Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) is a hot item. Politicians, scientists, trade unions and opinion makers either warn for or praise the developments. Whatever you may think of the various prophecies, fact is that over the last decades, A.I. has developed with impressing speed and has sneaked into our lives in all sorts of forms.
In the built environment, A.I. has great potential as well. With the rise of solar panels and wind turbines, for example, the energy supply becomes much more capricious; intelligent systems within a Smart Grid can better coordinate consumption and supply. An increasing amount of people connect their lighting, heating, household appliances, security and other facilities to a house automation configuration that can, among other things, anticipate expected homecoming. Smart buildings are also becoming increasingly popular in the office and school branches.
Although computers are undeniably also very helpful in design, and, for example, perform complex calculations and simulations, the sensible use in the actual design work is limited for the time being. For years, universities have been experimenting with all sorts of digital parametric design, but almost without exception with random ‘spaghetti’ forms as a result. The recent Dutch Design Week showed a study in which, based on usage patterns and the course of the sun, software had fit a residential program into an urban envelope. The result was certainly disappointing: with an extreme amount of tare economically unprofitable and moreover spatially uninteresting.
A.I. is currently mainly suitable for performing individual tasks: recognizing images, making complex calculations or navigating a predefined road network. Designing is not, however, an unambiguous isolated process, but a layered interaction between requirements, wishes, spatial context, culture and behavior in an environment that is often complex, physically as well as politically and emotionally. A high degree of empathy is an important factor here, while specifically in this area, A.I. still mainly performs as Autistic Intelligence.
Ronald Schleurholts, architect-director cepezed
Cobouw, 21st of November 2018