Felix Thurnheer - Immocompass CEO

Big data & the future of real estate: interview with Felix Thurnheer

Spatial future series - episode 1


Interview summary

0:04 Introduction

3:30 What is “spatial data”?

4:45 Is a contract also a spatial data point?

7:45 How has the awareness of the industry changed in the last 10 years in terms of data?

16:47 Are data-based decisions coming in earlier today?

22:25 Can easy-to-understand models really bring everyone along?

30:06 How does data affect the participation of policy makers and residents?

32:50 Who should have what information and when?

36:17 What will real estate development look like in 10 years?

42:00 Do we still need architects?

Full transcript

Nilson intro (0:04):
Welcome to our video series, “Spatial Futures”. What we’re doing here is we’re bringing our ecosystem to the table, we’re taking the Digital Twin as a base where all the data of the physical world comes together and now we’re asking ourselves the question together with our partners: what does the future look like.

What does the future of spatial design look like, what does the future of real estate development look like, and how can digital solutions and data help to simplify the whole process – maybe make it more complicated, revolutionize it, automate it – and ultimately what will the future of real estate and spatial development look like in 10 years.
That’s what our data partners are here for, that’s what our app partners are here for, bringing everyone to the table to discuss exactly that future.

Start of the interview

Nilson (1:16)
Felix, welcome.

Felix (1:18)
Good afternoon Nilson.

Nilson (1:21)
Kickoff you are our first guest in the Spatial Future Series, of course we are happy about that!

Felix (1:26)
I feel very honored, thank you very much.

Nilson (1:28)
We’re also very honored to have you. This is meant to be designed so that we end up having a very open discussion about the future of the real estate industry. We already know each other a bit and do some shenanigans together – so we found that we wanted to invite you. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do and tell the audience and listeners who you are.

Felix (1:55)
My name is Felix Thurnheer, I originally studied geography, then focused on urban development and socio-economic issues. That was the time when Kreis 5 in Zürich was developed or started to be developed, and that has always fascinated me. After that, I ended up in the real estate industry, worked for a long time with real estate service providers, in marketing and research… and that was the combination. Geography, too, of course: spatial data, creating beautiful stories for marketing and research, also for the development of sites and positioning of real estate. I’ve always enjoyed that. And I also noticed that it was a bit more difficult to get hold of individual data sets when it came to data, because I don’t want to set up diagrams, I want to create them from individual data sets. In 2011 I started my own company “ImmoCompass” and we develop stories, positioning, utilization concepts for areas for properties when they are empty, when a repositioning or a replacement construction is pending, so that we can make a beautiful combination and beautiful places. And true to my line, if somehow possible based on spatial data – among other things!

Nilson (3:25)
Now we are already at the keyword spatial data, what is spatial data for you? I think you know what data is, it can be very different things. But what is spatial data for you, how would you define it for someone you meet, someone from the real estate industry who has developed a few houses, how would you explain to someone what spatial data is?

Felix Thunheer and Nilson Kufus

Nilson Kufus (left) and Felix Thunheer discussing the future of real estate

Felix (3:52)
It’s information that has a spatial reference, meaning you can locate it somewhere in space. So, you can locate where, for example, this house is on Google Maps. And there’s a coordinate in the coordinate system, you can name the coordinate and then say exactly “something happened here”, here’s a house, here’s a car, here’s some story happened or whatever. So as soon as you can kind of spatially locate it, it’s a spatial data point. And then the combination of different points gives you a spatial data set on a subject.

Nilson (4:34)
Or a Digital Twin. There’s always a point for us that often comes up in the conversations, which is the question: Is a contract also a spatial data point?

Felix (4:46)
If the contract concerns a property, it is of course also a spatial data point, because it organizes something that can be clearly located spatially.

Nilson (5:02)
And the contract, after all, is only relevant or applicable for a specific building. It’s not applicable to anything else. It’s also not transferable. If we now have a contract for a property on Röschibachstrasse or on Badnerstrasse, then it is for this one property, it does not apply to any other property or so.

Felix (5:23)
Yes and it regulates what then happens or doesn’t happen on site with that property. And then it has a spatial reference and then it’s a spatial dataset or data point.

Nilson (5:40)
We see it very similarly and I think that shows how diverse spatial data can be, how far it goes and how much information is available today that is related to a space somewhere. And especially in the real estate industry, in the end it is always about spaces, it is always about properties that are located in a certain place in this world. So especially when it comes to the real estate industry, yes today I would go with the statement, almost all data points that we have somehow are already almost spatially relevant. Or are connectable in context to space.

Felix (6:21)
Yes, from a geographer’s point of view that is certainly the case, from an astrophysicist’s point of view he would probably say that there are still parallel universes and so on, but now in practical everyday life I believe that practically everything that happens around a property can be spatially located, whether people work or live there. It’s like an anthill, the people who live around here, the companies that are around here, they are relatively closest here, they move around and they also determine what they need or what they do or what they can’t do and what they would like to do, and so on.

And that’s where the real estate comes in. Now, of course, there are actions that are more limited to a small catchment area and then others that are quasi-international, i.e. global. Especially if they are from production, from industry, then we don’t necessarily have to compare Winterthur with Zürich and St. Gallen, but Switzerland with Singapore or America, and then you’re talking about something completely different. We are more responsible and specialized for the small-material spatial issues.

Nilson (7:42)
Now you guys have been working with real estate data for a relatively long time and for a relatively long time you’ve also been doing data-driven decision making and data-driven consulting. So how has the awareness of the industry changed for you so in the last 10 years in terms of data and also how the data can help in decision making. So, if you compare it today and talking to the customer for the first time and from 10 years ago, what has happened there across the industry.

Felix (8:16)
So, what maybe hasn’t changed in all this consulting is that it’s always about somewhere in a project you’re at a point and you need a decision on how you want to continue. Do you want to continue like this or do you want to continue in a different direction. And it’s usually not just one person who decides, it’s a small group that decides. And there is a group of experts who then have to support the implementation, a sworn team like a soccer team that plays together and not against each other – and that has always remained the same.

We’re at a point where we need to decide how we’re going to go into the next round. And to answer these questions, you can do it on the basis of experience, you can do it interactively or you can also include data. Of course, data helps to clarify a lot of things – how big is the market now, what prices can be charged, where are the usual market prices, what are the usual risks, how much is vacant, how much is being built, how many people live here, how many companies are there, and so on.

You can show all this with data and you don’t have to discuss it. So if there is someone in the team who is now shouting very loudly about what he has now experienced, that his grandmother I don’t know where living in old age and has found nothing and now his world is only living in old age, you can say in the data very precisely, don’t know exactly… 7% of the population, which is over 82 years. and of these 7% is then 20% dependent on care assistance. And that’s 150 at the end, for example. You can quantify that very easily and then there are 20,000 other inhabitants. You can then put the importance of this issue into a quantitative context and that helps in the formation of stories, that also helps in the decision-making process.

Do you want to invest time and money in this special topic or do you want to stay. And there is the question of the housing mix and how many retail spaces are needed when you develop something, how many school children will be coming up in the next 5 to 10 years and so on…. those are the questions and the other questions what kind of prices can we ask for. And that was more or less the world 10 years ago.

And at that time one worked a lot with experience and with beautiful wisdoms, which one already brought from before and of course also with data one also began to collect data sets. So, for example, advertising data or company data, population data, are already well documented, long ago via the Federal Statistical Office. Google has also been around for a long time, with which you can map something, these benchmarks and these comparative values and these quantities around a location, that was done back then. What has changed now, what you can do today, you can take this illustrative component to it.

You can’t just make a chart and some described statistics, but you can actually start to represent the whole environment on the basis of data in such a way that you can look at it directly, can look through it and see not only today’s environment, but also the environment in 5 or 10 or 15 years. I think that is the most difficult thing in a group, to imagine how this world will look like in 5 or 10 years and if you have a text or a spoken word or a diagram, then it is good but the images in the heads, they are all completely different. And they remain different, no matter how well we represent the world.

But the common idea of how it could look in the future at a place, when this area develops or when this property is no longer there and there is a new property. Or how the outside spaces could look then, how one approaches it from the first floor, how it looks when one looks out of the window, or is also inside the building, although it is not yet standing today.
You can do all that much better today with data than you could back then. It’s also a much stronger topic than it was back then. 3D has been a topic for a long time, but now it’s slowly getting to the point where it’s really realizable and feasible. And I remember back when Streetview was introduced by Google: The joy that reigned among the real estate people, that they didn’t have to drive there to get an idea of the place! And these pictures are simply needed, you have to be there to understand how it works. No statistics will suffice at the end. And that’s why you always had to watch it. All of a sudden, you could look at the screen with pictures and say “ah, that’s a single-family housing estate from the 1950s and there are a few old commercial buildings and then there’s a traffic jam and I don’t know what and it looks awful or, conversely, lots of trees and a garden city.

This impression of a place that Streetview delivered, only with pictures, from one day to the next at once and there was also once bright joy that there is at once. Then the people from the screen cut out these pictures and pasted them in the report with Word or in the PowerPoint and we of course also and that helps extremely. Also when we started with the advertisements, that was one of the most important points that you have the pictures with it, because a square meter is fine, but it can be 0.8 or 1.2 square meters, depending on how you measure. A price quotation of one square meter always has an accuracy of plus minus 40%, so I’m exaggerating a bit now, maybe it’s plus minus 20%. But if you see a picture of an apartment or of a kitchen or of a facade, then everything is immediately clear to a marketer or a real estate professional, because he knows: Ah that’s rather cheap, that’s rather expensive….

Nilson (14:51)
…that’s the finishing standard… who could live there, who would like that…?

Felix (14:58)
Who will like it and who won’t like it. And you can’t show that in a statistic, you have to see the pictures and I think these pictures are just insanely important because they illustrate the environment and they help us emotionally a little bit. And I think that has really changed now and will change even more in the future. Like now with the cell phone too, there’s almost no text on it anymore, it’s just icons and symbols and you can click and see something immediately.

Nilson (15:32)
Then directly comes the brain interface…

Felix (15:37)
Exactly and that will be possible in the real estate industry as well, this illustrative component.

Nilson (15:45)
Now I think I’m going to revisit or take up a couple of topics.
On the one hand, you have reported a lot about topics like “what could be charged as rent, what is the demand at a certain location” and I think we have also talked a lot about the fact that in the whole context of using data and data-based insights, it would make a lot of sense to include them very early in the planning process. So I think the situation that you’re describing is quite often situations where companies like you are added, because you’re faced with the decision to go left, right, up or down but actually the course for the decision has been set much earlier. And you then get to the point where you see, “Ah, maybe that wasn’t necessarily the right thing to do and the concept doesn’t work out that way, you might have to take two steps backwards to still get it to fly.”

What’s your experience there, are data-based decisions coming in earlier today? When you say you’re going into the conceptual phase, for example, are you already thinking at that point about what the right uses of sites or of individual buildings are, based on current market data? What is being searched for on the portals today? Do you see that the trend is to ask the question first and then develop, or are we still at the point where we ask the questions when the problem arises and you realize it may not be quite as easy to market as you thought at the beginning.

Felix (17:28)
I think in the institutional world people are much more analytical than they used to be. In the private world with the private owners, you can’t underestimate that they just know their places and their properties quite well already from the last decades. And they actually need or they usually already know relatively clearly what they want and what works and what doesn’t and even if you said something else, they wouldn’t believe it. And they also know their way around, they still do it the old way. In the institutional space, you ask yourself the questions much earlier, you’re much more analytical and you ask yourself the questions earlier, but you don’t necessarily get the better answers than you used to.

I often see that tons of sheets, diagrams, maps and data are delivered to a project manager and to a board and they don’t know what to do with them. Then there are sentences like “we have noticed that there are many two and a half room apartments, and they have a short insertion time and so we also make many 2.5 room apartments”. There are then so single points however those result still no history. People are not paid to read a lot of data, for example, and to look at a lot of maps and diagrams. Their time to think about it is actually not paid at all.
In other words, you have to explain a situation in a relatively short time, provide a few important facts and figures, and then make a decision based on that.

It’s logical that the world behind this is of course complicated, but in the end the customer isn’t interested in that at all. When we go to a good restaurant, we don’t want to know how the lobster ends up on the plate. We trust that it has been done right and don’t run into the kitchen to check that. We then want something good to eat, what’s important is the product at the end. And I don’t think we’re there yet by a long shot. I see it more as a case of many institutions being somewhat overwhelmed by the whole amount of data that is coming at them all at once.

Then they don’t really have the time and do it according to gut feeling or emotion. Then they can’t really categorize it and do it the same way they were taught to do it. And then you’re back in the 90s or 00s mode, which I can understand somehow. But I think if we want to make something smart and good out of the data, individually tailored to a question, that we haven’t really arrived there yet. There’s still a lot of work to be done.

Nilson (20:38)
I think that brings us to the second topic: Twinmotion, Unreal Engine, they are starting to use the phrase “what you see is what you get” – and I think that also has a lot to do with data. You mentioned it before, with the Digital Twin, you can already make the journey into the future today. And you can solve exactly that, which is the problem for many people, because everyone has their own imagination… Maybe one person’s imagination is more vivid than another’s, but in the end it doesn’t matter if you have 5 people at the table and we describe today how this building should be developed. Then those 5 people will have a different picture of what would happen there.

That’s where technology could help a lot at the moment with 3D models and with CAD visualizations, that we get to the point that we get very close to exact the idea.
If we can communicate there in principle and say “look, this is now version 1 of what could be developed and this is how it would look relatively accurately”, which then of course helps the whole imagination very much. That makes it possible to experience data.

What you also described beautifully is precisely the problem that data can give us insights on the one hand, but it must also be possible to consume it. You have to be able to deal with this multitude of data, not as a geographer or statistician, but as a decision-maker who may not have a background in data science or geography or anything like that. Decision makers can also come from politics, but they can also come from the normal population, they can come from a non-professional area.

How big do you see the chance, but also the danger, that through such a simple visualization of data – and also simple presentation of all the knowledge – people can be taken along and a story can be written that is then also very understandable? A story where everyone at the table has a similar picture of what the future holds. Where everyone has a similar idea and can make a joint decision like “we’re going for option A and not B because we all agree that this is the option we want”. Whether that’s the better one in the end, reality will tell, but that’s at least what we decide on.

Felix (23:07)
Yeah, that’s just with representation like Christmas without wrapping paper. The picture you have in your head, you only see when it’s finished. So, in a few years at the earliest, the site will become tangible. Before that, it will be floor plans and Excel spreadsheets. Just to read a floor plan, then the architects are good again, but you see the problem then a bit on the marketing platform: Why is an apartment floor plan not advertised in an ad? It is so rare that an apartment floor plan is in it, yet it is so important!

I’m not an architect, but I would be very interested to know what the floor plan looks like before I buy or rent an apartment. And for that it needs a floor plan! And these floor plans and these tables are there today, but then you only see at the end how it really looks then. Now it’s not like that anymore, now you can sort of open the present today and look at it. Pictures are just insanely powerful! The pictures are then there to help such a group.

And they then say: “Yes, this location will be beautiful and this is how I would like to work and live one day.” Or: “It’s a bit strange now, and it’s already nice with the trees, but where do I put my truck now? Or where can my customers park? And what do the customers experience when they come? Will it be a hassle for them or will it be easy for them?”.

These questions are much easier to answer with pictures. But then, of course, images also raise insane expectations, because when we used to sell planned housing or depict situations, these images were in people’s heads. And if the reality later does not look exactly the same, then there are those who do not care, because they are happy anyway, but then there are those who say “yes, there was a tree there or a bush, I was happy” and so on. And now it’s not there, because in the meantime they found out that cleaning up the leaves of this tree costs 150 francs a year.

And now the owner wants to save that or it was not approved by the municipality or whatever. Or it is another kind of tree and it was a biologist or a botanist who thought it will be exactly this type of tree. Anything can happen with the pictures, even with the facade if it has a slightly different color, then it looks a little different and in the course of time it has structured the windows a little differently, made the entrance differently or whatever. You always have to be terribly careful that I am all always aware that they are pictures and that in the course of time can still change a lot. So that you see a target vision and not the actual gift.

Nilson (26:02)
How do you see there also the possibility of bringing people along on the journey? Because I think the reality is that you end up with a vision or a plan and you also try to implement that plan. And usually you run into problems that you didn’t anticipate at the beginning. For example, there are no permits, there is suddenly a cost calculation that is no longer correct … Personally, I see a great opportunity to take people along on this journey.

That exactly these ideas between expectations and what has come out in the end, that the discrepancy does not become too big. We also call it “expectation management”, so that at the end, when people are disappointed and think “ah, I expected something completely different”, the expectations are correct. That is the area that is difficult, when you tell people that something has to be changed for such and such a reason, there is usually understanding there.
People then say “I understand, I understood the background why you are changing it now”, then you can get around that.

I believe that data is not just a static and one-time inventory for sale and then no longer used, but that it is a process. The people who are involved should also be accompanied and involved in the process, so that they can say “this is what we have at the end.”

Felix (27:28)
It would be a nice thing, of course, if you can not only look at it, but if you can also change it yourself. So, if this interactive component would come. For example, if the traffic planner comes and says “this street must now be made this way or that way and there must now be a bike path”, that you can then draw it in. Then everyone can look at it together right away. Or if the architect has a suggestion that you say “now with the attic you could arrange it this way or that way or form versions or the facade could be more green instead of gray” or as soon as you see the color that you realize that everyone can change something with their special knowledge and can immediately visualize something for others.

It’s not just someone who makes a PowerPoint and talks your head off for 15 minutes, to put it disrespectfully. And that’s what all the experts do and at the end of the day, you have a headache like that and the poor project manager has a headache and then has endless paper and PowerPoints and PDFs and Word-Docs on the table. And then somehow something clever has to be made out of it. All this knowledge that is there should immediately be able to be represented spatially, so that everyone sees “ah, if he now says that you could do it this way or the one from the municipality even says that you even have to do it this way, then the new suddenly looks like this”.

And then maybe the aha effect comes, what it means that in the future we can actually develop a garden city at this site or it means no, this remains some urban structure, because it will be difficult with these trees…. I’m always a little bit much with the trees. But that you can have it interactively, so to speak, that everything you can decide, do and prescribe there, that it can be visualized immediately. If it becomes that interactive, then you can work on the future much more understandingly with a group and with experts but also with owners and future users.

Nilson (29:46)
Yep, very nice. I think that’s exactly where the future will also go, that there is just this dialogue and that this is then also visible. There we are again with the same topic, that you can imagine that in principle also the same. You have already touched on the subject of participation: How do you see the future of participation, especially when it comes to the right of citizens or neighbors to have a say, when it comes to large-scale site developments or the involvement of politicians?

How do you see the role of data in order to put this whole discussion on neutral ground, so that we are no longer discussing opinions and feelings, but in the end we are discussing a more or less objective technical situation. With the effect: That’s what really happens in the end, you don’t discuss fears about what could happen, but you go there and finally have a discussion on neutral ground.

Felix (30:51)
I think when you have these images and these expectations around these images and about the future, the more people see them and interact with them, the more difficult it becomes. I think the job description of a coach or someone who really has a handle on communication becomes infinitely more important!

This is no longer just a side show where you say: now we have to make a nice poster with “stadium yes” or “stadium no” in response to a vote. From the very first moment, when maybe two or three people look at a plan, there must be clear communication with the entire population. In other words, who is allowed to do what, who is allowed to decide what and when, and what we represent for which group. Because not everyone is allowed to know everything, since there is also the issue of data protection. And that must be regulated much more clearly, so that we can also consider to whom we communicate what and how.

That will be a central question at every stage of the project. And I am sure that the project manager will be responsible, but he will not be the specialist. The specialist is there to move things forward that can’t be moved forward. Because otherwise things would not happen in Switzerland. But he needs a mirror person next to him, a communication specialist. He then communicates this world as it is created and presented, how it is done and when it is done and for whom it is done. They have to be in close contact with each other. And I think this job description will become much more important in the future.

Nilson (32:41)
You said something earlier, “Not everybody can know everything.” That’s clear, also for reasons of data protection. Provocative question: Why not?

Felix (32:55)
So why is there this data protection? So in Switzerland, of course, everything is completely private!

Nilson (33:04)
Data protection is clear! But why can’t everyone know everything? Let’s see it beyond the data protection. It is clear that there are certain internal invoices and also security issues in the building, which of course should not go into foreign hands, that is logical. But where do you see data transparency as necessary in the real estate sector?

For example, if you want to buy a property, how far does data transparency have to be prescribed? It’s always a balancing act: how much transparency do you want to provide, how much transparency do you have to provide, and how much really makes sense? Where is your position on all of this?

Felix (33:54)
I think the one point is not whether one is allowed or not allowed but a question of order. You have a stage in the project and someone has to define what this stage of the project is. Because there are probably still 120 different ideas, what one could still do… but if all this is communicated to the outside, simply chaos arises. Then the neighbor sees a version, which is actually not valid or which one has already discarded and he already expects it and is then disappointed when it does not turn out that way.

So the clear communication must be there: “This is the official thought and legal status of today, which may be communicated publicly. This must be clearly defined, because otherwise we will have chaos and there will be disputes. And I think it’s an order issue, which is why you can’t just show everything. You have to think clearly about when something goes out and what happens to that information at the recipient.

And it should inform the receiver well and put him on the right stand. This organizing principle is then the most important thing, because it is not so much about whether he is allowed to see something now or not. It’s just about making sure that there’s no chaos.

Nilson (35:32)
And there we come back to the whole issue that there needs to be a communication partner to the whole area, who then also stands there and says “The project is in such and such a stage, now it makes sense to answer such and such questions. All the other questions about which we may already have data will have to be answered at a later date. They are not relevant now. We don’t need to answer those now, that will come later when we have more information as well.”

I’m totally with you. I think that’s the way forward. If we now do the outlook again for the next 10 years…. of course we have to describe it now and we can’t show it to everybody how the future looks like but how could you imagine a state of the art real estate development in 10 years where you say “they are exploiting everything that is technically and data-wise possible in principle”. How could you imagine such a process?

Felix (36:36)
Yes, it probably won’t be very different in process than it is today. What I simply imagine is that it will be less technical than it is today. Today it’s still the case that you have distance lines, you have rules that you have to follow. Then you put down what could probably yield the most economically. And then we also calculate that. Not all owners tick in exactly the same way, but you draw a volume, a square or whatever, then you put floors in it and try to change it a bit. And then you have to plan a floor plan and a mix of apartments, and at the very end the marketer comes in and has to make sure that someone else needs it.

Nilson (37:38)
And then says, “oh, 2.5 room apartments are difficult…”.

Felix (37:41)
Yes! Or for example, it should not have 40m², but 65m² or somehow something in the appropriate target group, that you can visualize it much better at the beginning for a target group, what kind of product is then built for them. They are then asked specifically whether they like it or what they don’t like.

Cooperatives are already doing this to some extent today: relatively clear surveys of their people when they renovate a housing development. What kind of common areas? Do they want to have a washing tower in the kitchen or in the bathroom or even a common one in the basement again? There is also that they say “We actually prefer the exchange with the neighbors”. And that it is then also monetized when one says “if we make you a nice big balcony or a second one, then the rent increases by 30 francs per month, is it worth it to you or rather not?”. And then people are usually happy to do it and good leads come out of that!

It’s actually a good thing and then it’s really planned relatively concretely together with the people who will later mainly live there. And I think that’s a nice thought somewhere, because sometimes we forget that a little bit when we still somehow come to products from the volume at the end. Someone has to rent or buy it!

Nilson (39:11)
And should preferably still be able to enjoy it.

Felix (39:15)
Now we don’t do it badly, we make very nice products, I don’t want to reproach or anything. It’s just complicated in the end – if you build a 3.5-4.5 rental apartment somewhere in the countryside in Aargau or Lucerne, it’s different than if you do it in the city of St. Gallen or Basel or Zürich. Price-wise it is something else, from the whole mass of demand it is something else.

Nilson (39:43)
The expectations are something else…

Felix (39:46)
Yes, and the needs are also a bit different. In the country then you very much like to have big outdoor spaces… well, after Corona I think everyone likes to have big outdoor spaces….

Nilson (39:57)
And the cities are also a bit out…
Let’s see how long.

Felix (40:01)
Right. And the price-related question is in part much more sensitive. If we’re sitting here in Zürich now and there’s a 3.5 room apartment with 105m² somewhere for “only” 1800 francs, we here as Zürich residents say: “That’s great, that’s almost a gift! It’s a miracle that you can produce that new at all.” But you don’t have to think that you can do that in a place where many people work in industry and earn 3,000 – 4,000 francs a month – of course they would like to live like that!

But that is simply not possible! That is simply not in the budget, they say “I’d rather stay in my 60s apartment. It’s 25m² smaller, but with the 700 or 800 francs less rent I pay per month, I can somehow go on a nice vacation or survive at all, if you have children or something else. And these glasses, you see a bit little in part and if it becomes more illustrative it would be easier to weave the target audience and their needs with the marketing and project booths.

Nilson (41:09)
Yes I think one will be able to try more. Be able to test more versions. We know this from other industries or from the software industry, this Agile Development, a fast testing and trying. I believe that when you get to the point where the tools are so advanced that you can design concepts within a very short time and also visualize and present them, then you can suddenly test a lot of options before you take the step of saying that something will be implemented. You can ask people, not with a survey, but directly “hey, that would be it. Would you want that, could you imagine that”.

The question that we often get is, do we still need an architect? Do we still need a developer when we have certain software algorithms? If we can perhaps not answer certain questions ourselves, but can present solutions that in the end only need a decision-maker. Do you see the opportunity or the potential or the danger that algorithms will come along and automate certain things and do certain things that are done today but won’t be done at all in 10 years?

Felix (42:33)
Yes, that will definitely be the case. Algorithms will come along and take work off our hands, even in the planning process. But it will probably be a bit like driving a car. Until we really have the confidence that the car will drive without our intervention and until it is legally solved that we say we are building and doing something that a computer has calculated…
I don’t think that will happen in 10 years, it will take much longer and in the end, it will remain something emotional…

I think every one of us has taken a pencil in his hand as a child and drawn a house as he would like it to be or a floor plan of what he actually needs. And in the end, we don’t want to let a computer, or a computer take away this playful component. But of course, it can help us, where it is difficult, it says “look, if you do it this way and that way, then the property is better utilized, then the 2.5 room apartment has not 65m², but 67.5m²”. These details, which are tedious for an architect, that will certainly be done by computers. So we’ll be happy when that happens.

Nilson (43:57)
Cool, thanks – it was fun! I hope you also learned something or got a little insight into Felix’s world and got a little future view or retrospective. If you have any questions, we know where to get in touch.

Felix (44:18)

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