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New Digital-Physical Building Block System Aims to Make 3D Modeling Accessible to Children

09:30 - 25 June, 2017

Modeling on the computer and physically building scale models are essential modes of iteration for the modern architecture studio. But what if this creative process of digital and physical ideation could be made accessible to everyone: children, hobbyists, and architects alike?

That is the question I set out to answer by designing an entirely new snapping block system, from the ground up, for the aesthetic and experiential expectations of the 21st century. It’s called Kible, and after putting architecture aside and developing it since November 2015, I’ve recently launched the product on Kickstarter.

Spotlight: Paolo Soleri

08:00 - 21 June, 2017
Spotlight: Paolo Soleri, Arcosanti. Image © Tomiaki Tamura
Arcosanti. Image © Tomiaki Tamura

Italian-American architect Paolo Soleri (21 June 1919 – 9 April 2013) made his name as a countercultural icon and urban visionary, best known for his theory of "arcology"—a combination of architecture and ecology—and for Arcosanti, the prototype town in the Arizona desert which embodied his ideals and became his life's work, which he founded in 1970 and continued to work on right up until his death in 2013.

<a href='https://arcosanti.org/'>via arcosanti.org</a>. ImageSectional view of Soleri's 2001 design for a completed version of Arcosanti, entitled "Arcosanti 5000" <a href='https://arcosanti.org/'>via arcosanti.org</a>. ImageArcosanti <a href='https://arcosanti.org/'>via arcosanti.org</a>. ImageArcosanti Panoramic view of Arcosanti. Image © Ken Howie +8

Spotlight: Pier Luigi Nervi

04:00 - 21 June, 2017
Spotlight: Pier Luigi Nervi, Palazzetto dello sport. Image © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/ihavegotthestyle/221174130'>Flickr user ihavegotthestyle</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/'>CC BY 2.0</a>
Palazzetto dello sport. Image © Flickr user ihavegotthestyle licensed under CC BY 2.0

Known as both an architect and an engineer, Pier Luigi Nervi (June 21, 1891 – January 9, 1979) explored the limitations of reinforced concrete by creating a variety of inventive structural projects; in the process, he helped to show the material had a place in architecture movements of the coming years. Nervi began his career in a time of technological revolution, and through his ambition and ability to recognize opportunity in the midst of challenge, he was able to have an impact on several disciplines and cultures.

Explore Frank Lloyd Wright's Curvaceous Unbuilt House Design for Marilyn Monroe

09:30 - 16 June, 2017

Some unbuilt designs—the hopes they reveal and the reasons they stayed unbuilt—tell a powerful story. So it is with the home Frank Lloyd Wright designed for Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller. Or perhaps it’s what we think we know about Marilyn that makes it so poignant?

The union between a quiet-living intellectual and the world’s greatest sex symbol was baffling to the public, and the conflict between their aspirations and personalities seems to have played out in their plans for this Connecticut home. After moving into Miller’s country retreat, Monroe asked Wright to design a new house for them on this vast piece of land.

Tour Frank Lloyd Wright's Final (Unbuilt) House Design With this 3D Model

06:00 - 8 June, 2017

The last house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright was never built, with its plans being delivered to the client just days after Wright’s funeral. But the realization of his vision is tantalizingly possible, as those plans, and the parcel of land it was designed for, are still held by the same family—and are for sale, along with the adjoining plot and an existing Wright house.

How To Improve Your SketchUp Skills

08:00 - 24 May, 2017
How To Improve Your SketchUp Skills, 3D Model: Fabian Dejtiar via SketchUp.
3D Model: Fabian Dejtiar via SketchUp.

For decades, SketchUp has been one of the most well-known 3D modeling programs in the design world, owed to its intuitive working tools and labyrinth of user-generated accessories, from open source libraries to plugins. Quite often, SketchUp is the software of choice for engaging children with architecture, due to its availability, flexibility, and ease of use.

Later in your design career, you could be forgiven for dismissing SketchUp as a 'rookie tool', a beginner's level below the advanced stages of Revit, Rhino, and AutoCAD. However, as SketchUp has evolved throughout the years, it now contains a formidable array of functions, capable of producing complex, exportable results in an organized, efficient manner for students and senior partners alike.

From geo-location to sun-paths, here are 10 very useful tips to make you the model SketchUp user of the office.

A Virtual Look Into Richard Neutra's Case Study House #20, the Bailey House

09:30 - 10 May, 2017

The Bailey house—one of Richard Neutra’s four Case Study designs for Arts & Architecture—forms one of five Bluff houses, standing high above the ocean. The brief was to create a low-budget home for a young family, with just two bedrooms, but offering the possibility of expansion as time went by (which did in fact transpire; additional Neutra-designed wings were later built).

Neutra employed the same indoor-outdoor philosophy that can be seen at work in his unbuilt Alpha and Omega houses, using large sliding glass doors to create light and a visual sense of space, as well as ensuring that the house physically opened up to, as he put it, “borrow space from the outdoors.” With this sunny Californian ocean-view setting, it made perfect sense to use the back garden and terrace as living and dining room.

An Off-fur You Can't Refuse: Free Cut-Out Dogs and Cats

10:30 - 9 May, 2017
An Off-fur You Can't Refuse: Free Cut-Out Dogs and Cats, via Viz-people
via Viz-people

It's a well-known fact that everything is better with puppies. Your renders are no different. Fortunately, the website Viz-people is here to help, offering a free set of 6 cut-out cat and dog .PNGs. Pets aren't the only cut-outs on offer (just the cutest—sorry, cut-out kids); in addition, Viz-people has a whole raft of free stuff for 3D modeling and rendering, including 2D cutouts of people, textures, and skies, and 3D models of cars, trees, chairs and more.

8 Models of Memorial Architecture from Different Cultures

09:30 - 5 May, 2017
8 Models of Memorial Architecture from Different Cultures

In most architecture projects, the input of the end user of the space is an important consideration; but what if those users are no longer living? Memorial architecture for the dead is a uniquely emotional type of design and often reveals much about a certain culture or group of people. Especially in the case of ancient tombs, archaeologists can learn about past societies’ customs and beliefs by examining their burial spaces. The personal nature of funerary spaces and monuments conveys a sense of importance and gravity to viewers and visitors, even centuries after the memorials were created.

The list of 3D models that follow, supplied by our friends at Sketchfab, explores memorial spaces and artifacts that span both space and time, representing a variety of cultures and civilizations.

Be a Voyeur in Christian Grey’s Revamped “50 Shades” Penthouse With This 3D Model

09:30 - 4 May, 2017

The interplay of tantalizing eroticism continues within Christian Grey’s luxury tower in the recently-released film sequel, Fifty Shades Darker. In the first film, Grey’s plush apartment played an integral role in undressing the personas of Anastasia Steele, who liberates herself from her chaste existence, and Christian, who exposes the seething and fiery carnal desires and fetishism behind his glorified masculine beauty, charm, and appearance.

Grey's penthouse, which resonates with his unyielding and intimidating Heathcliff undertones in the first part of the trilogy, turns over a new leaf in the sequel. There is ambient warmth in the penthouse; nevertheless, the high level of sophistication prevails in his penchant for singular tastes and fastidiously-selected objects and it remains unapologetically lush.

Upcoming App Promises to Create Basic 3D Models of Existing Spaces in 1 Minute

06:00 - 30 April, 2017
Upcoming App Promises to Create Basic 3D Models of Existing Spaces in 1 Minute, via screenshot from model on Sketchfab
via screenshot from model on Sketchfab

An upcoming app, named Walkabout Worlds, is hoping to drastically simplify the process of creating a 3D model of existing spaces. Designed as both a tool for turning 360 photographs into 3D models and for creating photographic 3D walkthroughs for VR viewing, the app has turned heads for its demonstration that a 360 photograph can be converted into a rough, simple 3D model in as little as a minute by selecting key points in the image such as the corners of the room, as shown in the video below.

10 Awesome Sketchup Plugins That Will Up Your Modeling Game (Explained With GIFs)

08:00 - 25 November, 2016
10 Awesome Sketchup Plugins That Will Up Your Modeling Game (Explained With GIFs), © Wikipedia user: Takuro1202, bajo licencia CC BY-SA 3.0
© Wikipedia user: Takuro1202, bajo licencia CC BY-SA 3.0

After the success of its 6th edition in 2007, Sketchup became one of the world's most widely used 3D modeling software products. This is thanks to its intuitive toolbar, interdisciplinary use within the creative industry (not just architects) and having a free version that doesn't use watermarks.

Its open source library helped the software to provide a wide range of 3D objects, while hundreds of users developed their own plugins not only to solve the problems of each version but also to exploit the potential of their tools. 

We’re going to introduce you to 10 of the plugins shared by Sketchup Tutorials Facebook page using their demonstrative GIFs. If you don’t know how to add a SketchUp plugin, don’t worry! You can learn in this video also posted by them.

A Virtual Look Into Mies van der Rohe's Core House

09:30 - 17 November, 2016

Architecture depends on its time. It is the crystallization of its inner structure, the slow unfolding of its form. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

In 1951, Mies van der Rohe designed the Core House, a participative design structure which could be completed by its inhabitants.

This flexible model challenged certain architectural concepts, explored new industrial technologies, and proposed a modular system to improve the quality and affordability of housing.

How New Video-Game-Inspired Tools Are Redefining Post Occupancy Evaluation

09:30 - 1 November, 2016
How New Video-Game-Inspired Tools Are Redefining Post Occupancy Evaluation, A real-time synthetic environments screen grab of the reception area at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in St Helens, UK. Image Courtesy of Arup
A real-time synthetic environments screen grab of the reception area at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in St Helens, UK. Image Courtesy of Arup

This article was originally published on Autodesk's Redshift publication as "A Video Game Is Overtaking Post-Occupancy Evaluation in Architecture."

Evaluating the user performance of a particular building design is obviously a good way for clients and architects to gauge whether their design was successful—or could have been better.

There’s even an entire academic discipline called post-occupancy evaluation (POE) devoted to this concept, and Arup is tapping into it with a network of 22 industry partners using the Building Use Studies (BUS) methodology. Too few designers tap into POE, but with gamified simulations done before projects are built, that could change.

Step into this Digitally Reconstructed House from Ancient Pompeii

14:20 - 12 October, 2016

Researchers from Lund University in Sweden have digitally reconstructed a house in Pompeii to envision what life in the city would have looked like before the destructive eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The large house, thought to have belonged to a wealthy banker named Caecilius Iucundus, is among the first 3D models created by the research team to document and preserve the city. The team has now released video material of their work, showing their creation of a 3D model of an entire block of houses.

11 Historical Examples of How to Design Doorways, as Selected by Sketchfab

10:00 - 31 August, 2016
11 Historical Examples of How to Design Doorways, as Selected by Sketchfab

Our friends at Sketchfab have noticed a recurring trend: among the many 3D scans shared on their platform, a significant number are of historical doorways. Often neglected in today’s designs, doors and doorways are essential physical and mental transition points between the interior and the exterior of a building. While Mies van der Rohe’s strive for visual continuity and the use of glass doors has some critical advantages, it is not applicable – or only poorly applicable – to every design case. Fortunately, history shows that visually and spatially differentiating doors and doorways from the rest of a facade can be a resourceful alternative.

With this set of 3D models selected by Sketchfab, viewers can explore historical doorways online and discover the spatial sequences that they can offer. From framed, indented, raised, lowered, protruding and ornamented doors, these models clearly showcase the various design strategies available for you to keep your doorway design options open.

Forensic Architecture Digitally Reconstruct Secret Syrian Torture Prison from the Memories of Survivors

20:02 - 17 August, 2016

Forensic Architecture, a research agency based at the University of London, in collaboration with Amnesty International, has created a 3D model of Saydnaya, a Syrian torture prison, using architectural and acoustic modeling. The project, which was commissioned in 2016, reconstructs the architecture of the secret detention center from the memory of several survivors, who are now refugees in Turkey.

Since the beginnings of the Syrian crisis in 2011, tens of thousands of Syrians have been taken into a secret network of prisons and detention centers run by the Assad government for a variety of alleged crimes opposing the regime. After passing through a series of interrogations and centers, many prisoners are taken to Saydnaya, a notoriously brutal “final destination,” where torture is used not to obtain information, but rather only to terrorize and often kill detainees.

Located about 25 kilometers north of Damascus, Saydnaya stands in a German-designed building dating from the 1970s. In recent years, no meaningful visits from independent journalists or monitoring groups have been permitted, so no recent photographs or other accounts exist of its interior space, except for the memories of Saydnaya survivors.

Sketchfab Strengthens Commitment to Virtual Reality With New Features

17:02 - 4 August, 2016
Sketchfab Strengthens Commitment to Virtual Reality With New Features, Image adapted from screenshot of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane model by Matthew Brennan
Image adapted from screenshot of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane model by Matthew Brennan

Online model sharing site Sketchfab last week announced three new features intended to solidify its position as one of the web's foremost platforms for sharing VR-viewable 3D models online. Originally launched in January of this year, the virtual reality features of Sketchfab's platform have proven to be popular and has even led to Sketchfab being referred to as "the Youtube of VR."

However, with its initial launch Sketchfab's VR capabilities clearly privileged simplicity and a low barrier for entry—the platform was viewable using just a smartphone web browser and basic VR headset such as Google Cardboard, and models required no extra work to make them VR compatible. As a result, Sketchfab's VR platform lacked the features of more high-end systems of viewing VR. With their latest update, Sketchfab has added useful features while keeping barriers to entry low.