May 102013
 

We have been an early adopter of 3d BIM technology, having used Revit since around 2002 so we can provide virtual designs to our clients and they can realistically see their building  before it is built. The next stage of technology is about to begin with augmented reality (AR).

AR refers to the process of laying computer-generated graphics onto real-world images in realtime. There are two types of AR:

With GPS and location-based technologies, technology originally developed for video and mobile games is combined with positioning software to create new areas of application for construction planning and design.

Vision-based AR uses a device’s camera as a lens through which you can experience an augmented world. To achieve this, a device must process each video frame coming off the camera sensor, compare it with data stored locally or in the cloud, find an object that matches the one in the frame, calculate the device’s relative position to that object, and then draw graphics that appear on top of it.

Hi-tech headsets, while some time away, will eventually come to construction sites and other industrial environments, providing capabilities which we could only dream about a few years ago.

Companies like Google and Vuzix are engaged in the development of head-worn portable computers, which we believe will be the next generation of hi-tech devices to follow the smart phone and tablet computers. It is expected both companies will be releasing their products sometime in 2013.

In architecture is where the greatest impacts will be made – by enabling designs to be uploaded to the glasses and then allowing someone wearing the glasses to view a BIM design or other images superimposed over the real world view of a site. As the wearer walks around the site the view in the glasses will adapt to its surroundings. Once a project is under construction as architects we will be able to visually check designs against what is built.

Google Glass

Google Glass

 

Other potential uses in the construction industry include property maintenance and services and design of HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems. The technology will be able to “see-through” walls and floors for locating plumbing and ventilation systems. This allows teams to observe any changes by comparing the on-site location with information that has already been recorded.

Vuzix Wrap

Vuzix Wrap

 

Similarly a builder will be able to do the same providing faster and more efficient construction times. And the less time architects need to spend on site observing construction of projects, the greater time available to design better buildings. And that is in everyone’s interests.

May 102013
 

With the federal budget about to be brought down on May 14, the federal government could do far worse than foster an economic environment to make economic conditions more conducive to construction activities. Any austerity measures affecting construction activity will only serve to cut off the nose to spite the face.

A leading indicator of construction conditions throughout Australia has dropped to 7 month lows. Overall construction conditions deteriorated last month for the 35th consecutive month and more alarmingly, the pace of that contraction has sped up.

PCI-chart

 

According to the Performance of Construction Index report published by Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) and Housing Industry Association (HIA), in April, the Performance of Construction Index contracted by 3.6 points to 35.2.

In terms of individual sectors, engineering and housing led the decline, while commercial and apartments construction remained in negative territory frustrated by very tight credit conditions, large taxes and stiffingly high regulation. All of this coupled with weak demand resulting from a weak economy and historically high debt does little to stimulate further investment.

May 012013
 

In April 2006, Apple purchased nine adjoining properties to build Apple Campus 2 in Silicon Valley, USA. Let no-one be confused – this building will be ridiculously massive. And as is not uncommon with ridiculously massive buildings, the construction is already delayed before it even begins. It is now expected to begin construction in 2014 and open in 2016. They will be requiring a similarly massive number of bodies on site to get this completed in 2 years.

New Apple Campus - Render

New Apple Campus – Render

The original land cost was estimated at USD $160 million but additional land purchases were made of another $300 million. The design has already taken several years and the project cost was estimated at USD $500 million – but has already blown out to USD $5 billion!!  As a comparison – the new World Trade Center will cost (only) USD $3.9 billion.

The new campus, on a site now totaling 70 hectares, is planned to house up to 12,000 employees in one central four-storied circular building of approximately 260,000 sq.m, which will include a 5,575 sq.m dining facility for 2,100 sitting people (plus additional 1,750 seat capacity outside), be surrounded by extensive landscaping, and offer parking both underground and in a parking structure. Other facilities include a 1,000 seat auditorium, 28,000 sq.m of R&D facilities, a fitness center, an orchard, and a dedicated generating plant as primary source of electricity.

Intelligently, Jobs once said : “It’s a circle, so it’s curved all the way round. This is not the cheapest way to build something.” Every pane of glass in the main building will be curved. Normally, the German company Seele who is producing the curved glass deals ‘in terms of square feet’ but it now has to manufacture something like six square kilometres of glass to cover the building. They now have to double its factory capacity to finish the project – a project in itself.

There will be 10,980 car spaces and they will plant an additional 2,494 new trees. Ridiculously massive I think we can all agree, but I wonder if the delay is partially a result of the massive fall of Apple stock over the last few months. Time for a new iPod/iPad/iMac release to pay for this i-Massive HQ.

Does it fit into its surroundings or does it dominate it? Does it look out of this world – why should it? What do you think?  Let us know below.

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Email: ideas@proteusarchitects.com.au