Digitalization’s Effect on Housing Design and Construction

Digitalization of house

At the March 2022 symposium held by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University two new working papers and one new commentary were presented on how digitalization, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are affecting housing. The “digital transformation in housing design and construction is a complex, but not insurmountable, socio-technical challenge,” Elizabeth Bowie Christoforetti (Harvard Graduate School of Design; Supernormal) observed in her commentary for the symposium, pointing out that digitalization has the potential to “deliver more and better living accommodations.” According to one of the papers, titled “Modularization Precedes Digitalization in Offsite Housing Delivery”: 

…digitalization alone cannot spur the long-discussed but not-yet realized promise that modular construction (and other forms of offsite construction) will reduce the cost of building new housing and improve its quality. Rather, those shifts (and greater use of digital tools) will only occur when entities adopt “platform thinking”—systems that use the modules to take advantage of the economies of scale associated with standardization but are flexible enough to respond to customers’ needs and preferences, assert the paper’s authors Ivan Rupnik (Northeastern University), Ryan E. Smith (University of Arizona), and Tyler Schmetterer (MOD X LLC).

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