Algorithmic design is on the way, say one in three engineers in NBS survey

One in five architects and one in three engineers think algorithms will increasingly design buildings and one in nine architects think that new digital technologies may make their job obsolete in the future.

These were among the key findings in a survey of 988 architectural, engineering and construction professionals carried out by NBS, the specification platform for the construction industry.

NBS’s 2019 BIM survey also found that three-quarters of engineers and two-thirds of architects think creativity will become more important, and three in four of all respondents think the demands for a sustainable built environment will lead to radical change in design.

Other findings included:

  • 13% of respondents think that digital transformation will result in traditional roles such as architects disappearing.
  • 90% of construction professionals believe individuals and practices best able to collaborate will be those who reap future rewards.
  • Asked how they currently use various digital tools and approaches, over three-quarters of architects (78%) and engineers (77%) and 85% of BIM managers currently work collaboratively on designs. However, only 58% of contractors do.
  • Digital adoption of design tools is well advanced, with 83% of architects producing digital 3D models to generate information such as digital drawings and schedules. But surprisingly, only 29% of respondents have passed the model onto those responsible for the continuing management of the building or other asset (25% of contractors, 20% of architects, and 28% of engineers).
  • Around half (51%) of architects use a model from the very start to the end of a project, as opposed to around one in three contractors and project managers.
  • External collaboration on models is reported by 63% of respondents. Yet, intra-disciplinary collaboration is only cited by 56%, which demonstrates the fragmentation within the construction industry.

David Bain, research manager at the NBS, said: “Digital tools have been proven to allow those working on construction projects to work smarter and safer, collaborate better and connect workflows. BIM adoption in the UK has been rapid over the past decade.

“The next phase is around demonstrating the benefits of BIM to the wider industry so that clients, contractors and facilities managers can benefit. We can expect that in the next decade, the construction industry will totally revolutionise in its processes and digital approach.”

Image: Anatoly Stojko/

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