“We have to reinvent ourselves”
The world is digitising at a rapid pace, yet the building sector is lagging behind. But not architect Lars Kölln who has been working with BIM (Building Information Modelling) for the past ten years. He has absolutely no doubt: 'Our future way of life will revolve entirely around data.'
The planning, design, building and management of development and construction projects based on data - in other words BIM - is not a new technology. But the misunderstandings about what can be done with it, what it is and what it is not are persistent, according to Kölln: 'In BIM, we look at the complete life cycle of real estate. Many people think that it is a 3D model of the design. That is incorrect. BIM is a calculation model. The more data you have, the better you can ensure quality and assess the risks.'
BIM covers the entire life cycle of real estate. Kölln: 'We can expect major changes in our lives. Apart from trends such as urbanisation and the emergence of a sharing economy, digitisation will increasingly determine where and how we live and work.'
In that respect, the building sector still has a long way to go. This is certainly true when it comes to applying artificial intelligence, for example, says Kölln: 'The issue in our profession is that we have a very limited understanding of what people want and we do not take future needs sufficiently into consideration. The consequence is thinking inside the box. I expect that it will not be long before we are able to improve information models to the point that we can achieve a kind of single source of truth, which can be used not only to innovate in a targeted way but also to predict consumer behaviour. That means that we will be able to make decisions that are focused on the individual. Soon, people will no longer have to search for a place to live but instead homes will search for people. This means that everyone will be presented with a fully customised offer.’
Market relations will change and living conditions will undergo a radical transformation. These are inevitable processes that will have a major impact on our lives. Despite having put the innovation capacity of the sector in perspective, Kölln is optimistic: "As Darwin demonstrated: it is not the strongest species that survive but the ones that know how to adapt to new situations. Transparency is crucial here, which is something that has become ingrained in younger generations thanks to social media. This is more of a challenge among the established order. There is a great deal of hesitation in our sector when it comes to applying the ideas of others. That is completely out of touch with current times. The new world is all about transparency.'
Kölln does not expect innovation to come from the sector itself, as it is far too conservative. The question, then, is on what is his optimism based? Who will prove to be the ‘fittest’? 'There is a good chance that innovation will come from the outside. Look at Elon Musk. He has very little experience in the automotive and aerospace industries, he is routinely ridiculed but he is constantly shaking up the sector with new products. That is happening in several sectors - innovation is coming from unexpected angles. Maybe it will be gamers who will shake up our sector. And why not, actually?'
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