Innovative technologies in architecture
Technology has changed the way most industries do business, and architecture and design are no exception. Advances in design technologies have allowed architects to better demonstrate their proposed designs to clients, and clients to more easily visualize the end product. Architects are able to display multiple design options with ease and can make design changes on the spot, while also immediately calculating the effect of changes on the overall design. The architect still provides the creative impetus for the project, and is critical to interpreting and realizing the client’s needs, but innovative technologies now allow the architect to shift more of their focus to the client relationship.
Two of the most significant advancements in design technology are three dimensional (3-D) printing and Virtual Reality (VR). Both innovations have allowed clients to better experience the design of their project in advance of the completed project—which in turn allows the architect to suggest design changes or enhancements earlier in the process, thereby decreasing costs and increasing client satisfaction in the finished product.
3-D printing: bringing complex concepts to life
You may be familiar with the concept of 3-D printing; it’s become commonplace in industries as diverse as auto manufacturing and medical devices. One of its prime applications in architecture is acting as a collaborative design and mock-up tool. In the past, scale models needed to be built painstakingly by hand, and each proposed change would take time to incorporate. Now, with the advent of 3-D printing, architects can build complex, accurate and durable scale models quickly and efficiently, and changes can be made much more quickly.
A virtual hands-on experience
Virtual reality is another exciting advancement in architectural design. Using VR, architects can provide a guided tour of a design in a way that clients could not have experienced in the past. The VR tour can assist in developing the design and addressing operational needs within the space, including sightlines, adjacencies and workflow. The VR tour can also provide a virtual hands-on experience of how a space can function and how the end-users would utilize the space. The client can engage, explore and react to the virtual space, providing immediate feedback to the architect, who can then make changes to enhance the design.
The evolution of the architect’s role
While both of these innovative technologies have made the design process more efficient and can enhance the client experience, the true value of these and other advanced technologies lies in the evolution of the architect’s role in the design process. By utilizing these tools effectively, the architect and/or designer can now focus more fully on the relationship with the client, and developing a strong partnership that will allow them to understand and exceed the client’s expectations. It’s an evolution that benefits both the client and the finished project.