Mangement For Design

Business Journal 115

Technology and Architecture, Engineering, and Design: Where is it Heading?

The advancement of technology is happening at an increasing pace, and as new tools and technologies are developed and released, they leave a wake of change behind them—with the potential to revolutionise the way we work in the industry.

With this in mind, let’s look at some of the technology trends that will shape the way architects, engineers and designers will work into the future.


The Internet of Things (IoT)

This is not recent technology—it’s has been around for some time, in many things that we use daily. The swipe card you use to access your work, security sensors in the parking garage, or temperature sensors throughout a building. Experts estimate that the IoT will consist of about 30 billion objects by 2020.

How will this impact designers? The biggest change in this space is being witnessed in the retail and work space, and around connected homes, influencing the way people interact with the buildings and spaces they will occupy. Future designers will have to consider how to ensure buildings, spaces and the built environment will customise a solution for each occupant and individual.

Buildings of the future will use facial recognition to identify an authorised person, unlock doors, adjust the lights and temperature to an individual’s preferences, and even connect with the coffee machine to have their choice ready and waiting by the time it takes the individual to move from one part of the building to the next.

With a possibility space this diverse, buildings and spaces will use some form of digital solution to access, monitor, maintain and maximise the operation of all any facilities. These will include:


  • Cladding, windows, or sun protection and weather protection that will self-adjust dependant on the level of sunlight. Not only that they will operate in conjunction with the heating/cooling system to ensure optimal conditions.
  • Automation of waste handling and recycling – all syncing with third party contractors.
  • Meeting rooms that turn glass walls opaque, for private meetings or turn walls into multi-purpose e.g. whiteboards, projectors, monitors, screens and interchangeable artwork.


AI and machine Learning

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have been branching out into our everyday lives more and more in recent years. As systems improve and the reliability of their results increase, these tools will be increasingly integrated into the design process, with the power to solve complex problems and the ability to create many variations. All replacing, enhancing or replicating what was historically the domain of the “designer’.

Through AI and machine learning, you’ll be able to fully unleash the power of your expensive design PC and software solutions. Using Big Data, parameters and constraints to empower the software to come up with many design variations far faster than any designer could.

The underlying method is that the design is done via code—this is important because once you are happy with a design, that code can be codified, stored, repeated and altered – all making the design process far more comprehensive but also efficient.


Immersive Architecture (Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality)

While the hardware and technology are still a bit too new to be truly useful in the actual design process, it is mature enough to impact the presentation and bid stages. Imagine walking into a presentation with a prospective client, passing the competing firm, as they exit with arms full of A3 printouts, USB keys etc. As you enter, you set down (a suitably powerful) laptop and pull out a pair of googles. You instantly have everyone’s attention.

You can then talk your client through the design while they walk through the building and see the details from a first-person perspective. No prizes for guessing who gets the gig!

In the future this concept could stretch to remote presentations, where you could meet your client within the virtual building, even if their office is on the other side of the world.


Robotics and 3D Printing

While this may not have a direct impact on designers, it will change the way construction is done in the future. Robots will become smaller and faster, with embedded AI allowing for a degree of self-correction and autonomy.

3D printing will also get more robust, with a larger range of base materials available to be printed. In the future—your next home might even be 3D printed. And while it may sound a bit farfetched, it’s already happening here in Australia. Australian company, Fastbrick Robotics has a developed a prototype for a fully automated robot (Hadrian X) for building houses using 3D printed bricks. The bricks are printed with all the channels for plumbing, electrical and other infrastructure, therefore drastically cutting down the time it takes to build a house.


Adoption of BIM

The BIM (Building Information Model) is based on several principles that can be implemented with relative independence:


  • Projects are designed using a unique 3D model which is modified throughout the project’s life.
  • This 3D model is not only the volumetric surfaces, but also has metadata attached (like the material of the element) and parametric modifiers (like the height of a wall).
  • The 3D model can be stored in a multi-client database, as well as in the cloud, to be accessible at the same time by several people.
  • Multi-user permissions on the model can be defined to accurately reflect team member’s individual responsibilities on the project.
  • All construction elements are classified using standard categories, namely the IFC.
  • Libraries of construction products can be inserted into the model, and can even get actualisation if the product version changes.


While these aspects are promising, adopting BIM design practices may create tensions with members of the construction team, who have historically been hesitant towards the shift.

As the adoption of BIM grows, it’s looking likely that it will be the mainstream tool to design and deliver architecture in the coming years and it presents an historic opportunity for Architects to lead and drive its adoption, working with the other design consultants to “encourage” the construction industry towards its use.



Despite the increasingly fast pace of change of technology, there is no one trend that’s more valuable or dominant above the other. It’s crucial that business leaders, architects, engineers and designers take a holistic look to the horizon regarding how all these trends will fit within their own business.

When considering trends like the IOT, AI and Machine Learning, the industry need to understand how these elements will change the way design is performed, and their work is delivered, ensuring they are part of and lead the conversation from the start and are not tacked on at the end.

Those who invest early in key technologies, and embed them within their workflow and processes, will without doubt benefit in the next 3-5 years, as these trends become more mainstream.


Management For Design clients are at the forefront of technological solutions that enable them to control and build their businesses. For more information, contact Rob Peake on

Ready to take you take your business to the next level?

Arrange your complimentary consultation with the aim of assisting you to make the most effective decisions for maximising your business performance.