Digital Co-Design Platforms to Bridge the Gap between Customers and the AEC Industry
Miguel Vidal, the UK director of Labit Group, sat with our AI4AECO community to share how Labit Group employs AI and computational design to make people’s lives better by incorporating users into the design process.
Unlike the car industry, which has been evolving to adapt and adjust to users’ needs and experiences, the AEC industry has not experienced such evolution. The three top reasons why are as follows:
- No human-centric design: On the one hand, developers and contractors tend to produce and market pre-defined solutions that they have built in the past (‘push’) without integration of the end-user needs and wants in the design process (‘pull’). This is evident in the housing market. On the other hand, designers who use computational techniques have historically used them for one-off solutions that are not scalable or replicable.
- No knowledge repository: We don’t have a feedback loop to systematically transfer lessons learned from one project to another or engage the end-user in that process. Developers and designers are missing a big portion of the buildings’ life and consumer satisfaction cycle.
- Higher demand for housing: The growth of population means higher demand for housing. Therefore, we need to design high-quality houses in a short time. Poor housing quality and lack of innovation in this area are highlighted as critical issues that are dragging down the UK homebuilding industry.
What if we had a design platform that could systematically capture lessons learned and feedback gathering during the whole building lifecycle (design to construction to operations) to enhance quality and the design of future buildings by delivering a better experience to occupants?
Labit Group is an architecture and strategic consultancy company based in Madrid with offices in Barcelona, London, and Paris. The mission of Labit Group is to enable human-centric design. Labit Group is built by architects to create a data-driven design culture, which allows them to have evidence supporting their design decisions. Currently, Labit Group has a data analytics and knowledge management platform called Skylab, which is explained below.
Skylab: Labit Group’s vision is to enable a human-centered approach to technology by which the final users are at the center of focus. To do so, the architects at Labit Group use SkyLab, an internal cloud computing platform that is a repository of information and brings big data into the practice. SkyLab enables the team to control and review the quality of the designs and keep track of every single data point instead of using a massive set of spreadsheets. Such technology brings the idea of dashboards into the whole lifecycle of the buildings, not only the design and construction process. The platform connects developers, customers, and end-users to share information about how a project is performing once the project is built. Design companies can enhance the future design process by bringing knowledge from existing projects into their future projects. For example, the residents of a building are not happy with the materials used in the building, or a pipe breaks after six months. Such a platform and knowledge repository helps clients leverage their lessons learned and guarantee their final users’ happiness and satisfaction with future buildings.
Turing: Labit Group also developed Turing, an AI-based generative design platform, to help with better design and mass production for quality housing. Turing is a web-based interface providing an accessible, scalable, and customizable environment for clients, which doesn’t require previous training or knowledge of computational design for use. Turing allows clients to simply draw a polygon, representing the boundary of the projects, and enter various parameters, like the number of blocks, maximum height, or the number of housing units. Then, Turing generates multiple design variations for clients to visualize and guides them through the solution space generated by the algorithm so they can be deciding actors in the design process. As a result, the clients can review and evaluate several potential options, satisfying their criteria far more quickly. Otherwise, it is costly, time-consuming, error-prone, and in some cases, impossible for designers to create and evaluate so many options for review.
The technologies built by Labit Group enhance the experience of building occupants, enabling project parties to deliver high-quality products, and allowing clients to review and evaluate multiple design options per their criteria more quickly and easily.
Let’s focus on the experience and satisfaction of the end-users (or occupants) rather than only design and construction automation.
Turing: An AI-based Generative Design Platform