To give architecture political clout we must engage with ordinary people

To give architecture political clout we must engage with ordinary people

The Architects Journal with Leanne Tritton, author, elaborated this article on how to give architecture political clout, we must engage with ordinary people.

To give architecture political clout we must engage with ordinary people

The architecture and built environment sector has a poor track record in communicating with the general public, something those in power are all too aware of, writes new chair of The London Society Leanne Tritton

My business is communication. I love working alongside built environment professionals, and in my day job I am fortunate to see at first hand how architects and developers are working hard to positively design and build better places.

But, sadly, few members of the general public see our sector in the same light. It is not surprising, given that the media generally focuses on the negative and the sensational. That’s just a fact of life. But we haven’t gone out of our way to help ourselves and present the other side of the story or co-ordinate campaigns that inform opinion.

For obvious reasons, central and local government is preoccupied by the feelings of the nation. It seems the built environment’s only meaningful connection with the population of this country is via a series of consultations that accompany proposed development. As these make their way through the planning process, such efforts often descend into almost hand-to-hand combat.

Put simply, we’ve not had strong enough links with either the general public or government to promote effectively what we do.

It also does our industry no credit that we have such a poor track record when it comes to engaging with the country’s political leadership and working to influence policies that will not only benefit our sector, but the greater good.

Politicians know that we have limited ‘clout’ and so have been able to dictate the pace and degree of change that takes place, and do so on their terms.

This needs to be put right, although it’s not to say there aren’t those who seek to engage with ordinary people about the buildings all around them. I have long admired the work undertaken by Open City, which, as well as running a series of events highlighting the architectural wonders of the capital, also organises the annual Open House festival. This event, which lasts for just a few days every year, gives people unparalleled access to some of London’s finest buildings.

It is also hugely encouraging to see Simon Allford, co-founding partner of AHMM, elected as president of the RIBA. Allford will not only be able to offer the institute effective leadership, he is the type of person who can walk into a room full of government ministers and have an immediate and positive impact.

Then there is The London Society (TLS). Established in 1912 by a group of Londoners concerned about the lack of planning in the capital, its theme 110 years on will focus on the connections among communities and those organisations that sit beyond those of built environment professionals and which have the potential to make the city stronger.

Having recently joined TLS as chair, I believe the organisation has a unique opportunity to present the built environment’s case outside the industry bubble.

Members of TLS come from all walks of life, not just the professions. All share a passion for the city and want to engage with the debates about its future, while also recognising – and indeed cherishing – its past. It is an organisation for all those who love London, forging links with underrepresented communities across the capital and, usefully, having the ear of MPs, sponsoring as it does the All-Party Parliamentary Group on London Planning and Built Environment.

The time for engagement is upon us and we need to fund those organisations that give us critical mass and help the public understand that we are on their side.

Leanne Tritton is managing director of ING Media and chair of The London Society. As part of the AJ100 Festival, she will be speaking at the panel debate COP26 – How can we get better at influencing government? at 9.35am on Monday 20 September.

How Spacemaker AI Optimizes Architecture Development

How Spacemaker AI Optimizes Architecture Development

INSIDER: The Fourth Revolution—How Spacemaker AI Optimizes Architecture Development

26 July 2021

Spacemaker AI doesn’t threaten architects as we know them. It simply makes Architecture even more impactful.

THE PROFESSION OF ARCHITECTURE is at a crossroads. According to Carl Christensen, co-founder and CTO of Spacemaker AI, the whole building industry, while digitized, lacks critical building blocks that would enable the AEC industry to make big leaps.

Describing his initial reactions to how architects deliver value in early-stage development for clients, he says, “I didn’t really see the building blocks. People worked in digital tools, but some stakeholders work in drawing applications while others work in Excel.”

New to the AEC industry and with a background as a computer scientist, Christensen used the word “shocked” when he met Spacemaker CEO and co-founder Håvard Haukeland. When Haukeland, an architect, explained how architects deliver early phase work for clients, Christensen assumed Haukeland was doing something wrong.

Driven by Experience

“I was basically working [as an architect] with the kinds of projects that users today are using Spacemaker AI to solve,” says Haukeland. “I was really frustrated that I was not able to deliver what the clients really wanted, and I started discussing this with Anders, who I had known before.”

Anders Kvale is the third co-founder with a business background who saw Haukland’s problems—which involved working with clients who have either acquired a building site or evaluating one—as an interesting problem to look into.

 

 

This is a global problem; we need to build so much more in every city. When we build more densely, it is technically more difficult. There are more stakeholders and with them comes complexity.

 

 

The core challenge was how to optimize the development potential of building sites by breaking free of the traditional toolsets and processes that were leaving Haukeland disappointed. Kvale introduced Haukeland to Christensen, who has deep experience in software development and the digitization of industries.

“So the problem definition was really very clear,” says Christensen. “However, the more you looked into it, the more the complexity grew.”

A Worthy Global Goal

This complexity seemed ideally suited for AI and machine learning, but larger than that, the timing to help urban and architectural development make a big leap was now. “This is a global problem; we need to build so much more in every city,” says Haukeland, referring to massive urbanization change taking place around the world. “When we build more densely, it is technically more difficult. There are more stakeholders and with them comes more complexity.” (Image 01)

01 – A view of Spacemaker’s user interface, this one looking at the effects of noise on building design and parcel development decisions. Noise is just one of the dozens of technical issues impacting urban development that challenges AEC design and development teams to optimize architectural solutions.

But the development process today needs re-engineering itself, and the Nordic team knew this. “So architects have their knowledge expertise, and so too do engineers, and the developer is focused on their goals, but none of them are really communicating in any kind of shared space where they can understand each other in any meaningful way,” says Christensen. “So we figured we needed to bring all this information together in a way that is transparent to the other stakeholders.”

With a clarified vision of the problem Spacemaker AI was aiming to solve, the company began developing its namesake solution and directing it to architects. But that is not where they found success. Architects’ usage of information technology at a budget level is less than 1.5 percent of revenues in some cases, so Spacemaker AI found greater success going directly to large property development firms, who passed Spacemaker technology on to their internal designers and architects, and external consultants.

Value in the Early Phase

Spacemaker AI describes itself as “early-stage planning reimagined.” The cloud-based solution centralizes the various knowledge and issues typically siloed by the A, E, C, and O professionals in the AECO world. It empowers stakeholders to optimize the development potential of building sites. And it uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to achieve this.

Haukland told me on our call that a McKinsey report says that only 20 percent of technology investment in the building industry is directed at early phases. Still, he notes another report that finds that it is the early phases where 50 percent of the value creation happens.

 

 

You mentioned the revolution of hand drawing to CAD, from CAD to BIM, from BIM to Cloud. And now we have ‘outcome-driven’ design. And that’s now the fourth revolution.

 

 

The problem is that value creation can be higher and achieved at faster rates if machine intelligence can augment the heuristic processes human designers employ. Spacemaker AI’s goal isn’t to replace human architects, planners, and urban designers but rather augment them with “over the shoulder AI,” as Haukeland and Christensen call it.

Christensen says of today’s workflows for this early-stage work, “there is a lot of manual labor inside a digital tool, but there is no added value across projects, everything is bespoke.” This takes us back to those building blocks he says the industry is missing. He means that without digital connections between data from various stakeholders and the meaning and values of that data from each stakeholders’ perspective, there is no value-chain present, no value creation. “It’s really hard to extract value and knowledge from such a disconnected process,” he says. “If you are trying to analyze processes and systems, that is just shockingly far from what most industries have already accomplished.”

The Fourth Revolution

Indeed, the AECO industry is profoundly behind taking true advantage of the ICT (Information and Communications Technology) revolution. (see: Architosh, “Perspectives on BEST of SHOW 2018: Perez’s Model of Technological Revolutions—BIM, CDEs, and VR,” 12 July 2018) But the current constellation of digital technologies, particularly when paired with AI and machine learning, may finally offer a step-change in productivity gains.

“You mentioned the revolution of hand drawing to CAD, from CAD to BIM, from BIM to Cloud. And now we have ‘outcome-driven’ design, says Haukeland. “And that’s now the fourth revolution.

Spacemaker AI helps users arrive at optimal outcomes for given building sites, tuning development projects to particular sets of criteria in optimized formations that will yield better outcomes. (Images 01 – 02)

02 – An image of Spacemaker’s interface showing slider controls on the right and data and results options at the bottom.

The software does this by both generating and evaluating designs against inputted criteria. The system can analyze solutions for sunlight, daylight, views, wind, traffic noise, energy efficiency, and all the zoning setbacks and FAR (floor-area-ratios) impacting projects. (see Image 03 for Wind)

Spacemaker AI can optimize designs for over 100 criteria types, including doing all the boring calculation work like tenant lease area and building area calculations. The user inputs the criteria but also determines which criteria to emphasize. You let Spacemaker AI help solve for quality outdoor spaces, for example, by emphasizing sunlight utilization and controlling shadows. It can solve for microclimates and views to the river, for example, and at various combinations of importance.

 

 

It’s really hard to extract value and knowledge from such a disconnected process. If you are trying to analyze processes and systems, that is just shockingly far from what most industries have already accomplished.

 

 

As for the AI, Christensen says, “it is incrementally supportive of what you want to do but not taking over the wheel,” making a driving analogy. So, in other words, in the same manner, that a Tesla can provide some autonomous driving functions with human oversight, Spacemaker uses artificial intelligence to augment human designers but requires human oversight at multiple levels.

The software is flexible in terms of how it can relate to existing urban design and architectural workflows. “Users can import previous designs in SketchUp or Revit format and run analyses on them using the systems’ AI-based engine for testing scenarios,” he notes. “And once completed, users can export their project out to more precise design programs like SketchUp or Revit.”

Designed to be interactive as part of the overall process, Spacemaker AI enables the designer to generate and test in multiple iterative steps, fine-tuning both criteria and possible design options. The system isn’t there to find the ultimate solution for you by itself.

Christensen says there is confusion in the industry about solutions like Spacemaker AI. He says that “black box AI seems very attractive at the onset,” but that is not what people really want. “You cannot iterate on it,” he says, referring to the way the designer can take what Spacemaker AI has produced and understand why it got there.

The Autodesk Acquisition

Last year Autodesk acquired the Norway-based company. Over the past few years, the US design software giant largely focused on construction professionals within AEC—with a series of stunning acquisitions. In the area of new software for designers and architects, the Spacemaker AI buy was seen as a positive move.

03 – An image showing Spacemaker’s wind analysis functions in action.

“We never talked about an acquisition,” says Haukeland. We always planned for a standalone journey.” He says the company, at 115 people as of the time of our conversation, has been solely focused on its mission. “We are driven by that story. Everyone on the team is driven by how we can optimize the process.”

With that focus, Autodesk is leaving the company to operate very autonomously. The company stays in Norway, though it has staff in remote locations globally.

“Right now,” Haukeland adds, “the obvious synergy with Autodesk is on the mission of being part of that fourth revolution and of making a digital tool that everyone uses.”

Zaha Hadid: even more than her buildings, it’s her mind that left its mark

Zaha Hadid: even more than her buildings, it’s her mind that left its mark

Zaha Hadid: even more than her buildings, it’s her mind that left its mark by Lakshmi Priya Rajendran, Anglia Ruskin University is more than an eye-opener on the person behind all those unconventionally looking buildings.

Changsha Meixihu Culture and Arts Centre, in Hunan province, China. Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects in 2019. Jason_x.j / Shutterstock.com

Zaha Hadid: even more than her buildings, it’s her mind that left its mark

In the five years since Zaha Hadid’s passing, much has been written about the glorious and towering legacy the fabled British-Iraqi architect left behind. Thinking about what she started, though, is more instructive.

Born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1950, Hadid – aka the Queen of Curve – fundamentally altered the contours of modern architecture and design. She shattered gender stereotypes too by, in 2004, becoming the first woman to receive the Pritzker prize – the highest award in her field.

Antwerp Port House by Zaha Hadid Architects, Antwerp, Belgium. Claudia Lorusso on Unsplash, FAL

As the world grapples with how to respond to the climate crisis, architecture is in the spotlight. The built environment is responsible for almost 36% of global energy consumption. Cement alone causes 8% of global emissions.

In this context, Hadid’s most valuable contribution is the inspiration she represented and the innovation she embodied. She conceived of modernity as an incomplete project, to be tackled. And she demonstrated to students not just how to imagine revolutionary forms but, crucially, how to bring them to life.

An aerial shot of Zaha Hadid's building for the Beijing Daxing International Airport in China
The Daxing International Airport in Beijing, China. Hao Wen on Unsplash, FAL

Problem solving

The seductive nature of Hadid’s buildings means that the approach she took to sustainability is often overshadowed. It also wasn’t an explicit aspect of her early works, but rather became so later on in her career, in projects including the Bee’ah Headquarters in Sharjah, and Eco-park stadium in London. In 2015 she memorably highlighted sustainability as a defining challenge of her generation and stated that “architects had solutions”.

Hadid was a problem solver. From the outset she was unique in harnessing both technology and talent, through her groundbreaking interdisciplinary research group. She was one of the early adopters of a fully digitised 3D design process. When virtual reality became a thing, her practice was one of the first to adopt that too.

A detail shot of the exterior of Morpheus Hotel by Zaha Hadid Architects in Macau, China
Morpheus Hotel by Zaha Hadid Architects in Macau, China. Macau Photo Agency / Unsplash, FAL

This ability to make things happen was hard won. As a student at the Architectural Association in London in the mid-1970s, Hadid turned heads from the start with her otherworldly ideas. But it took her over a decade to get her designs realised. It was with her first big commission – the 1993 Vitra Fire Station in Germany – that the world finally got to see up close the power of her architectural imagination.

The Danish architect Bjarke Ingels (founder of Bjarke Ingels Group, one of the most dynamic contemporary architectural practices) described visiting Vitra Fire Station as an “eyeopening experience” that brought to life the kind of visual impossibilities people usually only dream of. For all its ambition, though, the Vitra building was criticised as unsuitable by the firemen who occupied it.

An early, futuristic concrete design for a fire station in Germany by British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid
Zaha Hadid’s groundbreaking design for the Vitra Fire Station in Weil am Rhein, Germany. kamienczanka / Shutterstock.com

Undeterred, Hadid went on to create daring, experimental designs for London’s Millennium Dome exhibition spaces and the Serpentine Gallery’s annual summer pavillion. She gave Innsbruck a new landmark – the Bergisel Ski Jump – and became the first woman to ever design an American art museum, with her iconic Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati.

Immeasurable influence

Although her career had begun with that infamous tag of her buildings being unbuildable, Hadid rapidly established herself as a radical architect by creating a strong and unique design statement globally. Hadid expanded her global brand and her reach to product design, fashion and jewellery.

In Canadian architectural historian Despina Stratigakos’s book, Where Are the Women Architects?, Hadid explained how she survived and fought sexism in her profession. Her inspiring attitude and professional demeanour was gender-neutral. She was able to switch between femininity and masculinity as required to survive and excel in what is a ruthless and ultra-competitive business.

In this way, even though her projects saw her labelled a starchitect, Hadid’s ideas set her apart from the old school. They opened a radically new path for later generations, like this year’s Pritzker laureates, Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal.

Her presence continues to be felt across the contemporary design and architecture worlds. With around 1.2 million Instagram followers, Zaha Hadid Architects is now the most followed architectural practice in the world. Her sinuous lines and captivating shapes have been referenced by set designers on trendsetting movies including Black Panther.

Details of the exterior of the Nanjing International Youth Cultural Center by Zaha Hadid in Nanjing, China
The Nanjing International Youth Cultural Center by Zaha Hadid in Nanjing, China. Denys Nevozhai / Unsplash, FAL

Her words – especially the famous quote, “There are 360 degrees. Why stick to one?” – have stuck with architects in China and designers in Germany and India. Her principles have fostered new possiblities in architectural research, thinking and process.

In every way, Hadid remains a muse. She was rebellious and defiant. She embraced the unimaginable. Known for provoking controversies, even her critics agreed to the fact that without Hadid, architecture would be less interesting.

When she won the Pritzker prize in 2004, the jury noted how consistently she defied convention. Even if she’d never built anything, they said, Zaha Hadid would have radically expanded the possibilities of architecture. She was lauded as an iconoclast, a beautiful mind. As the critic Joseph Giovannini put it at the time, “Rarely has an architect so radically changed and inspired the field”.

Lakshmi Priya Rajendran, Senior Research Fellow, Future Cities, Anglia Ruskin University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

Read the original article.

The Conversation

Sustainable architecture: innovative and inspiring building design

Sustainable architecture: innovative and inspiring building design

From amazing abodes to centres of care and hard-working offices, we chart some of the world’s best examples of sustainable architecture, buildings that not only look good but also do good. Here is sustainable architecture in innovative and inspiring building design throughout the world as brilliantly covered in this pictures and text article.

The picture above is of the Elephant Museum.

Sustainable architecture: innovative and inspiring building design

Elephant World by Bangkok Project Studio

Brick Observation Tower

Photography: Spaceshift Studio

Elephant World’s architecture nods to both human and elephant needs, showcasing a strong sense of social sustainability but a respect to the environment too. The Wallpaper* Design Awards 2021 Best Sanctuary winner is a design by Thai architect Boonserm Premthada and his practice, Bangkok Project Studio. Premthada worked with local labour and materials to create a complex dedicated to the wellbeing of humans and animals, including an observation tower, a museum and a multifunctional event space. The design blends with the landscape and uses natural materials. For example, the bricks used for the museum were created on-site by local workers using loam found in the area. bangkokprojectstudio.co

Powerhouse Telemark by Snøhetta

Powerhouse Telemark Snohetta

This ultra-sustainable workspace is a building that actually creates more energy than it will consume over its entire lifespan. Architecture studio Snøhetta, together with collaborators R8 Property, Skanska and Asplan Viak, has recently completed the project, Powerhouse Telemark, the fourth energy-positive building in its Powerhouse portfolio. Located in the city of Porsgrunn, the project creates much needed office space. It features solar panels on its roof; natural shading is promoted, while plentiful insulation ensures heat is retained where possible; and heat is stored in the building elements, to be released slowly, while a geothermal well supports heating and cooling. As a result, Powerhouse Telemark was awarded a BREEAM Excellent certification. snohetta.com

Anandaloy by Studio Anna Heringer 

Obel Prize WINNER 2020 Anandaloy by Anna Heringer

German architect Anna Heringer’s Anandaloy project in rural Bangladesh is a successful example of sustainable architecture, both in terms of social and environmental responsibility. The community centre and textile workshop in rural Bangladesh contains a therapy hub for people with disabilities on the ground floor and a fair-trade textile manufacturing workshop for local women on the first floor. Made out of rammed earth and bamboo, the structure explores age-old local building techniques and materials in soft curves and textures that connect with its place and the region’s vernacular. The building recently scooped the prestigious. Obel Award for 2020anna-heringer.com

Treehouse by Olson Kundig

Photography: Nic Lehoux

US architect Tom Kundig, of Seattle practice Olson Kundig, is behind this sustainable teak holiday house in Costa Rica. Called the Treehouse, the private home is built predominantly out of locally harvested teak, and is open to the elements. This makes sense for Kundig’s clients for two reasons: as avid surfers, it gives them a chic version of a basic surfer’s hut; and as environmentalists, their new home ticks a number of sustainability boxes. Spanning three floors, the building is designed to operate passively, and slatted panels keep it open to the outdoors. ‘Our aim was to create a home that is very leaky to the view and light and air,’ says architect Tom Kundig. The structure also has its own rainwater collection system. olsonkundig.com

Additional writing: Clare Dowdy

Bahareya Village by ECOnsult

 Bahareya vilage

Egyptian architect Sarah El Battouty, head of local studio ECOnsult, led the sustainable design of Bahareya Village, an eco-friendly compound for farm workers in the country’s Western Desert. Created to be home to the farming community engaged by organic tea producer Royal Herbs, the complex uses gravel manufactured from recycled construction waste for the base of its minimalist concrete structures. Cacti scattered throughout the campus offer splashes of greenery without compromising on a commitment to water efficiency. And a technique El Battouty borrowed from desert communities – raising the foundations of the buildings to create distance between the floor and therefore the rising heat from the land – reduces indoor temperatures by eight to ten degrees. econsultarch.com

Additional writing: Ijeoma Ndukwe

Cold Spring Residence by Alloy

Della Valle retreat

Photography: Richard Barnes

This minimalist and highly eco-friendly house overlooking the Hudson River Valley is the country home of New York-based Alloy’s principal, architect and developer Jared Della Valle. Named Cold Spring Residence, the house sits on the land as lightly as possible. Della Valle worked with passive house sustainability standards to create his retreat, including solar panels for year-round energy, a well-insulated building envelope and careful management of the site’s water resources. The building is also partly sunken and cannot be seen from the street, aligning with its creator’s desire for a ‘a degree of modesty’, so that the architecture doesn’t compete with the striking surrounding natural landscape. alloyllc.com

Copper Hill by BIG 

Aerial view of the Amager Resource Center in Copenhagen

Photography: courtesy of Amager Resource Center

The Amager Resource Center in Copenhagen, also known as Copenhill, is one of the city’s latest initiatives that put climate action to the forefront. Designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), the building is essentially a rubbish burner; yet it’s also so much more than that. The structure houses an artificial ski slope, recreational hiking area and climbing wall on top of the waste-to-energy plant. Built using aluminium blocks, this piece of infrastructure aims to treat 400,000 tonnes of waste annually. The result is supplying 150,000 Danish households with district heating and 70,000 with electricity from non-recyclable waste. big.dk

Flying House by Martand Khosla

Photography: Edmund Sumner

Created by architect Martand Khosla for a Delhi-based family of four, this weekend retreat in India’s Dharamshala is rooted in traditional materials and techniques. Set between farmland and a lush forest on the Dhauladhar mountain ranges of the Himalayas, Flying House has been built using local resources – stone, stabilised mud brick, slate and pine. A lot of the earth and stone dug out from the site during the foundation excavation went back into the construction. Building site wastage was minimised and a lot was recycled, making this house quite literally of its place. The construction uses stabilised mud brick, a method local workers were taught, using equipment from Development Alternatives (a social enterprise for sustainable solutions in India). This way, not only would the local stonemasons be able to build this particular house, but they would be able to master the craft and continue using it in the future. rk-ds.com



How technology improves environmental impact of the built environment

How technology improves environmental impact of the built environment

pbctoday published How technology improves environmental impact of the built environment could be taken as a directional trend amongst many but from within the construction industry worldwide. So let us see what it is all about.

The feature piucture above is for illustrative purpose and is of Designing Pollution Out of Our Cities.

Richard Hyams, director at astudio, explores how technology can help to improve the social and environmental impact for our built environment.

January 25, 2021

How technology improves environmental impact of the built environment

When the UK Government announced a £3bn green investment package in its summer statement, it renewed a commitment to a more sustainable future. And with the building and construction industry accounting for over 40% of global carbon emissions, reducing the carbon footprint and waste generation in construction must therefore remain a priority.

Creating buildings that help the UK to meet a net-zero carbon goal by 2050 is a challenge – not least as Covid-19 introduces new and evolving challenges. But technology and new innovations in materials and construction methods across the sector can provide solutions to this. Indeed, innovations are already arising to improve process efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and establish spaces suitable for today’s communities now and well beyond Covid-19.

A human-centric approach

While many of us think of sustainability as a low-energy, low-waste initiative, it is often much more than that. Living sustainably also requires community thinking, where supporting a local area can improve social cohesion and community resilience. That’s why architects are beginning to bring communities into the design process in new ways.

At the public consultation stage, many architects and developers are using Augmented and Virtual Reality to walk local communities through their designs, allowing them to visualise a finished space and recognise additional benefits to the area – including green spaces, pathway design and local retail opportunities.

Not only does this improve the outcome of consultation stages, it also improves community understanding of their space, enhancing their connection to their local environment and improving their sense of citizenship and belonging – all valuable to long-term sustainability.

Genetic algorithms

Of course, at the centre of sustainable construction is the industry itself and positively, technology is providing new ways for the sector to commit to its green goals. With decades of building data already available, creating AI algorithms that can replicate a traditional process and enhance it is just one way technology is helping. By identifying the best parameters for success, these AI algorithms can significantly reduce project timelines and waste.

Going further still, AI algorithms can now also combine traditional construction data with environmental factors, ‘suggesting’ the best solutions for energy efficiency such as window alignment and rooftop positioning for renewable energy sources, including solar and wind power which are increasingly being adopted. This technology also has the added commercial benefit of allowing project managers to visualise the most effective building design to enhance value.

Thinking outside the box

But delivering truly sustainable buildings goes beyond ensuring that the basic fabric of a building meets new energy efficiency guidelines. In fact, architects and designers are increasingly looking to the outside “skin” of their buildings.

For example, at astudio we have been developing algae façade technology that uses the efficient photosynthesis of algae and turns it into biofuel, allowing a building to act as its own energy fuel cell. This technology would benefit cities the most, where algae placed on a building’s façade can absorb CO2 to improve air pollution and, owing to its bioluminescent properties, even act as a source of light.

Design for Manufacture and offsite manufacturing’s role in improving the impact of construction

How technology improves environmental impact of the built environment

Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) using offsite manufacturing techniques is a further innovation within the industry that can unite sustainability with social responsibility to develop a more efficient, less wasteful method of construction. And as offsite manufacturing and modular construction occurs under factory conditions, the margin for error is minimised, reducing construction waste and improving project efficiency.

By drawing on technology-powered tools such as 3D BIM models, the pace of delivery for these projects can be accelerated even further as if the designs are properly prepared, they can be linked directly to factory production. This significantly reduces the time spent translating the architect’s design into a manufactured set of drawings, creating a more seamless process for a more rapid build.

It is a method has proven incredibly valuable during the coronavirus crisis as it has allowed temporary structures to be erected and dissembled as and when they are needed, supporting communities and helping lessen the economic and social impact of Covid-19. Meanwhile, offsite manufacturing is also helping local councils tackle other societal ills, such as homelessness. Indeed, astudio has been working with High Wycombe Council to deliver 58 temporary modular homes for rough sleepers as well as helping Barking council deliver much needed affordable homes directly.

The future of construction is green

Achieving net-zero carbon emissions in a post-Covid world is not going to be an easy journey. However, there are exciting innovations out there, and indeed existing methods, that can be embraced so that we can deliver the future we need.

From technology at the design stages to changing a building’s facade to generate energy, and rolling out offsite construction, we have the tools and the ideas for a greener future in the years to come.

How technology improves environmental impact of the built environment

Richard Hyams, Director, astudio

Twitter: @AstudioArch

LinkedIn: astudio

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