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As fellow colleagues at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) in 2016, Camiel and Sayjel noticed a shift in the way buildings and cities were being designed and constructed in the developing world. Architects were under tremendous pressure to deliver more projects in less time. At the same time, only a small group of firms were taking advantage of the benefits of digital working methods.
From these discussions, Digital Blue Foam was born. It was founded on the value of "fast, informed design” - the notion that architects need to move past intuition and leverage science and method to drive the best project outcomes.
Today Digital Blue Foam is part of a growing movement seeking to digitize the building industry to drive greater sustainability, higher design quality, and livability.
“When I worked on a construction site about 30 years ago I learned that buildings are the result of a combined effort of many many people. They are a hive of people, logistics and planning, my work was simple of course but the experience taught me that a simple house is a great effort let alone a small neighborhood.This effort is many years later intensified with larger than life challenges and an industry that has outdated itself. We drive change and innovation for our community and aim to solve large and small problems.”
“The building construction industry faces an existential crisis. It is one of the least digitized industries and the world’s leading producer of C02 emissions. With rising temperatures around the globe and mass migration to urban centers, there is a dire need for a digital disruption that will enable more sustainable ways of working.
As CTO of Digital Blue Foam, I am interested in developing tools which merge the benefits of human and AI-generated reasoning to provide new insights and solutions to address the environmental impact and performance of a design”.
“My brother and I grew up playing with building blocks in my dad's architecture studio. We created fortresses, moats, bridges and dungeons, where wars & alliances, betrayals and comebacks took place. We built worlds and populated them with toy characters, each with their own stories. I want to bring that joy of creation to architecture through Digital Blue Foam. I envision a playground, where architects breathe life into their designs, accounting for the grand, the mundane and the serendipitous.”
“For the past 10 years I’ve been thinking exponential growth with limited efforts using digital tools. Regarding the AEC Industry, I’ve found that construction technology, AI and Big Data analytics are the three biggest disruptors. But at Digital Blue Foam, we believe they are useful for 3 main reasons: to facilitate analysis of complex information, to enable rapid prototyping and testing with customers and to make information more accessible. That's what we work very hard on every day.”
“For anyone working in the construction industry it is not a secret that we spend an enormous effort trying to meet deadlines, updating drawings, revising and changing the design of projects. It always feels like there is very little time and a lot to do. This happens because we are trying to keep up with the fast pace delivery time of our current world and we still work the way we used to decades ago. The construction industry has lagged behind in adopting digital technology to improve performance and productivity. Our mission is to change that. We develop digital solutions to accelerate the digital transition of the construction industry because we believe technology will be the key to help us overcome the biggest challenges we face today.”
“When I started with data science and machine learning more than a year ago, I was unsure how to apply it to the architecture industry, because each design has a different end goal or an output. It is very difficult to correlate different design features and generalize the results with available datasets. Many architects and design professionals think AI will replace their role in the future, which is not true at the moment, AI will assist and enhance designers' intuition and help them design better buildings and cities. Maybe AI is not going to generate or predict the final design which is aesthetic and functional, but it will definitely help and improve the design process. I have started to work in the industry with the mindset of solving problems with the available technology.”
“I am a full stack software developer and I recently joined Digital Blue Foam. I am still new to the AEC domain and lack of domain knowledge is a big challenge for me. My goal is to contribute to the amazing work the team is already doing and make the product better by using my programming skills.”
“Business domain knowledge helps a lot when you are designing, developing software applications. One of the biggest challenges in my career was not having enough knowledge on the business domain when I was responsible as a senior developer for planning the software applications. My previous employer was providing IT services for the Banking and Telecommunication domains. And here at Digital Blue Foam we are working on the AEC domain. I was frustrated at the beginning but later understood, It is really hard to be good at all these domains as a software engineer. It was the collaborative effort that we put together with domain experts, developers within the company that overcame those challenges and finally brought huge success to all these software products."
"It takes a huge amount of time for an architect/ planner to encode and understand multiple design parameters in various scales and to connect and orchestrate those into one single design output. It is like creating a brain in which all of the neurons are interconnected and work synchronously. From getting and processing the data sites, creating multiple design options, to building complex code to do analysis. That is where digital helps designers to do this kind of super complex task. In DBF, we develop tools that use the power of AI to help simplify the design process."
“When I started my career as an architect, pencil and drawing board were still the leading design tools. The goal of every design process is to create an ergonomic, aesthetic and friendly object that meets the needs of the user and the contexts of its existence. This iterative and analytical process is a repetitive verification of multiple design solutions. I believe that computational design can complement the human decision-making process and significantly improve design quality. That’s why I create tools that allow the use of this technology to anyone who chooses to use it.”
“Coming from a computer science background, when I recently started working as a developer for a software development company that develops tools for the architectural domain, lack of knowledge in domain and terminology was a huge challenge.
Now that I have spent a couple of months in the field, I can see that stakeholders put so much effort into designing even a small building considering many factors in the process. Our challenge is to find out how we can make their life easier by providing the necessary tools.”
"At the heart of it, designers are problem solvers. We look at how things are built and think of ways in which they can be improved. Taking a step back, I believe that the greatest contribution we can bring is to rethink the way in which we design. My Architecture background gives me insights into design workflows and methodologies. I choose to use this knowledge to identify the gaps and opportunities where we can leverage technology to improve the way we do things."
Christophe Sigrist is a professor of Timber Design and Steel Design at the Bern University of Applied Sciences, a member of numerous code technical committees in Europe and a Director of ongoing research work, undergraduate and post graduate projects on cutting edge timber design.