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The Real Danger of AI to Architects: Ally or Competitor?

Electronics, Hardware, Architecture

Generative artificial intelligence and data management are two of the most prominent trends shaping the real estate sector in 2024. The impact of AI has already been significant in recent years, and studies such as the McKinsey Global Survey confirm its growing influence: nearly 25% of senior executives regularly employ AI tools in their work.

In addition, 40% say their organizations plan to increase their investment in AI, anticipating a true transformation of work models as well as workforce ratios. Artificial Intelligence is already redefining the nature of industries, especially those that are based on three pillars: creativity, productivity and efficiency.

According to the same study, employees of ICT and financial services companies are the most likely to undergo disruptive changes as a result of AI. But they are not the only ones.

The real estate sector has long aimed to be at the forefront, with companies ready to adopt any necessary technology to ensure maximum innovation and a growing value. AI is a strategic tool whose development has a significant impact on professionals such as architects, who are indisputably key stakeholders in many aspects of this economic activity.

AI, the New Muse of Architecture

As in other sectors, the impact of AI on architecture depends more on the specific needs it addresses than on the technology itself.

On the more creative side, generative AI presents itself as a powerful tool to inspire the designers’ vision. And not only because processing large amounts of data makes it possible to generate unique design ideas. But also because, in combination with virtual reality and augmented reality technologies, it allows for the visualization and refinement of rendered designs in real-time.

In this clear role of an assistant, AI should not replace architects in their most creative facet, but definitely empower them.

Efficiency & Quality Control

Also on the technical side, AI-generated models will become an essential tool for architecture professionals. For example, enabling them to consider the use of particular materials or construction techniques in different contexts.

In addition, AI can be very useful for assessing the energy performance of a building from the earliest stages of its design. By accessing comprehensive information on aspects such as energy use, daytime lighting, or the environmental impact of its components, both project management and resource utilization can be optimized for greater efficiency.

This assessment includes analyses such as the feasibility of solar panels, based on geospatial data predicting solar radiation in areas of high exposure over time. Or also predictive maintenance to anticipate when a piece of equipment or component is about to fail, identifying wear or waste accumulation that requires an intervention.

Once again, AI is presented as an ally for architects. But that’s not always the case across the board.

Artificial intelligence will also reclaim a central role in the procedures carried out by real estate services companies. These include mainly three functions—asset valuation, viability report preparation, and structural calculations—that are part of the less recognized work of architects and can significantly affect their employment.

Property Appraisals and Valuations

Property appraisals provide invaluable information for investors, homeowners, and buyers. In addition, they are often a legal imperative for large holders such as banks or financial institutions, which are required to submit periodic reports of these valuations to the central banks of the countries where they operate.

Real estate valuation has traditionally been a manual process involving real estate agents and appraisers. However, new tools that analyze and process data for more accurate and efficient assessments threaten to replace traditional human labor.

By combining historical sales data, property characteristics, and market trends, AI algorithms reduce the risk of error and subjective bias. And because everything happens so much faster, it becomes easier to make time-sensitive decisions.

These models can be of even greater interest to companies in the sector when it comes to analyzing a large number of properties. Also when it is impossible to physically access the buildings. Or even to obtain a second opinion as a counterpart to the human appraiser’s valuation.

A Real Estate ‘Personal Shopper’

Particularly in the case of feasibility studies, these have become vital for guiding potential buyers in acquiring their homes or investments, especially in today’s stressed real estate markets.

The responsibility for these reports lies mainly with architects with knowledge of regulations and administrative laws, who are responsible for evaluating the effective possibilities of a home: renovation options, regulations, consideration of price and condition, or even economic feasibility studies.

Thanks to its ease of analyzing data at a scale that exceeds human capabilities, AI becomes a strong competitor, capable of performing these studies with maximum precision and in record time.

Structural Calculations

Additionally, when it comes to architects responsible for a building’s structural design, AI serves as both an ally and a competitor. Structural calculations are a very sensitive part of any architectural project, as they impact the safety of the construction directly from the project phase.

The use of AI allows for extremely thorough inspections, increases coordination between teams, and improves quality control, anticipating any defects or anomalies in structures and eliminating problems downstream.

The automation of such processes also suggests a cost optimization scenario, which could further narrow the job market for architectural professionals.

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