Information and architecture

Home Forums Ireland Information and architecture

Viewing 31 reply threads
  • Author
    • #706376

      The background to my thread

      I have had a chance to sort out a fairly cohesive document here, about my opinion of architects and information technology – of which 3D software and techniques are just one part.

      Architecture practices and numbers of people.

      In my view, if you pay an architect to design a 1 million house, you should demand as a client the 1 million service, with visuals and all the add-ons. When an architect suddenly becomes negative about visualisation, it may not be the fault of the visualisation artist – rather an expression of the architects loss of confidence. It can also be a lack of confidence by the principal partner in trusting his/her underlings to do work, without him/her looking over peoples shoulders all of the time.

      Therefore, it is possibly a requirement for good deployment of a 3D software in any architectural practice – that first of all the office is team based, rather than highly ‘principal based’. In the principal based system – an awful lot of the work has to pass through the main partner before being approved. Hence the requirement to stick to simple plans, sections and elevations – to make the job of the principal to survey everything that is going on as simple as possible.

      I.e. the people in the office aren’t really independent, free-thinkers, but rather just agents of the main practioners wishes and desires. This happens a lot in practices where the main partner is overly suspicious of his/her own staff – and is unwillingly to make the transition from a small 2/3 person firm, with very tightly knitted organisation and collaboration – to a larger 20/30/40/50 person practice, where the principal architect cannot see everything that goes on.

      Unfortunately, architectural practices do have a real habit of exploding in size – i.e. starting off from a two architect small firm winning a competition or two – and suddenly the firm becomes 50 people strong – but the architect still wants to run it the same way as in the beginning. So the necessary pre-production work, to allow 3D softwares to be introduced into a practice is never done – the principal architect being the major obstacle in that process.

      It is properly even a fault in the architectural education, more than anything else, that architects are taught to be too rigid perhaps in their total control and over-seeing of projects.

      Bryan Lawson has written a very good book called ‘How Designers Think’ which describes perfectly how different practices vary in how the principal relates to his/her own staff, clients and design process.

      Competition architects and client architects.

      One of the things architects claim to do better than anyone, is to coordinate large flows of information between various people within the design team. But what better tool one may ask, than Information Technology for the purpose of doing this? Hence my curiosity why architects as people, in my experience still remain some of the least computer and IT literate professions I know. I have had to show many of them the simple procedure of sending emails, and downloading digital photos – but normally they would rather have someone to do that for them.

      Supposedly the architect stands there in the midst of all this confusion keeping track of what is going where, what issues are showing up, how to resolve them and in what way. I think the architect has used the rolls of 2-dimensional plans as a window into the project for themselves. But all too often, the final reality is the first glimpse of what he/she had/hadn’t envisioned.

      I am not 100% comfortable with this reliance upon the trust of a client in the process – very often architects lose, or have trouble with people/clients owing to a lack of communication – people do not read plans/drawings as well as they can read visuals. Architects have their own reasons for their suspicion of CG, but for a lot of ordinary people paying big money for buildings I think they deserve much better communication, and feed-back for the architectural profession.

      The odd time an architect is forced to present outside their small circle of other architects, to a wider public perhaps – they tend to feel very defensive about the whole matter. Some architects hate being in a situation where they are expected to envision projects prior to their being built and completed. It is much, much easier defend something that cost millions to build and is completed, than a visualisation on ink jet paper – which according to the architect cannot convey their vision.

      By the way, these types of architects generally hate having to do competitions to gain work. And only do so with great resentment and enormous amount of suspicious of the final winning scheme. Some of this suspicion I am sure is well founded, but it makes for endless hours of conversation, argument and debate, over whether a certain architect should/shouldn’t have won a certain commission.

      Payment for use of digital products, services and property.

      To be honest, I don’t think very many architects will ever use VIZ full time. But I do think that an architect might want to use it for a project once a year perhaps. Perhaps only that one big ‘once a year competition’, which is done for the prestige factor alone. Then the CG Artist is very much appreciated, and very much sought after by professional architects to give the best possible look and feel to their competition entries. But having reached that stage, won/lost the competition the CG department can go back to being the dog-house.

      Generally that one project, doesn’t warrant the purchase of a license and hardware, or a dedicated professional CG Artist trained and experience in visualisation – I think that AutoDesk should really consider selling VIZ to registered architects under some official agreement through the architectural institutes – some agreed taxation or fee per year – and get an upgrade every time, to this one copy per architectural practice. Or perhaps even allow architects to rent the program for a sum of money per quarter or something. After all that is how digital Ordinance survey maps are licensed to architects all the time.

      Then at least guys on the ground like me would be covered, and could enjoy using a very good product without having to deal with the whole ‘cloak and dagger’ situation. I was in Amsterdam once, and smoked a hell of a lot of pot – why? Because it was available over a counter just like any normal product. I could get the stuff in Ireland no problem at all, and my friends do indulge, but I could never ‘do pot’ in Ireland – because the whole ‘cloak and dagger’ thing gets up my blouse a bit too much.

      If I want to invest any time/effort into using a software product in practice, then I want the respectability and recognition of using that software – to be just as open, honest and public as using my qualifications as an architect. I really do think, that AutoDesk should target the Architectural Institutes, and license the VIZ product to architects through the Institutes.

      Data coordination

      The problems of keeping track of many different data files, many places to ‘go wrong’, to miss something or forget to coordinate something are very well documented indeed in the areas of both engineering and architectural design. It is simply curious how one profession – that of the engineering has seen fit to employ 3D software and hardware, to avoid potential problems, conflicts and lack of foresight – whereas architects have in fact managed to see 3D technology in the exact opposite way – as a potential pit fall for mistakes, and trouble. The engineers design for a new crankshaft or gearbox, may be a straightforward enough problem – but if a tiny mistake is made, the exact same mistake is repeated throughout a whole line of products.

      On the other hand, the architect has only to build one of a particular building – and often takes a chance that it will be all right, relying mainly upon instinct, good organisation, trust in good staff and a decent builder to fabricate the structure. The only buildings or structure presently where I can see 3D taking off big time, is in the field of life cycle management of factories, power stations and all sort of processing plants – where the client receives a full digital model of the whole complex to enable proper maintenance of the place throughout its life cycle.

      But on the other hand, if a client can afford to spend 1 million pounds building their dream house – I think it is very arrogant of architects to assume what they clients do/don’t want to see – it may not be my computer/software etc I am using at work. But neither is it the architects money that is paying his/her fees and ultimately the building of a new home. What is the cost of VIZ and training in the context of a 1 million pound once-in-a-lifetime home? I mean to say, even if the visuals proved to be no help at all – it still wouldn’t put much of a dint into the budget, and who knows it may help either the architect or the client to notice something about the design they hadn’t considered to begin with.

      I think the architect telling the client to move his/her chair, if a leak occurred in the new home – comes to my mind here a small bit. Or Mies van der Rohe’s famous words to Mrs. Farnworth, that she had got the greatest masterpiece of architecture of the twentieth century, in the Farnsworth house! You really have to live amongst these architects, and really know their arrogance first hand, to understand this distaste they have for using a technology, which could potentially improve the economics of a building design. Some of these architects are in fact afraid, that if the client sees too much, then the architect’s nice architectural features might be cut out too early. While there may be much validity in such a point, I don’t think that hiding behind the ‘difficult to read’ standard plans/sections/elevations is entirely the right solution.

      Read this series of articles for better appreciation of the problems

      Hybrid 2D/3D Environments

      Hybrid 2D/3D Environments–Part 2

      3D File Management in Hybrid Environments


      I have touched upon four very relevant issues here in this particular post – team working, information, licensing and data coordination. I am sure there are more issues involved too. Apologises to the architectural profession for a negative argument presented here. I am sure there is just as strong a counter argument to all of what i have said. But in any good debate, it is important to listen to both sides.

      I am still not fully convinced however, that like alot of the madness, that architects were sitting on the fence as regards to new technological methodologies. That perhaps, they employed the services of some very enthuasiastic young students/professionals who invested a large portion of their own time and energy into a project – 3 dimesional visualisation, and saw absolutely no recognition or certification of that work/effort whatsoever. I am aware it was probably not the first time, older established architects have sat on the fence and expected younger ones ‘to test the waters’ first of all.

      If any of the Irish profession would care to comment on this, i would be very greatful for any replies etc, etc. BTW, i have since boxed away all my expensive IT stuff, and taken the view, that getting ‘along with the profession’ is better longer term than working against it.

    • #734969
      HActor CorcAn

      I think every technology is important for every profession. not only architecture. In my view…. when you pay for the project of your life, it is not enough to pay the architect only. It would be logical to pay for an extensive amount of specialized services where visualization plays an important role.

      I think it is fundamental that the client has to know what is going to be built. Sometimes , visualization helps the architect to convice the client for something that he did not want before. Or maybe the visualization is not very accurate or only shows what the architect is interested in showing. any way, visualization systems are one of the most powerful “weapons” for the architect.

      Today, doing large projects has become a very difficult task, if not impossible, for a unique person called architect. Those days have gone. Now I see the architect more like the director of an orchestra, in a office with many people, each one specialized in one “instrument”. Information, data coordination, and methods to comunicate each other, to share knowledge, and information are essential.

      But I think, technology has to improve A LOT yet. I want to see my table, yes my entire table to be a flat screen where I can interact with true digital pencils or with my hands (not mouses) and where I can see a model in true 3D display system.

    • #734970

      I have to get the DVD edition of Minority Report – generally the flic does a good job, though the constantly changing newspapers should really be A4 tablets or something more manageable i think.

      I would be nice to have A1 digital paper though, that constantly changed to update the lastest drawings etc. Save more trees too.

    • #734971

      i have “never” used viz. “i swear it”. “bad” things like (de)”pro”motion happen to people who do bad things. “”..”

      my dad cant use a mobile phone. how can i expect an old fart like my boss to comprehend uvw maps, othrographic ucs’, and radiosity meshing parameters. they dont appreciate the effort and co-ordination that goes into producing a full internal and external model. as far as they are concerned you draw 4 elevations and a plan and the damn thing gets built. visualisation will make great headway once people who were trained with it, as a necassary tool rather than a scary thing that younguns use, get into positions whereby they control what happens in a practice.

      i’m against people starting a design in cad and finishing in cad. no sketching, no modelling, no visualisation other than 2d representations means that the project has not been tested, explored, or developed properly. when a certain level of competence has been achieved, its possible to design and publish a building using only viz and maybe indesign. obviously not construction drawings but at least competition or client presentations.

      i’d still like to build physical models, doodle, tap my toes, and do everything else i can to give the design its due attention

    • #734972

      Although I agree with you that larger practices are often subject to ‘principal lead’ design and although the above is an extreemly interesting treatise I fail to understand how a development in our relatsionship with visualisation technology would alter this situation. Surely this can only be counter-acted through the discussion of hierarchy in the workplace and the acceptance of cluster based design teams- in essence, it is an issue touching on human interaction.
      And I agree with Hector, that increasingly architects have become managers, interpreters and system innovators. We no longer have control over the intricasies and therefore we can only orchestrate on aggragate. But again I don’t understand how technology can rectify this situation.

      It seems to me that you are viewing the problems by way of the symptoms. The ways and means we illustrate, explain or study the built environment come and go- an architect’s ego is forever!

      However I would consider visualisation technology something akin to language, it simply communicates the thought, it does not form it. I understand the arguement that ‘the means by which we choose to communicate defines the parameters of what we choose to communicate’ but could you elaborate on exactly how you see this link and what you believe may lie ahead.

      Its just it seems to me that while the problems are beautifully defined, the emphasis is misdirected.

    • #734973
      HActor CorcAn

      When architects started to use CAD for their draginws… some one said… oh.. this is the end of paper drawings. But what happened some years later? Now it’s so easy to print another A1 with some changes to the drawing… and show it to your boss to see if he likes it or not… and then.. another change.. and another A1…. result…. We are going to exterminate the trees….. where is the non paper office? I’m still waiting to see one.
      Of course my office will be non paper based soon 😀

      I agree with sw101. I don’t think it’s appropiate starting with cad and ending with cad…. you can sketch and modeling also.. yes… BUT you can sketch over a screen tablet and modeling with a software based matter 😉

      (I didn’t like too much the Minority Report way of moving video documents on those screens… quite confusing.. hehe…)

    • #734974

      i think cad was conceived as computer aided drawing rather than design. its not ideal to run off a dozen copies of nearly identical images for scrutiny. surely a cad literate boss who had the capacity to examine designs on computer screens would be saving his business a lot of money, paper, ink etcetera by making full use of his i.t, not just having it for the benefit of his staff, and insisting on old skool techniques like squiggles and unclear notes on printed sheets. anyone work in an office where hardcopy is purely for planning/client/competition purposes?

    • #734975

      Your assertion that not many architectural practices use full time in-house visualists is somewhat innacurate. I work for a medium size practice of about 35 in London who employ 3 full time visualists. I personally know of a further 15 practices who employ full time visualists. Smaller practices may not be able to afford such an in-house facility, but when you look at how proffitable they are one wonders why more practices don’t take this approach.

    • #734976

      whose assertion?

      in my experience it is most benificial to develop a project in sketch, model, 3d viz, and 2d cad, with constast disaassembly and reassessment to fully explore the project.

      what qualifications do these visualists have? or are they architects who concentrate their efforts on visualisation? i’m not sure i like the idea of offloading my work to a seperate department to conjure up a model and present it. i’d rather do it myself, with full control and the possibiliy of development while the model is being generated. i would say that an architect owes it to his client to be able to create a fully realised working model of the building before ground is broken on the site. with colleges now offering full training in 3d work, every qualifying architect should have these skills. very quickly, most practices will adopt these standards when it stops being a special skill amongst their staff, and everyone uses it

    • #734977

      I didn’t suggest that work is offloaded to full time visualists. They are not part of the actual design process (heaven forbid). Their area of expertise lies solely with casting a finished project in a particular light and it is this light that is fully controllable by the architect or designer, just like a film director directs. It is quite unfortunate that my practice cannot afford 20 seats of 3D Studio Max (my particular favourite piece of modelling software). In a perfect world my mac would have this piece of software in order that the project visuals would be solely created by my own fair hands. I am a passionate advocate of 3d software and agree with you entirely that every architect should have the skills to use it. I am presently holding in-house seminars to teach this software to colleagues who were genuinely amazed by the seductive quality of work I did for several recent international design competitions (one of which I won). The combination of powerful modern day computers coupled with increasingly affordable software (apart from the really high end stuff) makes it feasible that all architects have this skill. I am also currently studying part time at one of London’s more illustrious schools of architecture to finish my part II course and am always inspired by the quality of work produced (always on a par and often surpassing the best work produced by seasoned professionals). But the most important tool in an architect’s armoury is not the ability to use a piece of software well but the ability to design wonderfully. Any monkey can pick up a piece of software and learn it.

    • #734978

      but expect more back from me pretty shortly. I have a few more similar discussions going on at different forums and via e-mail with several different guys in the trade visualisation/cg trade. All of your feed back has been very refreshing, overing just another viewpoint to what is a hoary, prickly, thorny problem for young people in education/practice if ever there was one. I witnessed many different discussions along these lines in Bolton Street Architecture school over the past number of years, and am going to get to the bottom of this debate – i look upon it as a kind of hinge-point in my life/career/aspirations.


      but could you elaborate on exactly how you see this link and what you believe may lie ahead.

      End Quote.

      Very good question.

      email me here: Anyone who cares to, if you have any more specific things you would like me to deal with. I am currently compiling the sequel to this post, and would value your questions, queries, insights very highly.

      P.S. when i am finished i will link the other discussions on other forums, and maybe you can see what CG guys think about this.

    • #734979

      However I would consider visualisation technology something akin to language, it simply communicates the thought, it does not form it. I understand the arguement that ‘the means by which we choose to communicate defines the parameters of what we choose to communicate’ but could you elaborate on exactly how you see this link and what you believe may lie ahead.

      Could the recent trend towards information technology improve the standards of communication, within architectural practices, provided architects could come down from their egocentric heights and establish cluster based work groups in practice. That is a very intelligent focus for this discussion indeed, since the idea of using information technology and the organisation of people and how we relate to each other, are issues which have become very much inter-twined indeed. I think the answer is yes, information technology can improve communication in work groups in architectural practice, but some qualifications are needed also.

      The architects ability to draw, means that he/she is completely portable – his/her very own Compact Flash storage medium, application software, display hardware, A1 printer, scanner, digitizer and all in one very handy, neat 5 foot nothing and a half package of designing ability. A bit like the sharks roaming the ocean floors, the architect is nature’s own design – pound for pound they are all predatory natural aggressive instinct, raw muscle, sharp teeth and streamlined fins. They are on top of the information food chain for a long, long time now.

      He/she simply doesn’t need a computer since he/she is simply way too far ahead of them. The wonderful thing is, they get up every morning, boot into work mode, never pay upgrade license fees, never have to be re-booted, never crash when you change channels, never run out of battery power, get viruses, or become obsolete. Only the 10 million dollar IBM mainframe computers can rival them in longevity. However, the bottom feeders nowadays are all IT based, and if architects actually want to communicate with them, it does take alot more than verbal language nowadays.

      Architects hate getting too committed to digital – as you need some information point to access and collaborate. This is difficult given the physical and time constraints imposed by an often very tumultuous, dynamic lifestyle of the architect. Design is concerned as one famous architect put it “with smelling the landscape, and touching the earth lightly”. Not with spending hours interfacing with nerdy IT, geeky kinds of gizmos.

      Nevertheless, in the past 10 years, a lot of Architects forced the younger generations to ‘go computers’ at work. Young architects are spending a greater proportion of their time in the exchange, synthesis and gathering of knowledge through the means of IT. While still trying to exercise the necessary natural instincts they are trained to use. I often compare architects having to use information technology to putting wild crocodiles into captivity.

      Just like the natural environment of crocodiles, the natural environment of architects is fast disappearing. That environment, to which the architect was suitably adapted, has been swallowed up by vast rows of ‘robot-type’ people, who sit all day long staring at display screens. In the old days, architects used to look at their teams of workers drawing lines on a drawing board, or building a model from wood/cardboard in front of their eyes. Now all they actually see is the backs of peoples’ heads staring at screens all day long. The idea of using computers to communicate doesn’t look promising so far, but maybe that is just another challenge.

      Every time the architect turns their back, computers have gotten faster, cheaper, cleverer. They are becoming increasingly available to a wider audience and people are using them to do new and sometimes strange tasks. Computers and the web will continue to consume more and more information about us, and our lives. Every day another small piece of our privacy evaporates, never to be regained again. In three hundred years or so, not much of the privacy we now enjoy and take for granted will be left.

      Charlie McCreevy has bought JD Edwards data mining software, which sends AI bots scanning their way into the vastness of taxation records, peering around for all kinds of glitches and sending back reports. No place will be left unchartered by the march of information technology! Even the small cheap systems which architects hope will furnish them with an easy to manage, formula for doing everyday tasks are becoming more ‘connected’ and more powerful everyday. They do leave a trail behind them a mile wide, stretching across continents. But never have architects been so close to their employees and design teams, but yet so far removed from them.

      Some people say the pencil is an extension of the architects hand and brain. The next Playstation will become more powerful than most desktop systems are today – kids will grow up wearing the web like some prosthetic third limb, which they have trained their conscious brains not to reject. While their physical state devolves back to that of a mollusc. With this proliferation of technology, it is not difficult to imagine nature or evolution making that critical leap to where machines actually gain intelligence and the desire to reproduce – humans eventually being suspicious their toasters might be conspiring against them!

      The computer technology and software industry is very dynamic by nature. How do architects keep their position as top of the food chain in this information saturated environment? At the moment they are merely hanging onto a desperate struggle against complete extinction. It is like being the only vegetarian at a barbecue.

      One solution, and the one most adopted in practice, is merely to allow hundreds of years of natural evolutionary ‘shark- like aggression’ to be unleashed in the direction of information technology. This is my point about architects being too perfectly evolved, like the Great Irish Elk was during the Ice Age. It is hard for them to adjust to quickly, because their horns have simply grown too long. Will architects become the great Irish Elks of the Information Age. Will the archaeologists and scientists, years from now discover their remains while sifting through the digital archives?

      The trick to survival is actually to remain a generalist, since they tend to survive. It is to ignore hardware and IT completely, which are only decoys. Brighly coloured lures, which distract the sharks focus away from the main prey, by appealing to that same natural aggressive, predatory instinct. Architects love to be the centre of attention; they crave for peoples’ approval and admiration. Like the cute cuddily family pet dog who suddenly reverted back to being a vicious wolf, when the new born baby arrived in the household. The arrival of shiny new Intel powered information points, did spark off more than a little bit of deep-seated insecurity within the profession.

      The profession must invest the time becoming familiar with the new vocabulary of knowledge management. In order for the architecture species to remain competitive and to survive, it must learn to deal with this.

      The most fascinating thing of all about technology is how data can became manageable, valuble and shared amongst many co-workers. No one will even remember the IT infrastructure used to capture knowledge in 5 years time, but the data remains as valuable. So the notion of capturing the knowledge wealth of a company becomes important to us today. Instead of knowledge being stored in the human brain as the architect is used to. It can be captured and shared within and outside an organisation. It can become an actual form of business capital, and can be bought or sold.

      If a partner walks out, dies or retires, everything isn’t suddenly lost with that person’s untimely departure.All organisations today, and not just architects are finding the leaking of valuable knowledge capital too heavy a loss to bear nowadays with employees not committing for very long. The science of knowledge management is all to do with addressing this issue. Trying to integrate architecture and computers into a team based collaboration solution.

      In other words, people cannot retain the amount of information held in the databanks nowadays, and to try to do so is merely futile. Years and years of evolution in learning how to communicate merely through face-to-face personal discourse will have to be unlearned. Those horns have just become too large to carry nowadays, there isn’t enough plentiful meadow grasslands to feed on. Being replaced by the forest of Information Technology. Indeed, the trauma of this change in environmental conditions, has induced amongst the species has not helped either.

      What is it that makes the work load of the architect so elusive to computerisation? I managed in true IT fashion to download an MP3 of Bernard Tschumi speaking in a lecture at Columbia University in New York. It set me thinking in a certain direction as regards information technology and architectural design. In order to investigate the nature of that problem, I was forced to explore architectural design as a four-dimensional problem solving activity. This critical but elusive fourth dimension of architecture is seldom even mentioned in any of the schools today.

      I believe this extra fourth dimension is the answer to how eventually architects might integrate in some useful fashion with computer technology in future. But for the time being we have just got to work around the limitations of the current technology. Four dimensional file formats are just the stuff of Steven Spielberg movies.

      I spent endless hours looking at what information is now being captured in the 2D/3D CAD file format. I noticed that real people are actually quite small physically in relation to the scale of a building or institution – say on a 1:200 scale drawing. But this is actually rather deceptive, and a vastly oversimplified way of looking at peoples relationship with their physical environment. When people move, even on foot they tend to cover miles – you can track it on a map at 1:2000 scale. When rail lines are introduced, the spatial relationship changes again, and so forth.

      I point you here to a reference, Noel Brady’s Building Material magazine essay called ‘Strategic Cities’.

      It is not such a tragedy that current 2D/3D CAD technology, doesn’t capture a fraction of the whole picture of what architects do. As long as one accepts that rather than try to deny this very real limitation of current technology. I would point you here to another reference, a book written by two Finish professors, Helmer Stenros and Seppo Aura called Time, Motion and Architecture. Where they proceed to destroy the notion that architecture can be effectively communicated in any form of drawing, model or visualisation.

      Le Corbusier, Richard Meier, Steven Holl, Bernard Tschumi, James Stirling, Tom Mayne, Tadao Ando and others have explored the idea of the ‘movement’ of people in their projects. So the job of an architect is always to define a relationship between a human being and the physical conditions of their environment. The one they work, play, socialise, travel, protest, marry, pray and finally die in. Everything from the hospitals where we are born, to the cemeteries where we are buried, and everything in between. Time is the fourth dimension of architecture.

      The problem is the vocabulary changes from one end of the design process ‘journey’ to the other. The dynamism of individuals circulating inside a building can be articulated by means of natural light, materials, colour etc. Time at this scale is measured by the sun changing its position in the sky, by the people going for lunch breaks or driving home at the end of a long hard day. At the other end of the scale, we are talking about transportation, infrastructure and planning vocabulary. At this scale, time is measured in generations and government administrations. I will point you here again, to that most wonderful reference, the ‘Strategic Cities’ essay by Noel Brady.

      Architecture is like a trip on the great old Orient Express train. One has to move through a whole continent full of different customs, tribal variations, cultural contrasts, changing terrains, and dramatically changing sights, sounds and smells. The architect tends to be unique in knowing something about it all. The Indiana Jones character being a flamboyant but useful analogy to draw here. I believe architectural design to be a four-dimensional thought process – and one that is almost impossible to capture in today’s digital file formats. The notion of the body moving through spaces, of negotiating the physical reality of the environment is not going to be simulated using today’s technology.

      At some point the computer will actually connect right into our brain, in some kind of matrix way, or Star Trek holo-deck fashion. So you can spend the whole afternoon walking around and experiencing a simulated reality of a project. Imagine explaining to a client of loosing a valuable member of your practice, or even a whole design team, owing to a glitch in the holo-deck software! Instead of the information becoming lost to the architect, the architect becomes lost inside the information – fascinating.

      A time machine would also be very useful to explore the planning scale of time. A trilogy of films that comes to mind here is Back to the Future. See this post here by Markitect for a better illustration:

      As ridiculous as this all sounds, it does provide another clue to using information technology effectively. Notice the naturalness, ease and accessibility of interfacing with the information. With current technology it is simply a struggle to retrieve any form of digital content relevant to a project.

      Working in three dimensions does allow one to capture more information relevant to a project in digital format. It is not inputting the data that is hardest. It is the subsequent efficiency and logic of retrieval of that information for whatever purpose, which causes the problem. Architects always blame the ‘computer’ for being too slow – the information just doesn’t come back fast enough, or without a wrestling match. Despite faster processing speed, new software features, availability of cheaper, faster storage space and broadband internet connections.

      Despite better training and awareness of how to use 3DS VIZ technology, IT appears to be much too slow and energy consuming. Like our friend the high-tech humanoid robot, the complexity level rises and eventually we hit into a complexity barrier. Although technology does impose many restrictions upon interfacing and communication, lets just look at some of the more promising developments.

      All the emails, time sheets, animations, video clips, photographs, models, drawings, voice recordings associated with a particular project should be available from all computer terminals, to everyone in the whole organisation. Bill Gates has guaranteed to solve that question of ‘Where is my stuff’ in his next generation operating system called Longhorn. But even today some third party products do exist such as Scopeware’s Vision software.

      The ultimate reference on this kind of thing is by Susan Conway, a book published by the Microsoft Press called ‘Unlocking your Knowledge Assets’.

      Project wise is an entirely web-based collaboration software tool from Bentley, which tracks the various stages of the scheme as you design it. So it is possible later on to recall certain changes that were made during the design process. It says who made the changes, and what people thought of those changes at that time. You can decide to go back to an earlier version of a scheme and work it up in a different direction – exploring ‘what if’ type of questions. Indeed, it enables separate design teams to explore alternative designs for a scheme simultaneously.

      The current situation of architects being unable to retrieve any form of digital information whatsoever about a project, is unsustainable. The best thing the profession could do, is admit this crisis of information management and to confront it head on. I have seen often myself, forty and fifty-something year old architects, just picking up two week old plots in their own practice. And then proceeding to spend an entire day, at £75 an hour correcting this out-of-date information. Rightly so, these principal architects point out it is not their fault when someone realises their error. Is this how architecture firms need to be run today?

      Communication? Perhaps speaking the same language might help! Drawing was an international language, one that travels across the world. IT based communication between employees in architects, doesn’t yet appear to be capable of travelling between different rooms in the same building.

      It is not uncommon in large practices, not to know what is going on all around you. A project tends to be just done and dusted, put away and you just go onto the next project. There is an unspoken awareness that all the knowledge capital that was created during a project is solely kept in the minds of certain employees. But in this merry-go-round of IT, digital files, valuable knowledge resources are squandered endlessly.

      The following is an excerpt from

      ArchiCAD is one of the first computer-aided design tools to utilize building information modeling. The virtual building is built from the beginning in 3D with plans, sections, and elevations, available as different views of the building. The software also serves as the building database throughout the lifecycle of the project.

      The five principals in Design Atlantic are all hands-on ArchiCAD users. The company works in civil projects and more recently with the U.S. Coast Guard. Jernigan is a strong believer in the virtual building model and in maintaining a design database of building information from the get-go. His firm has also started an alliance with other smaller firms to take on larger projects. But part of the litmus test they use as they screen potential partners is whether the firm’s principals are hands-on CAD users, or willing to become hands-on.

      “Building information modeling pretty much requires the designer to work in the software,” he says. “It’s more than just pretending a computer is a word processor. Rather than drawing lines or producing prints, this approach is based on databasing all the information in the building process.” Because senior designers are responsible for this information, he says, they’re more likely to want to be involved with technology in a BIM approach.

      All architects are hands-on at his firm, fully utilizing the ArchiCAD virtual building model. “The small size of our firm and the concentrated experience of our principals allows us to take active hands-on roles in every project,” he says. “It’s our philosophy to remain a small firm since it permits us to practice rather than to direct or ‘delegate’ to less experienced staff.

      Another interesting approach to using computers in architectural design is that of Frank Gehry. Frank believes that in the twentieth century, the architect did not in fact, ‘protect’ the clients financial interests in a project, as is so often said. Instead the builder normally went to the client, behind the architect’s back and just said ‘Hey, if you straighten out this wall, It will save you 1 million bucks’. So the building contractor became parental in the equation, whereas the architect was the child.

      Using his highly developed CATIA based design process, Frank Gehry now hopes to reverse this equation. By doing a lot more of the work traditionally done by a builder – the choosing of construction materials, components, sizes and specification – Frank Gehry in effect now does a lot of the building contractors work for him. And the contractors love him for that, but his insurance policy makers are currently stumped as to how to ‘cover him’, and his lawyers cannot properly say where he stands legally in relation to all of this.

      As Frank himself will admit, the parts do not dovetail together properly as yet, and maybe that is why he is the only person doing what he does today. So getting back now to everyday practice in this particular country. There are a lot more barriers to communication in practices nowadays, some of which I will deal with finally.

      My final point has to do with the perception of young graduate or under graduate architects in college or in practice. A very common phenomenon nowadays, is to see architectural technicians studying for degrees to become architects. While being involved in a group-based project in one Irish architectural college, I offered my services to do some 3D visualisations, or even to help do some of that work with the group. However, that group already contained a qualified architectural technician with computer skills. I was informed that the technician, and only the technician would be doing the 3D visualisation work. If this is how the kids play in the playgrounds, this how are they going to behave in practice?

      While working in practice, I was booted off a job completely because my furniture in a set of apartment CAD drawings was the wrong colour. Somehow, architectural technicians in offices don’t like to see students of architecture competing in what they see as their own territory. I will not even get into the full set of working drawings I did for a large apartment block, which mysteriously disappeared from the main file server. Even though the contractor had already laid foundations! I was merely expected to keep my mouth shut, while a brand new technician in the firm re-did all the drawings again from scratch.

      I wouldn’t actually mind if these were unfortunate accidents, but they are becoming the norm today. It doesn’t really affect the principals in offices, as they are only too pleased to pass the ‘donkey-work’ off onto the CAD monkeys, but I feel it is a real problem now for younger graduates. I reminds me of the Dead Rabbits versus the Natives, in Martin Scorsesse’s recent film, The Gangs of New York. With young architects everyday having to ‘go into battle’ with the architectural technicians, “Prepare to receive the true Lord!!!”

      And I can assure you all, in spite of being a young architectural undergraduate I have had to put a few notches on my stick too. The profession increasingly reminds me of the ‘Boss Tweed’ character in that film, merely hiring one gang to stamp out the other. I am curious to know how the architectural profession is going to deal with this ‘turf war’ going on in the offices presently over rights over who has information access and creation rights of digital content for the project? I think personally, it would be a great tragedy to see young architects completely banished from all possible contact with their medium – that of drawings – or more to the point, that of information access rights. Information that is relevant to the projects they are doing.

      I would hate to see the young architects being used as the ‘Dead Rabbits’ in the Five Points of Architecture.

    • #734980


      Obviously the above post introduces a wide variety of subjects and issues ,too many for me to address all of them (at least not while I maintain a full-time job!). And also the last part is personal experiance so I can’t really comment. However there are some points which interested me.

      In your first point, although again it is couched in technology concerns, what you seem to be dealing with is the issue of specialization- probably the most worrying development in architectural practices in recent times.
      The division of labour in the design industry is unsurprisingly frustrating for architects simply because our discipline is inherently a general one.
      If you look at the context, in relation to other careers and professions, architecture is one of the few educations that requires an expansion, rather than a specialization of knowledge. (Look at science, medicine, even buisness- you finish knowing everything about one thing and pretty much nothing about the other facets of your field)
      The shear breadth of knowledge required to be an architect now requires that we begin to specialise but this jars with a body of people who define themselves by a classical education.
      The suppostion that a better understanding of software or technology will rectify this basic disparity is difficult to understand. So much of an architect’s skill is anecdotal that I question the workability of having information at your finger tips rather than in your understanding.
      However to survive, we must divide our labour and orchestrate our production- the technican is a product of this neecessity.
      This may touch on your own experiences of being shunted from projects. Roles are increasingly more clearly defined now.

      By the by it seems strange to me that you would mention Jennigen and his small hands-on practice while trumpeting the wonders of technology. In reality isn’t computer based design the ultimate delegation?

      As for the squandering of resources this is indeed a major problem (and one I suffer from on a daily basis). The interaction with consulants and suppliers is woefully unproductive. Merry-go round is a very apt term.
      However, although this is closely linked to the architect’s use of technology I also think it is indictitive of the huge social and economic shift towards globalisation. An understanding of system analysis and employment will require a period of adjustment. The technological revolution and as a result globalisation will make more of an impact on society than the industrial revolution. It’s no great shock that one of our most basic skills, (creating a built envionment) is experiencing adjustmemt difficulties. It is the biggest challenge the profession has ever faced.

      One final point, you take Gehry as a case in point in relation to another matter but I’d like to annex him for a moment for my own purposes. In my last post I made the assertion that computer programs are simply a tool- surely Gehry is the starkest example of this.
      His buildings are originally conceived as sculptures and then transported to a computer. They are neither conceived or translated by this medium. They are enabled by it but not defined as a result of it. The extreem opposite of this is the competition entries that are simply excerises in 3-d computer programs nothing to do with architecture in my book. (see the U2 entries)
      Just a thought……

    • #734981

      As always, it has been a pleasure receiving some valuble feed-back on my ‘yet to be verified’ knowledge assets. This verification process, which will become web-based in future – is the process by which certain Knowledge documents etc graduate up the ladder to become company owned. I.e. The Knowledge becomes the property of the company/organisation/profession. It is the same process by which young intelligent minds may collaborate with older, wiser individuals – without becoming overly self-conscious or defensive in the process. Workers will receive credit for this knowledge based endeavour. You crossed that very same point yourself – by saying you need to do a full-time job, so knowledge working isn’t really valued properly at the moment. However, in traditional based accounting practices, knowledge work that is out-sourced is often viewed as a asset just like any other asset – and subject to depreciation in the books every year. Whereas knowledge working done in-house is viewed as a liability.

      The best architectural debate i ever witnessed was in the AAI years ago – when the Interpretive Centre controversy was raging in the Burren in Clare. The conclusion reached there, was that perhaps we were witnessing the emergence of an entirely new building type. What was so good about that forum at the AAI, was how the Tourism guys, the planner guys, and many, many more environmental experts all were present at that forum. Unlike the subsequent forum held about the issue of the house in the Irish landscape, which was only attended by architects unfortunately, and quite frankly we had heard it all before. However, this Information Technology thing, i feel should be the subject for an AAI forum night at some stage, and preferably be attended by as many experts from outside the profession as is possible.

      We would only have to decide what type of weapons, bricks, clubs etc to bring! 🙂 ONLY KIDDING of course. But yet again, Doozer, i think you have contributed most intelligently as to focussing the right format/issues in hosting such a forum some night. It is a difficult thing to do, to pin down exactly which issues will furnish the best results in a forum of architects.

    • #734982
      HActor CorcAn

      just a quick quick thought…
      Before the computers age… when architects didn’t have time to do good drawings, they were done by drawing specialists called draftsman. They could draw very good drawings with the ink. Then the rotring pens appeared… mmm it was easier to draw the plans… but still. a task for the draftsmen… the architect still developed pencil drawings. and ideas… final plan drawings were done by the drawing specialist….
      What happened when computers were introduced into architectural offices? any architect could do the same exact drawings as the draftsman in the same time. Hard days for draftsmen. But know. architects doesn’t have time to learn 3D.. may be this is a task for a computer graphics specialists.. and the history repeats again.
      In a short time. we will see how architects (mostly new generation ones) can do the 3D jobs with more intuitive, easy, and powerful software. Then… what’s next? 🙂

    • #734983

      Originally posted by doozer

      By the by it seems strange to me that you would mention Jennigen and his small hands-on practice while trumpeting the wonders of technology. In reality isn’t computer based design the ultimate delegation?

      I think i had better deal with this a little bit better – since people are obviously entirely unaware of the concepts at work in softwares like AutoDesk Architectural Desktop, ArchiCAD, Nemetsche All Plan FT, CATIA, AutoDesk Revit, Bentley Triforma and other BIM approach programs.

      I remember a story told, by a professor about Foster building the Shanghai bank, before the arrival of computers. (So this might answer your point a bit Hector) Foster and Assoc. employed a separate team of architects out in Malaysia, whose task was to do nothing else except cross-reference the drawings done by Fosters, using tracing paper overlays, so that no mistakes could occur.

      The whole list of softwares listed above, allows (an engineer mostly at the moment) but also an architect to do exactly the same as the Malaysian firm did for Fosters way back when. Except now, you just pay for the software, systems and the training.

      BTW, the current addition/renovation to Heathrow is done using ADT software with 3DS VIZ, which proves that these programs are becoming more proven to work in the field.

      So here it is quite simply, 2-Dimensional drafting has one huge draw-back. When you make a change to one line in one drawing, you have to suddenly go through 120 other drawings to see if you have to change that line anyplace else! You have to sit down and speak to the whole design team at regular intervals, and explain what changes to which lines you made, and which sheet no’s the changes occured in.

      Then you have to allow your design team to come back to you, and inform you if that change to that line, will make problems for any of them! So basically, your whole life in 2D CAD drawing becomes a series of meeting about changes, and meeting about changes to changes. And literally involves the wastage of much too many man/woman hours working.

      Because once you have made any change to any drawing, you have to start the whole process over and over again, of checking, re-checking….. it is a nightmare on larger projects. That is what Jennigan, Gehry and all the rest of the guys are getting around, by using CATIA or ArchiCAD or Architectural Desktop 3D BIM models, rather than the 2D/Pencil/Word Processor analogy.

      Because in 3-dimensions, the various engineers don’t have to meet all the time to ‘talk about changes to the drawings’. Because you can see in realtime, if a change made to the main building model has affected you. Engineers and architects can work side by side as it were, but could be miles apart across a country, collaborating on a web based information portal like Bentley Projectwise, which stacks up all the revisions,… made to one Building Information Model. Who made them, why, what date etc, etc. And who what everyone else thinks about those changes.

      You have a complete and easy to reference record, of everything that happened in a large multi-disiplinary building design project. The concept is simplicity itself… and yet deathly efficient in terms of information coordination and management. Since there is only one sourse of information to look at, but many, many collaborators. Engineerings have managed to twig this much, much quicker than architects. And architects will find it difficult to cope with larger projects without having these skills under their belts.

      Now, you don’t have to go through 120 pages of numbered sheets periodically, since all the 120 sheets are generated from one single source of information – the Building Information Model. So you see, it is rather simple – the computer CATIA model of Frank Gehry may not be the same cardboard model that he made, sat on, and rolled around in, to achieve his beautiful shapes.

      But without, the Building Information model, there would be no possible way, that Gehry could build the buidings he builds now. So literally, i don’t agree that the computer is just a ‘mere’ tool in the process. There are very, very, very simple and practical reasons why 3D is becoming more common as a form of CAD now.

      My only gripe, is when the people using one form of CAD product or another, get an political about ‘There product being the best’. Since the notion of 3D CAD of any description ever becoming a true vehicle for 4-dimensional experience is completely fantasy. It took for forever, and a day, to finally cut through all the marketing bs, and see that much.

      Speaking from the point of view of a sad, deluded 3DS VIZ user. But again, to underline, this is why i believe that architectural colleges must understand that the ‘lure’ of 3DS VIZ, has prevented many, many, many young architectural students from defining architecture within a 4-dimensional, as oposed to a 3-dimensional conceptual framework.

      The 3-dimensional visuals just looked so seductive, as in the U2 competition, that really, what is the requirement to think about ‘walking around a building’ while experiencing architecture in both the dimensions of space and time. Computers do not capture the short-term time element, that of the days and nights, hours and minutes. Neither do they capture the long-term time element, that of trans-generational planning design, outlined in Strategic cities essay.

      My point about communication, is just that architects are going to find it harder and harder, as time goes on, to talk to the backs of peoples’ heads, over there shoulders, and while suspended diagonally across a table to point out something on a screen. Unless they learn to drill home their point, from the optimum position – the desktop on the screen. Mind you that could improve:

    • #734984
      HActor CorcAn

      just another quick thought…
      Also CAM is very important. I read something about how Gehry produced curved glasses with CAM technology in some recent projects. A perfect design in the CAD model is nothing if it is not possible to be built with the same precision.

      Also have to say.. my own experience with Revit and ADT2004 has been an complete disaster. I’m very sad about it. I expected much more. Still have to wait some years for a complete architectural solution.

    • #734985

      First of all I honestly don’t see the difference between watching the back of someone’s head while they’re working at a computer and doing the same while they’re bending over a drawing board!

      Let me just say that I have no problem with 3-D programs. I use them quite often but I maintain that they are an enabling device and when not employed in this way they detract from design development.
      What I meant by ‘ultimate delegation’ was that at its core a computer program is a series of actions written and compiled by another individual. Any design conceived solely on computer will not only be subject to this third party’s idea of graphic visualisation but will also share these traits with every building designed with that same program.
      In one of your earlier posts you mentioned possiblity of thinking computers but perhaps we should be reminded that this is not the case yet- computers and they’re programs are created by us, written and informed by humanity. Every project developed in this way is coloured by someone elses preconceived notions. So my objection to complete computer design is that intrinsicaly it must breed homogeneity.

      One last point to Hector, Its true that draughtsmen in earlier years were an example of specialisation, as my example of technicians are now, but in recent times the growing numbers of environmental, conservationist, urbanist etc architects would indicate that the
      ‘division of labour’ has hugely impacted the profession. To the point where the days of the ‘master builder/architect’ are, perhaps, over.

    • #734986

      In one of your earlier posts you mentioned possiblity of thinking computers but perhaps we should be reminded that this is not the case yet- computers and they’re programs are created by us, written and informed by humanity. Every project developed in this way is coloured by someone elses preconceived notions. So my objection to complete computer design is that intrinsicaly it must breed homogeneity.

      The very same argument was made about the movie Shrek, yet it was the biggest grossing movie for young kids in the whole year. That argument doesn’t break any ice with me. A good movie is just a script, and the architect isn’t any different.

      Consistently and without exception Doozer, you have failed miserably to counter my argument as regards the teaching of architecture as a four-dimesional discipline in architecture schools. This crap about the nitty-gritty of what a computer program actually, is a prime example of the professions obstinacy and complete refusal to deal with the real problems that computers are causing young graduates and undergraduates today. I will only say it once, since I am beginning to repeat myself over and over again – you have gotten completely carried away in a tangent about what technology and computerization is/isn’t. In fairness you have been very generous with your time and consistently asking very good questions. I imagine you have been a wonderful spokesperson and talent in the profession for a number of years now.

      However, something tells me, that even you have hit upon a subject which you cannot completely comprehend. Never once has anyone here, even attempted to suggest an answer to the U2 competition entries, which are indeed computer exercises and nothing to do with architecture. I will give it to you all on a plate on last time, for better or for worse, I have contributed what I can to the architectural profession as regards to IT, and do not intend spending one minute more on it in fact.

      Its true that draughtsmen in earlier years were an example of specialisation, as my example of technicians are now, but in recent times the growing numbers of environmental, conservationist, urbanist etc architects would indicate that the
      ‘division of labour’ has hugely impacted the profession. To the point where the days of the ‘master builder/architect’ are, perhaps, over.

      Bullshit! The job of the architect is that of a spatial designer first and foremost, and helping young grads to learn how to define themselves properly in that arena is what the future of architecture is all about. In relation to computerisation, in relation to specialisation and everything else. This Bolton Street college of Architecture love affair with building, gets right up my arse.

      Did it ever occur to you that those environmentalists, conservationists and urbanists are merely filling a huge void left by the shift of emphasis in the architectural profession? Notice how many of those professions are concerned with the dimensions of time. While the architect has become too much of an engineer/business partner, specialising in 3D and construction documentation.

      The U2 competition entries don’t surprise me one little bit – they are indeed a true reflection of how the profession has learned to view the world around them! It doesn’t know any other way – because gradually the dimension of time, has been made marginal in the process. You cannot arrive at a 4D solution from a profession obsessed by 3D Construction documentation.

      No one else only architects are responsible for the specialisation trend they have experienced. Greedy after a greater share of the building contract pie they made it that way. Then merely devised all sorts of elaborate reasons to disguise the fact they had changed coats. Face it, architects have much more in common with pin-stripe wearing business men and women now, than ‘designers’.

      The fancy clutch pencil sticking out of the breast pocket of that Armani suit, is largely a emblem now, a symbol of the whole ridiculous ritual it has become. The standard of training in architecture isn’t up to scratch. Why? Because instead of having urbanists, environmentalists and conservationists teaching young architects in the colleges, they put architects. You will learn ten times more about architecture for real, listening to posters at Planetizen or Cyburbia, than having to listen to big shots in DIT waffling on about construction documentation.

      It is basically about the end of me and my chapter of my life dealing with information technology. I have gotten no help whatsoever from the architectural profession, at any point along the way… and do not intend to spend the rest of my life worrying about something, the profession doesn’t even want to acknowledge.

      In 1998, I was given a job an architect here in Dublin in Ireland. An architecture firm that specializes in ‘Louis Kahn’ type of work no less. You needed work experience to complete the college degree you see. A month before I was about to begin, I phoned him to remind him. He sprung something on me, I will never forget – he asked me was I trained in using Bentley MicroStation, to which I replied no.

      He told me, that there were no ‘pencils or drawing boards’ left in the practice, and I would have to know computers before coming to work for him. I went and told this to my auntie in Dublin at the time – she said, that is stupid – can you even use Windows? To which I replied ‘What is Windows?’

      I was made to feel like I would have a job with that architecture firm if I knew what windows was… that is why I spent 6 months back in 1998/99 completing training in AutoCAD. And in September 1999, I had completely me work experience. However, not without problems, and now I realise that architects aren’t into using IT at all – so I simply don’t know what the architects were talking about back in 1998 – perhaps they imagined all people would simply take to computerisation like a duck to water – which didn’t happen – since the older practioners had a life, a family and more to be doing after hours than sitting in front of monitors.

      Perhaps a bit of madness and dilusion?

      Anyhow, that is what the architects said back then, and this is 5/6 years later. Globalisation, IT,… whatever you call it, has ripped a new arse-hole in most professions. And I dont’ know whether to feel abused by the architectural profession, or simply accept the fact, that the world’s society in general cannot cope with the information age, period.

      Of course IT will still not design the building for you.

      The reason that Doozer or any other architects in practice these days are losing so much information with regards to projects, is that the conceptual backbone to doing 2D CAD is all wrong from an information management point of view to begin with. It requires too many sentries and just has too many gates to guard. Even though Revit or ADT aren’t up to scratch yet, the conceptual background to them is right I feel – so they still haven’t figured out the technology yet – big deal.

      Noone gave computers a chance back in the early nineties when I started first studying architecture. Back in the early nineties, it was ‘printers can never do thin lines, or various line thicknesses like Rotring hand pens can’. But Technology caught up with that. Then they said computers were too expensive, but technology has caught up with that too. Now they are claiming, technicians are needed to ‘know’ how to operate computers,… but again, technology has caught up with that, because all people now can use windows, the web, and handle basic windows interfaces, dialogue boxes etc. etc.

      Believe me, I was one of the worst with a computer ever, but even I managed to twig things eventually! So now architects, are fit to burst, since they cannot find any more good reasons not to use technology – they have entrenched themselves into a position of being ‘against technology’. And it is looking more and more pathetic everyday I see it. Basically the skepticism about using technology in architecture is completely unfounded and questionable to say the least.

      Architects aren’t simply buying as many licensees of software to warrant the software developer’s time spent fixing ADT or Revit properly. Contrast that with DDC.

      Background to 3DS VIZ and other Digital Content Creation software (DCC)

      3DS MAX/VIZ is a product developed for the entertainment and advertising industry specifically. It can do everything a stage designer or movie director/traditional animator would ever need to do. It has a ‘timeline’ along which you hang all sorts of sound effects, flashes, explosions, visual distortions and motion. In other words a digital stage for acting to occur. Software like MAX/VIZ is useless unless you make a story board for the scene like a movie director would do. Then it is only a matter of inserting the actors and props to make that live.

      Every other creative/artistic endeavour has been successfully ported to digital format. Photoshop is a digital darkroom, Cubase a digital sound recording studio and Quark Express a digital typesetter. There is no learning curve, since musicians, artists, animators and photographers can produce good stuff, the same day, having never used the software before. The same has not been true of architects experience of technology.

      But young architects saw all of this activity in the art world, and decided to not to be left out in typical ego-centric, well hung fashion. Cracked copies of MAYA, MAX, Softimage, Lightwave and other DCC packages ensued, and one could not work anywhere without using them. If the works of literature by Kevin Lynch, Ed Bacon, Helmer Stenros, even Ching’s chapter about circulation were even half thought in colleges of architecture – the students could define properly what exactly makes architecture unique from Digital Content Creation. But because none of the professors or employers have ever used Photoshop or VIZ, they are simply not aware of how limited digital medium is for the architects.

      A huge deal of bullshit could be avoided had architectural students been introduced to a proper conceptual foundation to what they are doing. Don’t blame young architects or the U2 competition entries or globalisation for the current state of design I say. Back in the late nineties these same architects who are disgusted by computer imagery now, were making it an entry requirement to work in architecture firms. Now they can just do a ‘U-turn’.

      Young architects in colleges should be should be properly trained to know how if a 3-d visualization looks cool, how there is in fact a world beyond you 3DS VIZ license, and your Pentium 4 workstation. That perhaps the physical act of walking, of navigating through both time and space using the body, the two feet and a sense of direction, may have something to do with architecture! Professors in colleges tell students to ‘explore the project in 3 dimensions’. When they should be telling them, ‘to explore the project in 4 dimensions’.

      But one thing is for absolute certain, if you limit yourself to sitting at workstation all day long, and gradually learn to accept the reality of a VIZualisation, rather than the reality of walking – then you will never understand the lessons of Kahn or Le Corbusier. Basically the 5 points of architecture, which was a simple lesson dealing with the ‘time’ element of promenading through architecture – simply degenerates into a ‘Gangs of New York’ type of battle over the 5 points, to see who has the rights over using 3DS VIZ and that powerful Intel Workstation. Technicians, or the natives as I call them will always win hands down here, and Boss Tweed likes it that way.


      Brian O’ Hanlon.

      Three years of training to be an Architect in Bolton Street College of Architecture in Dublin, and sometimes user of computers/designer of buildings.

      Employment prospects: Bad to nothing. 🙂

    • #734987
      HActor CorcAn

      speaking about Le Corbusier…. one of his famous quotes… “I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and allows less room for lies.”

      What about visualization? a tool also to allow less room for lies? 🙂

      and you can also lie drawing.

      Can you lie inside a 4D enviromental virtual reality version of the building? mmmm

    • #734988

      Ah ok Garethace…….

    • #734989

      This diseased profession just isn’t ready to deal with the big dog of technology yet, you mean. I doesn’t have the people qualified in both fields of information management and architecture – to be able to deal with the tranisition.

      Anyhow, thankyou for responding so honestly and in such a timely fashion. Perhaps in another ten years, alot of this might sound like couple tripe. Still, i know i am right though. I just hate that.

      Hector, do remember this – we see with our brains, not with our eyes – it is all an illusion.

    • #734990

      Who knows if your right, what are you talking about? Your just seem scattered and confused, I hope you realise how difficult any of your points are to follow.
      Its true you have started to repeat yourself. You’ve posted long treatise and failed to develope them in anyway.
      I’m still waiting to see where the overly long shows of technological trivia are leading.
      I have no problem with computer programs, use them everyday so I fail to see why you insist that I simply don’t understand or that in some way I’m a technophobe unless its so you can dismiss arguements you don’t care to take on board.

      Perhaps other people would reply to you if you kept you posts to a few bulliton points rather than these rambling monstrosities. Oh and perhaps refrain from the personal insults, architecture is meant to be a profession and should enjoy the relevant curtesies.

    • #734991

      “why should my brush lie to you, just because my eyes lie to me”

      when it comes to it, a building is a series of 2d drawings, legible and decipherable to constructors, who then construct. youze are all fancy pants.

      brian, where did you go this year? your theatre was cool

    • #734992


    • #734993

      Oh and perhaps refrain from the personal insults, architecture is meant to be a profession and should enjoy the relevant curtesies.

      Yeah, i really feel ‘taken’ under the wing of this ‘profession’ alright. ROFL 🙂 But i am extremely glad for you, that you have found such a comfortable relationship with the profession all round, i always wanted to have the same. 🙁 Tell us, what’s your secret?

      “why should my brush lie to you, just because my eyes lie to me”

      I guess like Jackson Pollock spilling paint all over the canvas, people found it difficult that not using a brush was painting. I guess, this whole thing with VIZ now, is a bit like that discussion. Poor old Jackson, went to bits though in the process of figuring out the answers. You should all see that movie.

      BTW, it is no coincidence either, that his art happened with the backdrop of America in the 40s and 50s. The atom bomb, fast airplanes and cars etc. This discussion, we are talking about, has happened against the backdrop of more new technological ‘disasters’.

      when it comes to it, a building is a series of 2d drawings, legible and decipherable to constructors, who then construct. youze are all fancy pants.

      Two points to you as architects:

      One, “Any idiot can own a business”. Just because you are a great Architect, Scientist, Planner or Programmer does not mean that will translate into knowing how to best run a company/firm/design house. Other skills are needed that are outside the normal skill set. (One of them is about knowing when to admit you don’t have the skills needed and finding some one who does!)

      Two, and this might break your heart. Most of the time what people get in the field from the design house is not what ends up in the real building. Even on huge multimillion £ projects that have to be signed off on and approved have minor to moderate changes on them that the personnel in the field never bother to send back to the design firm to get the changes approved. Some times there are even MAJOR problems with the drawings and the people work with out them while they wait for them to be fixed. And by fixed, drawing what the people in the field say will work.

      I am not sure if you work with mechanical drawings or with design drawings, but in my experience the problem with mechanical drawings is that the people doing them do not have any real experience out in the field with the way, that things really work/fit together/look/or match with other contractors needs/demands. That being the case it is easier to fix it your self out in the field than trying to explain it to some one who lacks the real concrete experience to understand.

      brian, where did you go this year? your theatre was cool

      I had to spend some time, learning to distinguish between what me own eyes were in fact telling me, the 3DS VIZ visualisation i would have done for that theatre would have looked fabulous. But then when you read a chapter like Ching’s chapter about circulation, i wondered, in the euphoria of learning VIZ and working for architects doing visualisations – what dimension has my eyes, been forced to suppress. I would hate to spend the next 20/30 years of effort searching for architectural finesse in 3 dimensionals, when the architecture is really to be found in the dimensions of space and time.

      I feel that education has managed to hide certain aspects of architecture from youngsters, as oposed to revealing them. I needed to understand the lessons of that first project, the spatial exploration project – to respond to it intelligently from a purely architectural standpoint. I feel i have come out the other end of that journey now, and have tried to share some of it with the professionals, undergrads etc.

      Whoever does ‘write the book’ on architecture and information, it will not be me. It still awaits its theorey of relativity. I have simply been far too ‘marginalised’ by my architectural profession now in my own country now, than to worry about what happens in future as regards information and architecture. The profession doesn’t employ people qualified in both information management and architecture.

      But at some stage in the future, someone will write the book i am sure, and it will be something along the lines of the draft i have shown you up above. I consider that post merely as a time capsule, for future generations to discover what ‘the early days’ were like for young twenty-somethings.

      It is quite a scary, but also uplifting moment when you finally nail your colours to a certain post. I feel i have done that now, and it is more than enough for me at least. My Dad is a writer, and he told me the world is full of ‘pregnant writers’. I will not fall into that trap myself.

    • #734994
      HActor CorcAn

      ok. I’ll write it then. Thanks for the info. 😉
      maybe after Revit 19. oops, books aren’t used in that year. cya.

    • #734995

      Just as a side note, a plan is actually a wonderful 4-dimensional document – because what the architect is concerned about doing, is to relate to how a person ‘moves’ through a building/organisation. I.e. The plan, is an abstract representation of what a person in reality is doing – walking, navigating and experiencing in both time and space.

      It was having discovered the limitations of 3DS VIZ visuals, that i suddenly re-discovered the plan as a ‘circulation document’ for the architect. Or course it does mean alot more to other people.

    • #734996

      Dealing with things in a much simpler way here:

    • #734997

      Data mining project, and information from airline tickets

      So much for the privacy we used to enjoy in the 20c!

      Brian O’ Hanlon.

    • #734998

      This thread just came to my attention here. It appears that how an Architect would layout a competition presentation and how best to optimise web site performance are fundamentally different things.

      Brian O’ Hanlon.

      P.S. Has anyone seen that episode of Time Team, where they had a large LCD screen to look at the Archaeology of the aerial photo?

      I love the concept of Portfolio wall myself

      Anyone interested in digital storage and collaboration may find this article of interest

    • #734999

      Ateliers Jean Nouvel is a selection of talents, techniques, nationalities and ideas all working in and around the creative force that is Jean Nouvel.

      His first projects date from the mid 1970s, but he attained architectural celebrity in the late 1980s with the IMA (Arab World Institute) project. Even then one could easily discern the “techno aspect” of Jean Nouvel’s work, the dialogue with the machine, the admiration for reflective sleekness and digitalized transparence. Needless to say, the computer worked its way into the office early on.

      INterview with Andrew Hartness

      His favourite online resource for inspiration

Viewing 31 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Latest News