Developed by indie entrepreneur @levelsio, This House Does Not Exist is a platform that allows users to generate images of modern architecture homes in the style of ArchDaily. The program uses latent text-to-image diffusion to automatically generate realistic images of modern houses. The website is intuitive and easy to use, with one button at the top right reading “tap image to generate new house”. The website also allows users to vote for the best images generated or see similar houses by clicking on the keywords displayed at the bottom of the image.
Going one step further, websites such as picto3D use AI algorithms to turn images into 3D models. After loading a 2D image, the deep learning algorithm transforms the image into a 32-bit depth map. The color of the pixels informs the program about the distance of the object’s surface from the point of view. This depth map is then used to generate the object plane, and the results can be downloaded and used in 3D computer graphics programs.
Programs such as these are part of a larger process of democratizing creativity, making more advanced tools accessible to a larger audience. While there are concerns about the impact that these technologies could have on the building industry professionals, many view them as powerful tools that could enhance the design process. The fears revolve around concepts of augmentation and automation. While sounding similar, the two describe different processes: automation aims to replace humans in performing tasks, while augmentation aims at strengthening human potential. If designing can be understood as a collective process, then technology can be key in strengthening it, but only if human and tool capabilities are raised in sync.
Another concept related to text-to-image programs is that of generative design. Architect Michael Hansmeyer describes this as ‘thinking about designing not the object, but a process to generate objects. This implies a shift in the way we conceive design, moving away from designing singular objects and instead using computational models to design a process capable of generating infinite objects or results. These models allow designers to explore data in unprecedented ways and expand what architecture and design could mean.