I have been fortunate to spend a couple of hours at Vision 2018: The Future of the Built Environment at the Business Design Centre in London, 21-22 June for some research we are carrying out with our partners at The Carto Group.

Vision 2018’s mission states that ‘Urbanism, infrastructure and Architecture are fundamental to the economic success of cities, neighbourhoods, institutions, companies and brands’ and poses the question ‘how can we quantify and maximise the impact of high-quality design on society, economic sustainability and commercial success?’

I was keen to hear all about this and understand better how this industry is using big data to answer these important questions.

I was impressed with presentations by:

  • Roberto Bottazzi, Director of Masters in Urban Design at the Bartlett School of Architecture at UCL, who are using data to help inform architectural and space designs in very exciting ways.
  • Ron Bakker, Founding Partner at PLP about ‘The Edge’ in Amsterdam (the ‘greenest, most intelligent building in the world’ according to Bloomberg) as well as their recent work on reimagining the elevator as a ‘skypod’ – can’t wait for this one!
  • Joseph Robson from AVR London spoke about the use of VR and AR in building and built environment planning, which was interesting, and along the lines of where I understood the industry to be going from our conversations with The Carto Group, who are leaders in using these innovative technologies.

What struck me about these advances in the use of technology, is that they remain largely concerned with building design and structure – the materials in use, acoustic issues, etc – not in many cases about the individuals using the space – the people who inhabit the built environment.

It seemed clear from a number of presentations that personalisation and space optimisation are key for the future of work environments and cities alike; especially as ‘resources’ in spaces become more transient (for example a hot desk, or hot locker in a workspace, or the location of electric vehicle charging points).

There doesn’t seem to be enough work being done on how people and non-human independent entities (drones, autonomous vehicles and the like) will interact and navigate through these new spaces, effectively and harmoniously.

The discipline of Principal Component Analytics for exploratory data analysis, helping to understanding the correlation between a number of factors (data points) in a predicted outcome is not a new science, yet is only just being picked up in the built environment sector. There is also a profound lack of model ratification – of evaluation of the outcomes after build – to feedback into future modelling.

As data specialists, this is something we are really interested in exploring further and after today, I feel we may have found additional partners to move this exploration forward – watch this space!