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GUEST BLOG: The future builders will be programmers

As software continues to pave the way to more advanced and complex buildings, the question arises over the shift in skills our future builders will need. Potentially, we will require builders with more technological skills than practical skills, especially as artificial intelligence continues to develop enough to be able to take over basic labour tasks. In this article, building design software experts Oasys explores the matter further… 

Worrying about technology and jobs 

It’s a common concern, that one day all our jobs will be done quicker and cheaper by machines. Technology will not steal our jobs, but just replace us as we shift roles. But how will this impact the construction industry? 

It’s important to understand the numbers behind predictions like this. Boston Consulting Group has said that by 2025, up to a quarter of jobs will be replaced by smart software or robots. This includes a range of professions, from factory workers to doctors, and even journalists. However, a study carried out by Oxford University has said that 35% of existing jobs in Britain are at risk of automation in the next 20 years.

Whether or not we will see a reduction in physical workers is yet to be seen. However, this can be challenged if we start preparing early and encourage current and future workers to adapt to the changes. This could include advancing their own skillset with a focus on how they can do their job better with the use of technology.

Less replacing, more changing 

Of course, even if the workforce is replaced with mechanical workers, someone will need to manage this technology. It’s also left unmentioned that workers will need to use technology, and that leads us to the decision that in the construction industry, builders of the future will become programmers. Over the years, we have seen constant changes in the way we work, and the construction sector has been very accepting to new and innovative methods to make jobs easier. From hammers to nail guns, shovels to diggers — and now practical labour to programming.

This won’t be a quick change. Programming is a topic that schools around the UK should be looking to implement into their curriculums as a core subject to keep up with the demand of jobs and to keep up with the constant changes in technology. If we’re teaching young people old ways, they will be useless when it comes to doing the work and there might not even be jobs available that match their skillsets. With the constant growth in technology surrounding construction, young people need to be prepared with the skills and this shouldn’t be up for debate. Like the studies discussed earlier, more jobs are at risk of being lost due to smart software and robots. Workers need to be as good as the technology.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a common technology used in the industry that is hugely beneficial. This technology allows the appropriate people to access all of the information about a project in one place. It can look at key stages of a project across the lifecycle of a job and provide the information that is needed. This can save both time and money for any construction company and allows builders to have a clear oversight. BIM can help illustrate the entire building, from starting processes to its demolition, and can even show how materials can be reused. 

As with any industry, the trick is to stay ahead of the game and learn these new techniques required of technology in order to adapt. 

Sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-33327659

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/mar/19/robot-based-economy-san-francisco

GUEST BLOG: The most advanced buildings in the world

Technology is pushing the boundaries across the world, and the construction sector is seeing the same revolution.

Buildings can be planned to a finer detail than ever before, and architects can take their constructions to the next level, with easy access to information such as materials, building use, and climate. Oasys, providers of retaining wall solutions, has joined us to explore some of the best builds from around the world… 

Burj Khalifa in Dubai

The Burj Khalifa (pictured, above), sometimes called the Burj Dubai, stands at a staggering 2,722 feet and holds the crown as the tallest structure in the world. Starting construction in 2004 and finalising the project in 2008, many decisions had to be made to ensure that this neo-futurism structure was able to serve its purpose, acknowledging that it would be a free-standing building and understanding the hot climate it would be situated in.

Desalination plants provide Dubai with fresh water from sea water, which is then pumped to the Burj Khalifa and other skyscrapers through underground networks. When the water hits the Burj, it is distributed to every corner of every floor on every level. However, with 163 floors, this can become a complicated process, which shows us just how special the Burj Khalifa actually is in terms of design.

The structure was created by four architects, who realised that using one pump to send the water to the skyscraper’s heights would be dangerous due to the pressure that could cause the pipes to explode. To counter this problem, they came up with a plan to help the water flow up the building in different stages.

Starting from the basement, the next stage for the water is on the 40th floor reservoir. This then continues to a series of 200,000-gallon tanks until it reaches the top of the building. As the water reaches the top, the water then travels back down under its own weight — it is said that 946,000 litres of water are supplied per day which also helps the building stay cool in the hot climate.

As a desert city, keeping the building cool is a priority. Therefore, another water supply — an ice-chilled water system which is the first of its kind to be used in the Middle East — has also been implemented to enable substantial energy savings.

Taipei 101 in Taiwan

Next on the list is the previous tallest building in the world, the Taipei 101. Platinum certified for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the building didn’t just focus on beating the then-tallest structure record. Up until 2016, the structure had the fastest elevator on the planet, which could travel from the 5th to 89th floor in 37 seconds!

Taiwan is no stranger to different buildings, housing everything traditional buildings and hyper-modern designs like the Tuntex Sky Tower. But what makes it so spectacular? Starting construction in 1999 and ending in 2004, the Taipei has 101 floors (if the name had not given it away) and is 1,666 ft in height — but the environmental factors that took over its design has changed the way we build for good.

Taiwan is frequently hit by natural disasters, and architects must keep this in mind when designing buildings. When it comes to Taipei 101, the structure can withstand high winds of 134 mph, which is due to the model prioritising resistance through the use of curtain walls, protected glass and high-performance steel. The walls can provide heat and ultraviolet protection by blocking external heat by 50%.

The building is supported by eight mega columns of 10,000 pounds of concrete per inch, along with 28 other steel columns. Within Taipei 101, there are outrigger trusses every eight floors which connect to the columns within the exterior to ensure secure resistance from probable natural disasters in and around Taiwan.

Apple Park, Campus 2: California

Apple, one of the biggest tech companies in the world, has recently moved premises. Worth a staggering $234.7bn, the company, which is now one of the biggest on the planet, was able to invest a further $5bn into a new building and move its tremendous workforce into a circular futuristic structure. The new office-space, which opened in April 2017 midway through construction, is made up of 175 acres — and is even bigger than The Pentagon.

With a roof made entirely of solar panels, it goes without saying that the building is super-energy efficient. The solar panels are capable of generating 17 megawatts of power (75% during peak daytime) and the company has aims to make the complex entirely powered by renewable energy in the future. Another four megawatts are powered through the use of biofuel and natural gas within the complex, using Bloom Energy Servers which are popular within the Californian region, with Google, Yahoo and Wal-Mart using them, too.

Natural air control, heating, and ventilation (HVAC) has been a top focus point for the design team of this building. To achieve this, air is allowed to flow freely between the inside and outside of the building, which can help assist for nine months of the entire year — highlighting the importance of such features in the DNA of design.

It will be interesting to see how technology continues to advance projects that require the balance of design and vital survival features. For example, London is set to have 13 new skyscrapers by 2026 — we know that these will be designed to uphold the ethical requirements for a modern-day structure.

Sources: https://www.airah.org.au/Content_Files/HVACRNation/2010/March2010/HVACRNation2010-03-F01.pdf

http://www.burjkhalifa.ae/en/the-tower/construction.aspx

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taipei_101

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Park

architecture

GUEST BLOG: Innovative architecture – The buildings of the future

As populations begin to live longer, and climate change threatens the existence of land mass on our planet, the need to establish where we will live in the future has become an important consideration.

By 2100, the world’s population could increase to 11.2 billion, and it is estimated that almost all population growth will occur within our cities. In 1930, only 30% of the world’s population lived in cities – compared to around 50% today; by 2050 66.7% of the world’s population will live in cities.

Now, architects are designing and constructing the buildings of the future, as a result of an increased demand for space within urban areas. As we move forward and replace older designs, new builds will help to accommodate our increasingly complex living-needs.

Together with Oasys, specialists in building design and pedestrian simulation software, we explore these cutting-edge structures and how they have become a reality…

Timbers that are taller

For architects that need to find an alternative to metals, timber structures are becoming taller and more structurally sound. This is because many are now praising its sustainability and quality, whilst realising how fast a structure can be built.

When it comes to building structures with timber, attitudes towards this practice are becoming increasingly progressive; this is because CLT (cross laminated timber) regulations are sparse. With its improved strength and stability due to more sophisticated engineering techniques – wooden skyscrapers are becoming a thing of the present, not the future.

Wenlock Cross in Hackney is perhaps the most impressive new structure that is being created with CLT. More commonly known as The Cube Building, standing at 6,750sq metres, the scheme is a hybrid mix of timber and steel. The building seamlessly blends into grass parks that surround the area, but also looks right at home amongst other urbanised buildings that make up London’s metropolitan landscape. As developments progress in the construction and implementation of timber structures, only time will tell how wooden buildings will influence the future of architecture.

Dynamic Tower Hotel: The Rotating Skyscraper

Designed by Israeli-Italian architect David Fisher, downtown Dubai is about to host the world’s first rotating skyscraper. The structure was originally proposed in 2008, but after being put on hold, the structure has now been set for completion by 2020.

Built in four dimensions, the structure will constantly change shape as it rotates, and in theory, the apartment block should never look the same twice. Though each apartment will be able to rotate 360 degrees independently, the speed will be adjustable, and the stationary core will contain the elevator with apartments off-shooting this core.

Leading the way when it comes to environment design, this new superstructure is an innovative one of a kind. The structure is proposed to power itself, as there will be wind turbines between each floor, negating the need for excessive power supplies from fossil fuels. An apartment will not come cheap, with prices set to be at around US $30 million. This is an exclusive project for those who want to pay the price to be at the forefront of innovation.

Garden buildings

In the East, skyscrapers are being designed that utilise the natural greenery that surrounds them, unlike older designs in the West. The East intends to build structures that encourage biodiversity, helping tropical spaces thrive within natural environments.

Nanjing Green Light House

Nanjing Green Light House stands in Nanjing, Jiangsu, China. Unlike a conventional light house, it is named in this way because through its round structure and sophisticated façade designs, the building is able to gain 200 LUX natural daylight for all working spaces – making it one of the first zero carbon buildings in mainland china.

China’s vast and natural foliage was the inspiration behind this building’s design; in this way, the natural landscape becomes as important as the building itself. Through natural ventilation techniques, exposed windows and moveable skylights, anyone can enjoy this working space that incorporates natural designs.

Oasia Hotel Downtown

Standing amongst limited green spaces, this building is the urban backdrop of downtown Singapore. This tropical skyscraper counteracts the Central Business District within the Tanjong Pagar area, and is meant to act as a prototype for how urbans tropics will function within man-made landscapes.

Functioning as additional ‘ground levels’, the building contains a number of sky gardens. Within the structure, this helps to provide public areas for recreation and social interaction within an inner-city environment. Each sky verandah is open sided, which provides natural breezes to pass through the building for good cross-ventilation without the need for air-conditioning units. The building is also considered a natural haven for wildlife, with an overall green plot ratio of 1,100% – reintroducing biodiversity into the city that was initially driven away through construction.

It’s clear that architecture of the future has three key priorities in mind: reducing carbon emissions through construction and functionality, encouraging biodiversity and utilising natural exteriors within the interior of a building. If these priorities are sustained, it’s clear that the future of architecture will not only transform lives, but benefit our natural environments as well.

Sources & Further Reading:

http://www.thenational.ae/uae/dubai-in-line-for-worlds-first-rotating-skyscraper

https://www.eboss.co.nz/detailed/pamela-bell/tall-timber-construction-new-updates

https://www.hawkinsbrown.com/news-and-events/press/tall-in-timber

https://www.wired.com/2015/04/20-buildings-show-future-architecture/

http://www.businessinsider.com/see-the-future-collection-2011-6?IR=T#rumored-foster-and-partners-new-apple-campus-on-june-7th-apple-founder-and-ceo-steve-jobs-presented-his-idea-for-a-new-apple-campus-at-the-cupertino-city-council-10

http://weburbanist.com/2009/05/27/unbuilt-buildings-12-awesome-future-architectural-designs/

http://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/these-6-new-buildings-are-the-future-of-sustainable-architecture

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150901-is-the-world-running-out-of-space