AI-powered Generative Design and Manufacturing for Prefabricated Buildings
Start Date: January 2023
Duration: 5 Years
The construction industry is an important sector in Canada, employing over 1.4 million people and generating about $141 billion to the economy annually, which accounts for 7.5% of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP). Building construction is a major component of the construction sector, considering its energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Over the last decades, the building construction sector has remained a labour-intensive industry with low productivity compared with other sectors. As we confront challenges such as labour shortages, increased energy efficiency standards, and rising housing requests, there is an increasing demand for more efficient and cost-effective design and construction methods. The introduction of building prefabrications has brought value in solving these issues. They can provide a more environmentally friendly construction process with higher efficiency and quality, and at a reduced cost. However, there still exist challenges in the design and manufacturing of prefabricated buildings. First, the designers and engineers are overwhelmed by making important decisions at the early stages of the design because changes in a later stage are difficult for prefabricated buildings. Second, the complexity of design is higher, which limits the variety of design options, because the manufacturing process has to be considered at the design stage. Third, the manufacturing of prefabricated buildings still requires much human intervention, and productivity can be further improved. The research program aims to bring the latest Artificial Intelligence and Robotics technology into the design and manufacturing of prefabricated buildings, in order to further boost productivity and sustainability. The research will mainly be focusing on the design and manufacturing of two building systems, i.e., light wood-frame and mass timber, but the technologies and concepts developed in this program can be extended to other building systems.