Taken from ArchDaily
2022 could be remembered as the year when surprising AI-fueled tools became accessible to a larger audience: from text-to-image generation Stable Diffusion, Midjourney, and DALL-E 2 to unsettling design experiments such as This House Does Not Exist, to surprisingly smart OpenGPT, a language-processing designed artificial intelligence to generate human-like text.
Cautiously described by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman as "a preview of progress", any user can talk with OpenGPT about almost anything: the results are astonishing and it easily can embody an umpteenth so-called threat for creative-related jobs. However, OpenGPT does not have access to browse the internet. Instead, it interacts based on the gigantic database that it has been trained on. As expressed by Gannett's Eric Ulken, "even the best generative AI tools are only as good as their training", so what an "inappropriate request" is has previously been tuned (by humans) as well.
ArchDaily published its first article on automation in 2017 and since then, artificial intelligence development has walked a meteoric way, embedding into our daily work as architects without noticing most of the time. As a symbol of what AI could achieve in the short term for architecture and humankind, we have 'talked' with OpenGPT about the architecture trends of 2023. Take them with a grain of salt.
The following conversation has been edited for length and clarity. Hyperlinks and stylizing have been added by humans.
Nicolas Valencia (NV): 2023 is around the corner. According to you, what are the main trends in architecture?
ChatGPT: It's difficult to predict specific trends in architecture with certainty, as the field is constantly evolving and being shaped by a wide range of factors such as cultural, economic, and technological changes. However, there are a few general trends that have been emerging in recent years that may continue to shape the field in the future.
Sustainability and energy efficiency: There is a growing emphasis on designing buildings that are environmentally friendly and use resources efficiently. This includes using materials and techniques that reduce energy consumption, such as passive solar design and green roofs.
Adaptive reuse and repurposing: There is a trend towards repurposing or adapting existing buildings for new uses, rather than tearing them down and building new ones. This can help preserve the character and history of a place, as well as reduce the environmental impact of new construction.
Community-centered design: There is a growing recognition of the importance of designing buildings and spaces that are accessible and welcoming to a wide range of people, including those with disabilities. This includes designing for walkability and creating spaces that encourage social interaction and community engagement.
Biophilic design: This approach to design incorporates elements of nature into the built environment, with the goal of promoting well-being and a connection to the natural world. This can include using natural materials, incorporating green spaces and natural light, and designing for natural ventilation.
ChatGPT: It can be helpful to look for the following signs: Vague or overly broad claims, lack of third-party certification such as LEED or BREEAM, disproportionate emphasis on one aspect, and lack of transparency.
Companies that are genuinely committed to sustainability will typically be transparent about their environmental practices and will be willing to provide information and data to support their claims.
It's important to remember that no product or building is going to be perfect in terms of sustainability, and it's natural for there to be trade-offs. However, it's important to be aware of greenwashing and to do your own research and due diligence to ensure that the claims being made about a product or building's environmental performance are accurate and backed up by evidence.
NV: Societies have been demanding more transparency regarding the construction supply chain, but most of the time is not a linear workflow, as has been proved after the COVID-19 pandemic erupted. Additionally, even if we were able to fully understand every single component of a supply chain, it would still only be one factor within the design and building process.
ChatGPT: You are correct. The construction supply chain can be complex and involves many stakeholders and intermediaries. It can be difficult to track and understand all the materials that go into a construction project, especially when they come from different locations. It is important for the supply chain to be transparent for ethical and sustainable sourcing, reducing supply chain disruptions, and improving cost predictability.
However, supply chain transparency is not the only factor that affects a construction project's environmental performance. One solution to increase supply chain transparency is the use of blockchain technology, which creates a secure digital record of materials and components in a building. While blockchain can improve transparency, it must be integrated with other strategies and technologies to address sustainability challenges in the construction industry.
NV: Blockchain would work like a “chip” for every single material, wouldn't it?
ChatGPT: One potential application of blockchain in the construction industry is to use it as a way to track and verify the origin and quality of building materials. In this scenario, each material or component could potentially be tagged with a unique identifier, or "chip," that is recorded on a blockchain database. This identifier could contain information about the material's origin, quality, and other relevant characteristics.
NV: Speaking of which, automation has been portrayed as a job-killer by architects. What do you think of automation in architecture?
ChatGPT: Automation and other forms of technology have the potential to revolutionize the way that architecture is designed and constructed. However, it's important to recognize that technology can also have unintended consequences, including the potential to displace workers or change the nature of work in the industry.
Nonetheless, it's important to note that automation is not a new phenomenon in the construction industry, and many tasks that were once done manually are now automated using various technologies such as computer-aided design (CAD) software, 3D printing, robotics, IoT in buildings and construction equipment.
It's also worth noting that while automation has the potential to displace some jobs, it can also create new ones and increase efficiency, allowing architects and other construction professionals to focus on more complex and value-added tasks. For example, the use of BIM software can help to streamline the design process, allowing architects to spend more time on creative problem-solving and less time on repetitive tasks.
NV: So, technical skills are just one side of being an architect. Since we are here, I think architecture is more like a toolkit than a job description. Do you agree?
ChatGPT: I agree that architecture is a multifaceted field that requires a wide range of skills and expertise, and it can be helpful to think of it as a "toolkit" that allows architects to tackle a variety of challenges and projects. In addition to technical skills such as proficiency in CAD and BIM software, architects also need to have strong communication, problem-solving, and project management skills, as well as an understanding of a wide range of topics including materials and construction techniques, building codes, and regulations, and sustainability.
It's also important for architects to be adaptable and open to learning new things, as the field of architecture is constantly evolving and being shaped by new technologies, materials, and design approaches. Architects who are able to learn and adapt quickly will be well-equipped to tackle the challenges of the ever-changing built environment.
NV: And what about biophilic design as a trend? What would it be different from what landscape architects do?
ChatGPT: Biophilic design can be distinguished from landscape design in a number of ways. Landscape design focuses specifically on the design and planning of outdoor spaces, such as parks, gardens, and greenways, while biophilic design takes a more holistic approach, seeking to incorporate natural elements into all aspects of the built environment.
Biophilic design can involve a wide range of strategies, including the use of natural light, natural materials, and natural ventilation in buildings, the incorporation of plants and other natural elements into the design of interior and exterior spaces, and the creation of visual connections to nature through windows, views, and other openings.
Overall, the biophilic design offers a way to create more livable and sustainable communities that are better attuned to the needs and preferences of human beings, and that support health, well-being, and productivity.
NV: Do you have any real-life examples?
ChatGPT: There are many examples of biophilic design being used in real-life projects around the world. Here are a few examples:
The Nature Place at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis: This outdoor play area, designed by Studio Gang, features a series of interconnected spaces that are designed to mimic different natural environments, such as a forest, a meadow, and a stream.
The Singapore Botanic Gardens: This award-winning garden, designed by Grant Associates, features a range of biophilic design elements, including a rain garden, a butterfly garden, and a children's garden.
The New York Times Building in New York City: This building, designed by Renzo Piano, features a number of biophilic design elements, including a green roof, a living wall, and a number of outdoor spaces that provide views of nature.
NV: Moving forward to the trends you brought up earlier, the 2021 Pritzker Prize Lacaton & Vassal is renowned for its adaptive reuse projects. Besides the successful French firm, it seems Europe leads the way in this topic.
ChatGPT: In Europe, particularly in cities with a long history and a densely built environment, adaptive reuse is often seen as a way to preserve cultural heritage and reduce the environmental impact of new construction. In this context, European firms such as Lacaton & Vassal have gained recognition for their innovative approach to adaptive reuse, which emphasizes preserving and upgrading existing buildings rather than tearing them down and starting from scratch.
However, adaptive reuse is not limited to Europe, and there are many examples of successful adaptive reuse projects in other regions of the world as well. For example, in the United States, there are numerous examples of adaptive reuse projects in urban areas, such as the conversion of former industrial buildings into residential lofts or the repurposing of old schools and office buildings into mixed-use developments.
NV: I think Latin America is missing the opportunity to repurpose its biggest cities downtown. A few metropolises are yet in the outdated process of leaving downtown for the suburbs.
ChatGPT: It's true that in many Latin American cities, downtown areas have experienced a population decline and economic stagnation in recent decades, as people have migrated to suburbs and newer developments on the outskirts of the city. This trend has been driven by a variety of factors, including changes in transportation patterns, economic development, and social and cultural changes.
This presents an opportunity for adaptive reuse and urban redevelopment, as these underutilized areas could potentially be repurposed for new uses, such as residential, commercial, or mixed-use developments.
NV: The challenge is to convince developers, policymakers, and politicians of the benefits of a long-term perspective, especially considering the economic, social, and political turmoil we have been experiencing worldwide. In these times, it can be difficult to be optimistic about the future.
ChatGPT: It's understandable to feel concerned about the future, given the many challenges and uncertainties that we are facing as a society. Human beings have a long history of adapting to and overcoming challenges. We have made progress in many areas and have the tools and resources to address current challenges such as climate change, social inequality, and political conflict. The future may be uncertain, but by using our collective knowledge and expertise, we have the potential to create a better future for ourselves and future generations.
Written By Nicolas Valencia