Building for the future: How the technology revolution is affecting architecture

This month’s special report focuses on design technology, which can mean two things. The first being technology that helps architects design new projects, like BIM or 3D printing, and the second refers to technology in design, like material innovation.

While exploring this month’s special report, MEA held a roundtable to discuss the current status of BIM, which saw attendees including Andrew Woods, BIM manager at P&T Architects and Engineers; Andrew Milburn, associate at GAJ; Sukul Jagdev, technical director at La Casa; and Youssef Yassine, architect and BIM manager at NEB.

While the following pages provides in-depth coverage of the afternoon conversation held between the experts, one topic stood out – offsite manufacturing.

“I think one of the big things with regards to BIM is that it can be very useful in offsite manufacturing, which would be beneficial in terms of safety and the dangers of working within the UAE climate,” said Woods. “Everyone’s talking about 3D printed buildings, but it’s not the only thing on the horizon – there’s big potential with BIM in this region.”

While other regions, like the UK, are better at incorporating offsite manufacturing into their build processes, the UAE remains dependent on onsite production. Looking at it from a human scale, moving to offsite manufacturing is simply safer. Additionally, offsite manufacturing would cut costs and time in the long run. With the potential of BIM, the trending aesthetic of futuristic buildings that’s greatly valued across GCC capitals could evolve.

Milburn added that the architecture industry, as a whole, is right on the cusp of complete automation. Having often looked at the automation of vehicle or airplane design and wondered why building design can’t be the same – “Of course it’s a very different process,” he said – he now sees architecture slowly catching up.

Throughout the roundtable, Milburn often compared the present to the industrial revolution. He argued that the technology revolution is at a tipping point and the next 50 years or so will see rapid change and
development.

“I think we can recognise that we’re in a digital revolution,” Milburn said. “We’re at that tipping point now and we haven’t yet seen the extent of how and what will change.”

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