Computer-assisted design software company Autodesk has announced it is acquiring Norwegian AI architecture firm Spacemaker for $240m.

The net of cash acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close during Autodesk’s fourth quarter of fiscal 2021.

Spacemaker uses AI and generative design to assist architects and urban designers in the early stages of the design process.

Generative design is a design process that uses AI to generate a range of different design options based on a set of criteria, allowing designers to explore a variety of different ways a space could be used that would take a human designer far longer to produce.

According to Autodesk, the acquisition will provide the company with “a powerful platform to drive modern, user-centric automation” and will “accelerate outcome-based design capabilities for architects”. It will also enable the company to expand into the real estate developer segment.

“Spacemaker is a lesson in the power of insights and automation, giving designers the ability to create and test urban design ideas in minutes,” said Andrew Anagnost, CEO and president of Autodesk. “With two billion more people expected to call our planet home by 2050, speed of design and sustainability in urban planning must be priorities. Spacemaker technology offers a fundamental shift in how we imagine and build cities to keep people and the planet healthy.”

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Spacemaker’s platform enables users to rapidly generate design options for a building or urban development based on a particular set of criteria, such as terrain, traffic and zoning, with designs “optimised for the full potential of the site”. This enables designers to focus on the creative aspect of their job, and also speed up the design process and has the potential to improve sustainability.

“Four years ago, we set out on a mission to help design, engineering and project teams reinvent the development of more sustainable cities and neighbourhoods worldwide while maximizing the investment,” said Havard Haukeland, CEO and co-founder of Spacemaker.

Autodesk shares our goal to create a healthier planet for everyone and is uniquely positioned to more rapidly place our product in the hands of planning teams everywhere. This is a proud milestone for our team and those who supported us from the start.”

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