Unsupported browser

You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Sign up for an Award

Participate with your entry in one of our professional or student awards.

Sign up for an award

Sign up for a Profile

Create your own profile and publish it in the iF WORLD DESIGN GUIDE.

Sign up for a profile

Learn more:


Present your project for free and win your share of EUR 50,000 in prize money.

Publish your project

Abel Maciel for World Architecture Festival: Blockchain in the scope of Industry 4.0

We are proud to announce our partnership with the World Architecture Festival and INSIDE World Festival of Interiors 2019. The 12th edition of the festival will take place in Amsterdam from 4 to 6 December, where more than 550 architectural and design practices from over 68 countries are expected to compete for category and overall prizes. The awards programme is the largest live event of its type in the world.

All shortlisted practices will present their proposals live, in front of festival delegates and the judging panels. The WAF organizers are expecting more than 1,200 entries following a record number of more than 1070 in 2018.

The conference theme for WAF 2019 is ‘Flow’. Abel Maciel is a Senior Research Fellow at the Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL), and Principal at Design Computation Ltd. In the article below, by courtesy of the WAF 2019, he discusses the implications for Blockchain on the built environment.

"The scope of Industry 4.0 is deep and wide. As a revolution in systemic processes, we now have software distributed and updated online, with smart portable devices measuring everything from physiological signals to collective performance and behaviours. This has a global effect and a multi-dimensional impact on every one of us. Never have we had to contemplate this scale of change. However, in this new context of ubiquitous and embedded computing, we can still duplicate and tamper with data. We can fake news, manipulate imagery in real time and double-spend money. How can someone prove their identity, choices, actions? How can different communities have a voice and how can they collaborate in an honest and secure way?

Blockchain offers much more than a secure, immutable and resilient Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). It offers the means and opportunity to rethink financial, social and political relationships by providing digital assets with some of the properties and behaviours of physical objects. It is the key technology enabling the cyber-physical convergence of Industry 4.0.

DLT and Blockchain has the potential to transform the built environment by providing a new foundation for machines and humans to interact and exchange information. As a consequence, we may see some important areas of to be the subject of disruption, ranging from city management, infrastructure, energy and real estate to autonomous transport and water management.

The built environment is particularly problematic because of its size and complexity. Construction operations are difficult, costly and inefficient processes that are often over-budget and over-schedule. The construction process is fragmented and co-ordination between the various stakeholders often results in loss of productivity, re-work, delayed progress and increased cost.

Big Data in Architecture influence of Industry 4.0 on blockchain buildings

Data and information asymmetry in construction represents a major challenge for professionals. Supervising every aspect of a project becomes a taxing or impossible activity. How can we create a trustworthy strategy for a given project. What can inform the basis for informed management choices?

Blockchain and DLT can be designed to be applied throughout the lifecycle of an asset, from design to delivery to operation. When formulated as a value token, such as a cryptocurrency, it can manage the construction monitoring stage, as well as solving the cash flow problems often experienced by contractors. The technology is a transparent source of truth between all stakeholders, allowing each party to track progress. In the Blockchain, ‘What You See is What you See’.

Procurement processes can be improved by facilitating the ‘automation of trust’. Parties can have certainty regarding identity, reputability and a price guarantee, as well as a record that cannot be changed. Smart Legal Contracts are designed to compute contract administration and to replace invoicing.

In the very near future, once the Internet of Things (IoT) has gathered and compiled enough data, Blockchain will provide the mechanism to govern smart environments. This represents an immense opportunity for Building Information Modelling (BIM): as BIM brings together architecture, engineering and construction professionals to enable a more coherent, co-operative design approach, it offers the ideal framework for new block-chained applications such as Design IP protection, Reliable Building Management Systems and effective Operations & Management, assisted by always up-to-date Augmented Reality models – to name only a few."

Article by courtesy of our media partner World Architecture Festival

Want to learn more?

Read more about the fourth industrial revolution in our iF Design Special: Industry 4.0.

Find out more about the festival here: https://www.worldarchitecturefestival.com/

Interested in how architect Stefan Behnisch defines good architectural design and what the challenges and trends are from his perspective? Read more in our article and watch the video here: Stefan Behnisch tells his architecture principles