Over the centuries, architects have used constantly improving methods of communicating ideas and preparing drawings for builders to use to actually construct them. In the beginning, simple drawings were used. Not much detail. Most architects were called master builders. They would draw out an idea using graphite or ink on paper and begin to talk with the builder about the detailing. The architect was involved with the construction continually making decisions during the process.
As technology advanced in the process of making products, (think cars), architecture was left behind in the fabrication process. One of the reasons is that architecture is big, and complicated. Computers were not capable of housing all the bytes of information necessary to create a digital model. In the early 1990’s we all started using CADD, which is simply computer aided drawing and design. So now, we could “draw” on the computer. But, none of that information could be directly transferred to a “machine” to actually build architecture. No. It was simply a way of organizing and drawing our projects easily. The contractors still had to interpret the drawings in order to build.
In the early 2000’s, a new innovation for architects was now being used by architects. BIM. BIM is building information modeling. Essentially, this new software allowed architects to create an actual digital model. BIM software allowed architects to create drawings that were three dimensional. This allowed for more easily understood images that would help the design process.
But now, a digital file of the model could be directly sent to contractors and fabricators. Very little, if any interpretation is needed. So, if a machine was available that could create the design, (i.e. build it from the computer file), we could essentially now have a machine that could “print” a building.
Very few machines currently existing are capable of this feat. And thinking that if a machine could actually make a building like we construct currently, and using the same materials that we use now, may not be the solution. New creative thinking in the development of material is needed.
Putting all this together, we will “print” buildings in the future.