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Federico Bolero is a registered architect currently based in London. He is co-founder and director of his ENCODE – Design & Technology, a consultancy that helps architects, engineers, manufacturers and contractors develop and deliver innovative projects from the early stages of design through construction. . Utilizing state-of-the-art virtual construction technology and his DfMA process. We had the opportunity to attend a workshop with him and discuss his journey so far and how he became interested in robotics in architecture.

This weekend, we will be hosting a workshop designed to equip participants with comprehensive knowledge and practical skills to design efficient geometries while leveraging data and visualization techniques. This workshop will focus on providing insight into design performance. Participants will learn the basics of parametric design, structural analysis, and optimization techniques. These skills will enable you to create structurally conscious and visually appealing architectural and engineering designs.

Federico Bolero
© ENCODE – Design and Technology

Sera Utukum Ikis (Pennsylvania): Given your unique journey from architecture to technology, can you tell us how personal experiences and challenges have shaped your views on architecture and design?

federico: I started my journey by learning the basics of history, physics, mathematics and architectural design in a very traditional academic environment in Italy. Early on, I always felt like that wasn't enough and wanted to use technology to experiment and prototype ideas. I've always been drawn to doing things outside the norm in more exciting, more challenging and less visible ways.

A big change in my journey came after I graduated and moved to London to pursue a postgraduate degree at the AA Institute of Design. The AA Design Institute is a hub for design research, taught by some of the most internationally influential designers and educators, and a place where there are no limits to experimentation. . Since then, my perception of what design and technology means has changed significantly, leaving behind preconceptions and opening up new frameworks of possibility and understanding.

I then had the opportunity to grow professionally at Zaha Hadid Architects, which I felt was my natural environment, specifically with a team focused on design and technology called CODE (Computation and Design). The incredibly wide range of backgrounds, cultures, and skills at ZHA provided a way for me to shape my own perspectives and interests over time. With a unique combination of designers, programmers, mathematicians, visualizers, roboticists, and planners, to name just a few, I was in the right place at the right time to design and research at a professional practice level. I felt like I was able to move on.

Now, running my own business with a partner has further developed my perspective and forced me to take on more risks and responsibilities for myself. ENCODE's core motivation has been, and has been since its inception, to bridge the gap that still exists between design and construction. Despite today’s “digital richness,” with the ever-increasing adoption of AI in all areas of daily life, we still operate within a highly human-centric and fragmented discipline (AEC). , standards are lacking and supply chains are fragmented. , the insufficiency of digitalization becomes more pronounced towards the construction phase.

I believe technology plays an important role in our field, but we are only in the early stages of a long-term transformation. This requires several incremental steps to be taken collectively with a clear and common goal.

© ENCODE, Tumbalong Green Stage Upgrade

Serra (Pennsylvania): We have seen digital fabrication develop over time. What limitations in the current use of robotics in construction would be game-changing if resolved by the next decade?

federico: Machine intelligence in robotics, and construction more generally, has been researched since the 60s by the minds of pioneers like Nicholas Negroponte, Marvin Minsky, and Walter Gray Walter, to name just a few. I'm here. Technology continues to evolve at an exponential rate today, but historically adoption in construction has been slower than in all other fields.

This is due to the reasons mentioned above, as well as the strict regulatory requirements demanded by modern construction processes.

If robots can effectively deal with uncertainty and change through individual and collective intelligence without the need for top-down programming, we'll probably see more robots in the field. I think it will become possible, but I think it is still a long way from there. point.

It is great to see continued research and investment in this direction, both at an academic and professional level.

Federico Bolero
© ENCODE – Design and Technology

Serra (Pennsylvania): From your experience at Zaha Hadid Architects and other firms, can you tell us about the importance of cross-disciplinary collaboration in pushing the boundaries of what is possible in architecture and design?

federico: I strongly believe that design is a collaborative effort, where multiple minds and expertise negotiate constraints to achieve a common goal. Collaboration and open access to information are important aspects to implement to ensure project success.

Unfortunately, our field is becoming less and less open, starting from the early stages of design and progressing to the delivery stage. In my experience at ZHA and now at ENCODE, integrating multiple agents (stakeholders) from the early stages of design allows them to collectively access and discuss the distribution of knowledge and requirements. This enables multi-threaded design development instead of linear design development. , similar to the traditional approach.

Serra (Pennsylvania): As automation and artificial intelligence become more prevalent in design and construction, what ethical considerations should AEC industry professionals consider to ensure responsible and fair use of these technologies?

Federico: I believe that with great power comes great responsibility. Therefore, technological leaps should be carefully considered and ultimately regulated to prevent misuse of the technology.

Once a new technology comes out, there's no real way to stop its spread, and there's no going back. I believe adoption rates should be closely monitored and action taken where abuse could lead to societal risks.

Technology is a deep human activity, developed by humans for humans, so if it does not benefit humanity, it will lose its meaning, its evolution will naturally stop, and it will eventually disappear.

Automation and machine intelligence are improving almost every task we perform in our daily lives today. They are both so deeply embedded in our culture that we hardly notice that we are rapidly moving into a cyber-physical cultural paradigm enabled by technology.

© ENCODE – Design and Technology

Serra (Pennsylvania): What new technologies and methodologies do you think will have the biggest impact on the AEC industry and how is ENCODE preparing to embrace these changes?

federico: It's clear how big an impact AI will have on AEC. I say “may” because I believe we are still a long way from meaningful and measurable impact.as stated

I used to believe that our field needed more transparency, shared standards, and collaborative frameworks enabled by technology than AI. At ENCODE, we are constantly researching and developing live projects, methodologies, and processes to tackle the above problems. We take a very pragmatic approach to technology, leveraging and developing technology when and where it's needed, rather than as a marketing tool. We take a digital-first approach to every problem we have to solve, while communicating effectively and efficiently because we interact with other people as well as machines. Keep in mind what you need to do.

© ENCODE – Design and Technology

Serra (Pennsylvania): For those planning to attend the Data Structures(d) Design 2.0 workshop, what mindset and preparation steps would you recommend to maximize learning and application of the skills taught? mosquito?

federico: This workshop leverages data and visualization techniques to gain insight into design performance, while providing participants with comprehensive knowledge and practical skills to design efficient geometries. The purpose is Participants will learn the fundamentals of parametric design, structural analysis, and optimization techniques, enabling them to create structurally conscious and visually appealing architectural and engineering designs. This workshop will introduce efficient interoperability workflows for collaborating in real time with multiple project stakeholders in a seamless, versioned, and automated manner.

No prior knowledge of the tools is required, but some experience with Rhino and Grasshopper is recommended. We will cover the basic principles of each of the topics listed above, allowing participants to apply and further develop the methods described in their own projects and case studies.

Serra (Pennsylvania): What advice would you give to young professionals interested in the latest technologies in robotics and architecture?

federico: I think design technology is a field that offers many opportunities at all scales, from startups to corporate levels. My main advice is to learn the constraints and opportunities each side offers, and focus on how to solve real-world problems by implementing strategies that can be widely adopted and shared with the larger community.

Data Structure(d) Design 2.0 – Studio Federico Borello

To learn more about Federico Borello and his studio, check out PAACADEMY.

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