„Would you spend millions without knowing whether an architect can design a good building?”.
This may seem a logical question at first glance, but it only exists by the grace of trust in the learning curve of the architect and in the testability of the design quality of a realised building.
And that is where we find a serious shortcoming. There is a lack of critical reflection on both the learning curve and the testability of design quality. Not only by architecture critics, but also by clients, government agencies and users.
This testability requires a systematic and holistic approach to the qualities of a building. But above all, it requires insight into synergy, into possibilities and their consequences.
Because of insufficient understanding, building design (and architecture in specific), lacks a consistent paradigm for critical (self-)reflection. You see what you want or can see, and that is what you base your analysis and opinion on.
Clear mistakes will be noticed, but missed opportunities are a lot more difficult to discover. The existing way of working means that the potential of a building is barely comprehensible.
By designing parametrically and generatively, you can make that spectrum of possibilities and their consequences transparent. In contrast to a BIM model, where information is provided about a single design, parametric and generative designs allows for millions of options to be calculated. No more intuitive assumptions, but (objective) testing and comparing. This goes beyond a strictly rational mindset with a focus on the pragmatic technological superiority of computing power. By using artificial intelligence, a powerful method is created to solve visual, spatial, material, constructive, energetic and even financial tasks. And not as stand-alone, sequential disciplines, but in full synergy.
What does this mean for the real estate industry ?
We are now in the fourth industrial revolution, with self-learning systems, and a data economy in which we can and will use more and more data.
Real estate development as a process, or buildings as products, are already subject to numerous regulations and codes. Certification can be obtained in the form of LEED or BREEAM. On top of that Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG’s) are commonly defined as the three central pillars used when measuring the sustainability or ethical impact. They are also part of the United Nations led initiative on Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).
So measuring the effect and compliance of buildings to certain rules or methods of evaluation, is already in place. Artificial Intelligence (AI), combined with multi-criteria analysis, allows for these existing methods to be analysed and compared. And not as discreet elements, but in full synergy.
Building on the computational power of analysis by using AI, we see a massive potential in extending this analysis into a holistic approach. An approach built around objective design analysis, with extremely short run times.
This seriously reduces project and investment risk very easy on in the project. It also allows for more sustainable buildings by not just analysing the building at one point in time but over its full life cycle.
Behind us are the days when decisions had to be made on limited information. Objective, fact-based decision-making is the ultimate compliance tool for the real estate industry.
Pim van Wylick is a partner at Planalogic. A consultancy firm specialised in using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to design better cities and buildings.
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