Monday, 17 March 2014

Keep look to the future...

One of my fascinations is looking for future trends and innovations. I am always excited by new technologies and how this can improve the things we do now. I'm not particularly intrigued by technology for the sake if it but more what change and improvement it can bring.

Obviously I have a particular interest in the built environment due to a career in construction and wanting to be an architect from the age of 4. Recently we have seen worlds collide with the real and virtual through the proliferation of the internet.

My fascination with Building Information Modelling is largely based on a passion to find better ways of doing the things we have done for so many years with little improvement.

A recent article on suggested that we would not be using traditional software packages to design buildings and is more likely to use gaming technology to design buildings using programmes such as minecraft.

Emerging generations will influence the development of hardware and software. The days of desktop PC and laptops are numbered. They only survive today because people like me are used to using them. Emerging generations are born with an iPad in hand and are far more comfortable manipulation geometry this way rather than using a pencil on paper.

We only have to look at the advances in digital animation and the quality of the images generated by filmmakers a as Pixar to understand where technology could take construction. Software is becoming increasingly powerful and hardware is reducing in price making progress very possible.

Coupled with the advance in software and hardware is the advancement in 3D printing. Every day a new machine is released. The latest I have seen is a machine which can print carbon fibre.

It is not unrealistic to imagine large scale printers producing full size components for buildings in the future. This is likely to increase building performance as tolerances improve but will also significantly reduce waste.

The link between businesses, urban environments and the internet is also a fascinating area. Business is now multi channel with the most successful retailers being those who have responded quickly and understood the changing profile of the high street.

Companies such as John Lewis have a strong online presence with a complimentary in store offer. When this is developed together with an online community it can be very powerful.

For example Urban Outfitters have a strong retail presence online but have also built a community online. The shops and online offer are aligned and interrelate. They have taken this concept to the next level at a 6.5 acre site in Devon Yard Philadelphia where they are developing an Urban Outfitters lifestyle based environment with not only a retail offer but a coffee shop, restaurant and even a boutique hotel. This is the ultimate link of a brand between virtual and physical environments.

IKEA are developing a car free friendly neighbourhood in London.

There is no doubt the lines are blurring between the real and the virtual and it is clear that these are most effective when the support on another.