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How Innovations In Technology Are Helping Architects And Interior Designers

Architects and interior designers have always embraced new technological innovations. Since our distant Neolithic ancestors first started utilizing tools for chopping wood and binding animal skins to create permanent houses, new discoveries have driven the creation of buildings. 

In the 21st Century, we are bearing witness to a great digital technological revolution. We live in a highly networked world in which technological advances spread around the world at speeds never seen before. Architects and interior designers have been quick to adopt all sorts of digital technology to help them work in new ways. From virtual reality viewings to buildings completely designed by algorithms, technology is being used in remarkable ways. 

Technology in Architect Design

Architecture and interior design will always be creative fields of work. There is no doubt that the use of new technology must be backed up by human creative thought – be that in theory behind technology or in the practice of design. When used correctly, new technology simply elevates the position of the creator and gives them more freedom to exercise daring and useful ideas. 

Here are some of the technological innovations helping architects and interior designers achieve their goals.

3D Floor Plans

Any architect will be able to tell you that one of the hardest parts of their job can involve explaining their vision to a client. Clients are not always able to fully visualize what a design will actually look like from models and diagrams alone. 

With the advent of three-dimensional modeling software, architects have gained a new tool to help them set out their plans to prospective home buyers, corporations, and governmental organizations. 3D floor plans give a client a real sense of what the finished building will look like. In recent years, companies that specialize in making 3D renderings of architectural plans have sprung up around the world. 

Software specially designed for architectural planning often allows a designer to draw a floor plan in 2D (as they would a conventional floor plan) before converting it into a 3D rendering suitable for display to clients. 

Virtual Reality

Taking it a step further, some architects and interior designers have adopted virtual reality in order to show their creations. Virtual reality not only allows architects to give clients virtual tours of their designs, but it can also help smooth out any potential pitfalls during the design process. By taking a virtual tour of their own design, an architect can notice early on when there is a structural, proportional, or aesthetic issue that they need to fix. By ‘stepping in’ to a design at any stage, problems can be addressed before they cause delays.

Architects often have the tough job of applying for grants in order to complete their work. Being able to make a grant application presentation in virtual reality can boost a firm’s chance of receiving money because it goes some way to proving the feasibility of a design.

Google Tilt Brush

Design in virtual reality is also possible. Programs like Google tilt brush are essentially extremely powerful, fully three-dimensional drawing and design interfaces. An architect can draft designs inside a virtual canvas, interacting with the design as they go. This is an immensely responsive and dynamic way of drafting a design that gives a real sense of how the finished building will look the entire way through the process. It has the power to emulate existing materials and physical forces, and stresses such as gravity. 

Google tilt is a wonderful tool, but completing an entire design on it brings up some problems. For one, long periods inside virtual reality can leave people feeling motion sick. Virtual reality design is unlikely to completely replace traditional processes, but it is finding a permanent seat at the creative table. 

Generative Design

Generative design is at the absolute cutting edge. It rests upon the theory that in the natural world, structures are created through a process of logical expansion and development. Take the beehive as an example: the hexagonal cones that make up the beehive are so perfect because logically, hexagonal cones were the least likely to be crushed. More bee colonies started to make hexagonal cones, and those colonies were successful. Repetition in service of an aim creates near-perfect structures in the natural world through evolution and dissertation.

Generative design is essentially an automation process that mimics the natural development of structures in minutes. Using Computer Aided Design programs, an architect will input a series of parameters or needs. An algorithm will then run through thousands upon thousands of design choices, picking the optimal structures that fit the criteria set by the designer before discarding the others. The designer will then audit and discard even more designs. This process can be repeated many times until a good design has been generated. 

It sounds complicated (and it is), but for the end-user, the result is a simple process that has the potential to create amazing results. There are some detractors who see generative design as a shortcut too far, taking the soul out of the architectural design process. It seems like generative design has a place in future architecture, but only if it can be paired with human discretion and creativity. 

3D Printing

3D printing is a truly revolutionary technology that has made an impact in a whole range of fields: from manufacturing to education. It has also sent ripples through the architecture and design worlds. Architectural model making had previously been an extremely labor-intensive process. Specialist tools and materials needed to be mastered in order to produce an accurate model. Using 3D printing, an architect can convert their design into a model with the click of a mouse. 

In interior design, 3D printing can be used to create completely bespoke modern houseware and detailing – something that used to be prohibitively expensive. The only limiting factor is material. 3D printers can only work in a very limited set of materials, all of which are metal and plastic.

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