Technology is changing architecture. The world of computational design means architects are pursing new frontiers where architecture can be generated through the writing of algorithms and software, where interactive physical mechanisms can be built that respond to their environment, adapting and evolving as necessary.
Advancements in the technology we use in our daily architectural
practice will continue to rush at us like breaking waves. As much as the
design technology of the future excites our imagination (holographic
design, anyone?), the most exciting tech is the kind we can actually use
right now: the kind that makes us better designers and leads to a
better built environment for our clients.
Recently, on a visit to Autodesk University I found myself engaging
with a number of potentially revolutionary technologies. I came away
thinking that architects have much to look forward to in the coming
years. But my team and I realized that before we can contemplate
architecture’s technology of the future, we must look at sharpening our
existing set of tools and extending their worth in our industry.
Perfecting one’s digital craft is crucial to, as they say at technology
conferences, “investing in our digital economy.”
VIRTUAL REALITY AND AUGMENTED REALITY VIEWERS
VR viewers can now be purchased for under $20 (the cardboard version),
while posh versions come complete with head tracking devices. VR viewers
can be connected to a smartphone and will soon feature software that
responds to voice commands. This means we can walk into a client
presentation, hand out a pair of Google Cardboard viewers, ask them to
scan a QR code, and just like that, have our client virtually exploring
their space. Autodesk has come up with a handy Cyberspace Developer Kit,
which makes the process of creating virtual environments user-friendly.
We must prepare ourselves for the idea that our clients will soon be
inhabiting our models.
NVIDIA AND IRAY RENDERING MACHINES
Technology has come a long way in terms of its ability to quickly
produce photo-realistic renderings. The latest technology isn’t just
faster, it’s also becoming more intuitive. With the right workflow in
place (not to mention the RAM and graphic cards required to run these
apps), higher quality renderings can be created with confidence. The
days of waiting until after construction to inhabit your space are
MOBILE WORKSTATIONS AND SKETCHING
Mobile workstations are already in vogue. Typically firms are providing
their designers with tablets, a docking station and additional monitors
in addition to their trusty rolls of trace paper. This technology
enables industry professionals to actively use touchscreen monitors and
tablets during the CA process, and issue instant site reports with
mark-ups. At Autodesk University, I saw how this technology (currently
in use by VOA) enables us to use the touch screen tablet to sketch
directly into software, which can then translate information into 3D
ROBOTICS AND 3D PRINTING
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
We’ve seen 3D printing of consumer items, but new algorithms can
actually value 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. 3D-printed construction will greatly expand the limits of
A SHOUT-OUT TO REVIT
Much of AU focused on the technology we use most at VOA, Autodesk’s
building design software, Revit. My team welcomed improvements in Revit
2016, the flexibility of Revit to interface with a multitude of Autodesk
products to enhance workflow, tips and tricks for bettering your
production flow and your Revit families. Many of the features we dreamt
of having in Revit are being added to each new version. These features
offer the ability to temporarily add or remove a view template from a
view, show worksets in color, and a new fan favorite e-transmit. 3D
modeling is already an industry standard, and I only see more uses for
it out there.
Sunday, May 7, 2017
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