How AI Is Helping Architects Transform Workplace Design

How AI Is Helping Architects Transform Workplace Design

Architect Arjun Kaikar said, “I have been a workplace designer for the past 24 years.” “I’ve seen more change in the last 24 months than in my entire career.”

Mr. Kakar co-runs Zaha Hadid Analytics + Insights, or ZHAI, a five-person team that uses data and artificial intelligence to design workplaces. part of the team zaha hadid architectsFirm founded by influential architect Zaha Hadid in London in 1979.

“The pandemic has really supercharged innovation in the workplace,” Mr. Cacker said in a recent video interview from Atlanta.

Before, “most office buildings had one-size-fits-all desks for everyone, and the same environment around them, the same everything,” he said.

Now that they’re back at their desks, “people are requesting more choice, more personalization and more mobility.”

To address the changing landscape of work, the firm is turning to AI to help its architects design better office buildings and spaces that meet the individual needs of employees.

While plenty of architectural firms around the world are deploying digital data in this way – including Foster + Partners, also headquartered in London, and US firms HOK and NBBJ – Zaha Hadid Architects are among the few that have a dedicated In-house team.

Historically, offices have been designed based on organizational charts “to see who reports to whom and which departments may need to sit next to each other,” and using observational studies or staff questionnaires. Based on, said Jeremy Myerson, co-author. Unworking: The Reinvention of the Modern Office“In a phone interview.

Today, with staff members often working from both home and the office, “businesses simply cannot afford to have swaths of real estate that are down for weeks,” he said. Many businesses are using algorithms and machine intelligence “to get a more real-time, dynamic read of what’s happening in the space.”

Sensors track people and environmental conditions – temperature, air quality, noise levels, humidity, carbon dioxide levels and daylight hours. Architects and workplace designers then cross-reference that data to get a better picture of actual needs.

And they’re putting the data to use: relocating coffee spots and pantries to more popular corners, rearranging furniture and desks, redesigning lighting, seating people at desks that are more convenient for their work. are better and are using division smartly.

Why isn’t workplace design more common as an in-house department in architecture firms? Because the firms “think of it as commercial and corporate,” said Patrick Schumacher, who replaced Ms. Hadid as the firm’s principal. (Ms. Hadid died in 2016.) He prefers to design museums and residences, when in fact offices “are where wealth and prosperity are generated,” he said.

Since ZHAI, which is headed by architect Mr Kaikar, was established in December 2015, it has undertaken over 100 construction projects, of which at least 60 per cent are offices.

At the firm’s headquarters in London, Mr Blum explained that, unlike cars and electronic equipment, a building in the 21st century is not as reactive and advanced as it could be.

While buildings often have state-of-the-art air-conditioning, lighting and security systems, “getting all those systems to talk seamlessly to each other is still a challenge,” Mr. Blum said. ZHAI aims to change that by using a range of new tools and technologies.

As he spoke, AI-generated office floor plans flickered in front of him on a large screen, with green and red dots representing the least desirable desk positions.

Mr. Blum said that ZHAI has a computer device that can generate 100,000 designs for a building’s interior in 27 hours; To give an architect so many options would require 40 drawings a day for a decade. They unleashed a flurry of diagrams for fluid, future Infinites Plaza in Guangzhou, China, which was designed by the firm. AI was used to come up with options for positioning parts of the building’s core, such as pipes, stairs and lift shafts.

Privacy is an important concern when it comes to AI-assisted workplace design. If businesses are able to see who does what, where and when, they can breach employees’ privacy and use the data against them.

Even though the data is being compiled and harvested anonymously, there is some concern that “there is an observer inside your machine,” Mr. Myerson said, noting that people were reluctant to have their data collected, even when This was related to how the offices were being perceived collectively. ,

He pointed to an example: In January 2016, The Daily Telegraph in London installs desk monitors The office has heat-and-motion sensors under each employee’s desk to improve energy efficiency, but these were quickly withdrawn after complaints about privacy by the National Union of Journalists, the main journalist union in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Schumacher noted the need for safeguards in any tracking system. “Companies have to be responsible,” he said. “We need to be sure that, when these systems are used in offices to draw conclusions and improve cases, they are not a kind of alien control system, where we punish individuals in order to punish them. tracking.”

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