Kicking off a three-part series on proptech, in its very widest sense, let’s look back first of all to the Stone Age.
Urbanisation has been a key driver for technological breakthroughs. But what was the catalyst for urbanisation and the rise of megacities, such as ancient Rome? Geography? Ruthless emperors? Good wine and fabulous food?
While all of these contributed, the real answer is property technology, or proptech, stretching back, literally, to the Stone Age.
Occasionally narrowly defined in an IT context, proptech is a much wider field and entails any technological advancements related to construction, real estate investment, asset and property management processes.
Without the first aqueduct (Aqua Appia, 312 BC), the use of concrete (100 BC) and indoor plumbing, modern cities are unimaginable.
This three-part proptech series will start off with a historical digression, then analyse the property industry’s’ innovation gap, and conclude with a review of the proptech landscape.
So, let’s get started with the brief historical digression.
Abandoning wooden and organic material-made tools, natural stone emerged as durable alternative. Elaborate stone structures, like the predecessor of Stonehenge, indicate a degree of prefabrication and geometrical knowledge.
Bronze replaced stone for tooling purposes and the focus shifted to bridging distances between material sources such as quarries and construction sites using sleds and rollers. This allowed the selection of strategically relevant locations (heights, riverbanks) and a wider range of construction materials. Advanced knowledge of mathematics and geometry established the beam technology, a prerequisite for constructing extensive open spaces.