11 Ways That AI Is Already Being Used in Architecture

Published Categorized as Innovative Technology
AI in Architecture

Artificial intelligence is no longer a new concept—it’s a reality that’s now an integral part of many businesses. It has been adopted by all kinds of industries for different purposes, and architecture is no exception. There are many exciting ways in which AI can make an architect’s job easier and even more creative.

Here are 11 ways AI is being used in architecture:

  1. Improving building efficiency
  2. Using BIM
  3. Familiarizing clients with structures
  4. Improving building safety
  5. Improving building maintenance 
  6. Creating designs for large scale structures
  7. Introducing parametric architecture
  8. Preventing cost overruns
  9. Make construction sites more productive
  10. Reducing occupational hazards
  11. Encouraging offsite construction

This article will expound further on how AI is being used in architecture. Read on.

1. Improving Building Efficiency

In the construction business, you need to make processes as efficient as possible for your sake and that of your clients.

Using AI in architecture helps compile and analyze data at large scales, which can help bring down costs and build sustainability into designs.

Weaving these smart features into your blueprints gives you and the client a better understanding of how the finished structure will look and how you can optimize it. 

AI also helps make decisions and recommendations for the plans and materials you should use for your buildings. It can research and test different ideas simultaneously with little to no human input.

2. Using BIM

As an architect, you know that taking shortcuts is a bad idea, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t benefit from making certain parts of the design process faster. BIM can help you do precisely that.

Building Information Model (BIM) is an AI-powered software that’s becoming widely used by construction professionals across the world. Over the years, architects have relied on Computer-Aided Designs (CAD) to create 2D and 3D structures. But today, BIM helps create better models in a shorter timeframe.

With BIM, objects aren’t just 3D models. They have geometry and store their own data. This helps provide updated estimates of the project scope with every change you make.

Here are some of the features that BIM introduces to your architectural projects. 

  • Conceptual designs
  • Analysis of each object’s size, material, and cost
  • Detailed documentation
  • Manufacturing costs
  • Construction costs
  • Operation costs
  • Maintenance costs
  • Renovation and demolition costs

All of this information can help construction professionals create more efficient structures in less time.

For architects, using BIM helps them create better visualizations with less effort. The 3D model exists in a single, shared space that all members of the team have access to, which greatly simplifies collaboration and speeds up logistical changes.

BIM lets architects factor in things such as construction scheduling and sustainability, all within a framework that reacts to every change made to the design.

3. Familiarizing Clients With Structures

Before breaking ground for an architectural project, you need to make sure that your client knows about every stage of the job. Typically, you’d have to manually produce a visualization of the blueprints and explain the technicalities to the client. However, with AI, your client can have a more hands-on experience of what their building will look like. 

Augmented reality allows you to demonstrate every feature of the structure in a real-life situation. You can walk your client through every phase of the project and let them feel as if they’re walking inside their already completed building. 

Augmented reality helps you convey the aesthetics of your design and, even further, the atmosphere, textures, and sounds. This also lets you implement feedback from the client and other experts immediately into the project without having to create new blueprints.

4. Improving Building Safety

When designing buildings for your clients, making a secure structure can be an important priority. There are a lot of details to consider when designing a safe building, and manually keeping track of each one of them can slow down the job.

AI allows you to integrate smart security features into the building you create. Smart security systems can scan and detect suspicious activities and send alerts to building owners. This is much better than skimming through huge video files to catch intruders. 

AI also lets you implement smart locking systems for both residential and commercial buildings. This feature restricts parts of the building as needed, requiring a keycard or a code to access. It saves the client the hustle of employing multiple security guards for different building parts, which in turn ends up reducing maintenance costs.

5. Improving Building Maintenance 

AI also plays an important role after the construction of a building by optimizing its maintenance. If you install AI in the building after completing it, the client can detect faulty parts and have them repaired before they can cause substantial damage.

With AI, you can study the usage patterns of energy and other utilities in the building. This can help tenants save money and reduce maintenance costs.

For example, AI thermostats such as Nest Thermostats help the owner keep the building at an optimal temperature while expending minimal energy.

AI can also detect leaks and malfunctions and give you the chance to correct them before they develop into a bigger problem. This helps improve building efficiency in the long term.

6. Creating Designs for Large Scale Structures

AI brings new possibilities for customizing buildings to their users. When creating large-scale structures such as airports, train stations, and museums, architects use algorithms gathered by AI to create spaces optimized for specific crowds. 

AI can study people’s behavior and patterns. This, in turn, informs the design process of large buildings 

For instance, if you have a contract to design a train station, AI can help you identify the kind of people that would use the station and the space they’d need. It does this by evaluating the demographics and features of similar train stations.

With this information, you can go beyond standard design practices and build something that’s uniquely designed for the people that will use the structure.

Perhaps nowhere is this as valuable as in urban development. Smart cities have the potential to reduce their reliance on cars, create more living spaces and reduce travel distances. AI can bring insights into the behavior of large groups of people that would otherwise be impossible to reach.

After all, AI can take advantage of all kinds of data—smartphones, security devices, etc. With the help of machine learning, algorithms can take this data and draw up patterns and relationships.

7. Introducing Parametric Architecture 

Parametric architecture is a design feature that uses algorithmic processes to create shapes that stray from the right angles and lines that have been a staple of architecture throughout the ages.

In parametric design, the architect can introduce parameters to create structures that would otherwise be difficult to imagine. The outputs are reached through algorithmic processes rather than direct design. The results are free-flowing shapes that defy convention.

Here are some of the advantages of parametric architecture. 

  • You can produce several variations of a design idea and settle for your favorite one.
  • You can set specific constraints depending on your commission.
  • You can simulate countless interactions with the design in a few minutes.

Parametric architecture is made with CAD tools and uses geometric programming with complex algorithms. In a way, it’s sort of an architect’s programming language. It allows you to restructure and reshape a building until it meets the client’s expectations. 

8. Preventing Cost Overruns 

It’s common for construction projects to go over budget, which makes construction an expensive venture for the client. You have to factor in the costs of materials, labor, and the operation of expensive machinery, just to name a few. But construction projects rarely stick to their estimates without deviations. Here’s where AI comes in: it can do more precise estimates and take more things into account at the same time.

AI can predict the cost of your project depending on the size, contract type, and performance of the project manager. It compiles data from online resources on the cost of materials by comparing different providers. It calculates the specific labor cost for every section of the project.

AI also uses historical data to calculate the cost of a project. For instance, if you’re designing a three-story building, AI can gather information about similar projects in the area and how much they cost. It will then present you with different averages and cost variations.

AI can give your staff access to training materials to sharpen their skills and knowledge. With that extra information, your staff can perform better at their jobs and reduce the overall construction cost.

9. Making Construction Sites More Productive

AI isn’t just useful in the design table. When it comes to the building process, AI has tremendous potential to revolutionize current methods, and it’s already making a difference.

We’re talking, of course, about autonomous and semi-autonomous machinery. With AI-powered machines baked into the construction processes, repetitive tasks can be performed more efficiently, increasing productivity. Some of the tasks you can handle with smart machines include:

  • Pouring concrete
  • Laying bricks
  • Welding
  • Demolition
  • Excavation 

AI frees humans from part of the construction work and replaces them with faster and more efficient machines, leaving them for less intensive and dangerous tasks. Machines can achieve more than double the work humans can achieve in a day. This translates to higher productivity and relatively lower costs of construction. 

AI can track job site work in real-time. Managers can use facial-recognition software to identify workers who report to work. This will reduce instances of ghost workers and other human errors. 

You can also use AI to assess worker productivity and conformance to work ethics and procedures. This can enormously ease off the job of a  supervisor, who would otherwise have to do every appraisal by himself. 

AI also helps to address labor shortages in building and construction. If your project is low on human workforce, you can supply it with AI-powered machines. Your projects will never have to stall because of labor shortages. 

10. Reducing Occupational Hazards

The construction industry has a very high rate of job-related deaths and injuries. Constructions workers are killed on the job five times more often than in other professions. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), deaths in the construction industry are second only to highway accidents. 

Some of the causes of accidents in the construction industry include:

  • Falls
  • Being struck by falling objects
  • Electrocution
  • Faulty machinery

Most of the victims don’t wear protective gear, and when they do, it is usually defective. 

Using AI in the construction industry reduces the frequency of such accidents. When most of your construction processes are powered by machines and robots, this limits the number of workers on-site, which decreases the possibility of human accidents.

But perhaps more interestingly, AI can inspect the safety of a construction site before laborers start working on it. Besides informing of possible dangers, AI can help managers visualize connections between accidents and specific working conditions that would otherwise remain invisible.

11. Encouraging Offsite Construction

Architects and building contractors continue embracing the concept of offsite factories to make various building components. Most of the work in offsite factories is done by robots. Then the pieces are transferred to the actual construction site. 

For instance, you can have the walls of your building project constructed in an off-site factory. They will be made by autonomous machinery and robots, which are efficient and cost-effective.

After the AI-manufactured parts are compiled on the construction site, you’ll hire human labor to do the detailed work. You can hire experts to do the plumbing, HVAC, install electrical systems, and take care of the remaining parts of the building process. 

Besides getting the work done faster, offsite construction makes construction work easier, less hazardous, and cost-effective.

But it’s not just the machines working in offsite factories. Architects can also use AI to determine the exact quantity they need for every piece, as well as how to design the pieces in the most efficient way possible.


By Giovanni Valle

Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.

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