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Artificial Intelligence in the world of design and architecture: opportunity or challenge?

Artificial Intelligence in the world of design and architecture: opportunity or challenge?

MAY 2023 | 5 minutes

How can new Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools affect the world of design, architecture and spaces? Much is and will be said about it. Sometimes with fear, sometimes with respect, but always seeing the opportunity that its use can provide for professionals. There is no doubt that its influence on spaces is one of the great changes that the sector has undergone in recent years. 

Studios such as Zaha Hadid, Nagami or Auar are already using this kind of tools in their day to day, discovering hundreds of new possibilities and challenges that they explained to us in London, during the event "Mediterranean WellEssence" held during the Clerkenwell DesignWeek in the Actiu Showroom.  One more year, the Actiu Showroom in London becomes one of the epicentres of innovation, design and sustainability. Three days in which, in addition to discovering Actiu's new products, the latest trends in the future of architecture and design were discussed, where the creation of spaces is based on Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality.

The debate "The impact of AI in designing space typologies/spaces" was moderated by Cristina Mateo, Vice-Dean of IE School of Architecture and Design, and showed how to apply this technology to examine its possibilities to enhance creativity and quality. This assumed an optimistic vision, full of possibilities for Architecture and design. 

Cristina Mateo described some of the notions that can give us a glimpse of how AI could change the way architecture, and interior design professionals work. Beyond streamlining tasks and optimising resources and costs, AI can enhance their creativity. For instance, it can help improve early designs, test them and share them with a tremendously fast and fierce margin for improvement. And that is the tip of the iceberg of what is to come, as the others explained.

Where to define mock-ups, previous designs, make tests and minimise wear and tear in time and materials. And with a tremendously fast and fierce margin for improvement. And that is the tip of the iceberg of what is to come, as the others explained.

Zaha Hadid Architects

Artificial Intelligence as a tool for creativity. That is the vision of Jennifer Durand, designer, computation and design in Zaha Hadid Architect. "The speed and evolution with which tools are changing is overwhelming. We are creating artificial intelligence systems in our own image, with great immediate existential risk. Generative designs capable of automatically creating varied layouts and options through algorithms; predicting the use of spaces and adjusting them based on the flow of people. The opportunities are vast. Moreover, the cruising speed we have taken, and the improvement of technology from three years ago to today, allows us to think that AI is going to change the world of design and work that we understood until today," he explained. 

Zaha Hadid Architects

In fact, Zaha Hadid founded a studio that has made a difference thanks to its neo-futuristic buildings of curved forms and fragmented geometry. Winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004, her legacy lives on in her studio, which has found in AI a new way to delve into a different kind of architecture. "This tool gives us the opportunity to take the dreamlike and difficult-to-execute forms of our projects even further," he confirmed.

The extensive possibilities with which AI renders proposals, proposes optimal visualisation solutions or generates hyper-realistic images from 3D models are some of the key points highlighted by Manuel Jiménez García, from the Nagami design studio. From an exhibition based on the history of recycled plastic, Manuel Jiménez made a plea for its use and the new possibilities offered by AI.

Nagami Design Studio

"What if we could work with a material that has unfortunately become limitless on our planet like plastic and is just waiting for a large-scale application to leave our ecosystem? What if we could extend this technology to print furniture, interiors or even buildings? We can now design objects that not only present unprecedented shapes, but also come together in novel ways to create larger structures. Even the most boring and unpleasant things, like bespoke public toilets for every event...", he pitched to the audience.

Nagami Design Studio

The possibilities offered by Artificial Intelligence, 3D printing and recycled plastic are infinite, and the proof is some of the work of this studio and the different projects they are working on. Giving a second chance to materials in decay and disuse and making it a material to enter other fields such as construction, health, contract, transit and contributing to the planet, makes companies like Nagami are going to be part of the solution and another way of manufacturing, profitable, sustainable and future.

Automated Architecture (AUAR) Ltd

Similar are the possibilities of AI in the industrialisation and manufacture of modular housing. For Gilles Retsin, AI allows us to customise and rethink the automated construction of houses from sustainable materials by standardising production processes and with a wide variety of AI-generated options. And with the possibility of designing and manufacturing locally. Moving from "all houses the same" to "each house unique but built in a standardised process". "With all this culture, tools and resources for innovation, and technology, we have the capacity to reindustrialise our markets and not depend so much on producing territories located on the other side of the world. Robotisation and AI will allow us, from Europe, to compete on quality, innovation, creativity or even price. An example of this type of potential territories would be the Mediterranean Arc, where there is a good base of creativity, innovation, and great logistics and a territory that offers a high quality of life and has the capacity to attract talent. Surely all of this can influence Europe's political and economic weight in the world," Gil explained.

Automated Architecture (AUAR) Ltd

The meeting demonstrated how AI takes us to a world where on the one hand craftsmanship and "handmade" take on a key and differentiating role, and on the other hand what is developed through AI can equally be beautiful, aesthetically appealing, inspiring and help to standardise the customised, without having to consume more resources and being more efficient. "The hyper-realism of the images allows a greater preview of the projects, more impact, more capacity to convince our clients, a lower risk of error and a possible reduction in costs," explained Soledat Berbegal, advisor and director of Brand Reputation.

"Actiu, as it has been doing for years, wants to be a platform for learning, sharing experiences and its own experimentation linked to improving production and management processes based on Artificial Intelligence. We have already begun to apply it systematically to orders, projects, robotisation and many other areas of the company in which we are already innovating and reinforcing our digitalisation process", he explained.

In conclusion, the event showed how, in a world where Artificial Intelligence is a new tool, differentiation will come from the human factor that decides the process, gives the orders, shows the way and uses technology to improve processes. Although, yes, at breakneck speed.