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Designing a Modern House with AI: Forest Homes, May '23

Updated: Jul 7

Can you use AI to design your home? As a tool in the hands of the right architect, AI can teach you more about yourself.


Machine learning algorithms for image generation are best used to inspire ideas - to bring to your house design ideas from countless sources of inspiration (not just houses, BTW). The nice thing about tools such as Midjourney and Stable Diffusion is that they can create seemingly-real pictures of what your home might look like. A luxury home should avail itself of the vast accumulation of past projects as well as explore countless possibilities. Exploring different options, you may find that some design directions feel more 'right' than others.


Be careful, though. You continue to follow that feeling through a variety of possible designs not to settle on a final design, but to learn along the way what sensations, shapes, colours, textures, moods, and stylistic elements give you the feeling you want in your home. The AI imagery doesn't understand how the sun hitting your floor heats your living room, how the arrangement of your rooms impacts the effectiveness of your ventilation, or how the volumes determine how cost-effective your building's structure is.


The Forest House DCAi-01

Imagine sharp, contemporary architecture just outside the Metro Vancouver area - perhaps on the periphery of Maple Ridge. Away from the bustle of Vancouver, clean lines and simple stone masses frame massive window areas both of the private, rear-facing side...

...and at the front side facing the quiet street up through the mountainside forest. An alcove on the second floor is a modern take on the veranda, providing an outdoor space to reflect even if the weather is poor. A tall window at the right brings light into the stairwell. Wood soffits provide warmth to an otherwise cold exterior.

The main living area faces the rear. Large windows provide a view to the forest up and down the mountainside and out to the South. The wood ceiling echoes the wood soffits outside, and silvery, naturally-aged white oak flooring marries the wood patterning with the cold, white stone framing the modest fireplace.

The dining area and kitchen to the West present a crisp aesthetic against the backdrop of the wild mountainside rising up to the side of the house.


Taste Test Everything

My article, "Your Architect Needs To Do These FOUR Things Before Drawing ANYTHING" explains why the process of home design begins before seeing anything - before anything is drawn. However, once you do start exploring visuals, how do you know what you like? Maybe you've been trawling pinterest or design websites, but that's still a limited selection. Maybe some aspect of a 15th-century chateau or 3rd century temple would appeal to you. Maybe the roofs of traditional Vietnamese or Laotian houses would be good. Perhaps the venting shutters of Kentucky tobacco barns would suit your needs as operable shades for an upper level bedroom wing.


The idea is that in the same way that the more places you visit, the more people you meet, the more cuisines you sample, and the more relationships you're in, the more you grow but also find out about who you are and who you could be. Under the guidance of my professional hand, image-generating algorithms allow me to iterate much faster, and the resulting design is more qualified - more likely to be the perfect fit for your personality.


The stone mass on the exterior continues inside. This stairway image deviates from the exterior concept; the stairs would run halfway up to a mid-height landing at the tall, narrow window before continuing upward. I would also use stained mid-tone wood glulam steps to echo the wood ceilings.

The master bedroom on the South side of the house has a view to the South, down the mountainside. The wood ceiling downstairs continues to the hardwood flooring here. A dark grey plaster wall provides counterpoise to the vast window that brings in the South sun.

On the other side of the dark grey wall is the master ensuite. Frosted glass faces daylight to the North. The brown cabinetry is probably the mid-tone brown wood I would continue elsewhere, and it warms up the feature element of the bathroom. The standalone white bathtub could be raised on a wood platform of the same tone.


Best Fit

How would you feel if your architect exposed you only to options you already know about or have seen? AI offers the option of sampling a world and history of architectural expression and the ability to extrapolate hallucinations to forms, textures, exterior vernacular, interior design, and plan layouts to some degree.


Too many options can be easily overwhelming, so I curate the options and steer the innovation based on your reactions. The result is not only bespoke, but the BEST bespoke. I love bubble tea. Not only do I know that I love brown sugar pearl bubble tea, but my experience with that dirty matcha latté from the kiosk in a mall in Bangkok tells me EXACTLY how I like my brown sugar bbt. Modern architecture doesn't need to look modern, but the modern architect should be leveraging the technology available to provide the best design.


The covered roof deck mentioned above still offers a glimpse down the mountainside.


The guest bedroom sits under the low end of the roof, where the exposed wood roof structure should run down the wall and connect with the wood flooring.


If you have a wonderful piece of land in the Lower Mainland either in the woods or in the city, let me show you how AI can stretch the range of your design options. A home that focuses on creating a healthy indoor environment can be as luxurious as it is sophisticated but most importantly also the best fit for your tastes.


If you are still researching your project, I also offer a free Project Planning Pack to help you complete your research and keep the vast information organized.


If you are ready to move beyond your research and want to talk with an architect, I offer a free 30-minute Diagnostic Session during which you can share a few details on what you have in mind and I explain how to get you started with the Pre-Design Diagnostic Study™ - an investigation into your needs, priorities, and goals and the first step of my SAPPHR Strategy™.


If you want to see a list of some real projects I've worked on in the past, please CLICK HERE to visit the portfolio page.



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