Building the architectural future with new technologies
Our expert's opinion
Nowadays, new technologies are warmly welcomed for architects & engineers in construction and building design, e.g drone, 3D printing, A.I, etc.
The idea here is structural platforms in carbon and glass-fibres, driven by robots with the ability to generate complex, resilient and multi-functional geometric forms. To sum up, the main idea is to build smarter; with less means material optimization, less transport, less environmental impact.
I’m very pleased to see that the construction sector is responding to environmental emergencies. It's a sign of transition, it's not easy but our world needs change.
- Franco Mencaccini, Associate Consultant
New technologies have always driven innovation in construction and building design
The present day is an exciting time to be an architect; the technological advances of the digital age provide the industry with a plethora of new tools to take building design to the next step.
Drones, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, 3D-printing, Big Data and the Internet of Things; such are the new additions to the architect's toolbox that will change the way we build.
To discuss and debate how to use these new tools, architects and engineers gathered in Copenhagen for the Innochain exhibition 2018:
- hosted by the Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts
- organised around the work of 15 researchers
- digital tools to explore new horizons in Architectural design
While models were developed using "old-skool" materials such as clay, filaments, concrete or wood, the ideas were very new: structural platforms in carbon and glass-fibres, wound by robots able to generate complex, resilient and multi-functional geometric forms.
Smaller, lighter, stronger...
"The material is able to do more while being very small and spindly and tiny. To give some numbers behind that, the effective strength of these materials is about five times that of a normal structure in steel that you find in a building now, while being about five times lighter."
University of Stuttgart
Other researchers have worked with elastic materials capable of shape-shifting to produce and store energy in facades, providing a kind of environmentally friendly, energy-efficient soft robotic skin for future buildings.
New techniques open new doors for traditional materials
New techniques can also bring us fresh perspectives on traditional materials such as wood, as Tom Svilans, an architect at the Centre for Information Technology and Architecture (CITA) explains:
"We can make very complex, very large, very robust buildings out of laminated timber. The problem is that, because it a living, biological material, it has its own behaviours. When you bend it, it can spring back, or sometimes it bends back. So we need ways to keep track of all this. Because if you can't produce accurately what you want to, it becomes very difficult and very expensive very quickly. So by introducing 3D scanning into the process, we can have a closer connection to what the material is actually doing while we process it."
The exhibition was the fruit of a European research project aimed at linking simulation, materials and designs to imagine a future where ever more buildings will need to be built with ever fewer materials, and in more sustainable ways.
"Building smarter with less means material optimisation. (It means) that we are clever about how we use those materials; it means that we can build lighter. And lighter does not only mean less materials, like a smaller piece of wood but also lighter in forms of less transport, less weight and less impact on the environment. And these are just necessary paradigms for the future."
Mette Ramsgaard Thomsen
Understanding how to apply new technologies, and how best to integrate them, does take time. But not too much: researchers say some of the solutions mentioned above could be embedded into real construction sites within five years.
Other insights in Engineering
Read our insight
Interview Imke Bongers: "Dual sustainability is the key to success for engineers."
Our expert's opinion