What about my job?
Automation is already taking the place of some forms of skilled labour. Truck drivers, payment processing clerks, accountants and office administrators complete to a large extent are obsolete.
You might think this is only a problem for the unskilled labour force. Not true. Although automation has been taking away low-skilled jobs for a while, it’s now starting to get into the territory of skilled and middle-income workers.
According to the Oxford Vocation, 47% of American jobs are at risk of becoming automated.
What was the professions hit the hardest? The most dangerous professions will be taken over by automation.
These include postal service workers (94% risk), laundry machine operators (55%), lab technicians (55%), secretaries and administrative assistants (54%), and filing clerks (51%).
On a smaller scale, your job will also be on the line if your job really isn’t all that necessary … or if your boss could save money by getting one of those automated Universal Appliance Computers that you’ve been dreaming about.
What does the future of work look like?
Technology has been impacting the workplace for decades, and automation will continue to play a significant role in the future. But automation is not going to eliminate the need for humans. It will only contribute to the increase in workplace demand.
Automation may make physical tasks redundant, but it’s not going to take away from the social value architects and designers bring to their roles. It’s interesting to think about the profession for which your spatial abilities are the most important asset.
As progress continues, smarter and smarter machines will work alongside the human race. The increase in exchange of information and feedback will contribute to the greater improvement of shortcomings in technology, just as Darwin suggested. The advantages of automation will keep on balance with the disadvantages. Regardless of the progress of technology, the important thing is for architects to think about the meaning of spatial intelligence, in general, and think about how to use this approach to drive more value to their profession.
What does this have to do with architecture?
Indeed, numerous architects and architectural firms are adopting automation tools for the simple reason that they provide great results and save them a lot of time.
Take a survey of the most prolific architects in the world. I would suspect you would notice that many of them have an affinity for technology. In fact, famous architects have used technology to claim fame and, in some cases, fortune. Buckminster Fuller may have defined his geodesic dome as the “largest dome ever raised by one man”, but the “largest dome ever raised by one man” could have been a pipe dream without the use of the technology behind the Buckyballs that Fuller designed.
So why would any architect be surprised by this move towards automation? In the words of Albert Einstein , “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Much like Fuller’s seemingly impossible dome, every architectural challenge seems impossible until a qualified person develops the technology to solve the problem. Technology is inherently about problem solving, and that is why it’s so heavily invested in within the discipline of architecture.
But what about the next step?
The next step in this direction is to raise this question: if algorithms are already doing the job of designers, then what about automated methodologies for drawing up construction plans? What will happen to architects and engineers if this becomes the norm?
The answer is that although automated methodologies will allow the production of buildings that are generally as good as those produced by an architect, it will push the production of top notch artefacts to the very limits of the technology. Human architects can create buildings that are far better than anything currently produced by a computer program, but the extent to which they are able to do it is limited by the available tools.
To create structures that are truly in a league of their own, it will take more than just a few states of the art technology tools. It is going to take a more flexible definition of architecture, and an even more human architecture.
Robots will never be able to replace architects
I have lost count of how many times I have been asked whether technology like 3D printing will make architects redundant. I don’t think technology will ever be obsolete or replace architects. But there are some roles that will vanish, yes.
For example, 3D printers are increasingly used in construction. Due to the rise of on-demand printing, architects are able to customize their building designs and reduce the need for lengthy site visits and professional drawings. In places like China, we’ve already seen this in action as large underground 3D printers are producing building components that can be used by builders simply.
However, professional architects have the best knowledge and expertise on the development of the whole building. The 3D printed components are built inside the larger structure. They need to be incorporated and connected with the other elements in the building. It is impossible for any robotic system to do that.
So what does an architect do?
Architects create buildings. They make important decisions about the space that we live in, the places that we work, and the places that we worship. Because of their important decisions, architects also have a huge responsibility. They create spaces that can be part of our everyday life. Their designs can be functional and practical, such as school, office, or factory buildings. They can also be ornamental and beautiful, such as churches, monuments, museums, and memorials.
The most important aspect of an architect’s job is the architecture part. They come up with plans for how the space will be used and can give input on things like the structure of a building, elevators, and escalators … even the color scheme. The architect also plans the layout of the space and then describes it in a design drawing. The architect then works with an engineer to create a set of blueprints based on the blueprints and design drawings. These blueprints are used to build a building.
As an architect, you will likely use a variety of computer programs to create the blueprints and design drawings. You will also communicate your ideas and plans with clients, contractors, subcontractors, and city planners. After the building is completed, you will review the blueprints and make sure that the building meets all of the functional and safety requirements.
Elevations, and Floor Plans.
The most essential set of architectural drawings is the set of floor plans. Floor plans are mapping tools that show both the inside and outside of a building. Someone looking at a floor plan will see measurements for windows, doors, walls, and other fixtures as well as colors that correspond to paint or wallpaper. In addition, they will see where certain rooms and other features are located within the building, which makes floor plans a crucial tool for building and remodeling.
Before the invention of the floor plan, basing plans on sight lines wasn’t as easy. There were other ways to plot building dimensions, but they weren’t as accurate. One of the first kinds of plans was the elevation. Elevations show how buildings and the outside of various features will look when viewed from a single point. It’s easier to draw an elevation when you’re using it as a planning tool because there are less possibilities for error.
Floor plans became popular with the invention of the elevating floor. This allowed builders to quickly draw a floor plan. As soon as drawing in three-dimensional space became possible, architects began drawing floor plans and elevations for different purposes.
Automation in the architectural industry is definitely taking place. In fact, you might be hearing a lot of buzz about it these days with a lot of designers and developers using new technologies.
How can we implement these technologies maximally without having it overkill? How will 3D printing and automation affect our daily lives?
As a designer, we know that we can “generate” an image almost in an instant due to programs we use. Will we have to lose the human aspect in the design process and not let designers contribute anymore, while the machine takes over?
How open is the industry towards autonomous machines? Will we see the effects of mass production in the future? For example, will we be able to create homes for everyone?
Also, how will the future cities change with automation? How will we live and work today with automation?
The answers to all of these questions will depend on how architecture design firms will face automation in the future.
As designers, we are curious to see how these technologies affect our work. There are many unexplained effects on how automation will affect our future, architecture, and lives.
Will these technologies be helpful or obstruct the work design firms will provide?
Maybe we will have to be more creative in the future.
Also, our homes will change more than we know.
What Do All Those Numbers Mean?
If you want to learn more about the history of architecture, two paragraphs are not going to do it justice. In fact, a 150-page essay or a moderately-sized novel would arguably be a better introduction and explanation than two paragraphs. Furthermore, the review is not going to deal with the specific events of architecture over the years or talk about the masters of engineering, but rather serve to talk about architecture from the perspective of a creative field.
One of the first things to understand about architecture is that it’s a unique industry in terms of employment, and this review will explain why. Unlike most jobs, architecture is not focused on staying in one place or doing the same thing. Rather, what the work requires is global experience and knowledge of the profession around the world, in order to be able to compete at a level that provides the best chance for success.
Before we go any further, we should discuss the fact that this industry is very, very crowded – just from a day-to-day standpoint, very few people end up being employed. In 2015, Forbes said that the number of architects in the US is around 82,000 – a number which was in decline in 2015, and a number that is projected to decline even further by 2025.
This timeline provides a snapshot of architecture from the earliest examples of homes, buildings, and temples to the present day: