Innovation guiding architectural design

By Matt Clarke, LSI Architects

As an award-winning architectural practice, a number of technological innovations have had a fundamental impact on the way that we work.

Published in Norfolk Director Magazine Autumn/Winter 2020
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Since the introduction of computer aided design or CAD, the process of designing a building has been continually streamlined. Gone are the days that an architect would spend hours sat behind a drawing board working on a single drawing.

Emerging technology underpins success

At LSI, our attitude towards emerging technology and our ability to adapt and learn new skills has underpinned much of our success over the past 25 years.

Moving away from 2D drawings, we were an early adopter of modelling buildings in 3D in the 1980s. Now more commonly referred to as Building Information Modelling or BIM, we work in this way on all of our projects from their inception. And, as the technology has been embraced more widely, we have gained an improved ability to work collaboratively with both our clients and the wider team, which is proving key to the success of any construction project.

As designers we are very used to interpreting sketches and measured drawings, however it’s not uncommon for people who aren’t construction professionals to struggle to appreciate what a space will really look and feel like from simple 2D plans and drawings.

Communicating our ideas in 3D helps our clients engage with us and share their ambitions for the project. And as the technology has improved and become more accessible, we can increasingly bring proposals to life in more interactive ways.

We can change materials, adjust lighting, and even change the season and the weather within seconds. Virtual reality tours can give clients an immersive experience of scale, lighting, viewpoints and finishes of the design proposal, ensuring our clients really understand what it is they are getting before a brick has been laid.

Technology is a vital design development tool

The technology is a vital design development tool. It means our clients can give us better feedback and the end product is a building that better meets their needs. For example, we have virtually placed healthcare professionals in the environment they will inherit to better understand the optimal location for the nurse bay, a few minutes exploring visibility in the 3D model ensured the best possible outcome at handover.

Working collaboratively in this way also provides valuable benefits as the project moves into the detailed design and construction phases. It means we can resolve technical issues before a project reaches its construction stage. This greatly minimises site wastage and errors and can significantly reduce construction time, and therefore cost. It produces much more predictable and improved project outcomes.

At LSI we are also making use of digital tools to analyse the environmental performance of a proposed building from a very early stage, in terms of thermal performance and energy use, helping us make more informed design decisions as we move towards a net-zero carbon future.

With the process of designing a building now much more streamlined there are greater opportunities for further exploration at design stage. Clients can now be much more engaged in the design process, which ultimately results in a building that better meets the needs of the people who will be using it.

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Matt Clarke is Director at LSI Architects heading up digital strategy. For more information T: 01603 660711 E: or visit
To see some virtual reality tours, here are some links: Aviva Biophilic
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