Enhanced by Technology: Architecture Augmented

Advances in technology, including 3D-printing, artificial intelligence and material science, are touching numerous aspects of the architecture world. We look at some of the projects making innovative use of design technologies to enhance their use and construction


Penang Island, Malaysia

Architects: Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

Danish architecture firm BIG revealed last month plans for a network of artificial islands located off the coast of Penang Island, Malaysia. The project, built in collaboration with Ramboll and Hijjas, will cover an area of 1,821 hectares, with each island taking the shape of a lilypad. The islands will feature beaches, parks and waterfronts.

What makes this project innovative is the use of bamboo, Malaysian timber and "green concrete" in building construction. Concrete is notoriously bad for the environment, but green concrete is produced in part from recycled materials, making it more environmentally friendly.

The car-free islands will also be served by autonomous air, water and land transportation, connecting the islands' 15,000 to 18,000 residents.

Image courtesy of BIG

Self-Sufficient City

Xiong'an, China

Architects: Guallart Architects

Self-Sufficient City is a proposed housing development intended for the Xiong'an New Area in the Hebei province, China. Spanish firm Guallart Architects has designed the housing development to be self-sufficient, producing its own food and energy in the event of a future lockdown.

The design is based around the idea of a circular economy, and includes greenhouses and solar panels, as well as 3D printer workshops so that manufacturing can occur within the development if needed.

Homes, made from renewable timber, have been designed with lockdown in mind, with designated remote working spaces, 5G connectivity and outdoor space. The architects also plan to introduce a neighbourhood app, which would keep residents updated about lockdowns.

Image courtesy of Guallart Architects

Shirdi Sai Baba Temple

Chennai, India

Architects: Rat[LAB] Studio and Shilpa Architects

Architecture firms Rat[LAB] Studio and Shilpa Architects have reimagined temple design in the creation of the Shirdi Sai Baba Temple. The design for the 11-acre site is focused on geometry, with the 11-sided building designed using an algorithmic process.

This was in order to meet the client brief to include the number 11, which is considered an auspicious number in Hinduism. The floor design in the main hall is also based around the number. The design also incorporates environmental aspects including light, solar heat and shadows.

The temple is scheduled to be completed in 2021-2022.

Image courtesy of Rat[LAB] Studio and Shilpa Architects

House Re-Coding


Architects: Reparametrize Studio

Reparametrize Studio has designed an innovative housing system suitable for post-war cities. House Re-Coding is part of the firm's research on re-coding post-war Syria, and focuses on innovation to imagine post-war cities.

The project focuses on using existing structures within cities rather than demolishing and reconstructing buildings, creating affordable self-sufficient homes for displaced families.

House Re-Coding uses artificial intelligence and 3D scanning to analyse infrastructural and socioeconomic data in order to re-imagine existing infrastructure as smart systems.

Image courtesy of Reparametrize Studio

3D Printing Project

Austin, Texas

Architects: ICON

Architecture firm ICON has received funding from a series of investors, including Bjarke Ingels Group, Citi and Vulcan Capital, for its project to create homes using 3D printing robotics.

The Austin-based company unveiled its first 3D printed home in 2018, and has since delivered projects in the US and Mexico, with the aim of creating resilient housing.

ICON uses pioneering construction technologies to “accelerate the development of its printers, create a variety of home types and designs and enhance its core technology stack to further its mission” and this year has created houses for homeless individuals in Austin.

Image courtesy of ICON