Advancing Spatial Intelligence

Since 2000, MKThink has been reengineering the practice of architecture. MKThink was founded on the premise that the traditional practice of architecture was not adequately solving built-environment problems.

Architecture 1.0

The traditional practice of architecture assumes a “heart attack” mindset: A team of experts rushes in for an intense and focused consult to solve a long-term facilities need. The process stops short, at the completion of construction, without further thought to building operations, technological changes, modernization, or other future considerations.

Buildings are bound to depreciation schedules and payback periods. They are designed to stand the test of time, not change with the times. As fixed solutions to immediate and foreseeable user and organizational needs, they lack the necessary responsiveness to adjust operations to maintain performance over time.

Architecture 2.0: Architecture + Design Thinking

MKThink sought a more holistic approach to architecture and was among the first to incorporate design thinking into its practice. Design thinking expands the traditional approach beyond blueprints and construction to include research and strategy at the outset of an engagement. This introduces a management consulting mindset and positions architecture as a solution to complex business or operational challenges.

Design thinking front-loads the process with evidence-based inquiry into an organization’s goals, needs, culture, and space. Analysis of the qualitative and quantitative data uncovers insights into human factors, space utilization, and financial and environmental concerns. These analytic insights identify a larger, and more refined set of criteria to inform the architectural design. Coupling analytics with the creative and technical expertise of architecture better anticipates post-occupancy performance to ensure a building’s continued relevance.

While the Architecture 2.0 framework (architecture + design thinking) increases the accuracy and availability of information, it is still oriented towards a new or improved built structure as the solution.

Architecture 3.0: Spatial Intelligence

As MKThink formalized the phase of evidence-based inquiry, the process was expanded to include post-occupancy evaluation and operational refinement. This involves the ongoing collection and analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data on design, utilization, user satisfaction, operating practices, and environmental factors. Correlating this data across channels yields integrated knowledge that provides a deeper understanding of operational system dynamics and informs strategies to maintain and optimize building performance over time.

Rapid testing, prototyping, and scenario modeling drive strategies to address operational deficiencies. Unlike Architecture 2.0, Architecture 3.0 is oriented towards an open-ended set of possible solutions, which can range anywhere from daylighting schemes to user guides to heat abatement strategies to IEQ sensors to massive data processors that mine for interdependencies among system factors.

What constitutes spatial intelligence is not the mere addition of these phases, but their completion of an operational systems loop that takes a whole lifespan view of buildings. This systems loop links the processes of ideating, building, operating, and refining to create a virtuous cycle of integrated knowledge that is measurable, accurate, validated and relevant.

An emerging field, spatial intelligence brings together numerous disciplines, including architecture, experience design, urban planning, data science, engineering, environmental science, building science, and behavioral economics. In advancing the field, MKThink aspires to transform built environments into control systems capable of automatically regulating multiple variables among the interdependencies that exist between architecture, the environment, and human behaviors.

Spatial intelligence is the science that gives rise to intelligent places.