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Technology can be used innovatively to capture and convey information that informs design decisions.

Architects are makers. When it comes to the creation of architecture, there are three main drivers that determine the final product: the programme which is related to the users and the typology of a building; the form, which is shape and volume of a structure in its site; and the technology used to enable, or disable a building’s systems and functions. Underlying these three key drivers are contextual considerations, ethical considerations of the architect and client, place and locality, representational and organisational aspects. Associate Professor Tobias Danielmeier and Senior Lecturer Blair Isbister have been investigating the potential for changes in technology to enhance the effectiveness and ecological footprint of architecture.

A huge volume of data can be gathered for each site and building, but the time and cost involved to do so is currently disproportionate to the architect’s fee. Architects can use different software packages to organise and filter environmental information so that it can more readily be used to inform design decisions. This might include the hours and angles of sunshine and its effects on interior light and temperature and the performance of photovoltaic panels. The likely effects of climate change can also be modelled, but the use of technology is not limited to site-specific environmental information. For example, where once architects and engineers “predicted” the behaviour of a beam by entering information into a prescriptive formula, it will become possible to record the behaviour of every beam ever made and summon that data from the infinite index.

Tobias and Blair suggest that having a single central online location where designers could obtain site specific geospatial, environmental, cultural, economical, legal, weather, energy and infrastructure data would have significant influence on the popularity and success of validated data informed design. Better data, predictive analysis, clearer communication and informational organization, and automated construction augmented by mass customization all would make construction more economically and environmentally responsible.

NATURAL & BUILT ENVIRONMENTS

Image credit: Tobias Danielmeier and Blair Isbister

July 2021