3. Idea generation and problem solving
The creative energy that comes from sitting together in a group, shooting ideas around and discussing concepts informally is something that, prior to this forced distancing, we’d have found difficult to imagine as being possible to replicate using technology. But necessity’s maternal relationship with innovation has once again led architects to evolve their fundamental beliefs around how things are done.
There was significantly more variance in this category than for communications tools. 72% of architects selected Other rather than the leading tools such as Microsoft Whiteboard used by 15% of respondents, BIM 360 at 7% and Miro at 5%.
One of the most interesting insights that came from the “Other” answers was how the more technology savvy architects are using tools in combination to overcome the limitations of individual technologies .
One thing that we have been doing that has been working well is a shared desktop/Zoom combination. One of the downsides to Zoom and screen sharing is not being able to describe particular components verbally or through annotation, which can obviously be very powerful. To combat this, 2 or 3 of us will connect to the same desktop through a Google Chrome plugin called “Chrome Remote Desktop”. We would have a 3D modelling program open and can take turns manipulating the model. This also works when evaluating and updating CAD layouts in 2D. It feels very collaborative and is the virtual equivalent of leaning over someone’s shoulder in the office and showing them how to do something.
Director of Mata Architects
In our follow up conversations, the tool that generated the most emotive response was definitely digital whiteboard platform Miro. Those who are using this tech sung its praises in rapturous tones. We use this tool at Weaver and definitely recommend it to everyone we’ve been speaking to.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, talked about the struggle to replicate the power of physically sketching ideas, digitally.
Sketching together is difficult - We’ve been making do with what we have - Slack’s drawing tool, Zoom screen share - We’ve discovered and are using sketchtogether.com
It’s clear that for many architects pen and paper is their primary connection point between their creativity and the world in real life, but finding a tool that could emulate the process of two or three people developing an idea sketching together in real time - the way you might sit around a table in the studio with your team and sketch something - was proving difficult.
Two architects were solving this problem with a combination of hardware and software.
My partner and I actually treated ourselves to iPad Pros the Xmas before last. They do work really well with morpholio and another app called concepts which, at its simplest form is free but you can buy add on packages (brushes, pens, colour swatches, stencils etc). Over the past few weeks I’ve test driven both of them more extensively and have come to the conclusion that concepts is the superior of the two.
The XP-Pen desk tablets are wonderful. They allow us to draw by hand in Photoshop, do collective markups and design meetings in Miro and take notes with drawings in GoodNotes. We haven’t printed anything since we started remote working. I’ve always needed to make notes on pieces of paper, notebooks or Post-its, and I can still do that, but it’s easier to then organise, modify and share. The paperless office may actually now work!