Embracing the Future of Design and Construction: Technological Advancements with Autodesk

"In just one generation, we have gone from the pencil to AI.” This quote by Knut Ramstad from the Nordic Office of Architecture encapsulates the seismic changes we have witnessed in the development of architecture projects over the last few decades. By bringing forth increased efficiency and visualization possibilities, the express analysis and deeper understanding of project variables have become much easier. Architectures have become more complex, with more variables, numerous new demands and pressures, and with deadlines not getting any shorter. In this ever-evolving landscape of the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry, technological advancements have sparked a radical shift in professionals' approach to conceptualizing, planning, and executing projects, expanding a wide array of opportunities and highlighting the transformative power of data as an essential resource. This transformation could catalyze the industry's efficiency and sustainability, with a crucial focus on reducing its carbon footprint and minimizing waste generation.

With the early CAD programs, we gained the ability to infinitely iterate lines and drawings, enabling new forms of design. Through 3D modeling, we were able to work on novel volumetrics that were once deemed impossible. With the advent of BIM, nearly 20 years ago, we integrated a wealth of information and layers, enabling a more streamlined design process and precise collaboration among multidisciplinary teams. Today, we are witnessing and anticipating an explosion in the integration of Artificial Intelligence and Augmented and Virtual Reality, which is poised to bring forth new challenges and opportunities for professionals. Keeping up to date with these changes (while not becoming overwhelmed by them) is crucial, especially amidst new demands and public scrutiny regarding how we construct our cities, which result in pressure within the industry. This was a recurring message throughout the three days of Autodesk University: The Design & Make Conference, a physical and digital event that brought together thousands of professionals from the construction, architecture, engineering, entertainment, and design industries, among others, in Las Vegas.

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Cortesia de Autodesk

Among the various innovations showcased at the event, this article focuses on the key advancements specifically tailored for the AEC sector. The Autodesk Forma and Workshop XR stood out, for their ability to propel the industry towards a new era of design, sustainability, and collaboration.

Autodesk Forma: Redefining Design and Sustainability

Formerly known as Spacemaker, Autodesk Forma is a transformative solution for the initial stages of a project, empowering planning and design teams to digitally craft projects right from the outset. It accomplishes this by incorporating predictive analysis and the automation of multiple project data to establish robust and sustainable foundations for projects from day one. These analyses encompass critical areas such as operational energy, microclimate impact assessment, estimation of solar energy potential, optimization of natural light, sun and shadow calculations, as well as wind and noise simulations. This comprehensive range equips design professionals with indispensable tools to create optimized, sustainable, and human-centric projects, allowing for the assessment of countless scenarios related to site layout, volumetrics, facades, and more.

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Autodesk Forma. Image Cortesia de Autodesk
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Autodesk Forma. Image Cortesia de Autodesk

The software aims to act as a catalyst for increased efficiency, offering intuitive project configurations and automations. An increased integration with Revit is set to be released soon, streamlining workflows from the project's inception to its conclusion. Forma enables real-time decision-making supported by comprehensive data insights, promoting risk mitigation, improved sustainability outcomes, and reduced operational energy consumption. Its strength lies in facilitating enhanced collaboration, utilizing compelling visual data to craft narratives and thus reinforcing teamwork and elevating success rates in project proposals. Amy Bunszel, EVP of Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Design Solutions, states that "Forma re-imagines BIM. It connects data across disciplines and phases to unlock value across the entire project lifecycle. Data that is relevant and actionable, structured and available, in files or file less."

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Autodesk Forma. Phoenix Project. Image Cortesia de Autodesk

CUBE 3, a major architecture and interior design firm, stands as a notable example of how the adoption of cloud-based solutions has driven significant process improvements. According to the professionals involved, the integration between Forma and Revit has shortened timelines during the project's conceptual phase and enhanced operational efficiency. This integration has improved communication with clients, providing early access to crucial information and enabling more detailed discussions from the outset, allowing for a clear demonstration of the rationale behind adopted solutions. This capability empowers them to be proactive and better understand the necessary inquiries to guide conversations toward more precise outcomes. The ease of access to information when needed and the ability to share projects through the browser are crucial features for them, as mentioned by Brian Cussen, an architect and associate at the firm.

Autodesk Workshop XR: Anticipating Issues Before Construction

Skipping ahead to the final phases of a project, one of the most crucial aspects is fine-tuning and resolving compatibility issues among different disciplines, aligning everyone to ensure a smooth construction process. Autodesk Workshop XR has emerged as a groundbreaking tool in immersive project review workspaces. It seamlessly integrates with the Autodesk Construction Cloud (ACC), providing AEC teams with real-time shared experiences for efficient project analysis. The tool allows designers to gather in a virtual reality environment, enabling them to add observations and review critical issues that are essential for a project's successful execution.

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Workshop XR. Image Cortesia de Autodesk

The platform's features redefine collaborative work processes by facilitating immersive team interactions for 3D model reviews, enabling enhanced spatial understanding, and efficient real-time error detection. The capability to upload models to the cloud simplifies model analysis, eliminating preparatory challenges. Moreover, the platform ensures seamless data integration, providing teams with a unified and reliable source of information for well-informed decision-making. Collaboration with Meta's Quest headsets further enhances this experience, unlocking creative potential within design teams. This collaboration allows communication via microphone, as well as seamless navigation through the model, enabling annotations and comprehensive review.

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Workshop XR. Image Cortesia de Autodesk

Until recently, discussions about technologies like extended reality and artificial intelligence were limited to theoretical abstractions and science fiction. However, we are now seeing that this technological leap has already reached the construction industry and is gradually becoming part of its professionals' daily routines, aiming to enhance workflows, reduce repetitive tasks, streamline operations, and, most importantly, achieve superior results in the final product. As emphasized in the lectures and exhibitions during the Las Vegas event, the entire dataset generated during a project should no longer be viewed merely as a management challenge but rather as an opportunity for learning and process improvement with the aid of AI. Steve Blum, EVP and Chief Operating Officer at Autodesk, encapsulates this sentiment by stating, "There is a lot of change going on and, while technology makes change possible, it is our ability to drive change as people that will determine our success."

About this author
Cite: Souza, Eduardo. "Embracing the Future of Design and Construction: Technological Advancements with Autodesk" [A indústria da construção em Evolução: O Futuro Tecnológico com Autodesk] 28 Nov 2023. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/1010279/embracing-the-future-of-construction-technological-advancements-with-autodesk> ISSN 0719-8884

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