Leading Japanese Architect Foresees Computers Unleashing an Era of Design Freedom

By Akio
Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: Computers are unleashing an era
of #design freedom in #architecture -@KengoKuma

Kengo Kuma’s architectural designs range from the whimsical (Asakusa Cultural and Tourism Center, a wildly stacked pillar of houses) to the dramatic (the steamship-shaped Victoria and Albert Museum rising in Dundee, Scotland), to the deceptively simple (Great (Bamboo) Wall, a house in China).

Through them he has discovered his calling – celebrating natural materials and creating human connections – and learned that a computer can be an architect’s best friend.

China Academy of Art’s Folk Art Museum (Image © Eiichi Kano)

In the years after World War II, Japanese architects grappled with building homes and businesses to replace what the conflict had destroyed and accommodate booming post-war growth. Japan needed fast recovery as its top priority, and its “first generation” architects delivered.

Kengo Kuma, founder of Kengo Kuma & Associates (KKAA) and one of today’s most celebrated Japanese architects, reveres that generation.

“The first-generation architects basically had to reconstruct Japan, and that sense of responsibility had a big bearing on everything they did,” he said.

Kenzo Tange, who designed the Yoyogi National Gymnasium built for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, the building that inspired Kuma to become an architect, is a particular first-generation hero.

Thanks to Tange and those who came after – Arata Isozaki and Fumihiko Maki of the second generation, and Tadao Ando and Toyo Ito of the third generation – Kuma said he feels empowered to pursue a design freedom his predecessors never had.

“Japan’s a wealthy country now, rivaling the United States and Europe,” Kuma said in a wide-ranging interview. “For our generation, I’d say the main thematic question is what kind of architecture we can create in that context of comfort. I think this generation is trying to redefine architecture as a medium for people to connect with each other.”

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “#Architecture is a medium for
people to connect with each other” -@KengoKuma

REDISCOVERING NATURE WITH A COMPUTER

Soaring buildings with swooping curves and awe-inducing metal façades – the type of architecture that has dominated for nearly two decades – create a sense of wonder, but don’t promote human intimacy or comfort. Instead, Kuma believes that natural materials create the peace that humans instinctively crave.

His most iconic designs – beginning with his award-winning guest house in China known as “Great (Bamboo) Wall” – prominently feature wood and bamboo.

Even the stadium he designed for the 2020 Olympics in Japan – the first Olympic stadium built in his country since Tange’s 1964 project – is defined by its wooden details.

Ironically, however, Kuma’s transition from the concrete, steel and glass of the Industrial Age to the traditional, natural materials that define KKAA’s newest and most iconic projects has been enabled by the leading symbol of the modern age: the computer.

Celebrated Japanese architect Kengo Kuma (Image © K.K. Human Centrix)

“It’s really difficult to use natural materials, to be honest,” Kuma said. “There is so much variability. No two pieces are the same, first of all, and you always have to deal with each material’s size restrictions. The challenge is figuring out how to get all those pieces to fit together and create a functional structure, and that’s where computers are so helpful. It seems to me that you need computer technology to bring natural materials to architectural fruition. Otherwise, they are just too diverse and complicated to orchestrate.”

AUTOMATING THE ROUTINE RELEASES CREATIVITY

By managing many of the critical but routine and time-consuming tasks – from verifying structural integrity to compiling precise lists of materials to managing budgets – advanced computer technology, especially Building Information Management (BIM), actually frees architects to focus on creativity, Kuma said.

“Technological progress had had a big impact. We use CAD to design things in 3D now, for example. With computers, we can dream up virtually any architectural space and convert those ideas into actual drawings. As technology continues to liberate our imaginations, it’s cool how the digital advances in the architectural world have gone step-in-step with a renewed awareness of ‘the real thing.’”

Modern architects tend to spend most of their time finding solutions to engineering, scheduling and budget problems, not creating great designs, Kuma said.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: #Architects are spending time engineering/scheduling/
budgeting, not on creating great designs @KengoKuma @3DSAEC #BIM

“When you call on what BIM can do, it becomes possible to balance out engineering- type solutions with creativity. For example, people used to balance the budget at the end of the project to see whether the costs fell in line with the projections. Those days are now gone. Now you must have your budget in mind right out of the gates and work under those preconditions the whole time, gathering feedback and adjustments as you go. That’s why it’s almost impossible to manage your budget without BIM.

“Achieving a balance of solutions and creativity is one of the biggest issues in the architecture industry. If we can find a way to put these two things together, then I feel we can massively transform the architecture industry.”

DEMOCRATIZING DESIGN

While computers give architects more freedom, however, they also create an environment in which they will face more challenges to their authority, Kuma said.

“Computers democratize architecture,” he said.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “Computers democratize
#architecture” -@KengoKuma @3DSAEC

“For example, someone who is a complete newcomer to architecture will be able to design their own house. Architects who have enjoyed privilege up to now may be opposed to this, but ultimately I think that architecture will belong to everyone. When that happens, I think we will be in for a very interesting future.”

In this new era, Kuma envisions architects being valued less for their engineering prowess and their ability to bring projects in on time and budget and more for their creativity and ability to create harmony, both in the buildings they design and in the working environments they create.

“If you try to make architecture more complicated, there is no end to how complicated it can get,” Kuma said.

“For that reason, I make sure to keep a model right in front of me. Everyone gathers around the model and talks. I feel that’s the key to not getting complicated. Everyone is actually very interested in architecture. So I think that if we keep things simple, a number of different people can take part in it.”

Sunny Hills Japan (Image © Daici Ano)

NURTURING AN OPEN, CREATIVE ENVIRONMENT

Part of keeping the working environment open involves avoiding hierarchical structures so that everyone’s ideas can be heard, Kuma said, even as KKAA expands beyond Japan with offices in China and Paris.

“I try to maintain a flat organizational structure,” Kuma said. “We want people to understand that they must take on a certain amount of risk when they assume responsibility for something, so we try to stay away from building too much of a hierarchy. That structure lulls you into thinking that someone else higher up on the ladder will always be there, ready to take responsibility for whatever you do. We want everyone to feel responsible for themselves and know that they are creators.”

In addition to encouraging a sense of responsibility, he encourages cultural diversity in KKAA’s staff.

“This diversity doesn’t dilute the character of KKAA; it strengthens it,” he said. “Our organization should be structured so that all of these people can really participate. That is what makes the identity of the organization stronger.”

Kuma’s philosophy is consistent with his definition of leadership.

“I think how qualified you are as a leader really depends on how easy of an environment you can create for everyone to speak up,” he said. “If you create an environment where everyone can easily speak their mind, different opinions will come forth and from those opinions you can find a balance. If nobody expresses their opinions, there’s really nothing you can do.”

A LONG-TERM VIEW

In a world that is rediscovering the beauty of natural materials and human connections, of sustainability and long-term value, Kuma believes that architects are well positioned to lead.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: #Architects can lead us into an era of human connections,
#sustainability & long-term value -@KengoKuma @3DSAEC

“The advantage the architecture industry has is that it can think over longer timespans, as much as 10 years from the start to the finish of project,” he said.

“We are entering an age that is going to be all about taking longer periods of time to think about what will make people happy, rather than shooting for short-term increases in profit.

“Architects are accustomed to listening to people about things. They are accustomed to thinking about things over long periods of time. Architects are people with universally applicable skills.”

Originally published in COMPASS: The 3DEXPERIENCE Magazine

RELATED RESOURCES

Façade Design for Fabrication Industry Process Experience

WHITEPAPER Technological Changes Brought by BIM to Façade Design

Kengo Kuma & Associates Adopts Design for Fabrication

Profiting From Unity

By Akio
Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

The construction industry is turning to the cloud for improved efficiency and profitability.

The rapidly growing global construction industry suffers from fragmentation, which increases risks, leads to wasteful practices and negatively affects project delivery and stakeholder interests. But now, cloud-based collaborative tools are replacing traditional industry practices with new business models that imagine, design and construct better buildings.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: #AEC Turns to the Cloud
for Improved Efficiency & Profitability


Article by Nic Lerner, originally printed in COMPASS Magazine 

From the Construction Intelligence Center to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), most industry trackers agree that construction is in for a boom.

A PwC–sponsored report entitled “Global Construction 2030,” published by Global Construction Perspectives with Oxford Economics, predicts a compound growth of 85%, to US$15.5 trillion, by 2030.

That level of expansion is more than a percentage point higher than the 3.9% annual growth rate projected for the global economy as a whole, driven in large part by rapid growth in urban populations.

But a dark cloud looms behind those silver growth projections.

The industry, experts agree, is so fragmented with numerous segments – architects, engineers, construction firms and dozens of trades both big and small – that it is not prepared to handle this level of expansion.

A LEGAL TANGLE

Javier Glatt, co-founder and CEO of CadMakers Virtual Construction, a Vancouver-based integrated construction technology firm, said the reasons for fragmentation come down to legal responsibility.

“The causes of fragmentation are risk and liability issues and their apportionment through the industry,” he said.

As buildings become bigger and increasingly complex, they require more specialized skills at every stage. Tiers of subcontractors are appointed not only to do the work, but also to carry some of the risk.

Glatt cites a misalignment of incentives between stakeholders and contractors, with some working to push down costs while others seek to benefit from budget increases.

Even the design process becomes fragmented, with different contractors responsible for structures, facades, visualization, analysis and multiple building systems.

The good news, however, is that there is plenty of room for improvement.

“Automating processes and making prefabricated components off-site reduce risk, cost, waste and errors,” he said.

“Working with a single unified 3D model that everyone has access to helps solve a lot of problems that arise when contractors don’t or can’t communicate among themselves.”

When each contractor produces its own individual model and data, the chances of error and miscommunication increase.

With a unified project model, Glatt said, “builders understand their role in the project and their interactions with other contractors. They can concentrate on their core skills, solve problems and build better.”

PERCENTAGE GAINS

Research conducted by Dodge Data & Analytics, a leading data, analytics, news and intelligence provider for the North American construction industry, reinforces these observations.

Donna Laquidara-Carr, the company’s Insights Research director, said that their analysis of Architecture, Engineering & Construction (AEC) industry data, from a study conducted in partnership with the Lean Construction Institute, shows that 92% of “typical projects” – those that suffer from fragmentation – experience delays, 85% go over budget and 63% suffer quality defects.

“The data demonstrates that integrated project delivery correlates with significant performance improvements and waste reduction,” Laquidara-Carr said. “And we hear time and again that the key to unlocking these benefits is early stage collaboration.”

The data shows that only 1% of owners deployed project integration tools on typical projects, she said, but that these tools were used on 22% of the industry’s “best-performing projects.”

Consequently, positive team chemistry was reported on 68% of the “best projects,” compared with just 10% on “typical projects.” Teams were well- integrated on 61% of the “best projects,” but only on 9% of “typical projects.”

The data indicate that when all stakeholders – including owners, contractors and trades – are integrated in a virtual “big room” that facilitates working together as one team, the AEC industry functions better, Laquidara-Carr said.

A virtual “big room” is a term for a unified online communications and collaboration platform.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) was heralded as a solution to fragmentation, but industry experience has not been consistently positive.

Tim Beckett, director of Beckett Rankine, a UK-based specialist marine civil engineering consultancy, is a design contractor on the 25-kilometer (16 miles), 7.4-meter (24 feet) diameter Thames Tideway Tunnel. The super sewer is budgeted at £4.2 billion (US$5.2 billion) and will reach depths of 65 meters (213 feet).

Tideway is building the Thames Tideway Tunnel to tackle the problem of overflows from London’s Victorian sewers for at least the next 100 years, and enable the UK to meet European environmental standards. (Image © Tideway)

Tideway is building the Thames Tideway Tunnel to tackle the problem of overflows from London’s Victorian sewers for at least the next 100 years, and enable the UK to meet European environmental standards. (Image © Tideway)

Standard BIM systems can be “clunky to use, expensive to buy and require specialist skills to operate,” Beckett said. However, he sees benefits in a cloud-based approach, which offers the advantages and capabilities of BIM while making information more broadly available to people of all skill levels.

“The Thames Tideway Tunnel is expected to operate for more than a century, so all the data must be future-proofed,” Beckett said.

“A cloud-based solution to project management at this scale would allow stakeholders simple, easy, cheap, permanent and traceable access to the data that they need, today and into the future.”

CONTINENTS UNITED

“Visual simulations and high-resolution data are necessary to properly think through very complex projects,” said John Cerone, director of Virtual Design and Construction at New York-based architecture firm SHoP Architects.

“Standard BIM supports traditional building practices, but builders are seeing that a high-quality, unified 3D cloud-based approach helps them make more money by being more efficient.”

That the industry will accept a unified approach to managing building project data is only a matter of time, Cerone said.

“Construction is such a large part of the global economy that many billions can be saved and made through efficiencies,” he said.

Encouragingly, SHoP is hearing significant interest from builders who want to share the benefits of a unified approach.

Replacing linear processes with the concurrent working practices enabled by a unified approach speeds the design-to-fabrication process and introduces greater accuracy while automatically maintaining financial rigor.

“If car companies can know how much steel goes into a car, to the micron, why can’t you do that with a building?” Cerone said.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “Car companies know how much steel goes into
a car to the micron; why not buildings?” @SHoPArchitects

On a current project, Botswana Innovation Hub, an iconic symbol of Botswana’s support for research and development, SHoP has attained this level of “digital craft” across continents.

The results, Cerone said, are “speed with no waste, total accuracy of fabrication and absolute budgetary control.”

“A new 3D-model-based paradigm that actually incentivizes innovation, produces higher profits and helps make better buildings is coursing through the AEC industry,” Cerone said. “The industry is transforming, and it is very exciting to be a part of it.”

4 Benefits of Building Lifecycle Management:

BIM (Building Information Modeling) data, combined with PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) capabilities and processes, creates “Building Lifecycle Management” (BLM), which can increase construction predictability, long-term value and profitability. Main benefits include:

Improve Productivity: BLM helps remove version-control issues, with all users accessing a single live database. Human error, rework and iterations can be drastically reduced.

Increase Quality and Value: Armed with richer data in context, designers can make better decisions. Data access also improves coordination among builders and suppliers, allowing them to more quickly and accurately realize the design intent. BLM also offers built-in governance and traceability, improving accountability.

Reduce Waste, Risk and Cost: BLM is designed to reduce waste by more accurately predicting outcomes, identifying potential points of conflict and optimizing processes. BLM also reduces risk to the project schedule, worker safety and the overall construction budget.

Gain a Competitive Advantage: A BLM system enables a team to become more efficient than competitors, deliver higher quality, gain the loyalties of owners and design partners and retain a healthier profit margin.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: #AEC Turns to the Cloud
for Improved Efficiency & Profitability

RELATED RESOURCES

WHITEPAPER End-To-End Collaboration Enabled by BIM Level 3: An Architecture, Engineering & Construction Industry Solution Based on Manufacturing Best Practices

Design for Fabrication Industry Solution Experience

Intelligent Construction: Transforming the Industry in the Digital Age

By John S.
Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

Excerpted from the keynote address, “Strategic Business Transformation for the Building & Construction Industry,” delivered to the BIM-MEP AUS Construction Innovation 2016 Forum on August 4, 2016 in Sydney, Australia.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: Intelligent Construction: Transforming
#AEC in the Digital Age | @bimmepaus @3DSAEC


John Stokoe CB CBE Head of Strategy EuroNorth, Dassault Systemes

John Stokoe, CB, CBE, Head of Strategy EuroNorth, Dassault Systèmes

The fourth industrial revolution – the Digital Age – is creating the drivers to transform the Construction Industry as it seeks to exploit the significant advantages to be derived from the effective and efficient use and management of data.

Industry-leading technology, developed for other sectors, is exponentially improving value and efficiency, and can be employed to propel Construction into the digital age.

This impacts not only the Construction Industry but also the logistic supply chains which support it, improving capability and skills, and contributing to the economies and construction potential of the countries involved.

The considerable amount of data which is created during the design, development, construction and utilization of the built asset, if properly configured and integrated, can be harnessed to drive value, cut costs and waste, and used to create a digital asset. This data-driven digital equivalent, when used by the end customer, can provide a dynamic platform on which to manage legacy, sustain the present and plan the future.

Effective configuration management will drive operations and ongoing maintenance, leading to an increase in the return on equity.

With Singapore as a reference, cities across the globe are getting smarter with data sources and multiple sensors connecting people, services and things, so they can engage with each other.

Bringing together infrastructure, social capital and technology fuels sustainable economic and social development, with the aim of providing better lives and urban environments for all. Cities are not just trying to be smarter, but are using technology to engineer their futures.

Cities are on an upward technology path. The construction industry, however, is not taking the same dynamic trajectory.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “#Cities are on upward technology path;
#AEC is not taking same dynamic trajectory” -@stokoe_john

Construction itself is often an outdated, dangerous, and low-productivity industry. The Industry must start driving value and keeping pace with the development of future cities.

But steering the Construction Industry in the right direction has challenged planners for decades. This is especially true in the UK, which lags behind many countries and much of Asia for modern building practice.

Process models for construction have remained largely the same for hundreds of years.

As a stark example, though materials were very different, the construction techniques employed to build the 72-story Shard tower in London were not that different from those employed to construct St Paul’s Cathedral nearly 400 years ago. (However, St Paul’s took 35 years to build, the Shard three, so some things have improved!)

Essential transformation is emerging.

  • Automated manufacture of building components is leading to lower construction costs, improved quality, and significantly reduced waste.
  • On-site work consists of assembly of quality-assured parts, each guaranteed to be fit for purpose.
  • 3D technology has made significant inroads into architectural design and fabrication to excellent effect.

But process modeling at the construction phase is virtually non-existent. When we get it right, we will see Building Information Modeling literally take on new dimensions, at the design stage, during construction, and ultimately in building management, enabling built assets to be managed economically and effectively using real-time sensor data fed onto the platform; this breathes life into the digital equivalent.

Using shared 3D experiences to simulate cities and developments reveals potential problems that may not be seen by any other means. Overlaying data reveals new views. And it is possible, with this technology, to predict events in transport systems and hubs, in public services, in utility provisioning, and in security.

Seamlessly linking the system to financial software allows cost planning and budgetary predictability. By this means, potential problems and their outcomes can be observed, costed and fixed before they occur.

A significant business opportunity appears as this scientific approach is extended into the supply chain.

When collaborative practices, which have powered other industries into innovation, are applied to building, they produce stunning results.

A construction supply chain, sharing closed data, can have a major positive impact on the time and cost to deliver a project, adding value to the overall process.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “Sharing closed data w/#AEC supply chain = major impact
on project time & cost” @stokoe_john @bimmepaus @3DSAEC

Many building projects overrun and outspend their budgets by more than 20% and end in expensive and wasteful litigation.

Between concept and delivery of a finished building lie the stages of design and engineering, contracts, bids and awards, fabrication and construction.

Each stage is fraught with risk, and stakeholders’ risk in a building project of any kind can be more than financial. Buildings define their locations and neighborhoods; people have emotional attachments to them.

Much of this risk can be reduced when clients, architects, contractors, communities and stakeholders work on the same current unified knowledge platform, where guesswork and misinterpretation are removed, and open yet secure collaborative integration is a given.

Litigation at, during, or after a construction project is commonly the result of poor communication between systems and people.

Errors with building components and services are expected, and usually occur, but are absolutely avoidable.

Simply unifying the change order system on a building project allows people to work collaboratively. They have access to the current status of the building and its information. This enables better informed strategic and tactical decision making at all stages and virtually eliminates errors caused by wrong or superseded instructions being acted upon.

In summary, technology can forever change the popular perception of the Construction Industry as one which is labor-intensive, wasteful, costly, and financially and physically risky.

A dynamic, effective, high-value Construction Industry will attract investment and become an economic driver.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “An effective Construction Industry can be
an economic driver” -@stokoe_john @3DSAEC #AEC

Effective configuration management will drive operations and ongoing services and maintenance, leading to an increase in return on equity, and the ability to compete more effectively in a demanding industrial and economic climate, leading in turn to national economic growth able to withstand global economic shocks, as well as expanding job opportunity and stimulating economic activity and increased GDP growth.

Integrated and configured data on a dynamic business experience platform gives the politician, the business leader, the developer, and the people who are forging global and national economies, a window into their world – a window into what might be as they shoulder the legacy of the past, manage the reality of the present, and shape the vision of the future.


MEMKO and Dassault Systèmes' Exhibit at the 2016 BIM-MEP AUS Construction Innovation Forum

MEMKO and Dassault Systèmes’ booth at the 2016 BIM-MEP AUS Construction Innovation Forum

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: Intelligent Construction: Transforming
#AEC in the Digital Age | @bimmepaus @3DSAEC


Related Resources

Collaborative, Industrialized Construction

Design for Fabrication Industry Solution Experience: Connect Your Design Data from Concept to Delivery

Optimized Construction Industry Solution Experience: Eliminate Waste and Increase Profits



Page 1 of 1212345...10...Last »