Over the last two decades, the construction industry has been subject to dramatic changes, paving the way for a future in which traditional spatial concepts are no longer valid. Now compost is being used for building materials, and 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.

It is not a secret that technology has accelerated at an incredible pace! Architecture is not an exception, and the following are where the most noteworthy changes are happening:

Virtual reality and immersive architecture
Imagine an artificial world that you can observe, walk through, reach out to touch objects and see everything around you respond in real time. This is immersive virtual reality (VR), and these spaces are created using a combination of computer graphics, wireless tracking technology, headsets, high-definition (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 is some serious forward-thinking happening in these fields.

Credit – Autodesk Redshift

VR 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 VR, 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.

Big data and smart cities
Although big data has a lot of buzz around it, its potential for human analysis is already obvious. This makes it a perfect and integral part of the planning and creation of smart cities.

As populations grow and resources become scarcer, the efficient usage 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 realisation today.

Building Information Modelling (BIM)
Building Information Modelling (BIM) is already an old idea, but it has started to build massive momentum in the architectural community.

BIM is based on several principles that can be implemented with relative independence:
• You design a project using a unique 3D model, which is modified throughout the project’s life.
• This 3D is not only volumetric surfaces, but has metadata attached such as the material of the element and parametric modifiers such as the height of a wall.
• The 3D model can be stored in a multi-client database and stored in the cloud to be accessible to several people at the same time.
• Multi-user permissions on the model can be defined precisely to reflect team member responsibility on the project.
• All construction elements are classified using standard categories such as the IFC.
• Libraries of construction products can be inserted in the model and even get actualisation if the product version changes.

Parametric architecture
Another area that is getting increasing attention in architecture is parametric design. Parametric design is a generative design system, where adjusting the parameters will compute to create different types of outputs and forms and structures that would not have otherwise been possible.

Parametric architecture uses internally a geometric programming language that can be used directly by coding. It allows you to do some once impossible tasks when using traditional 3D modelling software. But moreover, it changes the relationship you have with the finished building.

You 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 limit of parametric architecture could be the construction itself – it may not be as flexible as what the software can produce!

Architecture robots and 3D printers
The way we make things has changed, and will still change more drastically in the future. Robotics is coming to the construction industry. It won’t be long before we are assisting in designing 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, but new algorithms can help to engineer 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, and 3D-printed construction will greatly expand the limits of construction technologies.

Join us for a look into how technology is shaping our local architectural landscape in this special feature on architectural technology and trends.

Acknowledgement and thanks go to www.rt3thinktank.com for the information contained in this article.

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