The future of collaborative design

Autodesk and the Smithsonian explore human/AI collaboration

Creating a more positive future

Autodesk partnered with the Smithsonian Arts + Industries Building (AIB) to explore how people might design a more sustainable and equitable future using generative design, a form of AI that uses design goals and requirements to generate many potential solutions in order to create better outcomes.

People sitting at three screens within a wood structure

Meet the Autodesk Co-Lab

The Co-Lab features a one-of-a-kind structure designed by Autodesk Research using generative design, as well as a multi-player interactive experience called Future Communities, built on Autodesk technology, which invites visitors to work together to design a community with the help and suggestions of AI.

Designing the Co-Lab structure

The Co-Lab generative design process allowed the team to quickly explore and refine multiple solutions to the design problem.

  • 3D outline of space requirements

    Human input

    Our team specified requirements such as space limitations, visitor areas, weight capacity for heavy display screens, and more. 

  • Multiple structural options

    AI recommendations

    The AI generated thousands of options, prioritizing visitor experience and sustainability, and refined based on the team’s feedback.

  • Two people in a studio looking at a computer

    Human selection

    After evaluating the best options, our team chose the most promising structure based on resources and alignment to desired outcome.

  • Wooden structure surrounding multiple screens

    Desired outcome

    The AI detailed the specifications, resulting in a structure that is lightweight, futuristic, sustainable, and easy to build and disassemble.

Interactive diagram of city block with multi-player functions


Prototyping future communities

Future Communities is an interactive experiment exploring how multiple stakeholders with different objectives and limited resources can collaborate and make trade-offs that lead to greener cities, commercial vibrancy, efficient spaces for people to live and work, and fair distribution of services to all residents.  

Several people interacting with digital screens

Shaping future technology

To build a more equitable and sustainable future, diverse voices and values are vital contributions to the prototype. The way we build and train the AI affects its use and recommendations. As such, Future Communities is an invitation for visitors to join us in shaping the future of collaborative design.

Celebrating partner innovations

The Co-Lab also highlights examples of Autodesk customers who are using generative design to solve complex problems today.

  • Walking car model with corresponding screens

    Hyundai Elevate UMV

    How do you make a vehicle that can move through places that are only accessible by foot? The answer may be a car with legs.

  • Three people working on screens while sitting on Philippe Starck chairs

    Kartell AI Chair by Philippe Starck  

    How does a designer with a reputation for challenging expectations push against predictability? By taking a new approach to a familiar problem.

  • Robot model with four legs

    JPL interplanetary lander

    How can we search for life on distant planets? Creating a lightweight interplanetary robot that can endure the harsh conditions of space might be the next step.

Experience collaborative design

Explore the Autodesk Co-Lab at the Smithsonian's FUTURES exhibition. Future Communities will also be featured at the Autodesk Gallery.

FUTURES museum exhibit

Visit the FUTURES exhibition

FUTURES invites visitors to dream big and imagine many possible futures on the horizon.
Smithsonian Arts + Industries Building
Washington, DC
Through July 6, 2022

Image courtesy of lorem ipsum

Row of items in a gallery

Visit the Autodesk Gallery

Learn how we partner with innovators everywhere to design and make a better world.
San Francisco, California
Re-opening 2022

Image courtesy of lorem ipsum

A person working on a machine

Take the next step:
Explore generative design

The world’s most innovative companies are using generative design today to solve complex problems by finding options they might never have considered on their own.

Meet Autodesk experts and find out how generative design can support your business needs.

  • Discover a new possible

    See how our customers are pushing the boundaries of their industries to redefine what’s possible.

    Learn more