The Rise of Technology in Architecture

Architectural and engineering firms are starting to think about integrated software solutions to help them keep up with tight project timelines and budgets.

Jul 26, 2021

Embracing innovation is one of the beautiful aspects of architecture. In theory and practice, the profession is built on envisioning the future. Naturally, in the 21st century, architects have embraced the exponential growth of technology, and the impact has been enormous in redefining the shape and engineering of new buildings. Designers now have an arsenal of automated tools with which they can measure, imagine and create.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) has become indispensable for intelligent 3D modeling that can also supply the requisite building plans. Drones are another advanced innovation routinely used to capture aerial perspectives of construction and building progress. And with a VR headset bought at the local BestBuy, architects can experience their projects at every stage of the process — from design concept to finishing touches.

Data Intelligence at the Cutting-edge

Most of these evolving technologies have centered on pushing the limits of form, materiality, and the structural weight and shape of a given building. However, the new focus has shifted to the process of building itself. The building sector is paying close attention to finding digital solutions that can save time and reduce the chances of error happening when a design moves from drawing to construction – one of the most complex stages in the process. The next step is full integration which can improve workflows, speed up processes, and make virtual collaboration effortless.

Project management software isn’t new. It’s been around for at least a decade. What is new is how fast the technology is evolving. Cloud-based applications now allow for easy access to vast amounts of data in real-time, and from anywhere, whether on-site or in the office. More recently, the push has shifted faster and easier team collaboration, with tools like real-time drawing mark-ups. While mobile functionality has undoubtedly helped with efficiency, files, and documents are still oftentimes digitally incompatible and require time-wasting administration to organize. The next step is full integration which can improve workflows, speed up processes, and make virtual collaboration effortless.

Faster and More Flexible Workflows

If there is any doubt about how fast all this is happening, consider how rapidly Zoom meetings improved during COVID-19. That peer-to-peer software went from awkward and unstable to becoming a new kind of personal assistant. Moreover, within most industries, the pandemic has added a layer of urgency for improving digital intelligence.

Even architecture firms recognized for technological leadership recognize inefficient information flow is getting in the way of building. At a roundtable panel hosted by the UK-based magazine Architecture Today, ten leading industry experts were asked: How is information technology changing the nature of the architectural practice, and what does this mean for the profession’s future? 

One of the panelists was Nils Fischer, Associate Director and Founder of the Computational Research Group for Zaha Hadid Architects. Fischer centered out the next evolution is integrated platforms that can move data quickly and accurately: “Technology’s true potential lies in allowing architects to spend more time making design decisions and formulating information about built environments,” he said. “Information provided in real-time is much more relevant to design quality than having a tool that improves the legibility of drawings.” 

If you want to be a leader in architecture, reducing labour-intensive, time-consuming tasks are crucial to staying relevant and competitive.

Written by Catherine Osborne, Communications Specialist and Architecture Journalist. Sponsored by Part3, Integrated Project Management for the Architectural World