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Technology & Software: The Latest Architecture and News

MVRDV, Superworld, and the City of Rotterdam Create Software for Reimagining Rooftops

“Understanding precedes action.” That is the motto of the Urban Observatory, an interactive installation and web app created by TED founder Richard Saul Wurman that compiled a wide range of urban data for over 150 cities, allowing users to compare various characteristics of those cities – from population density to traffic speed limits – side-by-side. Urban Observatory was first created in 2013, a banner year for news about urban big data; later that same year, Waag made headlines with its interactive map visualising the age of every building in the Netherlands. The emergence of such platforms allowed people to see the world around them in new ways.

With the rise of Google Earth and other GIS tools, and platforms like envelope.city, or environmental simulations based on digital twin models of cities, urban big data has quietly come to underpin a wide range of tools used by professionals who shape our cities, with both the amount of data collected and the influence it has over decision-making expanding dramatically. However, these advances typically happen behind closed doors and in undemocratic spaces. How long must we wait for software that has all the user-friendliness, accessibility, and appeal of those older platforms, but which provides the average person with the tools to shape their city? In other words, if “understanding precedes action”, then why after almost a decade are we not seeing big-data-driven apps that encourage the public to actually do something?

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Powerful Crowd Simulation Software for Human-Centered Design

From smartphones to space rockets and self-driving cars, the power of technology in this modern digital era is enormous (and practically limitless). It has impacted every aspect of our lives and will continue to open up endless possibilities that today we cannot even begin to fathom. When applied in a socially and environmentally responsible way, technology has the power to enhance productivity, communication and sustainability, enabling global communities to function efficiently, addressing people’s everyday needs and improving their quality of life. Simply put, good technology serves humanity. And just as the healthcare or manufacturing industries have taken advantage of this, the architecture, design and construction world cannot fall behind.

What is the Future of BIM? Graphisoft Unveils Archicad 26

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Considered the second most requested skill (behind field experience) in the industry and used by a growing number of design professionals, Building Information Modeling (BIM) has proved to be the present of architecture. But with constant new features and exciting improvements, it is also very much the future. For decades, the revolutionary software has established itself as a powerful tool with a long list of invaluable capabilities: detecting errors, reducing costs and material waste, mitigating risks, optimizing workflows and, above all, allowing for seamless, multi-disciplinary collaboration.

Vantem, a Startup Founded by Bill Gates, is Building Cost-Effective Net Zero Housing

Vantem is a startup construction company manufacturing high-efficiency, net-zero homes at competitive costs and low embodied carbon. The company recently raised a Series A round of investment from the Bill Gates-founded firm Breakthrough Energy Ventures. Net-zero homes, buildings that produce as much energy as they use, are typically cheaper to own than standard housing. Still, they often involve high construction costs since they require advanced building technologies and engineering. Vantem aims to change this dynamic by employing modular construction technology.

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What Role Do Materials and Construction Systems Play in Democratizing Architecture?

“Architecture does not change anything. It’s always on the side of the wealthy.” With these words, Oscar Niemeyer referred to architecture as being a privilege mostly destined to the upper class – a statement that has historically proven to be true, even as some would like to deny it. Today, only 2% of all houses around the world are designed by architects. This is largely due to the fact that, to the average consumer, architect-designed homes continue to be perceived as expensive and esoteric products available only to this select few; a luxury that many cannot fathom to afford, especially as housing prices rise. Ultimately, this makes good design inaccessible for certain segments, forcing them to settle for precarious living conditions in standardized spaces that fail to take their needs into account (that is, if they even have access to housing).

The Value of Integrated BIM Project Information

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For many design teams, logging into multiple applications a day to access BIM information is the norm. Yet the information contained in each of these applications tends to be siloed, making it difficult for project teams to make informed decisions, collaborate, and share information.

How Can Effective Management of Project Information Improve Project Delivery?

From planning to construction, architecture is more than designing buildings. With many multidisciplinary actors involved and the continuous flow of images, plans, and files, any project is also about managing large amounts of information. Because architects usually have tight deadlines – having to complete a certain number of buildings in a specific time frame – data must be managed productively and efficiently. However, as construction projects and delivery methods continue to increase in complexity, managing information has become more difficult than ever. And with the COVID-19 pandemic added to the mix, architecture firms now have a remote workforce which impacts how and where employees access information. Therefore, in order to ensure effective project delivery, the challenge lies in successfully managing project information.

The Role of Open BIM Technology in one of Queensland's Largest Developments

With new advancements in software opportunities, Open BIM is tiding over the disconnects between different project sectors, making the workflow more efficient at both large and small scales. Open BIM extends the benefits of BIM (Building Information Modeling) by improving the accessibility, usability, management, and sustainability of digital data in the built asset industry. Open BIM processes can be defined as sharable project information that supports seamless collaboration for all project participants, removing the traditional problem of BIM data that is typically constrained by proprietary vendor data formats, by discipline, or by the phase of a project.

GeoGuessr Game Uses Street View to Create a Geographical Puzzle

A geographic discovery game based on Google imagery, GeoGuessr requires players to guess various locations worldwide using only the clues provided by a Street view. Created in 2013, the game has taken on new relevance amidst the pandemic, as it provides a virtual travel experience. From desolate roads to famous sites, the game teases deductive reasoning, requiring players to make use of any clue, from signs, language, flags, landscape, to pinpoint their surroundings.

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Can Architecture Firms Become Truly Carbon Neutral?

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

Martin C. Pedersen talks with Ron Rochon, managing partner at Miller Hull, about Carbon and the role of architectural firms in eliminating emissions. Discussing the EMissions Zero initiative, the current shortcomings of carbon offsets, and the way forward, the piece also questions the possibility of setting goals with the absence of an internationally, agreed-upon carbon cap.

Spacemaker Proposes AI-Powered Generative Design to Create More Sustainable Spaces and Cities

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.

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Mayor of London Launches Housing Design App to Transform Construction

In order to assist the city of London and encourage constructions after Covid-19, the Mayor of London, with tech-led design practice Bryden Wood and leading residential consultancy Cast, have launched a new version of the housing design app PRiSM. Using the latest digital technology and data to help design and build manufactured homes, the freely available application will allow users to share expertise and use technology to transform the design process and get the city building the homes Londoners need.

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Adaptive Environments: Shaping Space Through Light & Color

With the aim of creating immersive environmental experiences in interior spaces, the design studio Aqua Creations has developed Manta Ray Light, a lighting installation built with responsive RGB LED technology that mixes the colors red, green, and blue to generate more than 16 million light tones. By presetting its color spectrum, offering a range of brightness settings on a scale of 0.1 to 100%, and even loading images and videos into its internal memory, the system allows its user to add color and movement to expressive spaces, or deliver a feeling of warmth and concentration to intimate and private rooms.

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