Although most of the buzz around artificial intelligence (AI) may seem new, the concept has been around for over 60 years. American computer scientist John McCarthy, known as the ‘ father of artificial intelligence ‘, coined the term ‘artificial intelligence’ in the 1950s, leading researchers across the United States to look into computer learning for the treatment of equations and theorems.
In the 1960s, computer scientists began to create robot-like machines, and the first humanoid robot was built in Japan in 1972. Unfortunately, it was difficult for scientists to go further due to the lack of advances in data technology, and the period between the mid-1970s and early 1990s saw a decline in serious development.
But in the 1990s computers became more advanced. AI technology and capabilities took off and have been skyrocketing ever since. Smart technology has revolutionized countless industries over the past few decades, and now architecture is heading for a tech-driven facelift.
AI in architecture
The adoption of AI, especially in the creative industries, has its obstacles. Some designers worry that AI will replace human workers. Given that the goal of AI is to create machines or programs capable of self-direction and learning, this concern makes sense. However, most experts agree that artificial intelligence has the potential to make architecture easier, more efficient and even safer.
Computers excel at solving problems with clear answers, sketching data, and performing repetitive tasks, allowing humans to be creative and work on more open-ended problems — and those aren’t the problems of architectural design that are missing.
To that end, here are seven ways that artificial intelligence is changing the field of architecture.
1. Explore better building energy efficiency
Software tools and programs can now make building calculations and environmental analysis a simple task. There is so much data at an architect’s fingertips these days that it is much easier to extract information like temperature and weather data, material ratings, and more. yet – which would otherwise take a considerable amount of time to compile.
Smart technology also enables architects to incorporate sustainability into their projects. Solutions like smart lighting or smart rainwater management systems can be integrated into master plans, ensuring better sustainability from the start.
None of this was possible ten years ago. But as the technology spreads, it allows small businesses to take on bigger projects, since they can have access to the Internet and all the resources at their fingertips to develop proposals.
2. Get from point A to point B faster
When it comes to planning a building, taking shortcuts may not be a good idea. But AI can drastically reduce the time it takes to plan and design a structure through building information modelling (BIM).
Computer-aided design (CAD) has been instrumental in creating 2D and 3D models of buildings, but BIM takes it a step further by integrating product, time and cost information, giving the architect the entire scope of a project. BIM works with other design software to provide a complete picture of a structure, including conceptual design, detailed design, analysis, documentation, fabrication, construction, operation and maintenance once the building is built, and even the renovation or demolition plans.
Harnessed appropriately, artificial intelligence can take this data and identify trends or inefficiencies, allowing architects to design better and more sustainable projects without wasting so much time analyzing the data.
3. Guide clients through a construction project before it is completed
Much like virtual reality, augmented reality has taken the gaming industry by storm, and it’s now finding its way into architecture and design. Companies can allow their customers to have a real experience of the building they offer without having to dig the ground. Everything from aesthetics to sounds can be simulated, and feedback can be implemented into the design immediately – before the money is spent on materials or construction.
4. Updated build process
Around seven per cent of the global workforce works in the construction industry, which has traditionally been one of the least technologically advanced industries. But there is great potential for integrating AI into construction, and it could reduce construction costs by up to 20%.
In addition to using autonomous or semi-autonomous construction machinery to facilitate excavation and preparation work, computers can analyze job sites and identify potential risk factors, reducing safety risks and delays that they can create.
5. Make buildings safer
Businesses, offices and campuses have long used video security to monitor who is coming and going, but the high volume of footage collected means things can be missed if no one is watching the video. However, a smart security system integrated into a building can quickly scan and automatically detect suspicious activity and send alerts to building owners.
AI can also be used in the form of smart lock systems, which can restrict access to certain areas unless the user has a card or code.
6. Optimize building maintenance
AI-powered energy management platforms can determine usage patterns to create ideal conditions for tenants to both save energy and money. The Nest Thermostat is an example of such a system that has become popular with consumers – it adapts to keep a building at a safe and optimal temperature, and can alert users if the temperature drops or rises to an unsafe degree.
AI devices can also collect and analyze sensor data to monitor for leaks or malfunctions. They make it easier than ever to monitor a building’s performance and efficiency.
7. Informed design for large-scale interaction
All over the world, video streams collect data on people’s behaviour and usage patterns. For example, AI is already being used to optimize flows in museums and airports. To take the next step, companies could design buildings that fit together to create entire smart cities based on how people interact with their surroundings and how they feel in public spaces.
From the Great Wall of China to the Egyptian pyramids, architectural innovation was all about making the most of available technology. As human needs and technology evolve, AI stands ready to take humanity’s architectural achievements to the next level.