Blockchain, machine learning, big data analytics — to most Torontonians, these are not words typically associated with the real estate or property sector. However, in recent years, billions of dollars of venture capital have been flowing into PropTech, which is the term for any technology developed for the real estate space. PropTech does not only refer to software or apps, but also manufacturing advancements like 3D printing or off-site manufacturing. Organizations and start-ups like R-Hauz, Ratio.City, View Glass, and Sidewalk Labs are poised to leverage the potential of technology to push the boundaries of innovative development. The participants in the ULI Symposium 2018 City Building Disruption tour managed to get an inside look at how these trailblazers are changing the rules of the real estate industry in Toronto.
LEVERAGING NEW TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGY TO CATALYZE INNOVATIVE CITY BUILDING
After an introductory presentation by George Carras, CEO, R-Labs, tour participants were bussed to R-Labs’ headquarters on Front Street. The team of Leith Moore and Michael Barker, both Principals and Co-Founders of R-Hauz, were the first to present. R-Hauzaims to help people solve their family housing needs through their products that are customized for properties on avenues and laneways in the City of Toronto. For example, the V2 is a rear lane secondary suite that has been designed to work within the City of Toronto Laneway Housing guideline and are produced in pre-finished modules and assembled onsite, representing significant time and cost savings. R-Hauz has created a process in which they can create the design in a building information management technology, so that it is a virtual design coordination. Barker explained that this way, problems are discovered and dealt with in the simulated 3D virtual environment and not on site.
Next, the participants heard from Monika Jaroszonek, Co-founder & CEO of Ratio.City. Its online mapping and analysis tools aim to quickly unlock potential development locations, helping urban redevelopment projects get through the municipal approvals process faster. Jaroszonek demonstrated features on Ratio.City to show what policies could look like when applied in 3D. On the generated site construction area, Jaroszonek applied Tall Building guidelines and customized and adjusted the settings, including front setback and tower setback from the property lines. Jaroszonek explained that Ratio.City, could be a tool to make complex negotiations easier. “How can we work with municipalities to make their zoning and their regulatory framework more transparent? How can we work with developers to get through that process faster? And how can we help the visionaries, the architects and urban designers, focus on their skills – creative problem solving and building beautiful buildings? We see technology augmenting human expertise, and not replacing it,” she added.