According to The National Human Activity Pattern Survey, we spend 87% of our time on average indoors. Where we live, work, and play need to be built well and hopefully pleasing to the eye, but it is also equally important to think about the well-being of people. During the pandemic, most of us are working from home, so it is even more impactful to spend our time in a pleasant environment.
At the heart of good architecture and design is people’s well-being…
Prior to building Pitch Your Concepts, an online marketplace to find architects and interior designers for design-led property renovations and small medium-sized developments, my career as an architect led me to work on high-end retail, hospitality, and residential developments. With these projects larger than average project budget, one can deliver impressive outcomes as access to the best craftsmen, the best materials, and more are available. But what about those that have a small or average budget? Since pre-historic times, the reason to build is to provide shelter for individuals and families. At the heart of good architecture and design is people’s well-being; I have been an advocate of applying the same design thinking regardless of project budget because ultimately, it is about building better spaces and places for people. Iconic buildings may symbolise a property owner’s wealth, political influence, and more, but the icon status should only be a bonus from the successes of how well people use the spaces built.
Low Digitisation Within the Design & Construction Industry
In 2015, McKinsey published its Digitisation Index, highlighting the design and construction industry at the bottom of the index. Although architecture practices have been integrating Building Information Modelling (BIM), which is one of the few successful adoptions, there is still a huge gap between what technology can help achieve today.
Design and construction are one of the last industries to adopt technology, yet the real estate industry is the largest asset class in the world.
Design and construction are one of the last industries to adopt technology, yet the real estate industry is the largest asset class in the world. We turn to Rightmove or Zoopla when searching for a property to buy or rent, but what about everything else that happens before and after that?
People, People, People
Understanding the inherent reasons as to why we build is important because when we build PropTech, we need to keep in mind that at the core of digital adoption within the PropTech industry is the aim to create improved spaces and places for people. When we do that, we form strong foundations for PropTech’s development. Regardless of our focus areas within PropTech – DesignTech, ConTech, or others, adding value for the people who live or benefit from the places and spaces delivered is key.
With my background in architecture, my perspective on PropTech focuses from the first moment a client initiates a project with a professional. An architect is often the first professional hired, so for a project to run at its full potential, I place significant importance in the selection process and the appointment of a design team. In the Royal Institute of British Architects’ publication titled Client Conversations: Insights into successful project outcomes, Ian Mehrtens was quoted:
“You need to spend this time to be sure that the architect really understands your intentions and vice versa so that you are able to test each other’s conception, because otherwise you find out later that you are not getting what you want and you waste time and money doing redesign.”
- Ian Merhtens in the Royal Institute of British Architects’ publication titled Client Conversations: Insights into successful project outcomes
Finding the best fit of client and architect needs to be thoroughly assessed from project expertise to track record, compared whenever it is possible to ensure the vision for a project’s quality, cost and time are aligned.
The Financial Times recently delivered the Digital Dialogues on Delivering Value To Business which I listened with interest. Mark Enzer, CTO at Mott MacDonald and Digital Director at the Centre for Digital Built Britain articulated the following idea:
“To collaborate on the rules and then to compete on the game.”
- Mark Enzer, CTO at Mott MacDonald and Digital Director at the Centre for Digital Built Britain
This is in the context of sharing data. To collaborate on the rules mean that it is beneficial for everyone to have consistent rules, ie. a set of comparable data in data modelling to then inform our decisions to compete on the game. Making data sharable by reducing friction in data language is essential so that as an industry, common insights are then available to innovate and compete on the game. I couldn’t agree more. With real estate being the largest asset class in the world, there are large amounts of information including cross-disciplinary information, PropTech has the opportunity to collaborate on the rules to extract the best innovation in PropTech for people and places.
Reading a recent article by Andrew Stanton on Unissu “To what extent should we allow AI to become a decision-making force in real estate?” he discussed that “systems are only as good as the data supplied, and there will be a need for standardisation.” Again, this points us in the direction where people and the data we have in playing a key role in PropTech’s development.
Digital Transformation Within PropTech – People at the Heart
Buying a property as an individual or even as an organisation involves huge financial investment – the stakes are high. The process is complex and involves multiple stakeholders. Digital transformation requires in-depth thought process, considerations, and capabilities to create a workable solution.
We ought to pursue digital transformation within the PropTech industry by placing people at the heart…
We ought to pursue digital transformation within the PropTech industry by placing people at the heart of it so the technologies we develop and adopt can help drive the responsible use of material resources, land resources, human resources, capital resources, and others in the most effective way.
“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”
- Bill Gates
Written by Von Chua during her foray into proptech. First published on Unissu’s Connect Insights on 14/08/2020. If you would like to further discuss this topic or curious about why you should place more importance on the selection of the right design team for your next project, please do not hesitate to contact Von at firstname.lastname@example.org. Pitch Your Concepts was an online marketplace and platform to find design professionals for design-led property renovations and SME developments. A semi-finalist at the 2019 Mayor’s Entrepreneur Award, organised by the Mayor of London.