10. What happens next? What does the planning community want to see in the future use of AI?


In view of the current upheavals caused by AI, we are in an exciting phase in which it is becoming increasingly clear that the introduction of effective mechanisms at national and international level is necessary, but guidelines and laws are only just being developed. Now is therefore a good time for planners to think about possible AI guidelines for their own work. How can AI help in architecture? What should AI be able to do and what not?

A first and important point of reference is certainly the position of the German Ethics Council: “The use of AI must enhance human development and must not diminish it. AI must not replace people.” Even in terms of architecture, self-learning systems should only ever be tools, i.e. assistance systems. During their development, it must be ensured that the key decisions and design impulses are provided by people and – for planning – by architects with practical experience. AI applications should make work in planning offices easier, expand design options and support decision-making processes, but should not be an end in themselves. In view of the current challenges of climate protection, housing shortages and a lack of skilled workers, it is essential that planners see AI as an opportunity and use its potential in a critically reflected manner in order to fulfill their social responsibility towards the general public.

AI brings challenges with it: above all, mastering complex data structures in a complex planning environment. This is where information and training opportunities, such as those offered by the Chambers of Architects or its academies, can be used to expand your own knowledge. This does not mean that you have to become an AI expert straight away. It is much more important to be curious and simply try out new things. Many AI applications are low-threshold, and many software manufacturers and start-ups offer test versions to try out.

In this respect, AI is not just something for the big offices. After all, a successful digital transformation is not only determined by the size of a company, but also by characteristics such as flexibility, agility, curiosity and a certain entrepreneurial spirit. Small and medium-sized offices in Germany have often proven to be particularly adaptable and crisis-resistant. In this sense, instead of being a threat, AI could enable a new and fair participation in the construction industry that would have been unthinkable in the past. If the use of AI leads to a democratization of data, this holds new opportunities and productive potential for SMEs, particularly for increasing the efficiency of their planning work. This will result in new business areas and models for the “big” offices on the one hand and new networks and alliances for the “small” ones on the other.