Reply To: New Urbanism.

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Straping things together, wrapping it all up.

1) The openings as an event, light as an element of architecture – even in a small building designed by an architect – you rarely see a good architect who makes a name designing houses and other small buildings, reaching for a standard collection of windows to plaster on an elevation, and position/use them in a conventional manner.

This needs to be studied by all young architects – elevations, don’t just have funny fenestration and shapes of openings for the fun of it – when you walk into those buildings, which are well designed, you see when you are inside the building, very quickly why openings are where they are, why they are that size or shape and how light is manipulated by them in the interior space.

2) There are some experiences of buildings here in Ireland, which are well designed and incorporate the idea of time. I like to walk from the old part of the National Gallery of Ireland and exit out onto Nassau Street side. I like to walk from Nassau Street through Trinity out to College Green. I like to walk through the Powerscourt centre, the IFC, curved Street and Meeting house square. It is even nice to walk from the back entrance of wood quay out through the front entrance.

So when you are ‘trying to conceive’ of something in three dimensions in a computer model – the time dimension, is something which you are aware of consciously. Even a small structure – is normally much larger than a single human form, so that it implies as we move around/through/above/under a structure – that contributes to the experience, as well as the point 1) above in relation to enclosure.

3) Open public space – inner city, inner suburban, outer suburban and landscape. It is not enough to think of the experience of space from the point of view of one individual moving through both time and space. On must accept the idea of ‘crowds’ navigating, negotiating the human designed environment all around us. Places like UCD, Trinity and many streets in Dublin are places where you can sense, the idea of open space becoming a kind of room or institution, which many people use.

See my points about Medieval Total War and walking cities etc, etc.


I think, the underlying variable in all of these points is about relating to architecture in some physical, real, space and time experience. The only difference is the scale at which this happens. Without the exercise of learning to perceive space, without these ‘hooks’ as I would describe them into reality – the whole point of computer design software is ultimately lost.

The great thing about the 3 points above, is that you can study, learn and devote portions of your time to all the above without actually needing a computer at all. But a pencil and sketchbook would be handy. If AutoDesk were to pay me, I would re-write their manuals to accompany these softwares for architects. In my tutorials, the potential user of the software, would not sit in front of a screen for months, until most of the above conditions of learning and awareness were met.

The learning of how to click the buttons, recognises commands, icons etc, etc, etc is only a ‘tack-on’ the very end of the above process. Potential software users, would be made to ‘lift their asses’ from in front of the computer system. Unfortunately, VIZ-ualisation and computer software courses currently available to architects in this regard, are most usually run by some ‘god awful representative of the engineering profession’, or someone who works for AutoDesk. Making them effectively useless to architects, and excluding anyone except the youngest geeks from thriving.

You can be damned sure, the course in computers for Architects, IS NOT tied carefully into any of the above 3 points. Using software without learning to see, to begin with is futile. But hundreds of young undergrads and grads have to no choice, than to take this very poor approach to learning advanced design software. You cannot polish a turd – but unfortunately, that is something that computer software is more frequently being used for these days. In particularly, by the youngest, brightest and more energetic members of the architectural profession, who should be learning to explore the rich reality around them. Than going square-eyed in front of the latest VIZ upgrade interface.

What worries me nowadays, is that any young architect in practice who wishes to ‘visualise’ something runs the risk of being reported to the office boss, “For doing 3D” on office hours. I.e. That only outsourcing of 3D is allowed – a whole rich repetoire of skills, perception and dedication, once associated with the architectural profession, is becoming more associated with third party rendering service providers.

Which of course, is wonderful for Architects, who,

1) don’t possess any visualisation or drawing skills themselves.

2) don’t care to try and acquire those skills.

3) don’t like those drawing, sketching, visual methods/skills.

An area, which interests me very much, is the notion of architects, using freehand sketching – develop the technique of ‘providing the roughs’ to ultimately make good computer visuals to the professional VIZ-ualist, who owns the expensive kit, the license, the training etc. That what the architect could provide in ‘rough format’ via pencil and paper, could become the foundation for what the VIZ-ualist will ultimately produce.

Rather than this approach, of asking the VIZ-ualist to ‘do something’ and truncating the relationship there. That sickens me, quite frankly. If you look at Hollywood, where most of the CG is done – the director has his/her own personal ‘sketch artist’, who does these ‘story boards’ which are sent straight to the ‘Animation and Light Studios’ or whatever, and the end result rarely lchanges that much from the rough 3D sketch visual.

I must post some better links to show this some time I get a chance.

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