Knowledge
>
AI Architecture Tools - A Review
Knowledge

AI Architecture Tools - A Review

March 25, 2024
Yannic Schwarz

AI Architecture Tools - A Review

Key Takeaways

  1. AI architecture tools, such as Snaptrude, automate repetitive tasks and streamline design processes, enabling architects to generate and analyze design options more efficiently.
  2. Companies like ARCHITEChTURES and Sidewalk Labs leverage AI to optimize feasibility analysis processes and enhance decision-making in urban planning projects.
  3. Maket and AiHouse provide architects with tools for schematic design and residential planning, simplifying tasks like floor plan generation and regulatory compliance.
  4. Tools like Midjourney and ArkoAI aim to automate the visualization process, allowing architects to turn CAD plans into renderings quickly, but they may lack accuracy and replicability. Here you can find more information about rendering softwares in general.
  5. Efficient project management tools like specter streamline workflow processes by organizing, tracking, and collaborating on projects in real-time, enhancing overall project efficiency and communication.
  6. By integrating 3D metadata, Pelicad controls the generative network's output to achieve a higher accuracy and control over details in the architectural visualization process.
  7. While AI architecture tools offer numerous benefits, such as faster design iterations and enhanced decision-making, they still face challenges in terms of accuracy and integration with existing workflows.

The world of architecture is undergoing a significant transformation with the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, shaping a new landscape where creativity meets efficiency. AI architecture tools, powered by smart algorithms, are changing the way architects conceptualize, design, and manage projects. In previous articles we already looked at potential applications of AI in the real estate market.

This extensive review aims to provide an overview about already available AI architecture use cases. Each use case describes the potential of AI in the respective field, while introducing already existing tools in the market. Next to their core functionalities, we also delve into their potential shortcomings to provide a realistic summary.

The Role of AI in Architecture: An Overview

AI's emergence in architecture marks a paradigm shift, empowering architects with tools that automate tasks, generate design alternatives, and facilitate decision-making processes. From initial concept design to project management, AI architecture tools offer architects unprecedented levels of efficiency and accuracy. Especially repetitive tasks or activities that involve the analysis of large datasets can be automated by smart algorithms that are specialized for architectural applications.

However, the conducted research also shows that AI architecture tools are still at the beginning of providing significant value. Many existing generative networks aim at providing value to a broad range of fields. As architecture is a highly specialized field, the results of many tools still show room for improvement. We dive deeper into these shortcomings at the end of this article.

AI Architecture Use Cases

AI Tools for Concept Design

Architectural design has traditionally been a manual and time-consuming process, requiring architects to invest significant effort in creating building designs. However, with the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI), architects now have the opportunity to streamline and expedite their design processes.

One of the key advantages of using AI in architectural design is the speed at which design options can be generated and analyzed. By automating repetitive tasks and leveraging advanced algorithms, AI architecture tools significantly reduce the time and effort required to produce design iterations. This not only allows architects to work more efficiently but also enables them to explore a wider range of design possibilities in less time. Companies like Rayon and Snaptrude are exemplary companies leveraging AI to automate repetitive tasks when modeling new buildings.

Snaptrude uses smart and parametric modeling to speed up the design in close collaboration with Revit. The intelligent algorithms automate repetitive tasks and are aligned with the designer’s memory shortcuts to further speed up processes. In addition, Snaptrude's platform runs on the cloud, enabling native collaboration for designers and their stakeholders. This intelligent assistance enables architects to iterate on their designs quickly and effectively, ultimately leading to faster project delivery and greater client satisfaction.

Similar to Snaptrude, BricsCAD integrates AI into the BIM process, offering architects a powerful platform for architectural design and collaboration. This also includes automation features for documentation and manipulation. However, BricsCAD is not solely focused on architecture but can also be used to model other objects. This results in a loss of applicability to the architectural use case. 

Residential Planning

In contrast to concept designs the field of residential planning focuses on developing plans on a higher level of detail. This includes specific plans for rooms that are planned with floor plans. This task often involves finding the best viable opportunities that are limited through various indicators such as available space, customer needs, environmental requirements, and pricing. AI architecture tools such as rayon, Maket or AiHouse give architects the possibility to find possible design options that already match the given requirements and only require fine-tuning. 

Rayon in contrast is an AI architecture tool that enables smart drafts for floor plans that usually take a lot of manual iterations when designing a building. Rayon's algorithms analyze variations in design options in greater detail, providing architects with valuable insights and analytics to inform their decision-making process.
Similar companies are finch3d or AiHouse

Maket stands out as a valuable tool for architects, particularly in aiding with early-stage schematic design tasks. It facilitates the generation of floor plans by inputting room dimensions, types, and adjacency constraints, while also integrating a natural language text interface for user convenience. Additionally, Maket boasts a regulatory assistant feature capable of parsing uploaded zoning regulation documents and providing detailed responses to user queries. Moreover, designers can leverage Maket to enhance architectural photographs by applying various aesthetic treatments and adding interior elements and furniture through simple text prompts.

In contrast to Maket, AiHouse also offers the opportunity to make detailed design plans. This might include early decisions about the interior design of each room. 3D assets can be placed and renderings generated from them. Thus, architects can use only one tool - from the first plan, over designing renderings to forwarding all requirements to manufacturers. However, the generality of AiHouse comes with certain limitations as the software has so many features that it is not straightforward to use. While the planning capabilities cover the most common needs, the rendering functionalities are quite limited and often need additional reworks.

Urban Planning 

AI architecture tools are also revolutionizing residential planning, offering architects and real estate developers unprecedented opportunities to optimize the design process. This mainly involves analyzing large data sets about traffic patterns or pollution levels across different indicators and applying them to available spaces. Architects can quickly iterate design concepts for large urban planning projects while receiving direct feedback from the AI about their impact. These steps often occur in an earlier planning stage when specific design decisions are still yet to be made. 

Companies like ARCHITEChTURES, Forma (by Autodesk), and Sidewalk Labs are at the forefront of this transformation, leveraging AI to streamline workflows, enhance decision-making, and improve sustainability.


ARCHITEChTURES, with its proprietary Generative AI technology, enables a disruptive residential design process characterized by seamless human-machine collaboration. By integrating regulatory confidence, rapid iterations, and accurate instant insights, ARCHITEChTURES empowers users to optimize feasibility analysis processes and obtain standardized initial Building Information Modeling (BIM) models of sites. This innovative approach facilitates a new level of control over quantitative aspects of design, allowing architects to focus on decision-making and value-added tasks. 

Another AI architecture tool is Forma. It is particularly valuable in the early stages of planning and design, providing real-time analyses of key density and environmental factors such as sunlight hours, daylight potential, wind patterns, operational energy requirements, and microclimate conditions. For example, Forma's wind modeling capabilities utilize computational fluid dynamics to analyze how buildings interact with wind patterns, enabling architects to refine designs for optimal human comfort. Unlike traditional methods, Forma does not require users to possess deep technical expertise, making it accessible to architects and planners from various backgrounds.

Meanwhile, Sidewalk Labs, an urban innovation unit within Google, provides cutting-edge technology to improve neighborhood design, reduce carbon emissions, and optimize urban infrastructure. Real estate developers, city planners, and building operators leverage Sidewalk Labs' tools to enhance development planning with generative design, ultimately contributing to sustainability goals and reducing energy costs for buildings and homes. As part of Google's commitment to sustainability, Sidewalk Labs continues to develop products that enable customers to make environmentally conscious choices while driving positive impacts on the planet and their bottom lines.

Rendering Redefined

Some AI architecture tools are also aiming to automate the visualization process. With the release of generative networks such as Midjourney, many architects hope to use the automation capabilities to turn their CAD plan instantly into a visualization. As the process often takes multiple hours and involves a lot of repetitive manual steps, the AI tools could help cut costs and allow architects to focus on more essential work.

Tools like Midjourney stand out for their ability to translate textual prompts into stunning visualizations. Midjourney offers architects a limitless canvas to explore their ideas and early designs. Unfortunately, the generative networks’ abilities for architectural purposes are highly limited when it comes to specific designs. As only text prompts can be used to generate visualizations, architects are not able to input their planning data. This limits Midjourney’s range of potential applications to the early ideation phase, as Midjourney wasn’t designed as an AI architecture tool. Architects can describe their vision in their own words and can use the output as inspiration. 

ArkoAI, VISOID, Architect Render, or LookX are AI architecture tools that aim to turn 2D sketches or plans into high-end renderings. Within minutes, plans can be turned into renderings. They provide similar value to software add-ons such as SketchupDiffusion and Archicad AI Visualizer. These solutions can speed up visualization efforts in the first ideation phases, as first drafts or 3D cubes without any details can be turned into good-looking visuals. However, as we already discussed in this article, the generative networks tend to be highly inaccurate in later planning stages that consume most of the time.

As 2D images do not transport any information about the material, geometry, or surroundings, the AI’s output simply overrides important information. This leads to changes in the geometry and materiality, while important details can simply disappear.

Architects are also limited in integrating their own creativity. Most of the tools only allow architects to describe the desired mood and style in their own words, while editing a slider that manages the level of the AI’s freedom. The higher the level, the more changes are made by the AI.

In addition, the generated output is often not replicable which is quite important for architects. For example, in a very early stage, a basic 3D model is rendered in a certain style and atmosphere. After the first discussion with the client, the architect makes adjustments to the core 3D model. When trying to replicate the atmosphere and style of the first image, which is important in client communication, the architect is likely to get quite different results. This is due to the lack of information that the prompt offers and the potential output variations that are possible within these descriptions.

Even if the architect uploads the prior image, as some AI architecture tools allow it, the results are very likely to differ. 2D data is not sufficient to guide the generative networks’ outputs in such a detailed way.

Therefore, AI architecture solutions like Pelicad take the full 3D scene as a description to guide the AI’s output. The 3D scene consists of multiple information layers such as the 3D geometry, chosen material information from the BIM plan, or the accurate position of trees and surrounding buildings. Given this information, the generative network creates the atmosphere and style wanted, without changing details or creating random outputs that don’t align with the plan. 

Efficient Project Management

Lastly, tools like specter revolutionize project management with its AI-powered features. By offering architects a comprehensive platform for organizing, tracking, and collaborating on projects, architects can streamline the overall project workflow. All relevant progress information is directly linked to the 3D BIM model, allowing an up-to-date snapshot of the building's progress. In addition, details can be shared across all stakeholders, and changes managed in real-time.

Conclusion

The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into architecture is reshaping the industry, ushering in a new era of creativity and efficiency. AI architecture tools are revolutionizing every stage of the architectural process, from concept design to project management, offering architects unprecedented capabilities to automate tasks, generate design alternatives, and optimize decision-making processes. However, while these tools show immense potential, they are still in the early stages of development, with room for improvement in terms of accuracy and applicability to the highly specialized field of architecture.

RELATED POSTS