Trends and weak signals in the Architecture sector (Year 1): Revision

Last updated 25. July 2016 by admin

Following are the results of the signal collection exercise for the Architecture sector, based on data collected during the activities conducted in the sector and on desktop research results.

Strong signals

Changing Role of Architects

  • Architects working both in business and design
  • Crowd funding platforms: Kickstarter for built environment projects.

 Data & Knowledge-Sharing

  • Use of Big Data
  • Mapping & measuring ambient data.
  •  Transmitting knowledge is becoming more important.
  •  3D scanning
  •  BIM Data is now becoming ubiquitous.
  • Software is already intrinsic to the sector


 Smart buildings

  • Biometric Systems
  • Motion and gesture controlled interfaces
  • Embedded and connected devices
  • Programmatically controlled ‘deformable’ surfaces

 Enhancing Connectivity between disparate stakeholders

  • Cloud Technology
  • Cloud sharing
  • Holographic Displays

 Architectural Visualization

  • Tools with augmented simulation capabilities: simulate natural and social environment
  • Simulations using real physics engines. Realising real environments in simulation e.g. Sun, gravity, wind. More use of the Unreal engine. Digital environments where you can play part in the manipulation and design of the environment.
  • VR navigation of spaces
  • Google glass and other wearable technology
  • Augmented reality


Interoperable Tools

  • More interoperability and interactivity of creation software
  • Software that can process various file formats in order to move towards universal applications and file formats. 
  • Combined use of digital tools and traditional approaches
  • Open source hardware

 Technologies that allow easier prototyping

  • 3D printing and the maker movement
  • 3D printing supermarkets
  • Fab lab technology is becoming better and cheaper


Advanced Construction Tools/Materials

  • 3D printing
  • Tools for onsite design and construction
  • Tools ensuring ensure on-site safety
  • Cheaper and stronger Materials.
  • Better insulation, phonic insulation


  • Drones
  • Robotics
  • Artificial Intelligence


Weak signals


  • There is a need to reinvent the profession. Architecture in its previous form is being replaced.


  • Increasingly ‘user-friendly tools’ come with dangers: user-friendly technologies make decisions on your behalf and limit creativity.
  • Architects will increasingly need to develop their own technologies.
  • More architects will begin to develop their own tools, and will need technology to support this.
  • Tools supporting architects to fund and plan the whole architecture process.


  • Passive sensing technology


  • Inclusive architecture
  • Emergent ‘sandbox’ social building games
  • There is a tension between open access to information for all stakeholders and the potential to limit authorship. A need to work within these constraints.


  • BIM is used by architects but not understood by the authorities.
  • BIM Data allows ideas to be assessed as they are created. This is strength and a threat. BIM data acts as the objective truth of a building. BIM forces architects to disclose, which also invites the potential for censorship.


  • Pushing creators together isn't necessarily a good thing.


  • Visualisation tools for more than one type of professional: Architects, urban planners, local government, and engineers.


  • Need for integrated, real-time collaboration environments for architectural design and exchange, allowing architects to do things faster and more effectively.


  • Interoperability is very important – Most software is proprietary and closed at the moment.


  • 3D scanning: degree of approximation is currently very poor. This needs to improve. Generally 3D scanning is a niche tool, it needs to be more accessible.


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