A few years ago, it would be the stuff of science fiction to imagine designing a home using virtual reality. Now, however, homeowners and developers can immerse themselves in a virtual environment while their building is still in the planning stage. There was a time drones were just for kids and realtors. Now, their use in construction for surveying and inspections is becoming mainstream, with new developments every week.
Hot on the heels of FBR’s Hadrian X, the revolutionary bricklaying robot, Jobsite spoke to two forward-looking construction technology experts about what the future looks like for the industry, and what technological construction trends lie in Australia’s near future.
When looking to future trends, Nick Deeks, Joint Global Chairman and Australian Managing Director of WT Partnership, admits that even though the construction industry is quite slow to adopt new technology, some exciting advances are likely to grow more prevalent in 2019 and beyond.
Deeks give his take on where drones are headed, the benefits of timber construction, wearable tech’s slow and steady growth, smart buildings and the rise of modular construction and 3D printed dwellings.
Deeks: [Drones] are already being used to great success in civil projects, bulk earthworks, GPS mapping, and other surveying projects. We have just used drones to survey a university on the West Coast of the US. In the span of two years, we have seen drones going from barely known to being used in most civil construction projects.
In the span of two years, we have seen drones going from barely known to being used in most civil construction projects.
What’s more, the capacity and pixelation and GPS mapping capability will all improve in the near future. We need to see developers or large developments and apartments keep up with drone technology and start incorporating drone landing platforms into everyday living. Drones will become part of day-to-day life. These technologies would also be used so much more if only our laws and regulations could keep up to speed with it. For example, we can’t use drones in high-rise city locations due to CASA regulations.
Sustainability and environmental benefits will increase in timber buildings. It is as robust as other materials, but we are constrained as far as the height we can go. Timber buildings are sustainable; they have excellent benefits to our feelings of well-being. In fact, it contributes to our health and happiness. Being inside a timber building makes people work better in the average work day. They become more collaborative, communicate more, and are in a better mood.
This will have considerable benefits in terms of OH&S, but I think there is a long period between invention and conception to releasing a ready product onto the market. While wearable tech is being used in some places, it may not be really big until beyond 2019. Things are moving pretty quickly though.
I think we will see a rise in “smarts within a building” next year. Smarter buildings equate to better lighting control, better energy efficiency, and proper air-conditioning control. We might start using some higher performance glazing so as not to introduce so much solar load inside the building.
Moldular Construction and 3D Printed Dwellings
Modular construction is on the rise, but it faces a PR problem—people don’t necessarily find it appealing. One modular home looks the same as another. 3D-printed dwellings, however, are growing in popularity in the Netherlands. They look pretty futuristic, and while they most likely won’t come to Australia next year, they will come out here in the future. After all, if you could build a house for $5,000, why wouldn’t you?
After all, if you could build a house for $5,000, why wouldn’t you?
Jobsite also spoke to tech entrepreneur and futurist, founder and Managing Director at Limpid Property, Bachir El Khoury about where construction technology is headed in 2019 and beyond.
Limpid Property develops intelligent 3D visualisation platforms and software. It equips architects, councils, property developers and real-estate agents with the insights and modern tools to more efficiently plan, design, construct, market and sell their new developments. Its software Archilab, is used by architects and councils to perform solar analysis and shadow studies for newly developed projects.
El Khoury’s list of construction trends also featured the growth of modular buildings and drones, but it included some other predictions, including augmented reality and home analytics:
EL Khoury: In 2018, we saw Augmented Reality getting over the gimmick stage and going mainstream, following Apple and Google's announcements that AR is now natively available on the latest iOS and Android devices. Augmented Reality will play a huge role in construction, giving builders an x-ray vision into walls and allowing them to visualise BIM (Building Information Modeling) directly at the job site.
Augmented Reality will play a huge role in construction.
In the past few years, we have seen hundreds of IoT (internet of things) devices designed specifically for homes to make them smarter and friendlier. Voice assistants, such as Amazon's Alexa or Google Home, can help you play music, ask questions, make calls, and control pretty much all lights and appliances in your home. Being a form of AI, these devices will continually self-improve, learn more about our needs, and connect to more devices at home.
In 1923, architect Le Corbusier described a house as "a machine for living in." As homes continue to become smarter, the next step in their evolution is to connect and form a network. Just like computers/servers connected in a network to form the internet, solar-powered homes will form an interconnected cell-powered network, thus generating and managing power and energy more efficiently. Builders will need to employ IT and networking engineers to design and set up the infrastructure for the technology that will power smart homes and cities.
"What gets measured gets managed" ~ Peter Drucker (American management guru)
If you have a website, you most likely have analytics set up to measure and monitor traffic and user behaviour on your site. In the near future, we will start to see more applications of analytics in residential and commercial buildings. This way we will get real-time insights into the amount of traffic and behaviour of visitors, allowing the smart building to make adjustments to its features. That could include turning off lights where there are no people, adjusting temperatures, closing shutters for the facades that are facing the sun, or opening lanes for the carpark exits instead of just one when everyone is leaving the office for home.