Tag Archives: Technology

Architecture – there’s a brilliant app for that!

‘There’s an app for that’ was Apple’s battle cry in their 2009 advert, and we scoffed at the idea that an app could do anything more than remind us when the last episode of ER was being shown or allow Mr Pacman to cheer up a dreary train ride.  10 years later, are apps literally defining the build of our landscape?

If you’re an architect, you may have spent time online scouring the web for useful tools to make life easier, maybe you’re already using online accounting apps like Xero or Quickbooks? Here is a selection of some of the more interesting software we found that might be useful for architects:

  • A360. This was created by CAD experts Autodesk, but this app lets you upload 2D and 3D drawings regardless of what software you used to make them.  This app means that these drawings are available on your phone no matter where you are, so you can review them, mark changes or observations, track the project’s progress and find your way around models of all sizes.


  • Concepts. This app isn’t just for architects, it can also be used by artists, illustrators, product designers and anyone that wants to be able to draw on the go, (but it is ideal for architects!)  It’s a digital sketch pad for professionals that enables them to draw exceptionally accurately with 64 bit precision.  With a 4.7 star rating, this is a popular choice!


  • Scala Architectural Scale. Despite the name, it is designed for both architects and engineers and it enables you to measure printed drawings both on the move and in your office.  It has both fixed and variable scales so whether you know the scale or not you can still use it.  There is a free version with 18 fixed scales, but you can expand the range with a paid-for upgrade.


  • RoomScan Pro. Great for smaller projects or improvement projects, this app allows you to mock-up the layout of a room very quickly just by waving your phone around the room believe it or not.  It even lets you draw out features such as stairs, exteriors and gardens.


  • Mosaic. Of course, we couldn’t leave out our own CDM app!  Mosaic app for construction professionals takes some of the sting out of the new initiative to get architects into the role of principal designer.  Mosaic can help users feel confident in their CDM work, as it gives frameworks to use and not just the template-based resources currently available elsewhere.  The key to this app is that it helps architects, who perhaps feel their CDM experience isn’t going to be sufficient to avoid potential prosecution, feel more secure in their work. The architects using Mosaic have declared they will be happy to take on more revenue-generating CDM work in the future, having started using our software.


Apps in architecture defining the landscape

These are only a handful of the myriad apps available online and offline, and with new technology opening up including the growth of AI and virtual reality as well as cloud-based tools, and the increased phasing out of the dreaded paper-based record keeping, in the future whole buildings could literally be designed by app alone. Architectural technology is a discipline that spans architecture, building science, design and engineering.

In practice, architectural technology is developed, understood and integrated into a building by producing technical architectural drawings, quantities, measurements and schedules. Computer software is now used on all simplest building types and methods, for the better. New breeds of architects perpetually innovate – while keeping an eye on the heritage of the past – to evolve their craft. For example, Guangzhou Opera House, designed by Zaha Hadid, is a suitably theatrical spectacle for the modern world, held together with joints built using medieval techniques, a fine blend of the past and the future! This level of asymmetry would not have been possible to achieve without modern modelling software and the architect’s vision!

The adoption of technology in architectural practice has undoubtedly allowed this creativity to be more easily achieved, but it has also enabled the industry to extend its business proposition far beyond its traditional remit of design and construction.


5 ways mobile technology is changing the way architects work

A recent study carried out by RIBA showed that 87% of architects agree that digital technology is transforming the way that they work. 79% state that adopting digital technologies leads to improved project efficiencies and 35% of architects use at least one form of mixed, augmented or virtual reality, with many planning to expand their use of immersive technology and use other variants soon.

Mobile Technology is beyond impressive now though and it is designed to be used on the move, or remotely.  Most smartphones now have microprocessors which enable increased computing power in a small device.

How is mobile technology progressing how architects work?

  1. Building Information Modelling. BIM was created in 1987 when ArchiCAD became regarded by some as the first implementation of BIM.  It was the first CAD product on a PC that could create both 2D and 3D geometry and was the first commercial BIM product for personal use. The 2016 central government target which then required level 2 BIM to be employed for its projects upped the game.  Luckily mobile technology was catching up to make this much easier for those wanting to get ahead of the game.  Years before this, mobile-friendly programs were being developed and now the majority of BIM software packages either already have or are due to have a mobile-friendly version.  Those worried that the enforcement of technology would mean running between being on-site and getting in front of their PCs can be reassured.
  2. Apps. Much of the time there are specific tasks such as health and safety that are important enough to be able to access at all times.  This is probably why there are so many established and up and coming apps on the market designed for niche tasks such as these.  In addition, they can fill in areas where architects feel less comfortable such as CDM regulations, providing useful frameworks to follow when acting as principal designer.
  3. Artificial Intelligence. A good example of this might be parametric design; a design system that enables architects to play with parameters to create different types of outputs and create forms and structures that would not have otherwise been possible.  Still in its infancy compared to other technology, using AI on the move will be essential to be able to function to the best of its ability.
  4. Virtual Reality. The possibilities for this area, in particular, are endless.  Being able to take a virtual tour of a finished project enables problems to be identified at the concept stage instead of at the end where rectifying the issues might be costly and time-consuming.
  5. Communication. A very basic functionality of mobile technology that we all sometimes take for granted.  It’s only in the last few decades that making and taking phone calls anywhere is possible and now we can add video calls, multi-person video conferences and of course mobile email to the mix.  This is what mobile phones were originally designed for, and essential for any successful architect.
Principal Designer | created by Pikisuperstar

The slow death of spreadsheets in Principal Design

There was a time when the mighty shared spreadsheet took over from paper forms, and all was good. Colour coded GANT diagrams, emailed from person to person to update, initially seemed like a great idea to keep any construction project on the straight and narrow.

But teams have got bigger as architects, contractors, principal designers, project managers and investors all want to be kept up to date and getting a giant spreadsheet with ‘Version 19’ saved into the title to make sure everyone has the most current version wasn’t uncommon, and the project is only a third of the way through!  Confusion reigns.

Cloud-based spreadsheets!  Fantastic, we can all see the most recent version!  But the design and construction industry has got more complicated in the meantime.  CDM legislation has put a greater emphasis on health and safety, Building Information Modelling introduces an additional layer to design and the shared spreadsheet is now so big that it’s in danger of taking over even the biggest screen.  All individuals are being given information in one place and in fact, is it essential everyone has all information or is it just overload?

The fact is that a lot of information really doesn’t always need to be in one place, however CDM is one such area.  The role of principal designer was created to ensure that there is a single individual wholly responsible for the health and safety of a project and as long as the outcomes are communicated in summary, a giant spreadsheet will only further confuse.

Farewell to spreadsheets in construction?

It is for this reason that specialist tools are taking over from the mighty spreadsheets.  Not only do these tools mean that information is collated away from the overall plan, making it easier to find quickly and efficiently, but it means that it is in a format that can easily demonstrate that legislation is being followed and more importantly, that everyone on site is safe from injury, or worse.

The human cost of getting CDM wrong means it really isn’t worth leaving it to chance with a blunt tool as generic as a spreadsheet.  Spreadsheets are more suited to budgets, accounts and Christmas party menu choices.  Cloud-based and app-based tech do not just record but also guide principal designers in recording information and save, rather than use up, time.