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The buildings of tomorrow, by Rudy de Waele

In an ideal world, building systems of the future need to be open, secure and scalable

The buildings of tomorrow, by Rudy de Waele

With the introduction of data visualisation and analytics, we learned we can generate better functionality and efficiency using connected sensor technology to create better living spaces, offices, schools, hospitals and manufacturing plants. We have now the tools to generate continuous improved living comfort and working environments, reduce energy consumption and operating costs, and improve the life cycle of utilities.


In 2015, Deloitte opened the first truly smart building, The Edge in Amsterdam, as a statement to act as a catalyst for the company’s transition into the digital age. The building demonstrates that the pursuit of a vibrant and collaborative working environment can be combined successfully with achieving the highest levels of sustainability, using 70 per cent less electricity than comparable office buildings.


Last year, we witnessed the opening of the world’s first office building produced by a 3D printer on site in Dubai. The unique building design and 3D-printing technology integrates key services within the building, such as electricity, water, telecommunications and air-conditioning.


With the emergence of 3D printing as smart infrastructure, efficiency and environmental responsibility can be planned into the design, using more flexible and recycled materials, enabling a coming renaissance in the creation of innovative building shapes and forms. It won’t be long before the cities of tomorrow begin to look very differently than we know them now.


Buildings as platforms

Thinking about buildings as platforms opens up en entire new avenue of capabilities to design differently by creating new business models for all ecosystem players involved in the building process.


Integrating open automation platform capability of the numerous building systems that today lack the connectivity and interoperability to work in unison becomes one of the key challenges for building managers in the future.


With known volatility in the technology sector, system integrators working on the sector need to make this a reality through easy-to-deploy hardware and software building blocks to deliver holistic automation systems. The ultimate aim is to augment existing systems and bring them up to their full operational potential. In most cases, this means moving away from proprietary systems and avoiding unwanted dependency on a single service provider or long- term service contract.


The fragmented nature of the building equipment industry is the legacy left by countless closed and proprietary systems. No two building automation solutions are the same; it often takes specialised hardware, software, and training to construct a solution. The long life expectancy of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, adds on why the transformation is so slow in adapting to the new.


IoT platforms such as General Electric’s Predix, IBM’s Watson, and SAP’s HANA, in collaboration with facility service providers, like CBRE, ISS World, and ENGIE, are gradually creating inroads by integrating multiple building automation systems to deliver a unified facilities management solution.


In an ideal world, building systems of the future need to be open, secure and scalable. Open in the use of hard- and software, and products that integrate seamlessly with the existing infrastructure; secure in protecting building systems and user networks; and scalable to create affordable, flexible solutions for any type of building, for individual, company or community use.


Will we see the emergence of an Uber type of company for the management of buildings? Many technology companies are lining up with their own ‘ideal’ solution. One thing is sure; the company cracking this nut is definitely going to be a winner in constructing our buildings of tomorrow.



Rudy de Waele is an innovation strategist and change agent, keynote speaker, content curator and author. He assists global brands, startups, companies and organisations with cutting edge open innovation strategy using new methodologies to re-invent and transform business.


His unparalleled experience, knowledge and insight, propels leaders to stay ahead of the curve. Rudy specialises in giving technology trend forecasts, analysis and ideas exchange on how to thrive in the new economy and by facilitating Socratic Design workshops on how to create meaningful business.


He has helped diverse global brands such as BMW, IBM, Coca-Cola, Google, Intel, Louis Vuitton, PayPal, Samsung, Telefonica, Vodafone and World Bank.


Rudy is a graduate from Singularity University and he has developed more than 200 leading industry events across more than 50 cities globally. Rudy is an associate of The Futures Agency, a member of the IoT council, a think tank for the Internet of Things and strategic advisor/ambassador to




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