Technology provides a competitive advantage for boutique architecture firms.
Consistently staying ahead of the technology curve in any industry can be daunting, but for boutique, high-end residential architecture and interior design firms, it’s a risk worth taking—when it’s done right. Investing in technology propels a team forward, helping achieve greater productivity and increased customer satisfaction.
The Power of the 3D Scanning Camera
The technology that innovation architecture firms are utilizing is a 3D scanning camera. Without requiring any leveling, alignment, or registration markers, the camera captures precise measurements of existing homes to bring meticulousness to the design process. Simultaneously, the architect is provided with a highly accurate 3D model that they can use in their drafting software.
In the past, it would take two architects two weeks to field measure a 10,000-square-foot home, using tape measures to get window sizes, door sizes, height of stairs, wall thickness and more. Then, they would come back to the office with sketches and notes and manually enter the data.
This approach was time-consuming and architects regularly ran into issues. With innovative technology now available, one architect can go to that same house and spend three hours capturing the same data via the 3D scanning camera, tremendously increasing productivity. Now with 3D panoramic lasers and infrared beams, the accuracy rate is at 99.9 percent.
After the 3D camera scans a home, the architect uploads the data to the cloud and receives a point cloud (set of data points in 3D coordinate system) to create the surface model. That model is then imported into the architect’s CAD software to build a pre-measured tracing model. This is beneficial to architects because the software can capture miniscule details that may have otherwise been missed with the naked eye.
Computer-aided design is especially prevalent in more complicated projects as it reinforces a building’s drawing that was the result of algorithms and structural systems. It complements, yet defies, visual expectations of what is possible.
For example, imagine an architect doing a gut renovation of very large house that includes several amenity rooms. The architect uses a 3D scanning camera to see ceiling height changes, a detail he may not have taken into consideration until the material documentation stage later in the process. The 3D scanning camera also allows the architect to make sure that floor heights, stairwells interacting with roofs, and other details are captured properly. In the end, the innovative technology lends itself to improve the final project when those details would have otherwise been omitted.
Another feature that the 3D scanning camera has is the ability to hook up to a VR headset for virtual tours of existing spaces, creating an innovative approach to connect with clients.
This technology allows architects to take an idea from conceptual design to construction documentation within a single-software environment. In turn, presenting the client with stunning visualizations and 360⁰ virtual reality walkthroughs. The renderings of a building’s exterior or interior space are critical conceptions for the client. The more details offered about the space, the better the client is able to understand the overall look and feel.
As architects strive to be more efficient and accurate in their design process, they should invest in technology that helps them attain that goal. Although the initial investment of the 3D scanning camera may seem costly, it pays for itself very quickly, and the results of the finished projects are undeniable.
Tools of the Trade
The tools for this industry are widely available and becoming easier to use thanks to technology advancements and eliminating the need to switch between platforms to capture all the information. Residential architects should take advantage of the technology innovations to deepen their expertise, increase the value of their services, and add a new depth to their interactions with client, builders, and other vendors. By staying up-to-date, architects and designers will show clients that their convenience and satisfaction is the number one priority.
Thomas Wall, owner of Mitchell Wall Architecture & Design, is a Registered Architect in the state of Missouri and NCARB certified. He graduated with a B.A. from Cornell University and received his M. Arch. from the University of Kansas School of Architecture. Throughout his career, Tom has received multiple architect and design awards from national and regional organizations, including the American Institute of Architects, Sophisticated Living, Contemporist, and Elegant Living magazine.