Assessing the State of Architecture with Carlo Ratti

The world of architecture and design is faster moving and more connected than ever before. The exchange of trends and ideas can be shared across the globe in a matter of seconds. This brings with it excitement, but also uncertainty about the future.

To understand where the industry is heading, and what is driving these changes, MarketScale turned to Founding Partner/Chair of Carlo Ratti Associati, and MIT Professor of Urban Design, Carlo Ratti.

See his answers to our questions below.

What area of the world is really catching people’s attention in architecture right now?

I would say Asian cities, and especially Chinese ones. According to some estimates, in the 21st century, China might build more urban fabric than humanity has ever built before. The process has been going on since a few decades already, but right now bringing the discussion to a new level. It is not just about quantity anymore, but it is also about quality. China is very likely to lead the discussion on urban living in the next decades.

How have digital tools changed the day-to-day abilities/responsibilities of architects?

Over the last two decades, digital technologies have been ushering in a paradigm shift in the architecture profession. I am not just talking about BIM, which is certainly important as a tool. I am talking about the way in which the Internet has been entering the physical space, bringing about a whole new understanding of the built environment. Today, being a designer means operating at the intersection between bits and atoms – opening up the architecture profession to a whole range of other disciplines: from computer science to data analysis.

What concerns are top of mind industry-wide today?

I believe the top priorities of the industry should be the following: sustainability, climate change, and use of new technologies. I like to think that as designers we find ourselves facing an “utopia or oblivion” scenario, to say it with Buckminster Fuller. It will be oblivion, if we continue focusing on minor aesthetic problems, like the Academie des Beaux-Arts was doing at the beginning of the 20th century. But it might turn into utopia if we are able to address the major societal challenges of our time.

Which trend are you most excited by? Which trend has the most potential to affect the average person’s life?

If we want to investigate the next step of the Internet of Things revolution, I think we need to look at how Artificial Intelligence will impact architecture. Thanks to the most recent advances in AI, deep learning and imaging, architectural space is acquiring the full ability to “see.” Imagine that any room, street or shop in our city can recognize you, and autonomously respond to your presence. We are talking about an unprecedented scenario.

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