Architecture and real estate are invariably linked to changes and evolution in technology. Each new building, illustration, design, and sale development triggers a huge amount of evolution in how we create and sell properties. There is now an emergence of websites that help you research the types of homes and technologies you want, such as eXp Home Search. Here is a quick roundup of some of the most important technology support catalyzing change in the real estate and architectural worlds.
Until recently, architects and real estate agents had to make do with drawings and photographs when they wanted to demonstrate a design to clients. These days, everything has changed. Interior and exterior environments can now be displayed using extremely accurate 3D renderings.
3D rendering has a long history – having been pioneered in the 1960s. The release of Toy Story by Pixar Studios in 1995 is widely seen as the incident that catapulted 3D rendering into the public eye. It has matured immensely since then, both as an art form and as a practical illustration process. For example, architects and real estate companies often hire experienced animators to illustrate their designs and properties to clients who want to get a feel of how they might look in the flesh.
Virtual reality is an interactive, participatory environment, often experienced with the aid of peripheral devices like goggles. It has flourished in the age of ubiquitous digital technology. Virtual reality has applications in both architecture and real estate. For example, real estate agents can now offer clients virtual tours – not only of houses that already exist but of houses that have yet to be built. This is crucial in the luxury market, where extremely exacting clients often commissioned buildings that want a window into the design process.
In architecture, virtual reality offers practitioners the chance to assess the livability and functionality of their design before finalizing anything. This is extremely valuable. Designs that look good on paper often prove to fall flat when actually inhabited. Visiting a design in virtual reality is as close as an architect can get to experience their design before it is actually built.
3D printing has been around for a while, but the promised revolution in architectural design and process is only just unfolding at the moment. Most 3D printers deposit layer upon layer of material according to instructions transmitted using Computer-Aided Design software. 3D printing is impacting architecture in two distinct ways:
Architectural Model Making
Model making has always been a core skill taught to architectural students as they hone their craft. Making an accurately scaled model of a prospective project allows an architect to fully understand the feasibility of the building they want to create. Model making, however, is immensely time consuming. The time spent making models is undoubtedly better used, actually improving a design. 3D printing technology allows an architect to export their designs from their CAD program and print a model quickly and efficiently. This is a huge time-saving development.
3D Printing Buildings
As 3D printers have become more commonplace and (marginally) more affordable to build, a number of architectural firms have started to use 3D printing technology to actually build structures. The advantages are obvious: 3D printing produces very little waste, takes minimal human expertise, and uses various materials. Companies in China and Dubai are already producing buildings in this way.
However, the promise of an imminent 3D printing revolution has been shot down by some notable commentators. This is because very few practical buildings have been entirely 3D printed, and unless prices tumble or governments become more inclined to fund social housing, one of the process’s perceived advantages – low costs – will never materialize. However, it is likely that the 3D printing revolution in architecture will progress slowly and in parallel with financial and social realities. As a result, we may need a huge shakeup in the design and building of houses if we are to survive the coming environmental hardships.
The Internet of Things
The Internet Of Things – known as the IOT for short – is changing home and workplace architecture in rather drastic ways. Put simply, the term Internet of Things refers to any interconnected system made up of objects that incorporate data collection elements. For example, a thermostat might communicate with a smart speaker. A lighting system might connect to movement sensors and biometric data collection devices.
Architects are increasingly designing spaces that make the incorporation of a smart internet of things far easier. Designing a house or workspace from the ground up to be IOT compatible seems like more and more of a good idea for architects and designers, who need to keep abreast of their client’s desires for up-to-the-minute technology. The Internet of Things also opens up new ways of making buildings accessible to people with varying abilities.
Technology And the Work-Life Balance
Technological developments have completely altered how people see work-life balance. In turn, this has had knock-on effects in architecture and real estate. Mobile phones, constant internet access, and video conferencing tools have blurred the lines between private and toilsome spheres. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made this indistinction more extreme. According to a recent article published by Forbes magazine, a blurred work-life balance should be expected to emerge as the ‘new normal’ – an employment paradigm.
Architects and realtors are now modifying their trade to best fit in with this ‘new normal’. In architecture, small urban spaces are being designed that double up as workplaces and living zones. More attention is being given to the client’s desire for a combined working and living space in real estate.
Interestingly, we may see a backlash against this in both fields. Workplace psychologists have noted that the constant availability of workers has led to a culture of apathy, disappointment, and counterintuitive working practices. Companies are now being encouraged to ensure that employees have designated time in which they are not permitted to work. Architecture and real estate innovators may see this backlash and change their own practices accordingly. Will we see the eradication of the home office in contemporary design?