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Has there been any significant disruption in the Architecture and Interior Design practice since the invention and mass implementation of CAD or Computer Aided Design?

In my career spanning almost 30 years, I have experienced the First Disruption. The evolution of manual drafting, airbrushed perspectives and on the spot pencil sketches to full CAD drawing and Photorealistic 3D renders and animated walkthroughs. The experience of a rapidly changing technological environment has made me wanting for more innovation to happen in the future.

The Office Designer Architectural Disruption


As I travel at the crossroads of my career, I keep on wondering when is the next disruption likely to occur, what's next? BIM, virtual & augmented reality? I think not, they are just upgrades and an extension of what has been established before. I am looking at a total revamp of the system just like what occurred during the First Disruption. It took a paradigm shift in the mindset of manual drafters like us to move into computers. The fear of change and the steep learning curve that comes with the early adopters.

"Having experienced the First Disruption, I was thinking about the possible scenarios where the next Disruption will likely occur and singled out a few possible areas where it can take place."

The Office Designer Disruption 2

  • On Mobile Devices, as people tend to move from the desktop to mobile devices there is an upside on innovative technologies available that can change how we create and design spaces. With a snap of a photo, geo-tagging, real-time visualization that can turn into holograms thru augmented reality. These apps can forever change the Architecture and Interior Design space.
  • On the Cloud, in harmony of being on mobile with high-speed connectivity. Huge chunks of data can now be easily accessible anytime and anywhere. You don't even need to be in the office to work. Teams can download big data and collaborate real-time in both local and mobile devices in any time zone.
  • On Artificial Intelligence, A group of MIT students is now working on template-based AI design software for interior spaces. Meaning just upload a plan or photo and the system will automatically generate a design idea for a client based on inputted preference without human intervention. For now, it's still science fiction but five years down the road, remember to have read it here first.
  • On Crowdsourcing, Big firms that function with a multitude of designers and drafters will cut their overheads. The structured Architectural and Interior Design studios will be a thing of the past. Social media will give birth to a crowd-based platform that will encourage virtual teams to work together. That will give rise to the design studios of the future.

The most significant of all is the development of 3D Printing associated with Robotics.


If you can just spend a minute of your time to watch this video you will be amazed by what the future hold. With just $10,000 anyone can 3D print a house at a fraction of the time required to build one in a conventional way.

As a result, the next disruption is good for everyone but like the first one, it comes with a price. This means fewer humans and more machines. Less creativity and more technology. But this time, there are no steeper learning curves and it will be easier to adapt. Our population is growing but our reliance on technology and machinery has increased exponentially over the years. The problem lies in what will be our purpose as humans and the jobs available in this uncertain future.

Updated on 2 May 2018


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