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A@W Newsletter

Tim Fu on AI in Architecture

21 May 2024

Artificial intelligence is on a global conquest tour. This means that virtually every self-respecting sector has no choice but to look at ways in which AI can help in its work. That AI can also be of considerable service to architecture is proven by Tim Fu, architectural designer and about a year ago founder of the eponymous Studio Tim Fu Ltd in London.


The London-based China-born Canadian designer will soon be a guest in Belgium. During Architect@Work Brussels at the end of this month (Thursday 30 May, at 15h30 in the seminar room of one of the sheds at Tour & Taxis), he will give a lecture to which, as a contemporary designer, it is impossible or impossible to remain absent. Titled ‘AI in Architecture: Practical Applications and Future Directions’, he will play on the work of AI-driven design by his own Studio Tim Fu and beyond.


Rendering of what ‘Future Baroque’ could look like.


Offering future-oriented perspective

The brief content of the seminar describes what is on the programme as follows: ‘It will discuss how AI technologies, such as diffusion models and parametric design tools, are revolutionising the field by improving design efficiency, creativity and the seamless transition from concept to construction. The presentation will highlight specific examples of AI's role in generating innovative forms and structures, AI's unique ability to negotiate between tradition and futuristic visions, and the potential for AI to streamline architectural workflows, offering a forward-looking perspective on the next natural evolution of architecture.’


For those for whom this might not yet be recruiting enough, let's let the man behind the seminar explain in a bit more detail what the audience can expect. First, we let Tim Fu introduce himself, his past history alone intriguing. His CV shows that he graduated cum laude from the Architectural Association and that he worked for Zaha Hadid Architects in London for many years. There, he was part of ZHACODE (Computational research group), specialising in algorithmic design and related computational research. We further see mentioned that he has experience leading computational workshops/talks at Harvard GSD, ACADIA, PA Academy, Digital Futures, and so on. His recent research on AI in architecture was published in Bloomberg, The Sun, NY Post, Daily Mail and various relevant media. He is also featured in prominent media like Arte and Skynews, and had his works exhibited at Border's Arts Fair during the Venice Biennale.


A new way of looking at Art Nouveau through the use of AI.


Prior history at Zaha Hadid Architects

‘The use of artificial intelligence has actually always been the common thread throughout my career. After all, after my studies, before joining Zaha Hadid, I worked for two years for another firm where I learned a lot about advanced computational design and where I was project manager on the design of an iconic bridge in Dubai,’ Tim Fu clarifies. ‘After starting at Zaha Hadid, I started developing AI there after about one year into the creative domain and it became part of the design process.  It quickly became about adapting AI for process, both at Zaha Hadid and for things I was tackling for myself. Among other things, this led me to start teaching AI to students and industry AI specialists. Teaching thus became one of my main pursuits.’


Imagining a future retail environment.


Soon at Zaha Hadid, the man realised that sooner or later he had to fly on his own wings. That resulted in July last year in the foundation of his own small, high-tech architectural office in London, where he and a small team explore all the possibilities AI can offer in architecture. Together with this small team, he is currently tackling numerous projects worldwide and exploring the integration of AI into visionary designs. Since then, he has also given numerous lectures worldwide on the subject and built himself a considerable online following, sharing his design and technology insights worldwide.


Embracing AI

‘The development of AI is moving at lightning speed. This means that with Studio Tim Fu, we are constantly exploring its boundaries,’ he continues. ‘If you compare two years ago to now... The images have improved enormously, the realism went up substantially, as did the level of detail and the rationalisation of geometry. The tool is getting better and better, and the end of applications to architecture is far from in sight, well on the contrary, the possibilities seem endless.’


This is how Studio Tim Fu sees the ‘House of Future Fluidity’.


‘There is literally so much evolution that you have to constantly learn to embrace new methods of architecture. The number of options is increasing substantially, which also means that you can communicate with a client about the design process faster and faster. This is precisely where a huge advantage lies for those like me who work with a small team. Thanks to AI, we can compete with the very biggest, illustrating how it is inevitable that everyone will have to embrace at least part of AI. For example, consider rendering. Before, you had to outsource that and it cost quite a lot of time and money. Now you do it immediately and in-house, literally taking the middleman out of the process.’


Originally written by Jan Hoffman


All images © Studio Tim Fu Ltd

Tim Fu on AI in Architecture
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