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Can we ever have truly Smart Buildings when the construction industry is so obsessed with just building more and more buildings? Architect and Thought Leader Paul Fletcher from Through collaborates with Memoori to argue that we need a root and branch overhaul of construction thinking.


What we currently have is a construction industry that only understands Output; that is to say making and modifying buildings. Instead what we ALL need to focus on is people in buildings. What individuals & groups (familial and societal) need is Outcome (Service).

The information needs required for a shift in focus to Outcome are totally different. Buildings generally accommodate many people, so information is more often than not generalised and non specific – BMS set points are a good example of this.

Yet (as observed by Aldous Huxley) individual and collective happiness lies in the understanding of the needs of each individual – hence a fundamentally different information model.


If we go back to Nicholas Negroponte in “The Architecture Machine: Toward a More Human Environment” he stated that there will be a greater synergy between man and machine and that machine learning will open up “unanticipatable” changes in our understanding and use of the built environment leading to “a more human architecture“.

Well that was 1970, today the “unanticiptable” is Big Data, Cloud Computing, IoT & Machine Learning. Big data is all about real behaviours not belief.

The construction industry as a whole is not evolving fast enough. Sadly Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a case in point. BIM is utterly irrelevant and entirely contrary to the data and information modelling needs necessary for a 21st century built environment, supporting a thriving society. At best it is CAD with bells on that makes an inappropriate process easier.

So far Nest, Apple and others are just scratching at the edges of Smart Buildings. But soon we’ll see a new type of building equipment. This will be embedded in furniture, wireless, low power, individual and wearable.

Follow Paul on Twitter and watch his presentation “To BIM or Not To BIM” here.