The promises – and perils – of AI have been gripping the world of architecture and design in recent months, but few have grasped that the revolution is already under way.
Image-making tools such as Dall-E, Midjourney and Stable Diffusion have allowed the effortless creation of seductive visions: skyscrapers in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright, fantasy mash-ups of sci-fi and art nouveau, squidgy marshmallow staircases, buildings made of rubbish. It might be entertaining to visualise Gaudí designing kitchen gadgets or Le Corbusier embracing parametricism, but AI is already being deployed to shape the real world – with far-reaching consequences.
“The problem with architects is that we almost entirely focus on images,” says Neil Leach, author of Architecture in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. “But the most revolutionary change is in the less sexy area: the automation of the entire design package, from developing initial options right through to construction. In terms of strategic thinking and real-time analysis, AI is already way beyond what human architects are capable of. This could be the final nail in the coffin of a struggling profession.”
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