More than any other single element, it is the ever more rapid advances in communications and IT that demand future-proofing creativity and expertise. Today’s buildings and their interiors need to be ready for the technology of tomorrow – even if it hasn’t yet been invented.
Planned Lack Of Obsolescence
Especially in workplaces and specialized accommodation such as student residences, designing for technology and the infrastructure required to enable it is as important as accommodating the human occupants. Failure to plan ahead has implications for budgets, downtime and general disruption. Now that technology provision is as much expected, and as taken for granted, as electricity and indoor plumbing, it has to be factored in from the beginning of each design process. At Schmidt Associates, our architects, designers, and technology experts collaborate from the outset of every project. A central part of their brief is to give each building a “central nervous system” that will keep it as connected as its occupants need in the years ahead.
In practical terms, this can mean being wired for sound, with voice communications including paging, intercommunications and telephone systems that provide people the ability to locate and communicate with fellow occupants more efficiently. Or it can involve sound systems that offer the functionality to interact with larger groups. With communications and IT convergence so well advanced, smart buildings need the LAN provision to enable networked computers to provide a sophisticated and fully functioning IT infrastructure. And these days, this means serious bandwidth to cope with everything from ever expanding data volumes to streaming video in HD as standard. Then “wireless friendliness” needs to be factored in, as “untethered” devices including tablets and smartphones displace PCs and even laptops. Finally, electronic security makes demands on infrastructure design too. Digital surveillance, monitoring and remote access control all require provision to be made from the design phase onward.
Building In Tomorrow’s Technology, Today
None of these advanced technology infrastructure demands can be ignored. Designing effectively to accommodate them demands deep knowledge of existing technologies and a lot of imagination to picture what everyday information requirements might be in the future. Getting it right saves money, time and often difficult to phase and even more difficult to implement interventions further down the line. We call it building in tomorrow’s technology today.