Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Architects? AI and Architecture
Lately, all the attention has been focused on artificial intelligence and architecture. AI, as a discipline, is imbued in multiple fields, providing people with new methods and means to solve difficult challenges. “Artificial Intelligence” is simply a computer software system that can perform tasks normally done by humans. It simulates reasoning, problem-solving, and more according to Britannica. So, technology continues to boost at a rapid pace, many industries, including architecture, are wondering whether machines will eventually replace architects.
AI is a powerful tool for architects as it handles repetitive tasks. AI can process information at a fast speed and designers can make decisions and solve problems much more quickly and easily. So let’s explore how AI is already being used in architecture and its role in the Architectural Process. And the possibility for AI to replace human workers, specifically architects, and designers.
There are already artificial intelligence programs that enable their users to generate images from textual descriptions. These tools are useful to assist the Architects with tasks such as:
Design Studies: There are AI software programs that could be used to generate alternative design options based on textual prompts. Architects could input different design parameters and receive a range of generated images, which could help to inspire new ideas and approaches.
Visualization: There are AI software programs that now create visual representations of their designs based on textual descriptions. Helping Architects communicate their ideas to their clients.
Material selection: There are AI programs used to explore different options for materials to be used for a project. Architects could input a description of a desired material and receive a range of images representing that material in different contexts.
FROM AN ARCHITECT’S POINT OF VIEW
However, future applications of AI technology are still up for debate, even among designers known for using it. A trained architect, Andrew Kudless from Matys Design works in Midjourney to create evocative structures – often draped in fabric – and he believes show how material and scenery not typically included in initial architectural plans can change the way that projects are presented to clients.
According to Kudless, certain architectural styles are overrepresented, as well as digitally generated images as opposed to real photography. He used the analogy of classic education, saying that teachers can create biases by focusing on one architect or style and ignoring others.
Architecture studios are currently often awarded projects based on renderings that are expected to bear as close a resemblance as possible to the building eventually constructed. He believes that text-to-image software is more of a powerful tool than a replacement for architects, as it still requires a user with knowledge and skill to produce useful results.
“Like architectural sketches, AI imagery is often colorful and dreamlike, but not necessarily actionable as a detailed plan. It’s not meant to be incredibly accurate or precise. It’s meant to capture a vision of a project quickly.” – Andrew Kudless from Matys Design
Photo of Andrew Kudless using AI Program
In today’s generative AI collaborative software reduces the time planning phase – even for complex projects that involve multiple disciplines.
For Infrastructure. With the complex undertaking of planning and managing cities, towns, and urban regions, AI technology machines can automatically identify the most optimal routes for utilities, which is then updated in real-time as the urban design is being revised. This makes planning labor-intensive and time-consuming.
For Building Information Modeling (BIM). There is now a modeling software that let’s architects place forms and curved shapes enabling architects to experiment and create more fantastical and unique designs. The modeling software also takes most of the calculations, and trial and error from the planning process.
For Pre-Design. AI can reduce the time needed to finalize a project design to mere hours or even minutes which normally takes weeks, months, or even years of planning and meetings with clients before construction begins. And architects need to closely check the design against building codes and zoning laws All of this adds up to a sizable chunk of time in the design process. With artificial intelligence (AI), architects can plug into a huge, constantly-updated database of designs and codes, letting technology generate design variations for the client in real-time.
The photo above of the AI Sketching Phase
For Urban Planning. Smart Cities are the future as they are tailored as an economic opportunity to make communities that are cleaner and space efficient.
AI will be able to help architects and their clients formulate building designs in the first meeting which will also help the urban planners. This includes promptly designing roads and city blocks using local codes, traffic patterns, and other important data.
For Construction. There is already an AI system that allows near-instant generations of site models without the need for user input, specialized in automating the tasks in planning large urban developments. AI is already being used to monitor the movement and interactions between workers, materials, and equipment on construction sites. It also alerts construction supervisors of potential safety and productivity issues as work goes on.
Here are more examples of AI Chat GPT, a language model that assists architects in several ways.
- Generating design ideas: Chat GPT can be trained on a large corpus of architectural designs and use that knowledge to generate new design ideas.
- Providing technical information: Architects can ask Chat GPT to provide technical information on building materials, construction techniques, or building codes.
- Supporting communication: Chat GPT can be used to facilitate communication between architects and clients.
- Assisting with project management: Chat GPT can be used to automate certain project management tasks, such as scheduling and resource allocation.
But no matter how sophisticated AI technology gets, it can never match an architect’s ability to analyze situations and make decisions. It lacks the complex human abilities involved in creativity, communication, teamwork, and problem-solving. Instead, AI is more likely to complement and enhance human creativity, rather than replace it.
AI will significantly impact space planning, design, construction, and project management, reduce waste, integrate sustainable strategies, and help homes contribute to efficient smart cities. Artificial intelligence will smartly enable architecture to open the gates to smart homes; which are complex living & data-driven spaces; Parametric, kinetic design, and complex volumes that are extremely efficient. But in the end, artificial intelligence (AI) system software is a tool that needs a human counterpart to function.
So even if AI is bound to reduce overall project costs, this also means projects will be breaking ground in greater numbers in the future. The need for skilled, experienced architects will similarly rise and that will never make architects obsolete.