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Hello, everyone. Time for our weekly roundup of articles at the intersection of building information modeling (BIM); artificial intelligence (AI); and the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) space. Here goes:

We love to talk about new technology and its influence in modern construction methods, but what about the millions of existing buildings constructed long before the advent of the digital era? Iro Armeni, a doctoral student at Stanford University, has found a way to combine 3D scanning with machine learning to create workable 3D models of older buildings in need of refurbishing. Armeni uses sensors and 3D cameras to create a point cloud, but rather than painstakingly translating the resulting point cloud into a CAD model manually, she has created an algorithm that translates the information for her: "To automate the process of identifying unique attributes of the building's information, Armeni and a team of fellow Stanford researchers developed a computer vision system that makes use of machine learning to distinguish common architectural elements such as windows, doorways, halls and stairs." Her program can even distinguish furnishings, allowing for a precise rendering of the existing building, which gives the design team the ability to manipulate that rendering and experiment with various design elements during the remodeling/refurbishing process.

Everything that was once manual is now automated. (Source: Cad Digest)

Similarly, the newly released Autodesk Live allows both designers and their clients to manipulate and change designs in a Revit model before anything is actually built. While recent advancements in augmented and virtual reality have previously spawned this possibility, most are still costly to run, requiring expensive headsets and software. Live, on the other hand, uses Autodesk's Stingray gaming platform to create a "virtual reality type" environment that is navigable with just a mouse and a computer screen. According to Architect Magazine, "...the virtual environments appear intuitive to navigate, pan, and zoom in and out with the mouse and keyboard. More interestingly, when one clicks on a desired location on the model to explore, such as an office or bedroom, Autodesk Live will walk you through the space firsthand via the stairs, corridors, and doors – complete with door swings – to the destination." The program also includes tools for previewing sunlight patterns, landscaping, and even adjustments for a person's height.

Thanks to Autodesk Live, you can visualize every aspect of a building's surroundings, down to the way the sun reflects off of a window. (Source:Architect Magazine)

3D printing, with everything from concrete to ceramics, has seen a plethora of press in recent months, but a recent article in Tech Crunch lays out the present and future possibilities for 3D printing with metal. While current applications focus largely on aviation and healthcare, its usefulness for construction can be seen in how it eliminates (or at least greatly reduces) material waste. Combined with generative design, stronger parts can be produced with less material through the optimization of the part's design. For example, TC reports, "NASA was able to develop a turbopump for their rocket engine that was put together with 45 percent fewer parts than pumps made through conventional manufacturing processes." Just imagine a building produced with 45% less material; not only would costs be greatly reduced, but the environmental impact could prove significant as well.

This is a 3D-printed rocket engine fuel pump made with 45% less material than if it were conventionally created. (Source: Tech Crunch)

In fact, several environmental experts and ingenious entrepreneurs are looking at 3D printing as an aid in combating rampant environmental deterioration. A New York Times article recently outlined how several forward-thinking designers are proposing 3D printing and modular housing as the optimal path toward sheltering increasing populations on shrinking lands.

Behrokh Khoshnevis, for example, hopes his construction method "will create a way to build homes for a fraction of the current cost. While he can't do anything about the price of land, Mr. Khoshnevis said his technology would build a house in a day and cut down on the construction cost by 30 percent." In addition, companies like Kasita, with CEO Jeff Wilson, are taking tiny homes one step further; his modular units can stand alone, or will be able to be "plugged-in" to a larger structure of similar units and given access to electric, water and plumbing. "Imagine owning a micro-movable apartment that you parked in a building in Austin, where it slides in like a drawer. When you needed to move to Los Angeles, a crane would come, put your house on a truck that would drive it to your new location, where a forklift could slide it into an opening in your new building." Indeed, whether by additive manufacturing or a reimagining of the spaces we call home, these technologies stand to change the face of construction as we know it.

Micro apartments fit together like Legos and are relatively easy to move. (Source: Kasita)

*SPOILER ALERT* All caught up on Game of Thrones? If not, stop reading! But if you've already seen that bang-up season six finale, take a look at how Rising Sun Pictures helped bring King's Landing and the Great Sept to life – and how they subsequently blew it all up! Have a great week!

Be sure to click the link above to see the full video transformation in action. (Source: Sploid Gizmodo)

Tags: Architecture and Planning Virtual Reality 3d Printing

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