A Future Of Disruptive Technologies

Exploration of the range and extent of technology within the Built Environment


Increasingly the fusion of the digital, physical and biological spheres are impactin the world we live in. How will this shift affect architectural practice and the construction industry in Africa? Architects are imagining endless opportunities through which they can make use of the emerging technologies. The use of virtual reality to explore complex ideas; the use of augmented reality to be able to connect the physical world more fully with the digital realm; blockchain for the creation of transparent and efficient smart contracts; artificial intelligence to be able to see and analyze beyond our capabilities; and many more. Ideas and possibilities continue to appear at an accelerated pace. All of these demonstrate excellent potential but are predominantly created in response to questions that were asked in the past. We need to start thinking about the questions that will be asked in the future, and we need to do it fast. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs predicts that by 2050 the African population will double, reaching a staggering 2.5 billion people. The infrastructure required to accommodate this number of people is unprecedented. Christian Benimana, Director of the African Design Centre, estimates that to meet this demand 61,865 housing units, 27 schools and 7 health centres would need to be built every day over the next 31 years. The daunting scale of this task requires both urgent attention and disruptive thinking. We do not yet have the solutions, but we need to start by asking: Are architects ready to disrupt?

In order to tackle the serious challenges which lie ahead, future African designers must begin to connect and engage with emerging technologies that challenge the status quo. The continent is faced with the prospects of a widening digital divide. However, the dramatic impact of mobile technologies has demonstrated the potential impact that technologies can have. The proposed research therefore intends to explore how labs can be created to facilitate new networks and incubate new prototypes.


A Future of Series Topic






Research Lead: Dr. Britt Baillie

German Boedenbender