I just watched Cameron Sinclair on open-source architecture
…and at the end, on the “What will it take” slide he is talking about an information system not design or architecture at all! It then occurred to me that there is a potential use for RDF an the semantic web here. If you can design some metadata that can describe all the important features of the 3000 designs Cameron has on his laptop then you might be able to create a search interface that can find best designs for any given environment.
Its a big leap to first describe the designs adequately with a certain meta description but I feel you just have to start and then it will get better as you figure out whats needed.
Even better than search is that you might get machines to take certain situations/problems (i.e. this much space, this much power, this much water efficiency etc) and automatically find design solutions to solve the problem(s). You might need to assemble a hospital/school/basic housing in the desert/jungle/mountains with only scrap wood/metal/bamboo with 2 people working on it who are only proficient in hammer&nail/tying-rope/chopping-wood etc
This is the first real-world use for the semantic web I’ve every thought about and once you realise what its useful for (i.e. making the real world machine readable) you can apply it to anything!
I need to start doing some research and getting into it!