One of the UK’s Biggest Architecture Firms Uses AI in an Unexpected Way

Zaha Hadid Architects' Patrik Schumacher said "most" projects now include AI

Milan's Generali Tower (left), designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, and Libeskind Tower.
Milan's Generali Tower (left), designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, and Libeskind Tower.

If you’ve been following the debate over AI and adjacent technologies like ChatGPT, you’ve probably read about the ways in which this tech could change a host of professions, including art and illustration, screenwriting and software developers. (And why some people think it’s time to press pause on the technology altogether.) Architecture hasn’t been one of the main industries discussed in terms of AI’s impact on it, but that doesn’t mean it’s exempt from the debate.

As Dezeen revealed in a recent article, one of the U.K.’s largest architecture firms has embraced AI. In a recent roundtable discussion, Zaha Hadid Architects principal Patrik Schumacher explained the firm’s ethos when it comes to this emerging technology, revealing that “most” of the firm’s projects are making use of it.

“I’m encouraging everybody who’s working on competitions and early ideation to see what comes up and just to have a larger repertoire,” Schumacher told Dezeen. Some of this seems to line up with the firm’s aesthetic, which its founder and namesake (who died in 2016) laid the groundwork for.

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“Any of what comes out of this, I claim authorship for it in terms of validating, selecting, elaborating,” Schumacher told Dezeen. “So I feel very kind of empowered by all this possibility.”

In this context, it sounds like the architects at the firm in question are using AI as a design tool rather than viewing it as something that can do the work of a professional. That sounds less ominous than some other uses of the technology — though it also means that you can add architects to the list of creative thinkers who are still debating the best way of using it toward their own ends. It’s a debate that doesn’t seem likely to end soon.

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