Data – the New Podium for Autonomous Building


“Data! Data Data! I can’t make bricks without clay!” said the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle back in the early 20th century.

The prescience of these words for the property sector as a whole in 2021 could not be more apt.  

The evolution of the concept of autonomous buildings, over the last year have ushered in a groundswell of momentum for a world changing idea said William Ruh, CEO for Lendlease Digital as he outlined those changes and welcomed the recognition for the innovation taking place.

The World Economic Forum has embraced the term ‘autonomous’ and it is now a verb and a noun to the community and industry where international standards are now being developed. 

Over the last year Lendlease has defined five levels to the pathway of autonomous building design and construction, which will help organisations embark on the journey and decide where to invest and why. 

“The key for us is to build both new kinds of buildings, those that respond to pandemics and those that respond to climate change, but also provide experiences that we only have yearned for, from, from things like the Jetsons.  As a noun, we really want the building once it's constructed to be autonomous, and be able to provide new experiences and respond to the people, because, it really is about the people,” Ruh said.

On the global collaboration side, Ruh highlighted the partnership with the government of Singapore, and the Economic Development Board (EDB), which has resulted in the launch of Lendlease’s Product Development Centre dedicated to building digital technologies specifically for the property sector. 

In Europe, the Milan Innovation District is trailblazing the concept and design of how modern cities function and flow and will bring those learnings to the global movement of autonomous building.  Development with Paya Lebar Quarter (PLQ) in Singapore, in addition to the masterful work at Barangaroo in Australia and new developments in the Americas are the trailblazers in this new autonomous frontier. 

Ruh heralded these projects are autonomy in action, showing to the market that the benefits of this technology revolution can cut the development time by 25%, amplify safety by reducing the number of people on site by 50% and further reducing injuries by 50%. He added that there is also the possibility of 10% in the over overall reduction of project costs. By creating certainty and de-risking unknowns in the construction phase, builders can get on with their job in a more prescriptive fashion, more safely than ever before, that will provide a return to the developer and investor.

The Milan and Sydney Barangaroo precincts are demonstrable examples that the public want buildings and places that are a destination, that foster a vibrant community with buildings that do minimal harm to the environment.

Lendlease Digital is driving a movement that combines digital technology, data, and advanced analytics that can create new products and platforms driving the evolution of the property and construction industries to deliver on the Lendlease commitment to create and manage better places today and far into the future.

Ruh said the effect of this new wave of data driven autonomous building design is that in addressing sustainability, energy efficiency, they're attracting the next generation that are in turn demanding these kinds of solutions. “The net result is that the value of these buildings is 10% higher than the buildings that would have been done in a more traditional method and we think that that's going to continue to rise over time,” he stated.

These benefits are all derived from leveraging data via the life cycle platform that Lendlease call Podium. “We see Podium as our platform, as the basis for where you begin to build out these kinds of capabilities for autonomous buildings in the future. After launching the Podium brand last year, we are now beginning to release the innovation and help in that development brief moving into real technical solvers that allow you to design these buildings, and cost them out much earlier in your journey to where you have less stress, and greater certainty.”