Tech-driven Aidea brings exciting, transformative design solutions to PH
Written by: Vaugh Alviar for INQUIRER.net
Aidea marries technology with design in providing industry-leading end-to-end solutions for its partners worldwide.
In 2003, Ar. Abelardo “Jojo” Tolentino Jr. transformed an architecture firm’s Manila branch, established in 1995, into Aidea. The team manning the now fully Filipino-owned company had survived the harrowing 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. With a good client base, Tolentino decided to rebrand.
After locking in early successes in 2005, Aidea sought a competitive advantage and found an answer in technology.
Driven by a desire to innovate, bring success to all stakeholders and deliver services more efficiently, the firm heavily invested in technology. It pioneered virtual design and construction (VDC) in Asia and has since made it a goal to keep abreast of the latest.
The migration from analog “was chaotic. As with any kind of change, the start was difficult. It needed the effort of the whole organization to overcome these challenges. The whole organization, including our noncore functions such as human resources, finance, facilities and IT must help support the change,” recalled Tolentino.
“Of course, the top management should be committed to the change. The biggest realization that we had throughout our journey is that the greatest challenge to change is not in the hardware or the software, but in people’s mindsets,” he added.
That decisive step morphed the company from a design to a “design and technology” practice, a workplace for both designers and technologists.
Digital transformation has proven to be a huge advantage for the firm, not only in diversifying service offerings but, more importantly, in future-proofing the practice. Aidea has established itself as a global thought leader in digital transformation by embracing the idea that “data is the new currency”, as Tolentino had put it.
Switching from 2D to a fully digital, model-based and data-driven operation, Aidea can generate 3D models that are usable in the whole building lifecycle of clients. Through these, coordination becomes seamless, design clashes are resolved before construction or fabrication, and abortive works are reduced, thus saving time and lowering costs.
Capitalizing on its expertise, Aidea has diversified.
Tolentino explained: “Because of the knowledge we had of VDC, many firms wanted to work with us … so we spun off a subsidiary called Aidea Technologies to provide custom-designed solutions for VDC migration, integration and automation.”
Aidea has also positioned itself as a disruptor in the architecture, engineering and construction industries. Four years ago, it formed a software development team that explored automation and customization.
Today, its studios are bastions of cutting-edge technology, wherein designers and programmers are encouraged to create change, disrupt and innovate. Aidea believes in a future where design and technology become boundless through mutual empowerment.
Its designers benefit from in-house plugins automating once tedious and repetitive tasks. Its software can churn out contract documentation, specifications and bill of quantities, among others; cutting down what was six months of work into just one.
Technology gave Aideans more time for research, ideation and the nurturance of long-term partnerships with clients. The firm’s investment in technology has resulted in an increase of at least 50 percent in productivity. During the pandemic, Aidea operated fully and safely, handling up to 80 projects in lockdown and onboarding new clients due in part to the firm’s expertise in virtual and cloud collaboration.
Aidea now boasts a portfolio of 800-plus projects in five continents. Ranked 39th, it is the highest-placed Filipino firm on the 2021 WA100, a list of the world’s top 100 architecture firms. It wants to keep its leadership by exploring emerging trends like the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and big data.
Tolentino noted, “We would like to focus on high-impact technology that addresses the needs of the construction and design industry by creating more solutions and tools.”
He concluded: “In all of this, our biggest gain is in developing in our people the passion for innovation. We envision that our commitment to transformative solutions will help give rise to buildings that are smarter, more efficient and more people-friendly than ever before. The next several years will no doubt be some of our most exciting yet. We will continue to pursue opportunities to take our next Quantum Leap.”
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