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The inception of digital technologies have transformed the very essence of modern Architecture radically changing the dynamics of buildings design, production and manufacturing functions while in parallel providing a platform for designers and Architects to explore innovative aesthetically appealing design formats and discover refined production concepts in construction engineering. This study attempts at revealing the emerging concepts and trends in digital technologies that are influencing modern-day techniques and contemporary architectural practices with emphasis on the UK construction industry, further delving into the different ways in which these digital design concepts and technologies have changed the way buildings are constructed, designed and conceptualized.
Branko Kolarevic (2003) states in his study titled, " Architecture in the Digital Age – Design and Manufacturing" that there is a direct correlation and relationship between digital technologies and the design process that defines what can be conceived and produced thereby depicting and manifesting the prime importance of the information repository including aspects like production problems, management and control of information, communication and the application of this specific information in the buildings design and production process. This lucid relationship between production and conceptualization according to Kolarevic (2003) is further strengthened and reshaped through the augmentation and integration of digitally enhanced processes related to design, manufacturing, analytical modeling and buildings assembly.
In modern times, digital technologies are enabling the architects to take up a central role as diverse information managers and controllers exploiting the benefits offered by a digitally sparked collaborative environment built up through the seamless integration of professional functional areas such as architecture, construction and engineering design. The benefits of the use of digital concepts, procedures and techniques in contemporary Architectural practices for design and production have expanded beyond the ability to incorporate complex curving forms to producing significant construction details and specifications regarding buildings directly from the design process. These cutting-edge digital technologies and techniques are paving the way for ingenuity and innovative conceptual frameworks in building designs and production.
One of the key designs depicting a bold, brazen and aesthetically pleasing aura is reflected by Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace, that is symbolic of the technological advancements marked by the industrial revolution emphasizing the futuristic growth of glass and steel structures in modern construction. The Eiffel Tower in Paris by Gustave reflects the construction technology's capabilities that spark skyscrapers design and tall buildings. These skyscrapers were seen soaring to new heights ten decades later with gleaming glass and steel structures finding immense popularity in terms of unique construction designs and effective production values. One of the best examples of modern-day architecture symbolizing digital architectural practices is Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum built by Frank Gehry that reflects the essence of the digital information transformation that has revolutionized the construction industry. Hence, as highlighted by Branko Kolarevic (2003), the digital information age is redefining how buildings are designed, manufactured and built and the effects of these digitally-driven changes are at-par with those reflected by the industrial revolution.
The use of digital technologies in contemporary architectural practices are reflecting capabilities that were perceived and projected by experts years ago. Practices such as topological digital architectures, kinetic and dynamic systems, genetically engineered algorithms, computational models and non-Euclidean geometric space techniques have led to the diversification of the conceptualization sphere. The use of three and four dimensional structures and their productive transformation through the implementation of digitally enhanced design processes marked by flexibility and creativity have led to innovative concepts in building designs and effectiveness in the production costs and management of such structures. Techniques like digital media, CAD, CAM, parametric models and BIM have further revolutionized the way buildings are designed and constructed especially in the UK. (Paul Seletsky, 2005)
The aim of this research is to evaluate and assess the impact and influence of the use of digital technologies in contemporary architectural practices with regards to the UK construction industry. The aim also veers towards the benefits and advantages that these digital design techniques have introduced for the construction industry including the way buildings are now designed and constructed.
The primary objectives of the proposed research include:
The above mentioned aim and objectives can hence be addressed through the following research question or topic:
How are recent digital technological development such as BIM and Parametrics design processes changing the way construction projects are developed / managed and buildings are designed, conceived and produced in the UK?
The solution and arguments relevant to the above research query will be highlighted through recommendations and analytical reasoning in the the form of information and knowledge found relevant and important in this researched argumentative analysis.
This section explains and highlights the case studies and literature reviewed to obtain a clearer and deeper understanding of the trends revealed by the adoption of digital technologies in contemporary building designs and production practices. Branko Kolarevic (2003), explains how these digitally enhanced practices are redefining designs and giving rise to inexpensive production procedures. Technological advancements in computer-aided design (CAD)and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) practices have sparked beneficial possibilities in architectural designs allowing for complex architectural forms and diverse designs to be created that would otherwise be difficult and expensive to pursue through conventional construction procedures.
The digital technologies in modern-day construction design and production generate a diverse digital continuum or a bridge as per Kolarevic (2003) that defines the relationship between design and production since innovative design concepts and methods for fabrication, construction and conceptualization that are digitally engineered are refining conventional methods of building production and construction including the relationship between constructive practices and Architectural designs. Various philosophers and theorists have influenced digitally driven architectural designs and practices in contemporary architectural methodologies. These include German mathematician, philosopher and logician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) and Gilles Deleuze (1925–1995). Further, techniques like BIM and Parametric Models have further transformed the way architectural designs are conceived.
Parametric Modeling is a productive digital concept related to architectural design that allows a diaspora of possibilities by enabling the architect or the designer to create an unlimited number of similar things or object through the use of parameters. Using the concept of multiplicity, a range of objects can be generated and geometric representations and forms based on an earlier designed repository of relational or operative dependencies of variable dimensions can be produced.Using this technique particular objects or specific instances can be created by setting variable 's unique value. The emphasis is on setting the parameters or values of the variables that define the design and not exactly the shape.
A range of objects or instances can thus be created by assigning or declaring variable values for the different variables or parameters. A relative geometric representation or equation can thus be defined that represents the association or relationship between the objects or configurations. This association between objects can then facilitate the definition of interdependencies between objects and the behavioural exhibition of objects relative to transformations. The paracube model by Marcos Novak is an example of architectural design generated through parametric modeling technique. In his particular algorithmic explorations of “tectonic production” , Marcos Novak through the use of mathematical software produced geometric models and procedural flows that are defined through many variables called slots, generally not associated with pragmatic aspects that can be undergo a static or dynamic mapping with an external impact.
Therefore, parametric modeling allows for a highly refined and complex design through a hierarchy of associated instances modeled parametrically to generate robust and interactive designs. It also enables refinement of the design in iterations through all phases of the construction project including design, production and construction.
Business Information Modelling
Business Information Modeling or BIM is a high level digital design technique and integrated practice that provides a powerful framework to transform the conventional methodologies of architectural conceptualization and building designs by introducing digitally enhanced concepts for visual communication, representation and conceptual designs.The technique provides numerous benefits and opportunities to the architect for generating innovative and refined complex geometric representations and architectural forms. It makes use of the virtual building model simulation functionality and capability to produce architectural models and communicate interactive designs. The technique enables architects to explore design opportunities beyond the traditional two dimensional structures to include geometric projections and virtual building design simulations that are digitally enhanced.
The digital building designs through the BIM enable the designer and architect to generate innovative concepts and geometrical models related to the models plans, sections and elevations of buildings (Guidera, 2006). Building Information Modeling technique, through the use of simulation sparked by an intelligent, data-driven and object oriented integration of virtual reality, enables the generation and production of innovative and productive building models and designs. The technical essence of this digital technology has the power to transform the output and production values of the contemporary architectural practices. Business Information Modeling or BIM allows the smooth transition from traditional and conventional methods of representative designs like drawings towards digitally driven simulations and models including three-dimensional designs that depict the architect's aesthetics and architectural intent in a more lucid and deeper manner. The technique also enables production and construction process efficiency by optimizing costs and allowing for effective management of the construction projects from the conceptualization to the final development stage.
The research methodology is structured keeping in view the analytical techniques and descriptive methods available for conducting studies. The research will primarily include assimilation and evaluation of secondary data through literature review and analysis of practical applications and examples to gather valuable quantitative and qualitative information in order to supplement the arguments presented and provide considerable evidence to support the researched topic.The literature review will entail the analysis of practical implementations and examples available through related websites, business critiques or reviews, journal articles, industry reports and academic publications. secondary data in the form of technology applications by organizations in the construction industry that have published this information will be collected for the analysis of related arguments and supplemental information will be further reviewed to collect necessary information to further substantiate the highlighted topic. The aim is to gather and evaluate all relevant information available through online and other resources to provide valuable evidence and data in favour of the researched topic.
This section explains in detail the quantitative and qualitative analytical description produced through a comprehensive secondary research methodology and data analysis techniques. Further the arguments supported through refined assessment tools like case studies and literature review are presented in this section that reveal the research findings along with the comparative analysis conducted through the reviewed literature.
Based on the analytical data collected and obtained through secondary research practices,this section reveals the recommendations and the deduced conclusion and key recommendations based on the research query and topic. This section would also highlight and discuss the future challenges of the topic under discussion with emphasis on the difficulties and prospective limitations with regards to evolving technologies and innovative solutions in the coming age.
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