Research into the world’s future urbanisation challenges by a Google start-up has resulted in a new software platform that could radically enhance the way architects collaborate during the design process.

Flux was first established in 2012, and has its root in an ambitious Google X research initiative that sought to uncover more efficient methods for moving a greater share of the world’s burgeoning population to metropolitan areas.

One of the primary challenges for rapid urbanisation identified by Flux researchers at the very outset was the need for faster and more efficient architectural design processes.

The ability to churn out building designs quickly will become particularly important for emerging economies in future, as millions of migrants from rural areas pour into the cities seeking new opportunities. According to some projections more than 6 billion people will become residents of urban areas by 2045.

The Flux team first thought that one of the best means for making the design process more efficient would be to create to a unique design platform that all architecture practices could employ.

They quickly realised, however, that architecture firms already have their own established work processes and platforms, and that one of the biggest impediments to efficiency during the design process lay in the sharing and exchange of files.

The very process of swapping files between the different platforms of collaborating firms can consume hours of work time for architects.

In order to overcome this hurdle to efficiency, Flux set about developing a platform for facilitating collaboration between different design tools, that availed itself of the enhanced power and connectivity made accessible by the Cloud.

The cloud-based collaborative platform created by Flux enables collaborating architects from different practices to switch files between their respective design tools with virtual immediacy.

“With our platform, changes happen instantaneously,” said Berdine Yuan, head of business development, Flux. “You can have the latest updates in two design app simultaneously.

“If Jen is working in Revit and I’m working in Excel, my changes will show up in Revit immediately. Previously, she’d have to go into her Revit model and make those changes.”

Flux has already released a version of its platform that is capable of integrating files produced by Excel, Rhino/Grasshopper and Revit/Dynamo, with plugins for other design tools currently in the wings.