Questioning the abilities of AI in the built environment at all stages of its development makes the bulk of their assessment, especially at its inception as demonstrated here.
Assessing the abilities of AI in the built environment
Artificial Intelligence, or AI as it is known across the globe, serves currently as a tool that assists in day-to-day operations in many an industry. The advancements of the likes of ChatGPT and DALL·E 2 has resulted in the constant questioning of ‘what comes next’?
The built environment is one such industry that will benefit from the evolution of AI. From basic image creation to company learning modules, its immediate future will see it work alongside architects, as opposed to rendering them redundant.
This line of thinking has been adopted at Rothelowman, who have begun to utilise AI programs to reduce the timeframes of painstaking tasks. Nigel Hobart (pictured below), one of the practice’s Managing Principals, began researching the software five years ago, convinced of its inevitability.
“I think that, honestly, I think that every role in society, I can’t think of one where AI can’t eventually play a significant role,” he says.
“The question is really how long it’s going to take. It’s not going to replace architecture and interior designers in the next 24 months. But can architects and interior designers, with a combination of self-confidence and humility, see these things as opportunities to go to the next level with their own thinking, their own processes and their own mindset around design?”
Hobart believes that the ‘protectionism’ of any working fraternity is a natural reaction to new programs, which will stall the initial adoption of the technology, but describes AI as “a natural evolution of society and transition of economies.”
“You can reduce risk in the quality of your work. You can make people’s jobs less boring by getting repetitive things and making them virtually instantaneous by writing scripting around things. We’ve made lots of progress in the way we document buildings in the middle third where you’re getting into regulatory compliance, buildability and coordination.”
Rothelowman’s team members have been on fact-finding missions across the US to witness the technology being harnessed by architects in other studios. Picture-generating AI software has been occasionally utilised by the practice to assist in instantly creating a physical embodiment of a client’s brief. Hobart likens the improvement and understanding of AI in the built environment to the mentoring of a budding graduate.
“I think in time that it will absolutely change everything, and that’s not intended as a scary thought. I started five years ago on this journey and thought ‘it won’t happen in a hurry and it won’t happen to us and you can’t automate creativity.’ Well, that’s just not true. I was completely wrong,” he concedes.
“If you start with an architectural graduate out of university with talent, that person could accelerate into being useful and productive quite quickly in the early years of their career. If you invest in the talent, then the talent will become very effective and very valuable. And the same thing is happening with AI.
“I think what’s gonna happen in the very short to intermediate term is that designers are gonna start using AI as an assistant, as another part of their toolkit.”
Ultimately, the continued reinvigoration of the technologies is consistently making design executives rethink their use of AI in the workplace. Hobart says it will be a long time before it becomes industry standard, and cites the number of players in the market as why.
“Five years ago, when I started researching automation, I did start to panic a little bit, as it was coming fast and I didn’t think we were ready, but I came to realise that our industry is so disparate and so fragmented. There is no strong influence or individual player in the property industry, so these things take time,” he says.
“AI is an opportunity. If others aren’t gonna adopt these things and you find a way to use these things that save time and money. If you can buy time for your team by creating efficiencies within the creation and delivery process of our service, then that’s where the gains are.
If you’re finding ways of using AI to your advantage without compromising risk, quality or client experience and use it to your advantage to buy time, then you’ll provide a better solution than your competitors. It’s as simple as that.”
For more information on Rothelowman, click here.