In November of 2020, Foster + Partners announced a collaboration with the robotics design company Boston Dynamics. Together, the two have been testing Boston Dynamics’ robot dog, Spot, to help capture and monitor progress on construction sites. The robot boasts the dexterity to climb stairs, avoid obstacles, and traverse rough terrain, allowing it to monitor building sites and collect data quickly and easily. In this way, designers and contractors can remedy errors rapidly and at minimal cost, ensuring that projects progress according to their set timeframes and budgets. With manual data collection, errors might be noticed at a much slower rate and communication between contractors may suffer as well. Thus, Spot optimizes construction monitoring and on-site collaboration.
Build Tech: The Latest Architecture and News
Autodesk has just acquired Spacemaker, a platform that “gives architects and developers the automation superpower to test design concepts in minutes” and explore the best urban design options. Targeting architects, urban designers, and real estate developers, the cloud-based AI-powered generative design helps professionals taking better early-stage design decisions.
For many, the aesthetics of wood are powerfully enchanting. With a huge diversity of species and innumerable variations in colors, weights, and textures, wood is one of the most highly appreciated materials of all time. But the unrestrained logging of forests for use in construction has had and will continue to have enormous environmental impacts if precautions such as sustainable management, legitimate certification, or reforestation are not taken. Being an organic material, when used for construction, wood tends to morph under conditions of humidity, heat, and loads, and its fibers eventually deform over time. In addition, wood is a material that does not respond well to environments where it is soaked and dried repeatedly, which can cause it to rot after some time if it is not adequately waterproofed. Therefore, there are some situations where using wood may not be a good idea.
Robotic automation has been widely adopted by the manufacturing industry for decades. Most automotive vehicles, consumer electrical appliances, and even domestic robots were made and assembled by “armies” of robots with minimal human supervision. Robotic automation brings higher production efficiency, a safer working environment, lower costs and superior quality. After years of development and deployment, the process now requires minimal human involvement.
The construction industry is responsible for 75% of the consumption of earth's natural resources. Stone, sand, iron, and many other finite resources are extracted in huge quantities to supply the markets. Additionally, construction sites themselves generate enormous quantities of waste, whether through construction, demolition, or remodeling. In Brazil, for example, construction waste can represent between 50% and 70% of the total mass of municipal solid waste . This waste often ends up in landfills and dumps rather than being properly disposed of, overwhelming municipal sanitation systems and creating informal disposal sites.
Additive Manufacturing (AM) is a term used to identify the manufacturing processes performed by 3D printing through layer-by-layer construction. In addition to avoiding the generation of waste through the use of precise geometries and exact quantities of material, these controlled processes can be much faster than traditional ones, since they don't require tools or other instruments.
Additive Manufacturing is done based on a digital model. The process begins with a CAD design or three-dimensional scan and then translates that shape into an object divided into sections, allowing it to be printed. Its use has extended from industrial design to the replica of archaeological objects to the manufacture of artificial human organs and tissues, among many others.
Materials and technology come together in new spaces and experiences. When looking to innovations in advanced construction, the Institute for Computational Design (ICD) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE), together with students at the University of Stuttgart, have been creating a series of experimental pavilion for many years. These structures tell a story of computational design and computer-aided manufacturing processes for advanced construction.
As construction evolves, new advancements are shaping how we design. These movements are the product of shared ideas and the convergence of building technologies that open up new possibilities for architecture. From the atomic scale of materials to preassembled homes and faraway planets, the changes in BuildTech are felt across industries. As a result, disciplines are learning from one another to reimagine how we build.
The construction industry has evolved throughout time, but always by way of builders. What happens when people are no longer part of building and construction? This is the question asked by British multinational infrastructure company Balfour Beatty, and they’ve published their answer in the 2050 Innovation Paper. The industry report has become a reference point to those looking at the evolution of buildings and design.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning and generative design have begun to shape architecture as we know it. As systems and tools to reimagine the built environment, they present diverse opportunities to rethink traditional workflows. Designers also fear they may inversely affect practice, limiting the services of the architect. Looking to building technologies, new companies are creating software and projects to explore the future of design.
In this new podcast series, ArchDaily invites architects and interdisciplinary leaders to discuss the future of the architecture and construction industry. Welcome to Building Future.
For most of the history of architecture, interesting facades were achieved through materiality or ornamentation. From the elaborately painted friezes of the Parthenon to the glass exteriors of modern skyscrapers, architecture was primarily static, only ‘changing’ as the environment would change and affect the material of the façade in differing ways, be it rain, light, rust, etc.
This is all quite recent: less than a year ago, a French family became the first in the world to live in a 3D printed house. Short of 20 years, this seemed like a distant dream, this new technology has developed quickly, and it arises as a possible contribution to the housing crisis around the world.