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Reimagining the future of architecture with real-time technology

By Quentin Staes-Polet, General Manager, SEA and India

Architecture is a craft that combines creativity, precision, and a whole lot of collaboration.

But now, this work is further complicated since travel and face-to-face meetings are limited. What’s more, deadlines seem to have gotten shorter and shorter, since architects and engineers are expected to work faster and more efficiently to save cost.

The challenges facing architects are also having an impact on its buyers. The Thai property industry is more uncertain than ever, with buyer confidence dampened by the current economy or social distancing measures. At a time like this, an option to view and experience a space in immersive 3D is surely beneficial — helping to boost international and local consumer trust.

Worldwide, how people and technology have adjusted to work during the pandemic has opened up many new opportunities and created a fundamental shift in how architectural and property businesses are run. Now, it’s about translating these technologies for the domestic industries to drive recovery as early as possible.

Leveraging real-time technology from the get-go

The towering skyscrapers we see around us are never the result of one person’s vision, but the collective expertise and insight of multiple groups translated into a single physical space. Often it is this collaborative process that threatens to derail timelines and budget — as architects, engineers, and builders, driven by differing perspectives, must now come eye to eye on every detail.

In fact, research has shown that the collaborative processes and systems (or the lack of them) are one of the major pain points faced by architects, engineers, artists, and contractors, with only 6% of them satisfied with the level of collaboration in the architecture and construction industry. This issue becomes even more challenging, with professionals being unable to meet face-to-face, today.

This is where advanced technology can help. One example is real-time rendering technology, which can help iterate design visions to perfection even before the actual building process starts. Interestingly, while the use of such technology in architecture has existed for a while, it has largely been regarded as a nice-to-have and seen overall as a niche presentation method.

However, for companies that are able to unlock their power, real-time technology can open up an array of opportunities and create a fundamental shift in how architectural practices are run.

The use of real-time technology can begin right at the start of the architectural life cycle when the team is trying to convey its big idea to clients.

For example, the British architecture practice, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) leveraged real-time technology to test some massing options for their latest project in a high-profile city-center location. The prime location meant it was important to ensure the final building fit into the context of the existing landscape, including considerations such as traffic flow. Massing was essential to test the visual integrity of designs in addition to impacting things like walls and foundations. The use of real-time rendering made collaboration across stakeholders faster and smoother. As the core design and implementation plans changed, visuals were updated in a matter of mere hours, allowing the company to have a single working file with the latest designs.

Reimagining the collaborative process in architecture

As the number of large-scale, cross-border projects increase, today’s architectural practices need to be able to make changes in real-time without time-consuming internal review cycles. This is especially true in the post-pandemic world, where travel continues to be limited.

Here, real-time technology can come in to allow users to conduct multi-user editing and review sessions remotely. Teams can share designs with the various stakeholders for review and iterate on the feedback together. This enables different departments to work together and make changes on the spot, enhancing the efficiency of the creative process, and speeding up the time-to-market.

The use of visualization software, with the ability to handle large data sets in real-time, can even be scaled and extended in smart city planning, urban construction and infrastructure, and even creating digital twins — which continues to be a priority in Thailand today. These technologies have already been used to create a virtual 3D replica of Helsinki.

Ramping up real-time immersive marketing

The impact of real-time technology in the architecture industry also extends to customer-facing applications. For example, it is difficult now for international and local homebuyers to walk through the spaces they are intending to buy. They are also often wary when buying an unbuilt home off the plan, and need to exercise their imagination in order to understand the space. Artists’ impressions, show flats and 2D impressions can help, but may not be helpful for estate agents, developers, and interior designers to instill buyer confidence.

Real-time technology can help remove the guesswork. It allows homebuyers to view modeled interiors, specific floorplans, and get a feel of the space during different times of the day. For an even more complete and immersive experience, a VR headset can be used to help the customer ‘experience’ the space before making a down payment. For the real estate industry, this means a significant reduction in customer acquisition time and the ability to easily showcase different fittings and finishes based on the customers’ preferences.

In the architecture and property industry, the devil lies in the details. Real-time visualization technology allows industry professionals unparalleled precision — allowing them to iterate in pursuit of their creative vision — without worrying about missed features or costly mistakes while supporting the business through greater efficiency and productivity. This is most relevant and necessary in current conditions, revolutionizing the way the industry can survive the unforeseen.

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