true for many architectural firms too. This is not surprising considering that according to Statista, a provider of market and consumer data, it is estimated that around 2.77 billion people will be using social media around the globe in 2019.
Social media provides architectural firms with the opportunity to improve their reach, stay in constant communication with their client base and, of course, derive highly valuable insights which could help them improve their business. The great news is that South Africans are doing rather well within the social sphere. As long as local professionals educate themselves properly in terms of how to make social media work for them, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to reap all the benefits.
3D technology is commonly used within the architectural world. This includes resolving complex geometry and form through 3D modelling, as well as using 3D printing as a means of successfully communicating ideas to clients.
According to Sharif Omarshah, an associate at GAPP Architects & Urban Designers (Pty) Ltd, 3D technology is not the only change that the fourth industrial revolution has brought about for architects, both in South Africa and around the world. Sharif also highlights other technological advancements such as generative design, internet-based tools and software.
Is South Africa playing catch up?
With so many huge technological changes, many professionals are left wondering how South Africa is faring in terms of adopting the new technology and maximising its potential.
“Architects in South Africa are mostly playing catch-up when it comes to learning and implementation. The technology becoming available for the industry can make architects and the industry more efficient. However, the financial challenges in our economy and the limitation of what can be manufactured, restricts the exploration and integration of the latest technology into the practice,” says Francois Mercer, an architect at Paragon.
“Implementation only occurs once the technology has become a standard approach to communicating between the various disciplines. A possible solution is to capitalise on integrating the learning institutes and the industry through an exchange of knowledge. The majority of students are armed with the knowledge and skills of 3D printers, virtual reality and parametric modelling while the industry has the practical experience of realising projects from inception to construction. There therefore needs to be a collaboration of theory and practice – a common space where architects and students have access to both worlds,” Francois adds.
In short, South African architects have a bit of work to do in order to optimise their efficiency. The incredible technology is there for the taking – it is now all about learning how to put it to good use.
Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to Sharif Omarshah and Francois Mercer for their contributions to this article.
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