Algorithms-aided design (AAD) software company, TestFit Inc. has raised $2 million in seed funding for its new breed of building design software system.
TestFit Raises Seed Round
TestFit uses co-creation principles to combine human knowledge with algorithms in the search for mass prototyping of housing buildings. It is a “generative design” software that uses algorithms combined with human interaction in the design process. In a sense, it is automating some of the iterative processes architects take today within design methodology using the knowledge they possess from training and experience, yet the software is oriented towards pre-design stages when architects are not yet involved.
The market for AAD-based generative design tools is growing rapidly and is an attractive startup space for VCs. TestFit aims to expand its AAD-based constraint-bound design software beyond the multi-family building type. Importantly, it brings design software to pre-architect stages.
To begin using TestFit you must load the system with the constraints that bound the design results. The user can continually redefine constraints and generate new models until the best choice is reached.
Disruption in AEC
“It’s a disruption on the way designs are created in the early stages,” said Jesse Coors-Blankenship, managing partner of Parkway Venture Capital LLC, which is underwriting TestFit’s initial round. “Instead of defining specs in a spreadsheet and then waiting two weeks for an architect, you can see as many options as you want and optimize from there.”
Coors-Blankenship previously funded Frustum Inc, a generative design firm that was acquired by PTC Inc. for $70 million in 2018.
The report on Silicon Angle notes that the market for generative design software, while today small, is expected to more than double to $275 million in 2023 from $111 million today. This data is cited from a report here.
TestFit is based in Dallas, Texas, and employs just four people at the moment. They apparently plan to use the funds to expand beyond multifamily housing developers into architectural, general real estate development and general contractor markets. To learn more about TestFit go here.
Architosh Analysis and Commentary
Architosh has written about TestFit before inside our monthly newsletter focused on emerging technology (emTech) in the CAD industries. At that time, we listed it in comparison to similar generative design tools taking on the pre-design stages of the AEC market.
TestFit enables a type of rapid digital prototyping in building design and urban and site development, allowing developers and their staff to literally test various building configuration schemes on building lots, using typical site development constraints like setbacks, parking requirements, et cetera. It is focused on multi-family housing at the moment but the funding will tackle other building types. A logical next building type would be hospitals, hotels, storage facility buildings and any building where there is a very high degree of repetitive “known and modular room or zone types” that get planned, in the end, by architects along code-driven circulation routes. Speaking of building codes, we are not certain TestFit can do any kind of automated code violation checking during its automatic generation process, or if code-based data always constraint results to be compliant with the building code.
We do know that a manual mode enables items like special zones and stairs and elevator cores to be manually adjusted within its generated schemes. Such moves could instantly violate the building code. Ultimately, TestFit based results are delivered in some form to architects—licensed professionals—who then advance the design and take care of code compliance.
It should be noted that TestFit is not alone in this space. A company called Hypar is developing an entire platform for distributing expertise in the AEC market by way of democratizing and marketing this expertise through AAD (algorithms-aided design) “point solutions” developed by a range of market experts from urban planners, architecture firms, manufacturers, et cetera, whose expertise can be liberated from Excel and other databases into computational design workflows. TestFit is liberating this expertise from housing development professionals, one specific building development type. So this is a tip of the iceberg appearance as the rest of building development expands out across multiple dimensions, from “type” to AAD-generated facade systems, roof systems, and beyond.