Generative Design
Generative Design
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The Future of Generative Design

written by
Joann Lui
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I love spending hours learning how to script for BIM!

…said no one ever.

Yet, the current software landscape requires us to learn complicated processes in order to use any kind of generative design.

Algorithmic. Parametric. Computational. Responsive. Scripted.

It’s as if to be architects today, we have to learn how to code before we can actually design.

But technology is meant to make our lives easier, not harder.

When Computers Were Human

Before the computer became the machine we know today, the term “computer” meant “one who computes.”

Allan Turing, an English mathematician and computer scientist, defines “human computer” as someone who is “supposed to be following fixed rules; he has no authority to deviate from them in any detail.”

Definition of Human Computer

NASA's early years featured many "human computers", mathematically gifted women who performed complex calculations for aircraft and space missions before the existence of computers.

Human computers working at NASA

They would spend hours, days, weeks, doing repetitive, long, and often tedious calculations.

Until electronic computers came along.

The machines took care of these boring tasks, giving them time to unlock their potential—some of these women became NASA's first computer programmers, contributing to groundbreaking space exploration projects.

Instead of spending human hours computing all the complicated calculations…

      The computer can now do it all for us.

Instead of manually planning routes and calculating distances on a physical map… 

      You can simply follow the GPS or even have the car drive you there.

Better yet, instead of searching for an answer on the internet…

      You can just ask AI to find the best answer for you.

Technology is making our lives easier.

Where is that in architecture?

Automate the Boring

Some have argued that technology, like AI, is taking away our ability to think and be creative in architecture.

That it’s making us rely on technology so we become complacent.

But is that really the case? Here at TestFit, we believe that technology should automate the boring to free up humans’ time for more creative and decision-making tasks.

We believe it so much that we built an entire platform automating boring tasks like counting parking stalls, drafting unit plans, and calculating yield on cost, so architects and developers can do what they do best—design and build faster.

TestFit automates parking layout

Now we’re diving into Generative Design, the technology that was once believed to be the future of design. But it has yet to become the future that was promised.

Technology like Generative Design should be life-changing. It should “think of” all the options that we wouldn’t even think to try, enabling us to explore more and make better decisions in design.

Technology should make our lives so easy that we all want to jump in and use it.

The Current Problem of Generative Design

Yet, today it seems as if we’re becoming the one who computes instead of the one who creates.

We stay up all night connecting bounding boxes and nodes to get our BIM models to behave the way we want them to. From simple things like aligning elevation marks on a plan to generating complex organic facades on a skyscraper.

The steep learning curve makes it incredibly difficult for architects, whose primary training and passion lie in design, not programming.

The current design tools often operate in silos, requiring us to switch between multiple software before feasibility studies are even completed.

Worse yet, if we want to take advantage of generative design, we have to learn multiple complex scripting and parametric modeling, limiting the use of generative design to only tech-savvy people.

Imagine if we force our clients to learn construction before they can get their house. We would all agree that it would be a failure of the architect’s job. Yet when it comes to our tech stack, we’ve grown accustomed to its failure.

Clients that come to us for a building don’t want to learn how to build.

Architects that want to leverage technology in their design process shouldn’t have to learn how to script.

As technology companies, we need to stop making architects learn tech to use our technology.

We have come so far from human computers.

Do we really want to go so far back and become human scripters?

The Future of Generative Design

For generative design to truly be useful for architects, we have to admit that the fanciest UI, the best scripts, and the most complex parametric options won’t make architects want to learn to code.

The only way to get architects to embrace technology is to apply the same innovation found in computers to generative design.

Let the computers compute.

Let the designers design.

Take the best things that AI technology can do, automating the boring, and let it do that to the fullest. Freeing up time and brain space for architects to design, create, and imagine the world that people will want to live in.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to AI technology, and it’s a crime that we’re still asking architects to script when AI can and should do the work for you.

TestFit Generative Design

That’s where TestFit comes in. We want to make Generative Design easy so every architect can use it to design buildings that our communities truly live and work in every day.

This doesn’t mean ​the AI is going to be better than us or take our creativity away.

This simply means that we can now generate a multitude of design options in much less time than it would take us, humans, to do. So we can start with a better optimized plan instead of staring at a blank slate every time.

Giving us more time to push boundaries and consider options that we might never think to try.

Technology can make our lives easier.

Stop scripting. Start designing.

Join the future of building optimization with TestFit Generative Design.

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