Efficient Design and the Flexible Studio

 Architects are seeing a range of technologies reshape their design studios and drive a new way forward for creative architecture. At Hewlett Packard Graphics Solutions Business. 

When we asked architects what they like to focus on day-to-day the inevitable answer is creativity. They want to be more creative and ensure they have more time to focus on creativity. When we ask them about what makes them more creative that is where they gave a really diverse set of answers.

Some cited creative inspiration in nature or art exhibitions or even the dreary buildings in their neighborhood that they’d like to improve. Others looked at the practical things that change their design experience. It is in these down-to-earth conversations that we heard that architects are seeing their design studios become more dynamic and really evolve as creative spaces.

While the nature of inspiration is random and unique to the individual, one creative constant is the design studio. Each architect is seeing their creative space being reshaped by new technologies and capabilities that are helping them to do more with less and bring their creative visions to life with greater speed at a lower cost. They’re also seeing new economic realities drive them to be more flexible and look at new models of working to do more with less.


Creative Spaces

Increasingly, architects are sharing their creative spaces or working in smaller creative units. While five years ago, architects tended to work in bigger teams in central locations, there has been a move to smaller teams that are dispersed and creatively diverse. Technology as well as the economy has driven this shift with better communications tools allowing for remote collaboration while tougher economic times make easier to manage human resource efficiently.

This has led to a lot of shared design studios where not only people from multiple companies share resource; they may come from multiple disciplines. Architects, engineers and graphic designers are pooling resources and making the most of what they have got.

For architects that means working on projects with other architects not just in different offices but often different countries. Communications and collaboration has become key in the modern architecture studio. From Skype to smart devices like tablets to Drop Box and cloud printing, the tools at an architect’s disposal extend the studio to new dimensions.


Communication and Collaboration

The advantage of many of these tools is that they are available anywhere changing the scope of the studio and saving time and money. If they weren’t using these Web-enabled tools, they’d have to print and ship plans to their clients or collaborators and once it was shipped a phone call would need to be scheduled. With the Web, it can be instant. This mix of physical plans and offline conversation slows down the creative process and adds costs to collaboration. It also means that the physical studio needs to remain the absolute centre of gravity for the architect.

It is exciting to see these technologies from our personal lives finding a place in our professional lives and creating value in the studio. The role of the mobility specifically is showing how an architect’s studio will never again be limited to a desktop. When mobility is combined with printing capabilities, architects are seeing the way they work become increasing fluid and flexible. Cloud printing allows a smart device like a tablet or smartphone to become a collaboration tool for reviewing plans and delivering feedback globally.

Cloud printing uses the World Wide Web to distribute plans from the design studio to desktops, printers and smart devices anywhere in the world as long as they are connected to the Web.  This means that an architect can review and revise on the go and never waste a creative moment. Really the studio is extended to anywhere the architect might be.


3D Future

Technology is also expanding what can be done within the studio itself. 3D printing is making modeling instant and accessible without having to look for help beyond the studio. Architects can design in 3D and are now able to print these design and see their creative vision come to life without any waiting or costly outsourcing. Rendering is something that slows down the creative process and architects can bring the modeling process back into the studio and shorten the time from creative inspiration to physical model.

As we continue to explore the future of the architect’s studio in our conversations with architects, there’s a real optimism about this newfound power in technology. It is allowing architects to be both flexible and increasingly creative despite economic uncertainty. The modern architecture studio may be smaller in physical space but the opportunities for collaboration and creativity are bigger than ever.

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