Wendy W Fok, trained as an architect, is the creative director/founder of WE-DESIGNS, LLC (Architecture/Creative Strategy) and Resilient Modular Systems, PBC (Socially Missioned Venture). She is featured as Autodesk ReMake’s list of 25 Women in Reality Computing (2017), winner of the Autodesk AiR Fellowship (2016), Young CAADRIA Award (2015), Digital Kluge Fellowship awarded by the Library of Congress (2014/15), the Art Director’s Club of New York’s ADC Young Guns 11 Award (2013), AIA (American Institute of Architects) Dallas “Express Yourself” Women in Architecture Award (2013), and selected designer of the Perspective 40 under 40 Award (2011) and the Hong Kong Young Design Talent Award (2009). Fok has a Master of Architecture and Certification of Urban Policy/Planning from Princeton University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture with a Concentration in Economics (Statistics) from Barnard College, Columbia University. Along with her practice, Fok is an Assistant Professor of Integrated Design at Parsons School of Design Strategies (SDS). Fok is also a co-faculty member with Prof Jessica Corr and Prof Ketty Maisonrouge on a course supported by the Luxury Education Foundation partnered with the Columbia Business School (Fall 2016), and completing her Doctor of Design (expected 2016) at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Her doctoral research is an investigative approach between intellectual property issues of ownership / authorship of digital / real property in computational innovation, and ethical / equitable application of technical methods within open innovation, digital fabrication, and commodisation for the built environment.
The future of the building industry and practice of architecture will be dominated by the opportunity of product efficiency, limited waste distribution, and onsite pre-fabrication prospects. While 3D printers and robotics will arrange optimized chances to make onsite construction more intricate, there are also inefficiencies produced by the technology itself. On the other hand, the automated delivery process, as seen in the advancement of Kuka robots at the Tesla factories contribute to more streamlined product distribution processes. Drones and automation have the prospect to combine the opportunities of fabrication technology and participatory culture, which will only promote the ability for the crowd to establish new means of motivation that will outperform traditional means of building, making, performance, and organization.
The “maker movement” was originally coined between 2005 and 2006 by Dale Dougherty, founder of MAKE magazine and the do-it-yourself (DIY) Maker Faire. Then, Dale co-founded O'Reilly Media, a technical publisher and conference organizer known for its advocacy of Open Source and the Web. In 2006, the technology publisher pushed the envelope of the appreciation of garage projects through “celebrating the right to tweak, hack and bend any technology to your own will” (TED, 2015), by establishing the Maker Faire series, which has now evolved into an international empire of the makers and has become a global network.
Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine, on the other hand, defines “makers” as a means of the new industrial revolution, which differs from the imprecise MIT Media lab understanding of the terminology by revolutionizing the tangible world through bits and atoms, and a various means of collaboration.
As more designers and architects push the envelope to become creators beyond the traditional single patron “maker model” of being conventional crafts wo/men, and into the digital age, we will see relevant technological changes implemented into the AEC industry by cloud systems, online structures, and collaborative platforms. These same technologies are already seen emerging in the present business models of Autodesk, Dassault Systèmes, Adobe, and various headlining building innovation CAD software companies.
Starting with 1971 Design Participation Conference by Nigel Cross, through to the House_N by Kent Larson of the MIT Media Lab and the Open Source Building Alliance (OSBA), the WikiHouse prototype, Open Architecture Network, up to the most recent Smart Parameter Platform developed by UNStudio, this article will collate a few projects that set precedent to the basis of how architectural distribution promotes thought-leadership, cultural distribution, online platforms, and open processes in both the physical and digital worlds for the built environment.
Most contemporary forms of public and civic engagement and policy planning for the built environment is based on data that is derived from its citizens. Whether this data is a source of statistical account of financial orders, construction dollars spent, or the production values based on the annual import and export of the regular agricultural means of a GDP (gross domestic product) or GSP (gross state product). Data, however, in the world of the digital citizenship, offers a curious undertaking of source.
Big Data on the other hand, is the science behind a large part of aggregation complex, both structure and unstructured forms of traditional data processing, which usually challenges the analytical, search, storage, transfer, sharing, capture, visualization, and information privacy, all grounded within the digital archives. While most Big Data discussions surround issues of online privacy, and data accessibility, usually to the concerns of how much data is accessible to the NSA and various other governmental institutions, a large part of the same unstructured data formats, are useful for the algorithmic regulation of how cities are planned, based on the aggregated data.
The future of open innovation and data distribution of construction and architecture requires a larger awareness of how to properly impose legislature that compliments the building industry. Architects and real estate developers will need to work together in getting themselves better acquainted with the technological advancements within the technology sector, and more important work with policy to build a better guided understanding of how designers and builders could collaborate in an open forum.
The dissected sectors and often misunderstood factors between industry technologies (or, resistance between the real estate industry to embrace newer technologies) and trades (skepticism within the construction industry to use digital fabrication or higher technological automation) can hinder and stunt the future dialogue between computational designers and architects, with the rest of the building field, and possibly the future of the urban built environment.
It is always difficult to predict the future of automation and the possibilities and hindrance innovation could deliver, however, it is clear that the cooperation and collaborative natures between the fields are what will be bringing the future of our built environment.
How would reality capture engage the future of the practice? And,what role will it play in the future of design automation?
David Rotman, recently wrote for the MIT Technology Review that “(t)he economic anxiety over AI and automation is real and shouldn’t be dismissed. But there is no reversing technological progress.” Agreeing with that statement, the concerns are not to dismiss the inevitable advancement of technology, and innovative practices and inventions of automation that surpass the developmental nature of the human race, but how to better integrate the discussion of robotics and artificial intelligence within the practice of our everyday lives.
The chasm between “innovative practices” (such as the recent list by Fast Company on the top 50 most innovative companies, launched on the 13th of February 2017), and “traditional practices” (such as blue chip companies), or more realistically companies which do not have the “access”, or “budget”, or “knowledge” of influencers who have the “reach” into the technologies becomes the largest problem within integration. Practices, whether traditional, emerging, or innovative, should be looking closer to how to better involve everyday users within their companies to engage in the dialogue of technological advancement that uses reality capture within their role of the company.
We do not need to live in a post capitalism world without work, and neither would that promote the ethics of developing innovative tasks, when people are out of study and use of their daily muscles, physical or brain. Whether it is a fashion company that is devising new forms and fabrication through manufacturing techniques, using traditional craft from French houses, or innovative 3D printing that is part of the wearables trend that uses automation into their designs; or, larger corporations that are trending and bloating on driverless technical advancements.
It is the companies, and the responsibility of the individuals within the companies, who should be obligated to develop a better language to train their workers to integrate, to think with their tools, work with their technologies every day, and then apply their skill sets to their daily palette – this is the only option for the future of work, and the future of automation, to not have humans left out of the equation.