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Building A Digital Environment

“It’s a digital life – we need a digital built environment” says BIM specialist John Eynon. Everything around us is becoming digital, but what about our buildings – and the processes we use to build them? As technology becomes more advanced in everyday life, we have also seen advancements within the construction industry that could reshape the industry as we know it. The industry is known for incorporating digital technology into their processes, but what about architects? How are architects increasingly using technology to design innovative buildings of the future, so that the industry can keep up with the everchanging times?

NiftyLift, who supply access platforms across the globe, know a thing or two about the construction industry and have investigated how we plan to build a digital environment for the future.

To design

Previously, architects have designed buildings and public spaces to conform to strict urban and civic conventions, whether it required them to switch from the traditional cast-iron rods to Stainless Steel Square Tubing, from cement to self-healing concrete, or any other changes according to the modern requirements. Now, the time has come when digitalisation in construction could be the new norm. Through the use of digital visualisation technologies, they are increasingly designing projects which are self-confident visual statements. The technology allows the architect to imagine and generate proposed buildings and environments which makes specific criteria for new development.

Technology has given architects new opportunities – computer software now allows designs to be generated using algorithms and interactive physical mechanisms that can be built to respond to the evolving environment. 3D designs and models allow both architects and contractors to visualise what the end product will look like, down to the smallest detail.

To build

Many technologies have proven their worth throughout the construction industry – with popular software and tech devices proving relevance and efficiency on large-scale building and infrastructure projects. The main benefits of incorporating technology into building processes are efficiency, accuracy and safety.
The advancement of this technology in the field of construction has brought tremendous changes, assuring the safety of the workers. By building online portals or applications, all the details are updated automatically, so that one can keep track of their work progress. These portals serve as a chain of responsibility for both the workers and the managers of the company.

The environment we live in, is increasingly becoming more digitally focuses, so it makes sense that it also becomes digitally built. Some might argue that we are now in the age of smart construction. Building Information Modelling (BIM) is already in use across the industry, eliminating traditional blueprints, and replacing them with interactive 3D models. The system allows architects, contractors and construction professionals to stay up to date with the development of the project, by creating a virtual walkthrough. This is part of the construction industry that is introducing virtual reality into their building processes. An Augmented Worker System, in the form of wearable virtual reality equipment, is in the pipeline funded by Innovative UK – predicted to reduce costs throughout the industry by 25%.

Design for manufacturing and assembly techniques (DFMA) eases the processes of manufacturing through the collection and allocation of parts that are required to finish the construction project – delivered just-in-time, to achieve the highest rate of productivity on the construction site. The approach offers ‘offsite’ manufacturing support to minimise onsite construction techniques – meaning buildings can be constructed more rapidly and safer, with human error reduced.

BIM and DFMA can work parallel to one another, enhancing the benefits of each when used simultaneously – they can improve efficiency of all processes from the earliest conception, through construction and up until completion. The 3D models can be used for effective project management throughout the construction lifecycle. In instances where innovative and rigorous planning and bespoke materials are required, these technologies guarantee a level of accuracy that ensures all details and ‘connections’ are precise.

The future

Architects across the globe are increasingly innovating buildings that are designed with our future in mind. From tropical buildings to rotating skyscrapers, architects are utilising the advanced technology available to them, to design digitally built, and digitally functioning buildings into our environment.

Israeli-Italian architect, David Fisher, has designed the world’s first rotating skyscraper with plans accepted to be built in downtown Dubai. The structure is expected to be complete by 2020 after initial setbacks following the original proposal in 2008. It will be known as the Dynamic Tower Hotel, and uses digital resources so that each apartment rotates 360 degrees independently, with speed adjustable. It Is believed that the apartment block will never look the same twice, and it will power itself with wind turbines between each floor.

David Fisher’s innovative design, whilst is a one of its kind, it not the only innovative structure we can expect to see in the near future – with designs expected to be built using the most advanced technology available to improve efficiency of each project’s lifecycle, without compromising on creative design aspirations or quality.