5. How will we design in the future? What role will architects play in this?


It is foreseeable that AI applications will be used extensively in most phases of the planning process and will increasingly find their way into everyday working life. Initial form and spatial studies can already be designed within a few minutes using targeted text-based “prompts” in powerful AI image generators. Data and image-oriented applications will continue to be at the forefront. These include both building visualizations and the compilation of information, for example to derive the advantages and characteristics of sustainable planning (components, simulations, climate effectiveness, etc.). Photorealistic images and real-time moving images will certainly become relevant even earlier in the iterative work process.

Furthermore, AI makes it possible to link complex data and information right from the initial planning stages. This means that permanent front-loading of different details, standards and other requirements will be possible at a very early stage in the future planning process. This is an important prerequisite for being able to make complex decisions as early and as correctly as possible.

It will not be enough to simply master software and processes. Asking the right questions at the right time and responsibly evaluating the answers provided will continue to be one of the key skills of architects in the design process. It is important to take a critical look at the data fed in and the results and solutions generated from it in order to obtain reliable results.

It is possible that this early and immediately available information will lead to a change in what we understand by “design”. The influence of digital technologies on planning is increasing and this is fundamentally to be welcomed in view of the current social challenges and the great potential of AI applications, for example in relation to sustainable construction.

It can be assumed that architects and urban planners will not be replaced by AI. The most essential aspects of architectural practice are based on human skills that go beyond pure data analysis and cannot be performed by machines. These include: understanding the cultural and historical context of a construction project and incorporating it into the design; developing creative and innovative solutions that respond specifically and empathetically to the wishes and requirements of clients; using diplomatic skills to mediate between companies, authorities, clients and project participants; using a human mind to comply with ethical standards and fulfill social responsibility as well as creatively and flexibly solving unforeseen problems in the course of the project.

In this respect, AI applications can only ever be tools. It is necessary for planners to be involved in the development of AI-supported tools, taking into account professional ethical and political objectives.