Buildace Magazine spoke with Architect Abiodun Shonibare on How AI is Influencing Architecture, Design and the Future
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All images by Arc. Abiodun Shonibare
It’s said that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, like computer systems. Machine vision, expert systems, speech recognition, and natural language processing are all specific applications of AI. However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not a new technology, it’s said that the technology has been around for over 60 years now. It was first invented in 1950s by an American Computer Scientist, John McCarthy, who is now referred to as the “Father of AI,” first used the term “Artificial Intelligence”, this created opportunities for American and British researchers, and Alan Turing, to go deeper into computer learning, equations, and theorems. This article isn’t about the history of AI, it’s on how the powerful technology is influencing architecture, design and the future.
AI as a powerful and smart technology is transforming various industries and the fast pace in which its doing it has induced the fear of uncertainty like what the future holds? What will become of man in various aspects of life, like in creative and design sectors? With its numerous roles in human life, regardless of the industry and sector, AI can solve problems like helping people to get insight into large amounts of data that can influence decision making and improve informed frameworks. New, rapidly improving generative AI techniques can create realistic text, images, music and other media according to Techtarget. It’s programmed in some ways to focus on cognitive skills like Learning, Creativity, Reasoning and Self-correction.
As AI technology continues to advance, some people are becoming more concerned about its impact on the creative and design sectors as it has the potential to automate many of the tasks that are currently performed by human beings in the industry. AI seems to have more capacity to multitask, work faster, correct itself, and reduce task performing time by automating most exclusive human domain creativity. The main cause of concern for many is that the technology could end the creative and design industry as a result of the increasing use of it, leading to a loss of jobs and economic opportunities for human designers. This also means that architects could become obsolete as a result of this powerful technology.
The architecture and entire building industry is currently being revolutionized by this powerful technology Artificial Intelligence (AI), through its ability to harness both historical and current data through machine learning, generative design, and expert systems, its helping the various industry players and stakeholders like architects, engineers, and project managers to develop ideas for the future using data driven design method. AI is impacting the future of architecture through the following process; improving building design efficiency, updating construction process, helping architects and project managers to get from point A to B in an efficient manner, reforming Design for Large-Scale Interaction, helping to walk clients through buildings and structures before completion, optimizing building operation and maintenance, updating the construction process etc.
In an interview with Buildace Magazine Architect Abiodun Shonibare said; instead of architects becoming obsolete as a result of the emerging adoption of AI technology, he believes the technology will change and impact the future of architecture and design. Besides, architects should always learn to adapt to trends.
Architect Abiodun Shonibare is a computational design specialist with over a decade of experience in the avant-garde segment of architecture and industrial design (Architecture, furniture installations, and products). He is an associate partner at Studio Stoone Designs and a Director at Shift Lag, consulting for companies and providing services and training related to algorithmic design, complex geometry, digital fabrication and Artificial Intelligence. He has been invited to speak at the GE Lagos Garage, LASPOTECH. Architect Abiodun possesses quality skills like Grasshopper, Rhinoceros, Algorithmic Modelling, Midjourney, and Digital Fabrication.
Enjoy the excerpt of the interview.
Architecture and its business in Nigeria how has it been for you so far?
Architecture seems to be evolving in the landscape as the advent of globalization through the internet has provided opportunities for learning, international collaboration and professional advancement. However environments also have a huge role to play on the output of design firms eg. Client exposure, FX policies for subscription of software licenses, power etc. Nigeria is a developing nation and has a lot of opportunities provided one doesn’t get discouraged by the economic challenges “it’s a jungle” pardon my French Lol.
Judging by some of your recent designs that you posted on your social media pages, we noticed that you use AI to facilitate it. How did you achieve such incredible creations using this technology?
I am currently exploring AI and Chat GPT, Midjourney, Dall E and RunwayML seem to be my favorite ones for now.
Through its effect, is AI changing and impacting architecture and design?
I believe it will, for instance the typical workflows of design firms are: Conceptualize, Detailed drawings and Construction now it’s being changed to Generate, Detailed drawings and Construction. The advantage is a lot of time is spent on the conceptual stage and it’s also a very critical one, it sells the service and brands the firm as 90/100 great concepts always allow a firm to have a step through the door. Also it opens new forms of explorations “that may never have been realized in our previous approach”. All industries are being affected and not just Architecture.
Is AI the future?
I won’t say the future. It is the present.
What do you think architects should learn from the emergence of this technology?
Architects should always learn to adapt to trends.
Based on your experience of AI as a design tool, would you suggest that it should be included in the curriculum of our architecture schools?
It’s already being included in schools abroad so I see no reason why it shouldn’t be included here, a well-grounded training on AI is needed else it will be abused, it goes beyond just generating images, there’s a lot of depth involved like knowing how to use Generative adversarial networks (GANS) so one is not at the mercy of commercial based software as described in the book Program or be Programmed by Douglas Rushkoff
Do you agree that if AI is not regulated or controlled by some measures based on its usage, architects could become obsolete as a result of the technology?
Like I said earlier Architecture is beyond generating images or construction drawings, yes AI is powering robots in construction now, but it has not reached the level of being sentient and even if it does I doubt it’s just Architects that will be worried. (Terminator LOL)
How would you rate architecture education in Nigeria?
I believe we can do a lot better, from the curriculum to the level of students output when they enter the professional world. We need to embrace collaboration with each other and the international community to achieve global standards.
Most students and graduates of architecture in Nigeria are complaining about the NIA and ARCON process of becoming a professional architect after graduation, what’s your advice to the two national regulatory bodies on this issue?
The two bodies working together to provide a clear path will be advantageous to each other and the AEC industry as a whole.
Using a powerful tool like AI, how can architecture influence the challenge of housing deficit in Nigeria?
AI powered tools can significantly impact the housing deficit in Nigeria by aiding Architects and Urban Planners in several ways; like Efficient Design and Planning, Rapid Prototyping, Resource Management, Sustainability and Energy efficiency, Affordability and accessibility, Project management, Community management, Risk assessment and mitigation, Regulatory compliance, Data driven decision making.
Can AI replace the critical and inventive design thinking ability of an architect?
Design choices in architecture often involve subjective judgments that are influenced by personal values, aesthetics and cultural perspectives. AI might struggle to make value based decisions that align with the diverse and evolving preferences of different communities.
What should we be expecting from you in the rest of this year and beyond?
Doing what I like doing, exploring, learning, executing, teaching and posting.