There is no denying that the use of smart design tools in the construction space provides significant value and presents numerous opportunities through the project design and construction phases.

However, according to a recent insight report by the Canadian Construction Association, while other industries have been reaping the benefits of the digital boom for years, the construction space has been slow to leverage the potential of digital technologies to transform how buildings, infrastructure, industrial facilities, and other built assets are designed, constructed, operated and maintained.

And in fact, as the majority of global construction-industry experts expect changes due to technological adoption to happen in the next five years, most Canadian construction companies rate their digital maturity as fairly low and are not leveraging technological adoption or are merely experimental (see p.14 of the report).

That’s why WZMH Architects (the only architectural firm in Canada with a dedicated Innovation Lab) are actively advocating for the adoption of new technologies and are working to redesign and generate new efficiencies in the construction industry.

Here are a few recent examples of how WZMH and its R&D lab Sparkbird are innovating and pushing the boundaries:

  • Together with UA IT Hub, WZMH’s Sparkbird developed the Universal Washroom APP, a design assist tool, which automatically generates layouts for the Ontario Building Code Universal Washroom. The AI-powered app provides a quick solution to what in many cases can be hours and hours of tinkering and sketching for basic building components.
  • To help efficiently navigate spaces and extract all the details and specifications about the space at the touch of a button, the firm created Digital Client Standards APP, a user-friendly, interactive and digitally connected version of traditional building design standards that once were thick hardcopy binders requiring manual update. The app interacts with furniture and equipment suppliers to track the supply chain, and issue bulletins to BIM software to ensure design projects’ latest standards are reflected in real time.
  • Earlier this year, the firm developed an innovative prefabricated modular precast solution, Speedstac, for mid- to high-rise residential buildings that addresses the housing crisis in Ukraine. Made of “boxes” that are stacked together, side by side or on top of each other, these prefabricated modular units slide into the existing building and replace damaged sections with new residential units. To facilitate the installation of the Speedstac modules, the firm and UA IT Hub have developed a software and AI tool doton, which provides efficient and safer means of installing components by crane, and utilizes drones or stationary Lidar cameras to measure the distance between building components (such as prefab modules, windows, steel beams/columns, etc.) and the final resting or installation point. The future of doton is a software platform that will automate the process of installing building components by ‘autonomous’ cranes.
  • The firm is also harnessing the power of robotics and has presented a robotic solution to install the nuts and complete the required torque for the connection points for prefabricated / modular building components such as Speedstac. Dubbed Torqbot, the robot is flown into position by a drone, and all procedures (i.e. mechanical fastener installation) are streamed to a mobile device such as a tablet.