The process of development in architecture has lasted forever, but the 20th century has brought some revolutions. The invention of reinforced concrete, the growth of skyscrapers, as well as the development of various techniques and materials have incredibly improved architecture worldwide.
However, the beginning of the 21st century was the inception of even better and more modern solutions.
Tech helped us to improve all fields of architecture and thanks to modern solutions, architecture has become more accessible, more functional, and aesthetically better than ever.
The relationship between architecture and technology will be the key to additional improvements, but let's first look at the tech advancements of today that have defined modern architecture.
When the developers invented the very first 3D printer, the purpose of such a technological wonder was printing small objects using various types of plastic. As the technology of 3D printing grew a little bit, developers added even more materials, which eased the process of producing maquettes and 3D models.
Luckily, the technology of 3D printing continued to grow, which allowed us to print larger structures. Do you want to print your living space? No problem!
Moreover, your conventional house can be finished sooner than you can imagine. Well, you can’t just hit the button and print your dream house, but you can fit previously printed parts into traditional construction systems.
Any additional benefits? Yes! These houses are cheaper than the traditional methods of building, which means that you can get your 3D printed house for about $7,000, within less than 15 days.
Besides, you don't have to worry about structural issues or the aesthetics, because 3D printed houses can be as solid as traditional ones, and the architects will take care of the design!
Engineers have proved that 3D printed structures can be solid and firm. Recently, Zoina Land Joint Research Center for Digital Architecture designed and printed a 26.3-meter-long concrete bridge in Zhaoxian, China.
Sci-Fi has become our reality. VR and AR are unavoidable tech solutions when we’re talking about architecture. Today, these solutions have become more familiar to people, but VR and AR are still somewhat novel. Using these solutions, architects and engineers can improve communication with clients and simplify various tasks of designing and visualizing 3D models.
VR equipment allowed architects to present their masterpieces to clients easier than ever. Using a VR headset, clients can imagine and feel the designed space before construction works start. Moreover, architects and 3D visualizers can use such equipment while designing, which also reduces costs.
Augmented reality enabled architects to pull 3D models out of their pockets, using only a smartphone. There are various apps for this, but some AR apps can visualize 2D floor plans or even images. AR technology can also be helpful on the construction site.
We’ve already learned that drones can be quite helpful in various industries, but architecture and urban planning have found the best use for drones. Using these strange flying machines, architects can precisely capture a rural or urban area from above and design the entire settlements simpler than ever.
Besides, drones can be a helpful tool for presenting the work being done on the construction site to clients, even if they are miles away.
Well, if VR and AR were shocking solutions, “touchable” holograms will throw you entirely. We know that technology is developing fast, but touchable holograms?!
Yes, that exists! Scientists from the University of Tokyo, Japan, Department of Complexity Science and Engineering, have designed and produced the very first hologram of this kind. Without wearing any equipment, users can experience the illusion of touching items that aren’t in front of them.
A synchronized haptic-optical construction of Haptoclone works thanks to Aerial Imaging Plate (AIP) and Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display (AUTD). When a user touches the “object”, there is a strong pressure, which allows the illusion of touching a hologram. The best thing about Haptoclone is that the illusion seems incredibly realistic.
Well, this tech solution can improve all aspects of architecture. Using a “touchable” hologram, architects will be able to present their designs to the clients in the most realistic way!
Tech advancements also improved the technology involved in creating building materials. Earlier traditional, non-sustainable materials are now much stronger. As materials being subject to wear has always been a big problem, scientists and engineers have decided to improve the quality of such materials, especially when it comes to the structural elements.
An additional problem related to some traditional elements is aesthetics, but modern technology has solved that issue, too.
Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, Ghent University, the Netherlands, together with Hendrik Jonkers, a microbiologist at Delft University, made a revolution and found the most effective and cost-effective solution that can help engineers worldwide. They invented self-healing concrete.
Although concrete is one of the most common materials used in architecture, it isn’t always as durable as we think. So, due to low tensile strength, concrete cracks. These cracks keep getting bigger and bigger over time, which reduces the load capacity and affects the aesthetics of the building.
What if that cracks could self-heal though? Well, this would completely change the world of architecture. Is it expensive? We’re glad you asked!
Self-healing concrete cuts cost in the long run, and it isn’t much more expensive than a cubic meter of standard concrete. For example, if the average price of a cubic meter of standard concrete costs €70, self-healing concrete would cost about €100.
However, if you’re wondering how this miracle works, we have the answers. Biologists used the power of science, and together with engineers, they found the most logical solution.
When concrete cracks due to atmospheric influences or any other issues, and water comes in contact with bacteria previously mixed with concrete, the bacteria start to produce plaster. However, after the water disappears, the bacteria closes in the membrane and waits for the next chance to absorb some liquid.
As I mentioned, the greater issue in architecture is that aesthetics-stability ratio. If a building requires lots of reinforced concrete to gain stability, it can make the structure look blocky and unnapealing.
Although there tons of benefits to using concrete in architecture, it can be overwhelmingly robust. Sometimes, the amount of reinforced concrete needs to be reduced due to the lack of natural lighting inside the building, but it’s often impossible because it would weaken the construction.
Luckily, transparent reinforced concrete is now available. Transparent RC, also known as LiTraCon (Light transmitting concrete) is durable and has a load capacity of traditional reinforced concrete, but it’s transparent at the same time.
The problem of the introduction of artificial light instead of natural light is now solved. Moreover, this solution is environmentally-friendly, it’s cost-effective, and it can be combined with the traditional RC. Thank you modern technology!
Can you imagine that there exists a material as strong as titanium, but five times lighter? The University of Pennsylvania found a way to produce a material called metallic wood using nickel. An astonishing 70% of the metallic wood is empty, which means that it’s light enough to float. On the other hand, metallic wood is extremely strong thanks to the load-bearing struts inside the nickel.
This material is a technological wonder, and it can facilitate all the processes of building on the construction site.
Although we’re surrounded by architecture wherever we go, most people don’t think about tech advancements involved in the buildings they see. Maybe we can’t understand the latest technology and the way it works, or we just can’t process the information that it can change our environment that much.
However, the entire world is developing, so we have to find the best way to introduce such solutions and improve our living spaces, to facilitate our jobs, to enjoy science and scientific discoveries, and most importantly, to improve our lives!
What’s your favorite tech solution that can change the world of architecture? Do you know about some tech advancements that define modern architecture? Let us know in the comments!