Our ‘Learn from the Leaders’ webinar on ‘Collaborative Technology: The Future of the Building Industry’ held on 29th April 2020 saw an invigorating exchange of inspiring ideas amongst our panelists: Kulin Kapadia (Founder, Alcove), Vami Koticha (Associate Principal, sP+a), Sombat Ngamchalermsak (Co-Founder, Paperspace), Parag Warerkar (Chairman & Chief Visionary Officer, M.R. Warerkar & Associates Pvt. Ltd.).

Trezi was represented by Vikrant– Head, Account Management – who took the digital stage to talk about how how new VR products can help architects and designers improve their #virtualexperience.

There were many useful insights on ensuring seamless communication and collaboration in the post-COVID-19 world and several of these learnings were triggered by questions that the highly engaged audience asked our panelists: 

Some of these are reproduced here:

Question 1: In reference to the current scenario, how will workspaces change since everybody might not be able to work from home?

Answer: To begin with, workspace design will change in the following primary ways:

 (a) health & safety regulations 

(b) climatic conditions across the year

 (c) accessibility and transportation, health and safety

 (d) adaptable design/s of residential spaces 

 (e) citizen and worker sentiment towards specific work types.

Question 2: Can you share some insights on the ways in which project execution will be handled in a collaborative environment? 

Answer: Execution can be taken care of in the collaborative environment by 

Immersive technology helps conventional processes by letting stakeholders see full-scale views of projects from concept to construction.

Question 3: Can you explain the connectivity of Architecture and Interiors?

Answer: Architecture and Interior design work hand in hand as many course curricula explain and detail out. One does not, cannot and should not think of one without the other – within the remits of design briefs, of course.

Question 4: Studies suggest that the infection will start phasing out by September. Are we talking about what we can do? How do you see the industry jump-starting? Surely, there will be legislation across governments, based on which design/engineering standards will be framed. Can you speculate on these predictions or frameworks to help the construction industry cope with the changing scenarios?

Answer: Speculation is probably not the best term here: changes to legislation/regulations will be driven primarily by health and safety, social distancing and the ability to collaborate, automate, remote-manage various construction processes – from raw materials to interim products to final assembly and in-situ work.

Question 5: With myriad platforms available and with firms using a variety of these, what would be your suggestions for product manufacturers and vendors as to which platform they should be choosing, considering the pros and cons?

Answer: Platform-driven immersive technology like Trezi is one of the best ways for product manufacturers to leverage and work across different design technologies. This will enable them to stay compatible, provide the best possible digital twins/equivalents of their products, whilst minimizing their sales,  marketing, sampling and physical cataloging costs.

Question 6: It is said that you construct a building in your mind way before that is done in reality. To project your vision to the client and your team, all the five senses should be touched upon before you take it to a verbal communication stage. Non-verbal communication still makes a powerful impact. Don’t you think all these intangibles will be battled with use of virtual technology and how do I plan to bridge that gap?.

Answer: This is exactly what VR technology does i.e. it gives the participant a full-scale version of what the mind has seen – right through the design concept and lifecycle, through to and including construction. Products like Trezi that allow verbal and non-verbal communication during collaboration sessions increase the impact for all participants and users.

Question 7: How can small-scale firms adopt VR meetings and more efficient technology with small clients?

Answer: VR is actually a very cost-optimized technology for small-scale firms. The investment is offset very quickly against reduced travel for meetings, quicker decisions from clients and material finalization. Product companies are already looking at using tech to connect with such firms for the aggregated market size they represent.

Question 8: There is a difference between thinking and feeling: isn’t this ‘feel’ part missing during an immersive experience with a client? 

Answer: VR technology continues to evolve to include textures, lighting and the overall ‘feel’/ ambience. While this started with gaming, the same technology backbone is present in products like Trezi that give the user a rich experience to help communicate design intent and understanding.

Question 9:  What is going to be the adverse impact on the demand for offices with more folks working remotely from home?

Answer: One of the key impacts (adverse or not is yet to be seen) is the likely freeing up of workspace that can be repurposed. The webinar specifically called this out in the topic of Design Process adaptation where a reference was made for academia to teach students brownfield design/adaptable building design.

Question 10: In the designing of homes, apartments, flats, there probably has to be a focus on creating a space which can be good for working from home. Can you elaborate on this?

Answer: Correct. This is one way housing design will evolve if work-from-home gets higher permanence for specific work-types. Specific spaces, light, connectivity and privacy options will help the current ‘study’ rooms evolve.

Question 11: Is this futuristic technology killing the ‘quality eye’ at the execution stage?

Answer: Like the concluding remarks from one of the panelists, one should use technology to only ‘co-author’ – ‘co’ being the operative word, and not let technology replace human thought and skill. VR and other future technologies should be used to optimise those processes that can be optimised, thereby letting the brain do what it does best.

Question 12: Are architectural firms going to hire people who have the technological prowess to handle the latest hardware and software, to keep their firms updated with the latest trends?

Answer: Yes, academia will help bring this change into upcoming talent, and technology simplification will enable existing professionals to adapt to new tech more easily and with less reluctance or resistance.

Question 13: Isn’t VR more of a ‘communication’ tool than a ‘design’ tool. Do you think that will change in future?

Answer: VR will increasingly become a design-aid product, as trends already indicate.

Missed the event? Watch it here:

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