Harry Ibbs, Architect ARB Europe Design Technology Studio Director, Gensler
In the last 18 months there have been enormous transformations within the AEC industry and arguably across most industries, many of which have influenced and shaped business decisions made during the pandemic, you could say the pandemic has only sought to accelerate some of the transformation we had started to see.The biggest and most notable is in the area of communication and connectivity, staying connected and providing employees with the tools and platforms they need to collaborate, innovate and stay productive has been at the forefront for all companies. We’ve seen great technological advancements in this area with many new tools coming online or old ones getting a face lift which has enabled most employees to seamlessly transition into working from home with great ease. Whilst workers have been able to adapt to this new world with ease, we know that workers are still craving the human interaction that can’t be replaced virtually. In our recent UK Workplace Survey we found that 67%of employees want to return to the office for between 1-4 days a week and would prefer a hybrid of home, work and office work.
Detailed in Gensler’s UK Workplace Survey 2020
Our survey, conducted between July 9th and August 5th 2020, of those working in the office full time, a substantial 65% of their time is spent collaborating, learning and socialising with those around them, in comparison to a mere 37% when working from home. Conversely, time spent focusing is far greater at home at 63%, while only 35% of time in the office is spent on focused work Post pandemic office life and home life will not be the same and technology will continue to play a major role in our every day.
To aid the ‘return to work’ strategy for ourselves and our clients, Gensler has leveraged generative algorithms to plan office occupancy, helping companies use data to bring people back to the office safely.
One of those tools is called ReRun, a system that works by importing a company’s existing floor plans, then overlaying social distancing bubbles that space out employees in ways that align with government health and safety requirements. The algorithm can be adjusted and updated as requirements change.
Extensive feedback received during the process fueled later sprints to refine the algorithm’s approach to elements like foot traffic circulation and specialised spaces, like huddle rooms and breakout areas. Perhaps most importantly, the team layered an extra step into the tech solution: human intervention.
Big Data is now becoming currency for AEC, our designs are now incorporating and processing data sets to inform our design decisions more and more frequently. This isn’t just a trend or a fad, data is becoming increasingly integral in the ability to design our projects seamlessly.
AI is playing an important role in tools that are coming to the market to help assist designers, Architects and Urbanists, although, approach with caution, the tools need time to evolve and improve.
Nevertheless, THE RISE OF BIG DATA is upon us and the world’s data creation and consumption is growing exponentially as consumers rely on digital devices, and businesses use data to become more agile and competitive. Real-time data demand is driving this growth: by 2025, nearly 30% of the global datasphere will be real-time information, according to IDC.
Gensler has taken the approach to provide our Designers with our data-driven design tools and proprietary computational products gBlox and gFloorz that allow our world-class designers to bring deep design heritage and domain expertise powered by market-specific metrics to balance form, function and business insights during the design journey with our valued clients.
Our compute-powered design solutions provide an unparalleled client experience for agile and predictable decision AEC is proactively looking to find optimisations and efficiencies to improve our KPIs and financial margins and technology is a major factor in that discussion. We can learn from other sectors that have embraced Technology in the past decade, most notably the financial sector. There are many trends utilising AI artificial intelligence and algorithms to generate and evaluate thousands of design alternatives in order to find more profitable and sustainable solutions, arguably saving conceptual design time and resources. However, it is early stages and there is a lot to develop, I am cautious yet intrigued as to what the market has to offer to help the industry leaders shape best practices.
The principal goals for generative methodologies are for quick generation of design variants, optionarying efficiency, program, usage and exploration of the design space. Informed and extended means of interaction for user influence on the generation process, we believe that the developed parametric workflow for an automatic generation of design options can allow for a more efficient investigation of the design,mitigating procedural forms of modeling that can then be benchmarked by a direct connection of the design outputs, resilience analysis and simulations thus showing the performances of the solutions immediately.
Technology will continue to drive the future of our global communities—our cities, our buildings, our workplaces, and our daily lives, tech companies’ global footprints and influence rapidly expand, TECH IS SHAPING OUR EXPERIENCE OF CITIES.
Technology is changing the world’s skylineand the composition of every workforce. While tech companies flourish, there’s a sprint to lay claim to cities that can support their scale, and offer a lifestyle and a talent pipeline that will fuel their targeted growth.
The technology industry is leading the way indetermining how we will work in the future, and other industries are following suit. Recognising changing work styles, tech companies are providing workers with choice and balance, as well as the tools to support their work in any location—in and beyond the workplace. Data-driven insights that inform how space should be utilised, and spaces that enable fluidity and adaptability within the workplace, will be crucial to supporting tomorrow’s workforce.
Shifting from our European HQ to our homes with minimal to no disruption is testimony to our 1one-irm-firm vision for Design and Technology, adapting and being at the forefront of technology advancements.
Last year alone we created 1.2 billion square feet of space. That’s why we are committed to designing with an unwavering focus on Human Experience as we work to shape the future of cities. We are living through the greatest period of urbanisation in history. For the first time, more people live in urban centres than don’t. By 2050, more than 70% of the earth’s population will live in cities. Cities are also responsible for 80% of global GDP—they are engines of creativity and economic innovation for everything from technology to healthcare.
The world is changing. Global population shifts mean that over half of the world’s people now live in cities—a total of 4.2 billion people. By 2030, there will be 43 megacities on the planet with populations of at least 10 million people in each. These concentrations of people are already introducing tough new challenges.
Economic volatility is perhaps the topmost concern for our clients. Markets can turn on a dime and are influenced by an increasingly unpredictable political and environmental landscape. The pandemic has affected all of ourlives and science has connected virus vulnerabilities with Climate Change. Environmental imbalance data plays an important role in our design decisions as itis on everyone’s mind, and is affecting markets, governments, and people all over the world. More than 90% of all urban areas are coastal, putting most cities like London at risk of flooding from rising sea levels.
WE HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE A POSITIVE AND LASTING IMPACT AROUND THE GLOBE.
Because Gensler impacts millions of lives in cities around the world, we have an opportunity to address climate change and create a resilient future like few others can. Buildings generate nearly 40% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions and 50% of the world’s energy usage. With an additional 2.48 trillion square feet of new building stock anticipated by 2060, we have an urgent responsibility to lead our industry in meeting and exceeding net zero carbontargets.
40% OF GLOBAL GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS ARE GENERATED EACH YEAR BY BUILDINGS. — ARCHITECTURE 2030
Taking on Tough Global Challenges with these competencies, Gensler is uniquely positioned to tackle the toughest challenges facing cities. We are impacting Climate Change by reducing the carbon footprint of our buildings, using data to inform our design decisions, enabling us to takecritical design directions in the early stages to reduce the impact to the environment.
A prominent trend I can share is our clients are increasingly engaged in resilience, carbon footprint and exploring repurposing of their assets, we call this REPOSITIONING Architecture.