Technology sending back designers and architects to school

Structural and interior designing are among the oldest industries in existence that have withstood time to remain relevant to date. However, designers are finally meeting their match: technology.

Buildings were have always been to provide shelter, be a source of beauty, have enough light and withstand eventualities. In the past, building blocks, wires and pipes were the main components.

60-year-old veteran architect Feo Fernandes says many in the building sector have been left napping by new advances. Technological advances like Wi-Fi and fibre to home are transforming their designs.

“We have learnt not to keep in touch with technology anymore. We are wiser, we keep in touch with the techies,” he said.

According to him, a number of aspects that usually would not be a consideration are now vital concern items to the structural designs.

“Everything from shape to open spaces and distance between rooms matters especially in a house where owners want gadgets that utilize WiFi,” he adds.

Other than solely thinking of sewage, pipes and electrical wires, connectivity to fibre-optic cables as well as satellite dish installation also count.

According to interior designer Emma Too says, technology is bringing up the “whole behaviour of minimalism.”

Citing examples, she explains how tables that would initially be used to place machines such as the CPUs and desktops have disappeared. In the house, she adds that the cabinet for placing the televisions is gone while wires from the home theatre or the stereo have also reduced in number.

She says unlike before, homeowners have to think of how to create hotspots, a scenario she says many are not familiar with.

“Technology at the office and at home is making us efficient as well as lazy,” she says, adding that their confusion is not totally misplaced.

Technology has brought together a cocktail of cultures, designs and a whole rethinking of dimensions not possible to visualise in a short period.

Back in the days when many prominent professionals in the sector went to school, the house was full of bulky gadgets. Now the gadgets are more but the space they take up is much smaller.

Houses have shrunk in depth and width, the fireplace is gone and technology is bringing up demands they can’t visualise.

For homeowners, the budget has changed, she adds.

“Formerly the interior constituted a small fraction of the entire house but people have fridges costing KSh300,000 and television sets worth KSh500,000 in a KSh5 million house. Even consultancy is becoming challenging,” Too said.

However, both Too and Fernandes agree that the changes are just a beginning and are here to stay.

With smart cities like Konza City coming to actualisation, the feeling is professionals cannot just feel comfortable being thinkers in their own field. They have to know everything even if it means going back to school.

None, however, see their profession under threat from technological advances, but see increased demand as the little corners or shade of paint on the walls begin to count.

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