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AI is Revolutionizing Architectural Technology
Top Take-Aways: Adapt and Thrive CEO Eitan Tsarfati talks about why architects should view AI in architecture as an opportunity and use architectural technology to their benefit. This is a summary of The Real Market with Chris Rising's podcast. Some of the text has been edited for this format. Technology is Always Evolving. AI was Inevitable.
As architects, we started our careers with pen and paper. The first big change was moving to AutoCAD and from there to Rapid. Being able to generate a 3D model and not manually, repeatedly draw every line (the same door or floor over and over) was a huge innovation. At the time, the fear was “what would happen to all these people drawing by hand?” There have always been questions about the impact of technology on the workforce. Jobs have changed. Tools have changed the way people work and their behavior as an architect or a planner. It has saved time. It’s Not a Zero-Sum Game
I don’t see it as a way to say there are x amount of people in this industry – now there are layoffs and these people will have no jobs. There are always new technological developments that lead to new professions. Think about Instagram influencers or YouTubers. They didn’t exist a few years ago. I wouldn’t look at it as if people won’t have anything to do. It will be different. As an architect, I don’t think they need to be afraid of new architectural technologies taking their job away. Men vs. Machine: Threat or Opportunity?
In the last three to five years, machines have been able to think and learn about problems in a way they couldn’t before. It’s not just a new development in the architectural industry; it’s new in every industry. Machines have reached the place where they can make decisions about planning that we’d usually ask humans to take. Having said that, human expertise and insights will always be needed at some level. Decisions Can Be Taught
People do the same thing over and over again. We’ve learned a lot from how architects talk to engineers, or a customer talking to an architect. Think WeWork. You go into an office anywhere in the world and it pretty much looks the same. There are design rules. There are brand specifications that are similar in each one of the branches - regardless of geography. Decisions that people take in different parts of the world are pretty much the same decisions. If you can track all the data — on each vertical -- in office and residential spaces — you will begin to better understand what kind of decisions were taken over and over again, and those that are similar to other decisions. You understand that there are decisions that the computer can actually handle on its own when given the proper parameters and AI model. So, basically, if you have the right infrastructure and you put the right data in place, the computer can make these repetitive decisions and generate the same output with increased efficiency. Adapt or Die?
There’s no question that AI in architectural design is going to change the way architects work. If you keep doing the same thing and not evolving, not developing yourself – then maybe the machine will replace you. A young architect will probably see things s/he’s doing today done by a machine tomorrow. Design documents are being generated, whether it’s a layout or a whole model of office space or residential buildings. Suddenly, you hit a button and you see the whole model generated. It’s a kind of magic… that might be a little intimidating the first time you see it. But then you understand that humans still have a role in correcting requirements, to see where the machine is generating something which lacks the soft skills and insights of the experienced architect — the feel of a space, or the urban and cultural context. All these skills that architects are so good at without thinking about it. You can show an architect a design and say, “Something’s wrong here” — to add your human input to what the machine-generated. Architects Will Always Have a Place at the Table Five years from now, the general contractor (GC) will ask the architect to go over the plans to see that they have the human touch. Why do you need the human touch? Because you don’t want to build buildings for robots. You want to build buildings for humans. And the best planners are humans. There are always edge cases (an extreme problem or situation) and issues that only the human mind can solve. That’s why I believe architects will have a place at the table – they just make better decisions. They’ll use the technology to avoid wasting time carrying out tedious repetitive tasks. The machine will be their best helper. Your Next Partner Will Probably Be a Software Developer
If you’re developing with technology, and you understand its power, you understand your future colleagues will be software developers. Whether you like it or not, you’re going to be working with these people. The machine will work right beside you and complete and complement your talent – you’ll actually find a way to nurture your skills and develop as an architect. Your human creativity will get better and better. These are the architects of tomorrow — the ones who take their human skills to the next level. Get Familiar With New Technologies
I’d highly recommend that architects learn a bit of coding, as it helps you get up to speed with new technologies. Steve Jobs is quoted saying learning code teaches you how to think. He’s the guy that brought the design to the front seat, in everything we do and everything we touch. Code is a part of our lives, and we need to get to know it much better to become part of the present and the future. FOMO and the Market in Five Years
The adoption of software in the construction planning industry will be 100x what it is today. Today, there’s a huge difference in the way companies see technology today compared with fifteen years ago. Many construction companies have a chief information officer and vice president of technology and innovation to recruit. They have FOMO – they are terrified of missing out. Technology Allows You to Compete
Today, the whole architectural planning industry is based on an hourly-based fee. There’s a reason for that. The more people you have, the larger projects you can handle. If you look at what happens when a small architecture firm receives a big project, they either need to hire fast or use freelancers, but they need people. With the advances in technology in architecture, they don’t need more people. There’s an opportunity for the bigger companies that handle 50 projects per year to – now they can handle 500 projects. It’s a great opportunity for those ready to take it. Find out more about how SWAPP can help your next project thrive.
Can AI Save Architecture?
In a wide-ranging conversation with Jeff Echols from Context & Clarity on the impact AI in architectural design is set to have on architects in the future, Eitan Tsarfarti dispels the Eitan Tsarfati - Can AI save architecture? (Context & Clarity LIVE) doom and gloom scenario some are anticipating, saying that it’s going to be architecture’s saving grace. Here’s why. The conversation has been edited to fit this format. You can listen to the unedited conversation here: Context & Clarity: If AI-generated architecture comes in and takes over like the Terminator, is all the creativity going to go away? Eitan Tsafarti: The fear of AI is pretty understandable because what you see on the news and read about AI scares people. AI is not here to replace humans because it doesn’t think like one — that’s not what AI is about. Using AI in architecture is about automating repeatable and mundane tasks. But, the complexity of architecture planning, the creativity, the cultural aspects —there are many aspects, factors, and criteria in architecture that cannot and shouldn’t be automated, and people are executing those elements efficiently. I don’t see a risk for the profession per se, but I do see a major change in the profession. I see architects who spend most of their time drafting and drawing letting the machine draft the results much faster (instead of having to hire a technical person to generate it all) and utilizing that (newly free) time for planning and thinking. I see that as good news. I see AI as a way to save architects and not replace them. And yes, architects need to be saved! Context & Clarity: Why do architects need to be saved? Eitan Tsafarti: As an architect, technology person, and former AutoDesk executive (who designed software for architects), I allow myself to say architects need to be saved. I’ve been exposed to the industry and how architects charge for their work. At SWAPP, my exposure is even greater, because I’m doing business with architects. More than half of our business (around 60%) is partnering with architecture firms. So I hear what’s bothering them. The answers are very similar across the US, Europe, and Israel, and it’s a cause for concern. Architects spend a lot of time working hard, and they’re not paid enough. Context & Clarity: And, in an hour-based model, if you’ve gained years of experience and expertise, you’ll work faster, but you’ll be charging less. They’re not compensated for their effort. There’s no correlation between the value provided and the fee paid. Eitan Tsafarti: That’s right. Today, there’s an element of conflict of interest in the way most companies charge their fees in terms of what they're expected to provide to their customers.
If the customer wants something extremely fast and you’re charging an hourly rate, it leads to a conflict of interest. But that conflict can be resolved and we’ll address it further on in the conversation. Context & Clarity: Architectural technology hasn’t kept pace with innovation. Eitan Tsafarti: There’s a contradiction between the architect, who’s an extremely smart person with strong technical skills, and the architecture firms they often work in.
Innovation is the architects' nature, as they are inventing things all the time. You also spend a lot of time researching, almost acting like an R&D center when you’re tackling a new project.
However, the practice itself, the way architecture firms handle their work, where they spend most of their time, haven’t progressed. The profession faces a lot of challenges. You only have to look around you. So much has evolved in the past twenty years. But the practice of architecture, the traditional firm model, hasn't evolved much in the last 100 years. The process doesn’t resemble a high-tech company that uses all the technology they can use to make their processes more efficient. Context & Clarity: How is AI being used for radical efficiency in architectural design? Eitan Tsafarti: Our focus is on automating whatever we can in the planning and design process. We do that not to harm architects, but to give them time to do what they do best. Feasibility studies are just the first step for us. We take care of mapping, modeling, sustainability, energy analysis, energy modeling, and connecting to GIS and other data sources in order to generate a building that is more accurate and according to code – from massing options all the way to construction documents. As architects, you already know what you want to build, you’ve taken all the design decisions. Then you need to generate the whole thing. SWAPP generates all the necessary drawings and documents in a productive way. We’re focused on solving the pains, such as dealing with numerous design changes. Every architect experiences this. There are always changes – either by the customer or the local authority. The question is: How do you make these changes without making the architect want to rethink his/her occupation, every time there’s a change? How do you react quickly and change your drawings without having to manually redraw all the time or rework the planning side? That’s what SWAPP solves. Context & Clarity: What type of building is AI best suited for? Eitan Tsafarti: I don’t think AI fits every building. If you have a tailor-made bespoke villa, I don’t think AI should solve that. But if you have multi-family projects, schools, logistic centers, or interiors for offices, AI is great for that. Go to any WeWork in any center in the world and they look the same. There’s a reason for that. There is leasable square footage, rentable square footage, and amenity space – that’s perfect for AI. No architect should do that. Just put it in the hands of AI and go do other things. Today, SWAPP focuses on clear design rules for problematic requirements. If you take schools for example, even if there are no units and the program is very clear, you can work in different modules and you can feed the algorithm the requirements and restrictions and generate different configurations for the schools for different sites. If you do that, you can actually save a lot of time rethinking and reinventing the wheel on each site that you work on. Context & Clarity: Can sole practitioners implement AI in their work? Eitan Tsafarti: We partner a lot with small offices – with sole practitioners or what we call 2 to 12 offices. They benefit from not needing to hire people. When you’re a sole practitioner you’re always thinking how many projects do I have – should I hire one architect? But I can’t hire five architects. What if I have a big project coming in? Should I avoid it? This is the sort of thing that shouldn’t stop you. You shouldn’t say no if you really want to do the project. We’re there to solve this need – and you don’t have to expose us to your customer. One of our partners told me, “ I’m the head and you are the hands.” I really like this comparison, because the hands need to work in a certain way. With AI, the hands are very capable and do things smartly. The head is in charge of creativity and talking to customers. Context & Clarity: What business model does SWAPP operate on? Eitan Tsafarti: SWAPP is very different. We used to buy Revit or AutoCAD for an infinite number of years. When I was at AutoDesk, we moved to a subscription model, so you could only lease it. AI… a new thing. We provide you with the tools, the platform is ours… the designs are yours. AI can learn your style without sharing it with others. It can learn your typologies, the verticals or the type of buildings you work in, and what you prefer. From project to project, you’ll see better results. That’s how AI works. The more data you feed the “beast”, the better results you’ll have. The best way to use AI is not for one project, but for 10 projects or 20 projects over time. But, yes it (the platform) belongs to us. It’s proprietary technology. We’re a technology company at the end of the day. Context & Clarity: What will a typical day with AI look like? Eitan Tsafarti: Without sounding too futuristic, even in the near future (3 to 5 years from now) your day as an architect will look very different than it does today. I want to emphasize that I’m talking about specific building types, not all buildings. You’ll probably spend some time on schematic design and limit yourself (by choice) to what modules, blocks, rules, or design books you’ll use throughout the schematic design. Because you’ll understand from that point, once you’ve made the main decisions of the project, you’re actually done… because the MEP, structural engineering, and formulas will already have been taken care of. You’ll get a coordinated building pretty quickly in your hands. It won’t change dramatically when the consultant comes in because the rules have already been defined. You’ll probably finish the work 10X faster than you did today. You’ll spend less time drafting and more time thinking and creating, thinking about the surroundings, and choosing between options. You’ll probably think about your project in terms of sustainability – what option is more sustainable. You’ll look at the energy modeling and understand the result pretty quickly. Then you’ll hit the button and you’ll say, “OK, this is what I like.” Or, “This is what I showed my customer and we decided to go for that option.” Context & Clarity: How will AI affect the value of architects and architecture? Eitan Tsafarti: In the architecture world, you’re focused on shapes and materials, and whether this elevation suits the surroundings. It’s all-important, but your customer is on a different wavelength, which means you’re missing something in the communication. We need to understand what value means to our clients. That means understanding their business and how we’re affecting the results. As architects in architecture school, we’re not taught this. I don’t remember anyone telling me to take financial studies or that I should be able to understand a financial statement. Nobody teaches you construction costs compared to revenue generation from a real estate project – and this is the world of your customers! Our customers are very focused on finances. They need to understand if the project works if it’s profitable. The conversation needs to be about how you and your customer share the same interests. They want to break ground faster because they’re paying interest to the bank today and overhead to the team every month that the project is not out there and (the building is) not occupied. What if you get the project done three months ahead of time? If all the designs are radically faster, it makes no sense that you won’t be fairly compensated for your creativity and what you’ve designed. You’ve actually provided customers with better value. You deserve to be paid more. If you bring yourself closer to your customer, the conversation will be easier – about the value you provide, the time spent, how you charge and why you charge like that. You can speak their language. Context & Clarity: Does that mean you are not charging by the hour? Eitan Tsafarti: For SWAPP, it’s all about value-based pricing. We are charging by the value; we’re not charging by the hour. It’s not in our customers’ interest for us to extend the project. We have connections with customers across the country because they understand the (SWAPP’s) value.
In many instances, we bring projects to the architect. We do this because we don’t want to open an office in every state. We do it because we prefer to partner with good local architects and then we go together to customers. Context & Clarity: Ultimately, it’s a business. You have to have a profitable and sustainable business in order to create your art. Eitan thank you for joining us today and sharing your thoughts on AI and the future of architecture. To hear the full podcast, visit here.
Reduce RFI’s by Utilizing AI Architectural Technology
Unlike people, computers don’t get tired, don’t forget, and don’t make mistakes. This makes them great for automating repetitive, time-consuming tasks. The schematic design, design development, and construction document phases are rife with numerous manual and tedious tasks that require Herculean concentration and coordination. Imagine if there was AI-powered architectural technology that provided computer-aided automation and problem-solving tools to ensure that the tiniest of details were not omitted or that a single construction sheet was not overlooked. Detailed comprehensive and accurate design and construction documents can translate to the significant reduction of Requests For Information (RFIs). RFIs are generated by contractors as a request to clarify a condition or detail in the design drawings. On many projects, multiple RFIs are written and submitted every day — beginning when the contractors are first awarded a project and continuing through the shop drawing and construction phases. A percentage of the architect’s responses to RFIs become change orders because the resolution to the question raised can require additional work not known at the time of contractor bid preparation. So RFIs can result in increased cost of construction, schedule delay, and time devoted by both the contractors and the architect’s team to research and resolve the question. AI also acts as a Quality Assurance tool What if RFIs rarely happened – they were rare exceptions, rather than a dreaded time-gobbler and cost risk? It’s not only possible, it’s already happening thanks to AI. Artificial intelligence tools can drastically reduce the number of technical questions that may arise from drawings and other documentation that isn’t clear. Often, RFIs are the direct result of errors in design documents, resulting in time consuming communications and drawing revisions among the architect, engineers and contractors. By using machine learning-generated documents (and taking human error out of the process), you’re able to significantly reduce the errors and omissions that cause RFIs. Taking a simple example, ensuring the room dimensions and wall thicknesses are correct across all design documentation. An AI algorithm can state that the sum of the string of dimensions must equal the total length across a floor to the edge of the slab. Then the system quickly and automatically crunches the data and generates the correct dimensions. After which, a related algorithm will check that room dimensions and wall thicknesses are still correct. A computer can do this in nanoseconds. How long do you think it would take a team of architects to check and confirm this data? Now, ask yourself, why should they? The architect's time should be spent on solving critical design issues, not manually checking dimensions. The number of RFIs generated just to calculate and correct dimensions shown on drawings can be in the hundreds on a large project! There are many examples of categories of RFIs including doors and door hardware, finishes, locations of fire and smoke dampers, lighting, fitting of HVAC systems above ceilings, sizing of ducts and piping, and countless other details. The cost of the RFI can be exorbitant in terms of management resources, architect labor, general contractor time, and wasted materials. Reducing RFIs by a significant amount means that fewer hours will be needed by construction companies to manage this aspect of the project. Fewer management hours enable more competitive bidding and lower the cost of the project, thanks to AI-driven design and construction documents. Fewer RFIs also mean fewer change orders associated with drawing errors or lack of clarity in the drawings. As documents produced with AI and machine learning software become the norm, projects may gain faster permit approval with fewer comments by the building department. Less time will be needed to prepare shop drawings because the design drawings will be more accurate and the team will be ready to start construction sooner. The result is earlier project completion dates, higher quality, and lower costs. Interested in learning how to reduce the number of RFIs on your projects?
Visit here to speak with a SWAPP expert.
The Rise of AI is Impacting the Construction Planning Process
Many countries are experiencing a housing crisis and Israel is no exception. SWAPPs CEO and Co-Founder, Eitan Tsarfarti, believes that the solution lies in technology, and in particular Contech.
The current construction planning process is long and cumbersome. In Israel today, moving from planning to completed construction can take between five and eight years. The permit application phase alone, which previously took several months, can now sometimes take several years. This makes it difficult for developers to act with certainty on what can be built, and the project’s economic viability.
Israel’s not alone in these challenges. In the United States, it takes almost a year (and often more) to complete a multifamily building — and that’s after obtaining authorization, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Changes in the zoning codes that shaped New York now mean that 40% of Manhattan’s buildings couldn’t be built today, according to an Upshot article. In fact, zoning has become so complex, that Mike Ernst, director of planning at the civic group claimed that “To understand zoning, you have to have a law degree, it’s so convoluted and so dense,” adding that, “the whole process of how buildings get built these days is so confusing and opaque to people.” Modern technology used in building construction is revolutionizing the industry AI in architectural design is slowly entering a variety of areas — from the planning stage, through licensing, and various stages of execution, supervision, and construction materials. AI-generated architecture helps construction companies control every phase of their project planning process — providing AI-powered planning, financial estimation, and detailed construction documentation. During planning, the designer incorporates the use, function, and needs of the inhabitants of the building project and produces workable and effective construction plans and specifications. Traditionally, this would be a linear and time-consuming process. The designer/architect would have to meet with each consultant (such as HVAC, plumbing, electrical, structural, sustainability, energy, planning, services engineering, fire engineering, health and safety, and many more), in order to obtain the information needed and draw up workable plans to meet code requirements and the client’s needs. That’s the short list. Depending on the project, many other consultants could be involved. Using AI in architectural design, architects, designers, and engineers can simulate and visualize building projects based on the most robust data sets possible.
Data points include: Maps GIS Architectural plans Survey CADs Building layouts (“As Built”) Sustainability regulations (LEED, BREEAM) MEP drawings HVAC drawings Building manufacturer specs Weather data (EnergyPlus) PV Watts (PV analysis) Using architectural technology, you can better design to meet the functional needs of the tenants or office workers and be more efficient when placing the HVAP, MEP, and other elements. lt supports construction coordination of structural, architectural, engineering, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) plans and produces detailed construction drawings and design models according to customers' needs and requirements. And it’s all carried out simultaneously. AI in architectural design is a game-changer, reducing the process to weeks from months AI-driven construction planning creates a complete and detailed blueprint and plan to get construction starting within a few weeks instead of the traditional 9-month process, thereby saving developers time and money. By harnessing the power of automated AI data analysis systems, customers reduce property assessment cycles by 85%, save 40% on the various planning stages’ time, such as pre-design, schematic design, design development, and construction document, and optimize the iteration process.
Design smarter buildings & save on O&M costs During any site evaluation, real estate developers need an estimation of development costs, construction costs, and the potential return on investment. Studies show that even once the construction project is complete, operating and maintenance (O&M) costs can amount to as much as 40 to 80 percent of the structure’s overall lifetime costs. These projected future costs are largely determined by decisions made before construction even begins. Using planning tech to minimize present and future spending and maximize value prior to construction makes sound financial sense. Planning tech starts with SWAPP SWAPP provides a flexible way to manage the financial parameters of different typologies and to optimize for the best result. Our AI-driven software platform improves the entire construction project’s planning process by transforming the entire property assessment and planning process into a transparent, data-driven, and financially-optimized procedure. Optimization algorithms enable developers to choose the best planning option that maximizes efficiency, minimizes construction costs, and significantly reduces risks and mistakes.
The bottom line
No matter how advanced AI construction planning technology becomes, it can never completely replace architects or engineers. The solution lies in the combination of qualified and experienced professionals and the most advanced technology. The integration of artificial intelligence into the design process, computer vision solutions and advanced robotics in the execution stages is revolutionizing architecture and construction as we know it. Together, they can accelerate and streamline the design and construction processes to successfully meet the growing housing demand. Are you ready to discover how you can create planning value from Day One? Talk to us about your construction project. Click here to book a time with a planning expert.
Amar Hanspal Joins Advisory Board and Invests in our Growth
SWAPP announced that Amar Hanspal has joined our Advisory Board and invested in the company. Mr. Hanspal brings decades of experience in corporate leadership and technology growth, to the advisory board. In early 2021, SWAPP raised $7 million from Entree Capital, Point72 Ventures and other investors. Welcome to the Advisory Board “We are pleased to welcome Amar to the SWAPP advisory board,” said Eitan Tsafarti, CEO and Co-Founder. “Amar has long been a visionary leader in the construction technology space. His passion for leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to improve the way we work and create combined with his proven global business acumen will be invaluable as we grow our business and pursue our mission to introduce a new global standard for architectural design and planning.” Most recently, Mr. Hanspal was the CEO and co-founder of Bright Machines, a company focused on building software-driven, autonomous assembly lines for the manufacturing industry. Prior to that he was co-CEO and Chief Product Officer at Autodesk, where he drove the transformation of the company’s product and technology platform from on-premise/license to SaaS. He was instrumental in developing the company’s construction technology and additive manufacturing (3D printing) software portfolio. Believing in Cutting Edge Digital Tools “It is exciting to be part of the revolution started by SWAPP,” shared Amar Hanspal,. “ I am a big believer in providing cutting-edge digital tools for the building industry. The SWAPP AI-powered platform is doing that in a radical way with data-driven speed and precision. By automating many of the repetitive tasks that hinder the creative and strategic aspects of the profession, SWAPP is empowering architects and other stakeholders to significantly improve their productivity and profitability.” Today, Mr. Hanspal sits on the Boards of PTC and BeyondTrust. He holds a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from the State University of New York, and has completed the executive managerial program at Stanford University. To learn more about the SWAPP leadership team visit here.
How Does Sustainable Architecture Impact Design?
As the need for sustainability affects industries across the board, sustainable architecture has moved from being “nice to have” to “must have.” The building and construction sector is under increasing pressure to move to sustainable building practices. In 2021 alone, the industry accounted for about 39% of the process-related carbon dioxide emissions; 11% of which was caused by the industrial manufacturing of building materials such as glass, steel, and cement, according to a UN 2020 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction report. In response, the industry has begun sustainability initiatives to effectively manage and reduce emissions. Sustainability in the Built Environment Sustainable architecture is about more than reducing the impact on the environment. It’s also about ensuring the health and comfort of building occupants, thereby improving building (energy) performance. That’s according to the US General Services Administration (GSA), which defines the basic objectives of sustainability as reducing consumption of non-renewable resources, minimizing waste, and creating healthy, productive environments. Government regulation, consumer awareness, environmental awareness, and economics have brought about new best practices. The building and construction industry is recognizing that adopting sustainability-informed, best practices have two major impacts improved ROI via energy performance improved reputation through meeting Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria Improved ROI is achieved through optimized energy usage, lower maintenance costs, and tax breaks. Green buildings have higher property value and tenant appeal, who are willing to pay a premium to live and work in healthier buildings. Further support for this is shown in studies that report businesses offering the wellness perks associated with green buildings enjoy reduced employee turnover and improved productivity due to less sick leave. What is a High-Performance Building? According to The Constructor, “A high-performance building is a building that unifies and optimizes all the major high-performance attributes, including energy conservation, environment, safety, security, durability, accessibility, cost-benefit, productivity, sustainability, functionality, and operational considerations. Here, high performance means designing, constructing, and operating facilities with a strong focus on sustainability, integration, collaboration, and feedback and data collection.” Consumers are making sustainability a top priority: “With 79% of consumers changing purchase preference based on products’ social or environmental impact, marketers are racing to capitalize with sustainability messaging” according to Forbes. And, it’s positively affecting the design of residential, commercial, educational buildings, and more. 4 Key Considerations to Achieve Sustainable
High-Performance Design Architects need to consider various sustainability parameters — carrying out district feasibility studies, ensuring code compliance, aiming for net zero emissions, and carrying out carbon analysis. All this while also ensuring cost-effectiveness. 1. Sun Analysis, Wind Analysis, PV Potential, and other Energy Models Is there sufficient or too much light inside? Building occupants should be able to take advantage of daylight, without being bothered by glare. Spatial Daylight Autonomy (SDA) assesses whether a space receives sufficient daylight on a work plane during standard operating hours on an annual basis. Annual Sunlight Exposure (ASE) identifies surfaces receiving too much direct sunlight that may cause visual discomfort (glare) or additional cooling costs. Solar exposure examines how much energy the sun hits the building and where. To this end, shading and photovoltaic (PV) studies must be carried out. Thermal load calculations are required to establish what strategies can be utilized to lower energy consumption and increase performance. Wind analysis identifies wind direction and intensity. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) can provide accurate simulations which alert architects to potential issues, identify extreme spots, and plan air handling systems intake and exhaust locations. (use a sun analysis image from the platform) 2. Taking a Net-Zero Energy and Carbon Approach This approach aims to increase energy efficiency, ensure building decarbonization, and the use of renewables. The net-zero approach offsets energy use with photovoltaic (PV) panels. Energy can be generated by placing PV panels on the roof, facade, and/or parking as well, thus optimizing space use. 3. Carbon Life Cycle Assessment Embodied carbon and carbon emission need to be calculated throughout the project, i.e., how much carbon is embedded in the construction materials. Energy models calculate operational energy use and carbon footprint. 4. Ensuring Code Compliance Analysis needs to be undertaken to ensure the proposed design complies with the energy codes of the specific location. What if the project reaches sustainability goals that exceed code compliance? LEED or BREEAM energy performance analysis needs to be undertaken and design options need to be created to ensure certification standards are met. Determining Cost Effectiveness This brings us to the bottom line: evaluating project financials as far as sustainability metrics are concerned. Informed decisions can be made by looking at conceptual design cost studies of MEP system options, annual energy cost, and sustainability characteristics. Let’s take a simple example: testing different features such as two different types and sizes of windows. If the better / larger window costs more but reduces energy consumption, does it justify the investment? How does the window choice affect the building performance? How can optimal ROI be achieved and over what period of time? Achieving 1-Click Sustainability ™ with SWAPP
All these considerations are quickly answered using SWAPP. The AI architecture design and planning solution delivers all this information within minutes, keeps the design progress moving at a fast pace, and dramatically boosts efficiency in the architectural process. SWAPP swiftly calculates key building design parameters. This gives clients the ability to determine the most cost-effective designs to comply with code-mandated energy performance and achieve higher levels of sustainability. Interested in learning more about SWAPP’s sustainability tools, click here to talk to an expert.
4 Ways Architecture Technology Will Change Our Industry
Key Takeaways AI is revolutionizing the way architectural and construction planning is done. Technological advancements are opening up new opportunities for greater creativity, increased productivity, and enhanced efficiency in work processes. The real-time collaboration software is seen as a fundamental element of construction planning and will allow architects to play a leading role in design The real estate industry will evolve once architects begin to embrace AI as part of their daily planning system. Over the past few years, various architectural building technologies have emerged, changing the way we design. It seems inevitable that as the world goes through the process of digitization, the world of architectural planning will eventually follow. While many see this transformation as negative, I see it as positive. I’ve never understood why we are already using technology in our daily lives to save time and energy and not using it at the office to improve our productivity as architects. Why should we, as architects, spend so much time on manual processes that can be automated? If we didn’t spend so much time generating output, we could use our time to explore new ways to innovate and improve our designs. Architects have always needed to embrace new technologies to keep up with the changing needs of cities and communities. Yet, the past year has illuminated the growing need to innovate the way that we work, live, and collaborate. Many emerging technologies will change the face of architecture as we know it. Let’s take a look at some architectural technologies that are set to transform the field. 1. Generative Design As I mentioned in a previous blog post, "Architectural Technology is Helping Architects Plan Their Dream Designs" generative design has been used by architects to explore hundreds of design sets, offering solutions to the challenges we often struggle with. Currently, most generative design software tools provide hundreds of options without screening them or optimizing them to match a particular construction project’s needs. I expect this technology will be further developed and enhanced over time, primarily through AI-powered and machine learning planning platforms. These innovations will help architects to free up more time to concentrate on other tasks. 2. Collaboration Platforms Real-time collaboration software is already considered to be an essential part of the construction planning process and will give architects a solution to take a leading role in the design and planning process. Today’s work environment has proved that communicating effectively and sharing data in real-time can transform how we approach site planning. Every architect’s planning cycle involves constant coordination with numerous stakeholders and interaction with them often impacts our designs. For this reason, the latest AI technology in the field offers more than just a collaboration platform. A collaborative building software can provide planning teams with access to the latest, most updated information. Additionally, it can quickly calculate and automate numerous iterations simultaneously, in hyper speed and provide transparency for all relevant stakeholders. 3. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning In addition to collaboration platforms, BIM adoption and generative design, AI technology serves as the basis for our field’s next key technological developments. Architecture is an industry where creative processes suffer from countless obstacles on the way to the final design. I argue that the most powerful tool for helping architects regain control over the design process and re-inject creativity into the industry is using AI and machine learning architectural building technologies. These technologies already help architects and other key stakeholders to create a significantly easier process by providing access to countless data, models, interpretations of building environments, and cost estimates. In addition, these tools allow architects to focus on their main strengths, increase project and work loads, and plan more in less time. The AI-powered optimization provided by the software will also result in fewer design omissions or system crashes. 4. Additive manufacturing (AM)/or 3D printing As an executive at Autodesk, I lead a software development team as part of the company’s Additive Manufacturing platform. Additive manufacturing, most commonly referred to as 3D printing on an industrial scale, enables the digital to physically transform an object from the ground up. Using a layer-by-layer creation allows for complex and lightweight structures that could not be achieved by any other method. By using this technology, architects can convert their 3D digital model into instructions for the 3D printer. Despite the great promise of 3D printing technology, it is still considered one of the most controversial technologies because of its various technical constraints. I believe that this technology will significantly evolve in the next five to seven years, but there’s still a long way to go before it becomes a standard in the construction industry. Final Thoughts After a transformative year, there is no doubt that architects are set to see the introduction of more and more technologies into their daily workflows. The industry’s many challenges are likely to be eased, if not solved, by technological developments. These technological trends are undoubtedly opening up new opportunities for greater creativity, productivity, increase in efficiency, and optimization of our work processes for years to come. The ability to adopt new technologies will soon become the bread and butter of innovative architects ready to embrace the future. I think it’s time we stop seeing ourselves as “worker bees” and start using our creativity and deep-thinking capabilities to explore new possibilities — this will help our industry and profession to evolve. Want to learn more about the influences architectural technology can have on your next project? Get in touch with one of our specialists here.
AI in Architectural Design - the Next Big Thing?
Most architects already have a tech stack; they use CAD or other software tools such as BIM as part of the architectural planning process. While architectural technology cuts down on manual work, such as drafting, it has its limitations. These architectural visualization tools are limited to providing documentation of the solutions and strategies devised by the architect. This is where architectural design technology, specifically artificial intelligence (AI) for architecture, is set to play an increasingly important role. Artificial intelligence-powered architectural solutions can be used to assist in solving the problems architects face. AI models can automate elements of the design and planning processes making short work of real-world challenges. Many tasks, which today are extremely time consuming and often repetitive, such as adjusting project parameters, coordinating with stakeholders, meeting strict building code regulations, preparing extremely detailed building construction documents, and updating designs according to continuously changing requirements can be streamlined. The time being burned up with menial, manual work could be put to far better use, enabling architects to put their efforts where they are really needed – in customer-focused design. Make building planning quick and easy All the design and planning work associated with the conceptual-design through construction document stages, including site and building-code analysis, feasibility studies, construction documents, 3D visualizations, energy and environmental impact analysis, can be carried out with the click of a mouse. AI models and machine learning are being used to gather and leverage data from multiple sources ranging from GIS, maps, architectural plans, survey CADs, building layouts (“As Built”), sustainability regulations, MEP drawings, HVAC drawings, building maintenance specifications, weather data and PV capacity. Let’s take a closer look at how SWAPP, an AI-powered platform designed for architects by architects, streamlines the planning and design process. Feasibility first Before starting any urban building project, zoning laws and regulations must be checked. In addition, environmental and sustainability parameters must be taken into consideration. This review is made of the project itself and the surrounding area. Development appraisals, compliance with parking requirements, and urban grid connectivity must be accounted for in the feasibility study. With AI, all this is easily accomplished and several aspects of the feasibility study can be automated. Algorithms can be leveraged to evaluate the many data types entered into the platform. Eliminate bureaucratic bottlenecks AI planning and design tools can ensure that plans comply with local building codes and produce code-compliant drawings for permits within minutes. The back-and-forth process with municipalities and local authorities is drastically reduced, as scalable, fast drawing updates are carried out quickly and efficiently to meet established requirements. SWAPP’s mathematical AI models are programmed with the zoning and permit regulations and requirements, so generated models are always guaranteed to be compliant. Error is eliminated, as noncompliant models cannot be generated by the system. Designing sustainable buildings Today, sustainable design is moving from nice-to-have to must-have. Designs must minimize environmental impact and conserve energy. AI is enabling a wide range of sustainability tools to be fully integrated and leveraged effectively during the design and planning processes. The SWAPP platform features a number of sustainability tools allowing architects and developers to see the impact of sustainable choices on their designs before ever breaking ground. Sustainability tools found on the SWAPP platform include: District feasibility studies: solar exposure, right of light, wind studies Net Zero Approach: increasing energy performance, building decarbonization, renewables Cost-Effectiveness: financial analysis and ROI Code Compliance: status review for LEED, WELL, BREEAM Carbon Life Cycle Assessment Energy modeling Cut costs without cutting corners Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems are energy gobblers. With AI, automated calculation of thermal loads, the sizing, selection, and placement of air and water system equipment in 3D architectural models, as well as production of mechanical plans is quick and easy. What is usually a long, drawn-out process of consultations, discussions, and reviews can be markedly streamlined when AI models are used to simultaneously coordinate the various technical and structural aspects. Need a design change? No problem Without AI integrated into the design process, customer requests such as changing the building height, the structure strategy, facade cladding type, interior layout, etc can result in weeks, if not months of work. With AI, it can be simply a matter of drag and drop. With a few clicks, a new design is ready for review. The Bottom Line The bottom line: SWAPP does the heavy lifting, so architects can focus on what they do best. It’s built on the principle “less is more,” made famous by Mies van der Rohe. By automating the manual architectural design and planning process, it’s possible to increase both productivity and profitability. SWAPP In Action See how SWAPP does it! AI-Automated Load and Energy Modeling When HARRIS Company in San Jose wanted to ensure that their latest multifamily project was a high performance in terms of energy consumption and cost, SWAPP collaborated with Harris to develop world-class designs and provided $1.34 million of savings using its AI technology. SWAPP’s highly automated load and energy modeling calculations saved both time and money. AI-Powered Sustainability Simulations When a multinational leading high-tech company wanted to add a multilevel parking lot to its Haifa campus, SWAPP's sustainability simulator delivered multiple alternative plans focused on reducing costs, increasing parking stalls, and meeting local regulations within days. The resulting plan would avoid the excavation of an additional underground floor, protected the aquifer from invasive drilling, and result in a projected $2,550,000 in savings. Are you interested in learning how to integrate SWAPP’s AI platform into your practice? Talk to a SWAPP specialist.
Construction Tech Starts with Planning Tech
Technology is revolutionizing the construction industry. Power tools. Hydraulic excavators. 3D-printed buildings. Telematics. And now, connected equipment, hardware, and software are designed to monitor, control, and optimize every aspect of the construction process. Construction is the second-least digitized industry worldwide Although the construction industry remains the second-least digitized industry worldwide, the past century has seen advances in technology propel the construction industry forward. Thus ensuring that its processes and practices are safer and more efficient than ever before. New construction technologies are being developed with lightning speed. As of just last year, a total of $4.5 billion US has been invested in ConTech across the globe, from seed funding to early and late-stage rounds. And slowly but surely, construction technology, or ConTech, is disrupting the existing industry and providing it with much-needed productivity, collaboration, simplicity, and affordability - even from offsite locations. It’s no wonder these innovations are being launched and leveraged on more job sites, in more countries and regions. That being said, the collection of innovative tools, machinery, modifications, software, etc. that define the ConTech space ultimately starts from and depends on planning tech. At least, it should. Here’s why: Contech is developed to resolve mistakes on the job Construction tech is designed to promote increased visibility, standardization, and faster completion times, all prevalent job site challenges. The goal, of course, is to prevent or at least resolve mistakes commonly made on the job that can result in construction projects exceeding deadlines and budgets, or becoming hazardous to peoples’ safety. By using ConTech to study, learn from, and optimize the construction processes and tools employed, major industry players, from developers to contractors can correct existing inefficiencies, urgencies, and hazards, as well as prevent future mistakes from being made. But what if those mistakes could have been prevented before ground was even broken, materials were ordered, or workers were contracted? Shifting from the construction site to the planning stage Beyond what it can do on the construction site, technology can improve and empower execution by enabling more innovative, streamlined planning. Architects, designers, and engineers can use planning technology to simulate and visualize building projects based on the most robust data set possible, streamline work schedules, optimize material orders, prevent conflict, changes & rework, and resolve other practical challenges - before they ever occur! In fact, generative design, enabled by artificial intelligence-driven planning technology, is an ideal means for coming up with a myriad of design options and constructive solutions for potential on-the-job scenarios. Generative design can additionally be an effective means for construction project teams to learn what not to do, for structural, budgetary, time or other constraints. How to improve planning to reduce errors in the construction? It’s simple. Feed the computer AI platform relevant and pertinent information. Then allow it to evaluate all data points based on subjective factors pertaining to each construction project being planned. Studies show that even once the construction project is complete, operating and maintenance (O&M) costs can amount to as much as 40 to 80 percent of the structure’s overall lifetime costs. This includes the cost of building the structure in the first place! Additionally, these projected future costs are largely determined by decisions made before construction even begins. As such, it is clear that using planning tech to minimize present and future spending and maximize value early on and prior to construction is highly advantageous. Thus, should be adopted by future-forward construction industry players. Start planning smarter, by leveraging innovative planning tech According to Henry D’Esposito, a construction researcher, “If new technology can ease collaboration across firms, reduce errors and miscommunication, or get more productivity from a limited pool of skilled workers, it has a good chance of finding demand, even in an increasingly crowded market.” SWAPP is precisely that technology. SWAPP is an AI-driven software platform that improves the entire planning process of every construction project’s exterior and interior by transforming the entire property assessment and planning process into a transparent, fact-driven, and financially-optimized procedure. Our optimization algorithms enable real estate developers to choose the best planning option that maximizes efficiency, minimizes construction costs, and significantly reduces risk and mistakes. By harnessing the power of our automated AI data analysis system, SWAPP customers save 40% - 80% on the various planning stages’ time, with the automation of schematic designs, design documentation, and the generation of construction documents. Construction tech starts with planning tech - and planning tech starts and ends with SWAPP. Are you ready to discover how you can create planning value from Day One, with SWAPP planning tech? Click here to learn more.
Architectural Technology is Helping Architects Plan Their Dream Designs
Key Takeaways: Architectural design technology provides access to more diverse data and analytical tools thus delivering a clearer picture of key requirements. Data analytics allows architects to be more efficient, manage risk and make better decisions faster, this allows for more time to be creative. AI tools are enabling architects to have a greater impact on the planning process Most architects are frustrated by the same experience: the final result is quite different from their original design. With the assistance of architectural technology, architects will gain their creativity back and have it be their sole focus. Frustrations We Share If you have had this frustrating experience, you are not alone. When I was a young architect, the office I worked for won a bid on a new project. I was excited to take part in the initial design process. From the very first day, I was constantly thinking about shapes, forms, and design tone, eagerly imagining how this new project would inspire others for years to come. Very quickly, starting from the very first meeting with our client, my dreams were shattered when I faced the harsh reality of budget constraints, engineering requirements, and a tedious process that threatened to squeeze every ounce of creativity out of me. Sound familiar? Whether you are taking part in the design and planning phases for a stadium, a museum, or a multi-family residential project, the planning process is long and complex. There are many hands stirring the pot: the owner, various consultants, financial advisors, and so on. By the end of the process, you barely recognize your original dream design. In an AIA report, stakeholders such as architects, owners, and general contractors were asked to rank the drivers of uncertainty in the construction planning process. Alongside unforeseen site conditions, which ranks among the top three factors cited by participants across the board, architects chose owner-driven changes and accelerated schedules as the leading forces behind project uncertainty. Owners and contractors, however, pointed to the design team's errors and omissions as the leading factors for uncertainty. The issue of unclear project requirements from the outset was identified by all parties as the top generator of owner-driven changes. Bridging the Gap with Technology I would argue that there is a way to bridge the gap between our dream design and the demands of owner/contractor stakeholders, and it is technology. Specifically, AI architectural technology. These technologies allow us to gain more insights, and thus gain control over the process. We are usually missing several sets of data that are needed to make the necessary adjustments, while also protecting our creative vision in architectural planning. In most cases, we, the architects, are not fully aware of site requirements and limitations. Another missing variable, which has a major influence, is the owner’s financial objectives and the calculations s/he have made in order to achieve them. The end result is that we usually spend too much time on tedious, repetitive iterations and tasks. Over the past five years, various architecture innovative technologies have been developed to help architects gain valuable insights and even help them to automate many of the SD-DD and CD-related tasks, specifically the manual ones that offer architects no added value. Is Generative Design Doomed to Fail? Many of you are already familiar with and are already using “Generative Design” tools. Generative design tools help architects discover dozens, and even hundreds, of design options that include sketch constraints and project goals. They solve the need to create what some would call “boring” building designs lacking a “soul” or a clear design concept. One of the main challenges of generative design, which is raised by Daniel Davis in his article “Generative Design is doomed to fail,” is that it offers hundreds of options without screening and ranking them according to methods used by architects in the design process. These tools have drastically improved over time, especially when combined with what I call “top-bottom” analysis in the form of AI-powered planning platforms. These platforms are helping architects free up more time so they can focus on creative solutions. AI-Powered Planning Platforms Making an Impact While time is an important factor in creating space for creativity, architects today understand that data is king. If we want to take an active role in creating space for our creativity, then we have to approach the planning process differently. We need data analysis tools. One of the main technologically-driven developments in the industry today is the use of AI architecture software. In our industry, in particular, these platforms allow architects to access valuable data and to conduct a deep analysis that is pivotal in creating designs that fit our vision and design concept while taking into consideration stakeholder demands. Remember the key drivers of uncertainty ranked by architects in the AIA report? Today, many software platforms help bridge the gap between our dream design and the demands of stakeholders. These platforms aggregate and analyze a tremendous amount of data to help architects collect more information about a site, and thus gain greater control over a project and the challenges that may arise along the way. In recent years, the number of relevant data sources has significantly increased, leading to new analytical tools that can help architects predict various considerations such as site challenges and opportunities, project costs according to the preferred construction method, and even architectural and MEP strategies per project type. With one click of a button, architects can balance our vision and client cost constraints. We can take control by including customer ROI goals in our design and having an algorithm analyze and compare them to various data sets. Architects can also save time, effort, and money by conducting an energy analysis early on in the design process. Taking the Lead in the Planning Process For too long, we architects have taken a back seat in the planning process while trying to fulfill stakeholder requirements and needs. The latest technological developments allow us to take the wheel in the planning process for the first time. By embracing design technology, we can begin each project with more data, AI superpowers for analysis, and a greater overview of key requirements, all of which will enable us to better serve our clients while protecting our creative space. The architecture industry is in the midst of a technological revolution and the future has never looked brighter. Are you interested in learning how to integrate SWAPP’s AI platform in your next project? Talk to a SWAPP specialist.