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    Steve Fox on how technology is changing the role of the architect

    According to BIM Consulting manager Steve Fox, there are three innovations that have changed architecture

    “It’s no secret that the use of technology in architecture has been gathering momentum for a number of years. In fact, in the last year alone, researchers at Monash University made giant leaps in developing the world’s first self-powered building by integrating solar capabilities into the windows and walls,” says Fox.

    Overseas, architects are employing intelligent sensors and monitoring systems for public safety, while in Melbourne, the new Metro development is utilising leading signalling technologies to revolutionise the transport system.

    “But the technological revolution is not limited to the confines of the final building design. As technology has evolved, so has our ability to manage complex design processes, collaborate with multiple stakeholders and generally streamline the design and build processes,” he says.

    “For example, new methods of production (such as prefabrication) are increasingly being employed in recent years to help buildings grow faster, at a lower cost, with a higher quality, and with reduced accidents on site.”

    Fox says that even the “most traditional architects are embracing the benefits of enhanced software capabilities, and our understanding of the potential of these advancements to improve efficiency and reduce costs continues to deepen.”

    Below, says Fox, “are innovations that are already changing the way we are building, designing and framing the future of our industry”:

    1. Virtual reality and augmented reality (VR & AR)
    The use of gaming engine platforms to create virtual architectural experiences has already been widely adopted throughout Australia, but early versions of this technology were focussed primarily on the end user experience, enabling buyers and clients to explore buildings before they are built. Now, AR and VR technologies are becoming increasingly integral in the design phase, too.

    Advancements in this space will give designers tools to create and edit 3D models, allowing them to make rapid design decisions while connected through a virtual and augmented reality system.  Clients and other stakeholders could connect into a live virtual design studio providing feedback directly through the system – streamlining the design process further.

    2. Cloud-based collaboration
    When it comes to the future of architecture technology, cloud-based collaboration software is sure to be a game changer. The emergence of WebGL and HTML5 has given cloud-based project information management systems a boost in functionality by facilitating better open collaboration between different offices and companies.

    Architects, engineers, clients, and indeed any project stakeholder will be able to gain access to live 3D project data on any device, in any location. The ability to have multi-project stakeholders contributing project data to the same platform will enhance collaboration and streamline the review and approval processes during the design phase and beyond.

    3. 3D modelling and computation

    For many years, architecture firms have embraced 3D platforms. It’s common to see designers, technicians, and project runners at all levels in a firm using 3D tools in their day to day business: free-form design modelling, technical drawing creation from model slices, visualisations, scheduling, specification data creation, can all be used to great success. 

    As the software platforms evolve, and with vendors offering access to their Application Programming Interface (API), there is potential for firms to inject new functionality and even create hybrid applications. The uses and benefits of these technological advancements are limitless.

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