Agratama Arfiano
Alternative Future of the Architect Profession Agratama Arfiano


The emergence of advanced technology is already disrupting in various industries. It is just a matter of time before the AEC (Architecture, Engineering, Construction) and the real estate industry get shaken as well.

Sidewalk Labs Quayside Master Plan for Toronto ( Photo Source: Archdaily )

Many big tech companies start integrating technology with smart city development, such as Sidewalk Labs Project in Toronto by Google.

Chris Precht, ​​ in his interview with archipreneur,​ said that “ The currency of the future is data, and architecture won’t be an exception. If that is the path, the capital for buildings won’t be money anymore, it will be data, and the developers won’t be SOHO, a fund, or an investment group. The developer of the future will be called Google or Amazon, and the architects will be no longer be Rem or Bjarke, they will be called Apple, Baidu, or whatever comes after those tech giants.”

The current architecture technology is greatly helping the architect in reducing abortive works on the design process and enable the architect to be more independent. By looking at the conventional architect business model that heavily depends on the client and service provider relationship seems obsolete and inefficient. My idea, the architect should have a better bargaining position by securing a broader scope of work with actively involved in the development process through a self-initiated project.

Typically on commercial development, an architect is hired in the middle stage of the project by developer or client after the initial programming of the project visioning, market study, and cost estimation based on the market average. After the architect translated those briefs into drawings, the contractor is hired to construct the building based on those drawing.

That is why sometimes the project result is different from what the architect is designed, caused by an external factor such as budget cuts, change of business plan, or even construction fault.

By initiating their project, the architect can control the quality of their product and having quicker feedback by engaging the future user even from the design phase.

The Commons by Breathe Architecture ( Photo Source: Archdaily )

One of the successful examples of architects developing their project is the Nightingale Housing Model in Australia​. Jeremy Mcleod is a professional architect with more than eight years of experience that fed up with property developers, off-shore investors, and low quality but expensive housing. In 2011, Jeremy and six other architects joined together to develop The Commons at Brunswick, 24 unit affordable middle rise housing with their unique housing model. This project can tackle the triple bottom development issue with the affordability of housing prices, a sustainable architecture design, and livable housing for the homeowner. Currently, their housing model is standardized and replicated all over Australia by many architects.

DFhousing Scheme ( Photo Source: DFhousing)

A few years ago, Mande Austriono, an Indonesian architect who owns DFORM, started to develop his project through the co-housing model that becomes DFhousing. The idea is pretty simple; the potential homeowner group who interested to have their own house is independently looking for available land for their future dwelling. The architect is acting as a communication platform and lead designer for the development. By having an independent approach, the housing price could be affordable by minimizing third party involvement.

Imagine if this movement becomes massive, our built quality environment will become much better and indirectly pushing the conventional developer to focus more on the user livability and environmental impacts, not only the financial return of the project.

So, how do you see the future of the architect profession?



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