Using Computers to Realize Dreams

New Challenges in Architectural Design

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Substantial change has begun in manufacturing environments. Consider 3D printers, for example: they take shapes drawn using computers and make solid objects out of them. At present, things can only be made from limited materials, such as resin. However, it is believed that before long, it will be possible to make things from all sorts of materials, just like printing something out, simply by creating digital data, and without needless time or expense. With body scans, it might also become possible to easily make clothing that perfectly fits the individual body.

Can buildings be made to order?

Buildings, in fact, are something that should be made to order in keeping with individual project requirements. In reality, however, for reasons of economy and such, many parts are used that can be mass-produced at factories, such as sashes and screws. This has been an impediment to fully and freely creating the ideal forms for projects. However, if technology is improved for making forms using computer data as is, it will be possible to easily make individual parts to order. Thus, the day will likely come when it will be possible to make the buildings that people really want without being influenced by industrially produced goods. With the intentions of making buildings more freely and flexibly and of meeting clients’ diverse needs, Nikken Sekkei is now making the most of computers to expand possibilities in building design.

Can more rational and innovative buildings be made to meet various demands?

Let us assume, for example, that a building will be planned that will have an innovative appearance and rational structure, with costs low and environmental friendliness realized. In addition, the users of that building will all have completely different demands. Until now, designers have spent an immense amount of time making models and running simulations and the like in order to evaluate each aspect separately. Thus, while using computers to compile many requirements, Nikken Sekkei is striving to develop mechanisms to create high-quality designs in shorter times. The use of computers will make it possible to run more simulations than people ever could and to evaluate many design proposals, from which the ideal ones can be selected. If the technology for 3D printers, mentioned earlier, advances and data can be used as is, special-order, low-cost building parts could be made that would make it possible, we believe, to truly and freely realize the buildings that people want and crave.

Using computers for greater freedom – for people and buildings

Although people might imagine that cold and mechanical buildings would result from computer-generated design proposals, it is not at all the case. Because compiling various requirements can lead to something that many people seek, it will be possible to propose forms that people will love more than the simple ones designed within the limits of the mind and that, in fact, could be full of the human touch.
It is thus likely that in the future, buildings ideally designed to meet both many requirements and individual demands will be made with even less waste and at lower costs than at present. In addition, would not allowing computers to handle difficult aspects and things requiring time and effort enable both people and buildings to become freer and more creative? At Nikken Sekkei, designers and computers comprise teams that are pursuing the realization of this vision.

  • Tomohiko Yamanashi

    Tomohiko Yamanashi

    Senior Executive Officer
    Principal, Architectural Design Department

    Tomohiko Yamanashi has a Master of Urban Design degree from the University of Tokyo, which he acquired in 1986. That same year he joined Nikken as an assistant architect. The winner of numerous awards, his latest being MIPIM Asia's Special Jury Award in 2009 for Mokuzai Kaikan and CTBUH Innovation Award in 2014 for NBF Osaki Building (SONY CITY Osaki), Mr. Yamanashi's domestic portfolio is supplemented by significant international experience in China and Singapore. He is a member of the Japan Institute of Architects and the Architectural Institute of Japan, and also teaches architectural design to graduates and undergraduates at the university level.

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