The world is in a constant state of flux. Technology is altering and transforming our relations with the world at an ever-increasing pace. There is an enormous proliferation of information of all kinds, available readily at the click of a button. The media technologies have resulted in a small attention span, with the attention flitting from byte to byte. In the process, it is forcing us to reconsider and re-evaluate practically every thought and action formerly taken for granted.
The increase in the availability and accessibility of various softwares and gadgets has a great impact on the way architects are understanding and designing the built environment. From hand drafting to 2D softwares to more advanced 3D softwares and gadgets, the shift has surely proven to be a dramatic one. To increase efficiency and remain competitive in today’s digital era, architects have embraced new technologies with great enthusiasm. The new emerging technologies have opened up a world of possibilities for architects and have drastically changed their approach to design and representation.
With softwares and gadgets slowly becoming an indispensable part of the architect’s design process, it is also psychologically impacting the way the architect is thinking and responding. Outlined below are few of the observations –
1) With increased efficiency and faster results, the dependency on these new softwares and gadgets have also increased. A lot of architecture firms have now equipped themselves with the necessary skills and proficiencies required to use these new technologies. The increased dependency has also led architects to use technology as a means to design and generate outcomes that were once considered complex and unachievable. Some, of course, see this as problematic and have been resistive and skeptical about heavily relying on technology to design buildings.
2) From advanced 3D softwares to BIM to 3D printing to parametric design to artificial intelligence and augmented reality, architects have a plethora of options to choose from. It is not surprising to see the pressure that architects feel to continuously equip and upgrade themselves to compete in a rapidly changing environment. The digital revolution is here and there is no escaping it, hence it is important that architects embrace and exploit the possibilities offered by digital media. The architect, Daniel Libeskind puts this in perspective, “I think all of the advancements in technology make it possible to do the buildings that we do and to have bigger visions and a different future. So, I think that these technologies are tools that are equally as valuable as the pen. We still do a lot of hand drawing and a lot of physical models, but we take advantage of every program, every technology that we can.”
3) The availability of advanced and sophisticated softwares and gadgets has led to instantaneous results, multiple solutions, and complex outcomes. Consequently, this has led to a sense of excitement and achievement for architects. It is rewarding to see an idea or form take shape with the help of these new technologies which otherwise seemed difficult to achieve. With the promise of endless possibilities, architects are now more encouraged and willing to adopt these technologies and effectively use them in their design process.
4) Irrespective of the buzz that has been created because of the emerging avant-garde technologies, many in the profession refuse to leave behind their traditional way of working. They believe that the computers have mechanized the design process and have shifted away from a holistic creative thought process towards a more logic driven thought process.
5) Architects are now feeling more capable and motivated to take up bigger and challenging projects. They feel that they are now more equipped and competent with these new technologies at their disposal to deliver diverse and meaningful projects. Many firms have now started employing 3D architectural visualizer, digital making technologist, BIM specialist, data scientist, programmer to name a few, while also collaborating with experts from sociology, neuroscience, and economics to explore how technology can help achieve their mission.
These emerging technologies have become an indispensable part of an architect’s design process in one way or the other and it has directly impacted the architect physically, mentally, and emotionally. It has radically changed the way one designs, collaborates and builds. Hence it is important that we as architects pause, reflect, and make informed decisions while employing these technologies in a rapidly changing context. Architecture as a profession has also undergone a considerable change from what it was in the nineteenth century to what it is today. The capabilities of new technology are challenging and changing architecture at the most fundamental level. Is the current architectural pedagogy preparing the students for the workplace and uncertain future? Is it teaching the students the necessary skills required to be competent once they step out in the real world? If not then how do we radically rethink and update the architectural education model, one that proactively prepares the students for the future?