Applied R+D

The Applied R+D team (Applied Research + Development) is an integrated multi-disciplinary team of architects and engineers, who are also expert programmers. Our expertise ranges from art, architecture, and computer science to landscape architecture, structural engineering and applied mathematics.

We conduct state-of-the-art research and development to solve complex design challenges, taking the latest advances out of the lab and into the hands of architects and engineers. We have specific expertise in computational design, performance analysis, optimisation, fabrication and interaction design, and works with new technologies such as augmented reality, machine learning, and real-time simulation. This underpins the practice’s integrated approach, where architects and engineers can combine the best of human intuition with computational rigour.

Complex Geometry and Fabrication

The team uses modelling, computation and manufacturing to help deliver innovative projects. They work with a remarkable variety of materials (wood, metal, glass and concrete) using fabrication techniques including computer-controlled cutting, bending, milling, and additive manufacturing. The expertise and the computational tools that have been developed in-house continue to inform new projects, undertaking research collaborations with universities to further enhance our knowledge about design and construction.

Performance Driven Design and Optimisation

The work of Foster + Partners has always embraced the needs and constraints of a building as opportunities - "drivers" - for innovative design solutions. With technology on our side, we are able to model these constraints more accurately to test our designs before construction begins. This allows us to study what happens as we change the factors that influence a design ("Performance-Driven Design") and it also allows us to find best solutions for particular design challenges ("Optimisation"). 

Collaborative Design Tools

At Foster + Partners design is inherently collaborative. We are a multi-disciplinary, integrated design practice and accordingly we benefit from every opportunity to improve communication and the flow of information. The Applied R+D team develops tools and systems to help with design collaboration. These innovations include immersive, multi-use Extended Reality design systems and real-time design data exchange solutions. The team has also created innovative systems for transforming physical models and hand drawings into corresponding digital models and drawings that can be analysed and further manipulated in our design software. 

Experience and Interaction

Technologies such as virtual and augmented reality change the way we design and experience space, which extends beyond the physical into hybrid spatial environments. For over 20 years, we have been innovating at the cutting edge of these technologies. This includes developing tools that allow us to engage with the design process by creating augmented and virtual experiences that would otherwise be impossible through other means; whilst saving time, money and reducing our environmental impact.

Digital Twins, Smart Buildings and Internet of Things

As Extended Reality provides us with sensory experience of space, digital twin technology provides us with data about the world around us. A Digital Twin is a computer model of a thing or process in the real world. Our Applied R+D team is building bespoke cloud systems for managing and visualising Digital Twins and Smart Buildings. We use the knowledge gained from this research and development to help our clients develop smart buildings that combine the best design and the best technology for an integrated experience that is more than the sum of its parts.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

In the past five years we have seen huge advances in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, resurrecting the interest on these technologies and the effect they can have in the way we work. The Applied R+D team is embracing Machine Learning to enhance our knowledge, instincts and sensitivities, free us from routine tasks, and to optimise and push the boundaries of design.