What will the construction industry be like in 50 years?
I am not certain. But, it is clear it will not be the same as it is today. New innovations, such as robots, AI, and 3D printing, are going to revolutionize the construction industry. And this will happen much sooner than 50 years from now.
Innovations in Construction
In Switzerland, robots have built a 3-story house – and built it in a much more ‘sustainable’ way than humans could. The DFAB house is three levels and is good sized: 220 m2 / 2,370 ft2 . Additionally, construction used less materials than would have been used using traditional methods.The house complies with all building codes and is has taken advantage of new building techniques. For example, a 3D printer created the ceilings, which feature a very unique design.
Not to be out-done, a company in China has built 10 houses, using 3D printers, in a single day. Estimated costs per house is less than $5,000.
Dwell has an interesting article featuring robots that have the potential to change the construction industry. The Hadrian X is a robotic-mason that can lay up to 1,000 bricks per hour! This has great potential to change the demand for brick buildings. Other robots construct pre-fab buildings in a factory, then the pieces are shipped and assembled on site. This can drastically reduce costs and lower the amount of time on-site to a matter of days.
How will these innovations change the construction industry?
- Using less materials. The DFAB house used 60% less cement than traditional building methods. This type of efficiency has the potential to drastically increase the sustainability of building, and the reduce the costs.
- Safety. Even modern construction sites are dangerous and have an inherent risk – hence the hard hats. The use of robots to do more of the work, will increase the safety of the construction site. Of course, construction jobs themselves will change. (We have discussed the evolving of work here.)
- Change the designs. As this BBC article points out – most buildings are square, because it is very time-consuming to build curved walls – and requires master craftsman. However, for an AI designer using robots, this increased demand for detail is not very significant – it can build a straight wall almost as easily as a curved (or other shaped) wall.
Although it is difficult to predict what new innovations will come next in the construction industry, it is clear that the changes are coming. These new technologies and methods will change how houses and even large buildings are constructed. We will not have to wait 50 years to see this develop.