Technology in Architecture
May 15, 2023

Transforming the Design and Construction Process

Technology has come on leaps and bounds over the past few years, we have become a nation that relies on it heavily and it has slowly crept into everywhere, for instance more than half the homes in the UK own a smart device in their home, 95% of us own a mobile phone and as it advances, even the most mundane jobs involve some form of smart technology (even the postman carries a personal digital assistant these days.). So it is with no surprise that technology in architecture is changing the way we work, the way we present and the way we now build. We explore how key technology is making changes to architectural designs and we take a look at three key factors, BIM (Building Information Modelling), VR (Virtual Reality) and Augmented Reality (AR) and how these are having a major impact on modern-day architecture, from design to completion and beyond. 

Key Factor One: Building Information Modelling.

Building Information Modelling is the procedure of a digital version of the characteristics of a structure, and a representation of both the physical and the functionality of a building throughout the entire process that involves creating and managing information and collating all data across the board from architectural design, structural engineering, construction management and other design aspects as a single cohesive project overview.

What are the Benefits of Build Information Modelling? 

There are 4 main key factors to the benefits of Build Information Modelling, and we cover each of them below. 

1. Improved Collaboration. 

Improved collaboration means that everyone is working from one, up-to-date model, this eliminates out of date drawings, processes, snagging or waiting for changes to be made and shared allowing architects, engineers, and contractors to work more efficiently throughout the entire process and vastly reduces miscommunication or costly errors occurring. 

2. Enhanced Visualisation. 

Building Information Modelling gives a visual representation of the structure, this allows everyone from the investors to the construction team to see a 3D version of the structure or building, this then allows any amendments to the design process as well as identifying any potential issues or challenges that may arise through the build period. Because of this, it allows better design decisions to be made as well as the avoidance of costly changes after the build has begun. 

3. Increased Efficiency. 

There is nothing worse than being held up waiting for others to complete their tasks, with business information modelling it allows for increased efficiency by streamlining the entire process using a system that efficiently, and effectively project manages all tasks automatically, such as materials on site, jobs to be completed first and liaison between contractors which results in a shorter build period as well as a reduction in the overall costs.  

4. Sustainable Design. 

Last but not least and in today’s environmentally conscientious society is sustainable design, using Building Information Modelling, architects are able to analyse and optimise according the buildings energy performance, allowing for better efficiency, lower carbon footprints and a more sustainable building.  

Key Factor Two: Virtual Reality. (VR)

Virtual Reality allows the user to fully immerse themselves in an environment, and with advances in technology, provides an almost realistic experience. This is key when it comes to getting the feel and look of a building even before the ground has been broke. Users can see the rooms, hallways, walk through the building or structure and experience the result. This is a major advantage to architects who can turn their vision into a virtual reality to showcase their design. 

What are The Advantages of Virtual Reality in Architecture? 

1. Enhanced Visualisation Through VR. 

Virtual Reality allows clients, investors, and team members to get a ‘feel’ for the design and experience it for themselves, this allows them to get a sense of the design, as well as allowing for more informed decisions to be made regarding the building project.

2. Improved Communication.

As a fully immersive experience, buildings can be explored by investors or stakeholders allowing them to see the design intent as well as a more physical understanding of the proposed spaces and overall look and feel of the building. 

3. Design Iterations.

Virtual reality can be an effective and efficient way for architects to ‘test out’ various design options and allow them to optimise their designs to suit the clients’ requirements, make improvements, alterations or provide alternatives based on feedback through use of the VR representation. 

Key Factor Three: Augmented Reality (AR)

Taking virtual reality to another level, augmented reality allows you to superimpose a computer-generated environment over an existing physical environment, it allows architects to add features, include design information and data which combines the virtual with the real.  

The Advantages of Using AR in Architecture 

1. Onsite Visualisation. 

Architects, contractors, and team members can quickly visualise and design implementations on existing builds allowing them to see the end result, as well as identify any potential issues or snags that may arise and adjust accordingly before construction begins. (Making it a much more cost-effective approach as it reduces the risk of errors and snags in the build process.) 

2. Assisted Construction. 

With the use of augmented reality, it’s possible to glean real-time information as well as guidance to contractors to ensure the job is done right first time, as seeing the result in AR will grant a better understanding of the finished project. 

3. Client Presentations. 

By using augmented reality, architects can get their designs across in a much more effective, immersive, and engaging way, helping clients to see the result of the building project making it easier to grasp the overall look and feel without the need for in-depth explanations, after all a picture paints a thousand words.

The Future of Technology in Architecture.  

So, with the integration of Building Information Modelling, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, the architectural process has moved forward and immersed itself in tech, but where does it go from here? There are already programs and technology that is being developed that allows images to be projected onto the back of the eye making it almost impossible to distinguish from the real word, artificial intelligence is now at the point, it is debatable whether it is cognitive, and AI’s can now learn very similar to how a human does and with the same type of understanding, so it is not implausible that they will be able to, design, plan, and even build the most complex of structures if given the resources to do so. We are a long way from that point now, however it is clear to see how technology has changed and revolutionised modern day architectural practices and will continue to do so in years to come.  

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