Architecture represents the practice and the product of drafting, designing, and erecting buildings and other structures. The process dates back to the prehistoric era of humankind and has an immeasurable cultural and historical significance. And, besides its primal use of providing shelter, architecture slowly evolved to be considered a work of art. Additionally, architectural technology brings social change and is among the driving forces behind industrialization, modernization, and growing population management. With that said, let’s first analyze what architecture technology encapsulates.
What is architecture technology?
We’re reluctant to give you a single definition of architecture technology so we’ll provide three:
- Architectural technology represents the capability of analyzing, evaluating, and incorporating factors in architectural design to produce effective technological solutions that fulfill requirements in fabricating/manufacturing, performance, and goods or service acquisition.
- Architectural technology represents technical proficiency and planning utilized in the integration and application of building technologies in the process of design and construction.
- Building technology is a discipline that relates to the analysis and study of buildings and their planning, optimization, performance, construction, and standardization.
Examples of architecture technology
Now that you have a grasp of what the term means, let’s get into some architecture technology examples:
Building information modeling (BIM)
We’ll begin with the most evident product of architecture technology. BIM or Building information modeling is the process of generating and managing a digital depiction of the physical and practical attributes of places or buildings. This technology is the driving force behind modern city planning and is used by individuals, businesses, and government agencies. Besides allowing simultaneous collaboration, it infiltrates every part of the process, from planning and designing to operating, building, and maintaining infrastructure. This ranges from facilities themselves to implementation of transportation infrastructure, water, electricity, gas, communication technology, refuse collection and division, and more. The following are pivotal building blocks of BIM:
Computer-aided design (CAD)
Computer-aided Design (CAD), also known as CADD (Computer-aided design and drafting) is the utilization of computers or workstations to assist in making, modifying, analyzing, and optimizing designs. This form of architectural technology provides multiple benefits over creating designs by hand:
- It boosts the productivity of the designer and increases the design quality
- Vector graphics-based designs can be manipulated without quality loss
- A digital drawing can convey additional data such as materials, scaling, aspect ratio, tolerances, and other processes
- CAD can suggest changes in materials, structure, building methods, and modifications that fit the building code or specifications
- It improves documentation: comprehensiveness, storage, protection (patent applications, backups), printing, converting, etc.
- Designs can be used for machining or other manufacturing operations directly
- Designers can use or combine CAD with EDA (electronic design automation), MDA (mechanical design automation), computational geometry, etc.
3D modeling represents creating a 3-dimensional representation of the scaling, perspective, rendering, dimensions, and illustration of a surface or object. It does so using computer software and utilizes the power of a GPU (Graphics processing unit). Furthermore, 3D models can be created manually, through physical object scanning, or algorithmically, using Boolean operators, known as procedural modeling.
Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is the most common form of 3D printing nowadays and uses a thermoplastic material as a filament. This is particularly useful in building visual or functional prototypes or parts of larger objects. However, 3D printing is transitioning into industrial production. That’s because it can fabricate complex geometry and shapes impossible to create manually. As such, it can, for example, strengthen or lighten objects by using hollow segments or internal trusses. Additionally, via generative design technology, AI algorithms can mimic the functionality of organisms in nature and allow 3D printers to faithfully duplicate natural creations.
Using VR (Virtual Reality) headsets saves a lot of time, effort, and money by creating a virtual environment in front of the users’ eyes. Not only does it allow designers to collaborate on architectural projects, but it either reduces the need for making physical prototypes or eliminates them. Moreover, it eliminates the need for trial and error and on-the-fly corrections, which plagued architecture for centuries.
Augmented Reality and holograms
Augmented Reality has similar benefits to Virtual Reality, but works oppositely. Instead of generating an environment, Augmented Reality uses the existing one, then adds computer-generated elements in layers. For example, scientists have already figured out a way to make “touchable holograms“. Once a user touches a virtual 3D object e.g., it emits ultrasonic radiation pressure and gives realistic feedback. This technology, combined with 3D texturing technology, can revolutionize architecture forever.
We touched on smart homes and buildings when we discussed how technology makes us lazy. But while that often has a negative connotation, smart home technology also provides a massive environmental impact. Through a direct link with the Internet of Things (IoT), building technology provides superior, cheaper, more comfortable, energy-efficient, and sustainable alternatives to planning, creating designs, and construction.
Application of architecture technology
These are a few areas of architecture technology applications:
By applying BIM, CAD, 3D modeling, VR and AR, we can simulate various architectural processes. With that, we save time, effort, money, and most importantly, human lives. Computers can simulate layout, position, landscaping, lighting, weather effects, and predict stresses and structural deformations at various points in time. This helps engineers and architects work out the kinks in the proposed design, and ensure strength, safety, and stability are optimized to the highest degree.
Prefabrication is the practice of building and assembling elements of a structure at any location other than the building site. Afterward, transportation technology delivers the pieces to the site, where workers assemble them into a complete facility. This practice, combined with lean manufacturing, helps establish optimal operating methods and costs. It also reduces production time and wages while boosting product quality, ensures adhering to the building code, eliminates production waste and unnecessary inventory, and introduces consistency and sustainability.
3D printing buildings or structures
Apis Cor, a San Francisco company manufactured a house in 2017 in only 24 hours. They used a mobile 3D printer based on a polar coordinate system, spent $10,000, and created 38 square meters of livable space. Furthermore, the concrete they used as filament can last 175 years. They had to install windows, plumbing, and electric wiring manually, although we don’t doubt robots can replace these jobs.