The Architecture of Artificial Intelligence: Part 2 – Design Decision Making

The Architecture of Artificial Intelligence: Part 2 – Design Decision Making


Rather than a program, AI is better understood as an interconnected, self-designing system that can upgrade itself. It is possible to harness a huge amount of
computing power and experience by working with these tools, even as an individual. The architect must input project parameters,
in effect an edited ‘design brief’, and the computer system will then suggest a range
of solutions which fulfill these criteria. This innovation has the potential to revolutionize
how architecture is not only imagined but how it is fundamentally expressed for designers
who choose to adopt these new methods. Initially aimed at the automotive and industrial
design industries, Autodesk’s Dreamcatcher now is beginning to filter into architecture
projects. It was used recently to develop The Living’s
generative design for Autodesk’s new office in Toronto and MX3D’s steel bridge in Amsterdam. The basic concept is that CAD models of the
surrounding site and other data, such as client databases and environmental information, are
fed into the processor. Moments later, the system outputs a series
of optimized 3D design solutions, ready to render. These processes effectively rely on cloud
computing to create a multitude of options based on self-learning algorithmic parameters. Lattice-like and fluid forms are often the
aesthetic result, perhaps unsurprisingly, as the software imitates structural rules
found in nature. Future architects would be less in the business
of drawing and more into specifying the requirements of the problem. Michael Bergin, a Principal Research Scientist
at Autodesk, suggests architects who adopt AI tools would have the ability to “synthesize
a broad set of high-level requirements from the design stakeholders, including clients
and engineers, and produce design documentation as output”, in line with Engelbart’s vision
of AI augmenting the skills of designers. AI is also being used directly in software
such as Space Syntax’s ‘depth map X’, designed at The Bartlett in London, to analyze
the spatial network of a city with an aim to understand and utilize social interactions
in the design process. Another tool, Unity 3D, is built from software
developed for game engines to enable designers to analyze their plans, such as the shortest
distances to fire exits. This information would then allow the architect
to re-arrange or generate spaces in plan, or even to organize entire future buildings. Examples of architects who are adopting these
methods include Zaha Hadid’s Beijing Tower project and the Absolute Towers in Mississauga,
Canada by MAD Architects, among others.