Change is coming, driven by the influx of Millennials and Gen Z transforming the way we think and work. PlaceTech spoke to a handful of future decision-makers on their ideas for change and how they see their roles developing.
The first in the series features Jessica Rees and Georgia Green, both architectural assistants at architect Levitt Bernstein’s Manchester office.
What tasks are going to be part of your job in the future?
As architectural assistants, we are both at the beginning of our careers. We have gone through our education at a time where there have already been many significant shifts in the industry.
The role of architect will require better collaboration. As the climate crisis worsens, resources are becoming increasingly necessary to preserve. Through better communication between the supply chain – namely clients, architects, engineers, suppliers, contractors and end users – materials can be used more intelligently. Using Building Information Modeling (BIM) software, buildings can have in-built capacity for flexibility and future adaptation. This will be crucial in saving materials, time and money.
As BIM software and AI continue to improve, problem solving will become more efficient. BIM will produce a matrix of design options to find an optimised solution faster. Algorithms may replace architects in their role as problem solvers.
Drawing on the ability to feel and interpret information fed to us by sense organs, architects may see their role develop into one more akin to an artist – creating atmospheres and sensuous spaces through the manipulation of materials, light and dark, air and smell. The skills championed in the creative industries will be traits only humans have: intuition and an appreciation for aesthetics, proportion and scale.
How do you see your role developing?
Technology will improve our ability to fabricate and may increase offsite production. An architect’s role may become one of managing the 3D digital model and preparing the file for CNC machines. For example, the ‘File to Factory’ format, which merges the design process with fabrication, relies on the fact that CNC machines operate with the same X, Y and Z coordinates as a digital model. The nature of factories will change to accommodate new tools and automation. Factories may ‘pop up’ as temporary work stations near large construction sites to save time and energy in transportation.
Technology and innovation have already shaped our work environment. Defined spaces for working are becoming rarer; you just need access to wifi. Documents can be worked on by multiple people simultaneously, with changes updated live, speeding up the decision-making process.
Lastly, it is easier than ever to assemble a skilled team outside of conventional company structures, as CVs are uploaded to platforms such as ‘The Dots’. It is becoming increasingly important for young architects to have a well-curated CV and social media presence, as the industry moves away from traditional fixed employment towards flexibility.
What are your ideas for change?
Architectural education must reflect shifts in the industry. Digital modelling and construction methods, phenomenology of spaces and communication skills must be key modules. These easily transition into the real world and will improve knowledge on how to best save energy and costs of construction, whilst still making a building special for the end user.
Furthermore, confidence in the skillset of architects must be fostered. They have much to share with local governments and policy makers. We need to urge more architects to participate in panels, action groups, even local government – our industry’s expertise will become more understood and appreciated as a result.