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Why Are Alexander Calder Sculptures So Overused in Architecture Renders?

09:30 - 28 June, 2017
OMA, Park Grove Condos, Miami, featuring Calder’s Flamingo, 1973. The work is actually installed in Federal Plaza in Chicago. Image Courtesy of OMA
OMA, Park Grove Condos, Miami, featuring Calder’s Flamingo, 1973. The work is actually installed in Federal Plaza in Chicago. Image Courtesy of OMA

This article was originally published by The Architect's Newspaper as "Rendering LOL: How architects are absurdly using Calder sculptures."

Why do so many architects use Alexander Calder sculptures in their renderings, even when the works have nothing to do with the institution or project depicted? The Calder Foundation has been tracking this phenomenon, and the results are featured in the images for this article.

A new exhibition at the Whitney Museum in New York explores mobiles—kinetic sculptures in which carefully balanced components reveal their own unique systems of movement—created by American sculptor Alexander Calder from 1930 until 1968, eight years before his death.

Ateliers Jean Nouvel, 53 W. 53rd Street, New York, featuring Calder’s Sumac, 1961. It is part of a Private Collection. Image Courtesy of Ateliers Jean Nouvel Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Middle East Media Headquarters, featuring Calder’s La Grande vitesse, 1969. The monumental sculpture this model is based on is actually installed in Calder Plaza in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Image Courtesy of BIG Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), Godrej BKC, Mumbai, featuring Calder’s La Grande vitesse, 1969 (The monumental sculpture this model is based on is actually installed in Calder Plaza in Grand Rapids, Michigan). Image Courtesy of SOM Flamingo, 1973, installed at the Federal Center Plaza, Chicago. Image © Samuel Ludwig +15

Turncoats NYC Debate: "Buildings Don't Matter"

10:34 - 12 June, 2017
Turncoats NYC Debate: "Buildings Don't Matter"

The irreverent architecture debate Turncoats launches in New York City.

Trends in Architectural Representation: Understanding The Techniques

08:00 - 9 May, 2017
Trends in Architectural Representation: Understanding The Techniques, © OMA. ImageIl Fondaco dei Tedeschi / OMA
© OMA. ImageIl Fondaco dei Tedeschi / OMA

The representation of architecture is important in the absence of tangible space. Throughout a lifetime, even the most devoted, well-travelled design enthusiast will experience only a small percentage of architectural works with their own eyes. Consider that we exist in only one era of architectural history, and the percentage reduces even further. Many architectural works go unbuilt, and the buildings we experience in person amount to a grain of sand in a vast desert.

Then we consider the architecture of the future. For buildings not yet built, representation is not a luxury, but a necessity to test, communicate and sell an idea. Fortunately, today’s designers have unprecedented means to depict ideas, with an explosion in technology giving us computer-aided drafting, photo-realistic rendering, and virtual reality. Despite these vast strides, however, the tools of representation are a blend of old and new – from techniques which have existed for centuries, to the technology of our century alone. Below, we give five answers to the question of how architecture should be depicted before it is built.

Drones and Rendering: How Aerial Photogrammetry Adds Existing Topography into Visualizations

09:30 - 31 December, 2015

Corcovado and Christ the Redeemer by Pix4D on Sketchfab

As I have touched on in the past many times, context is what transforms an artistic rendering into a photorealistic visual that accurately portrays a building. Seemingly minute details such as the warmth of interior lighting in night renders can actually make a dramatic impact on how the image is received by a potential client or investor. With this in mind, and in a continual attempt to improve the accuracy of renderings while increasing the value they provide to architects, some rendering artists are now taking advantage of readily available Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) platforms – more commonly referred to as drones – to gain a unique vantage point of land slated for development.

In the past capturing aerial photographs of an area could only be achieved from planes or helicopters, both of which come at a hefty price tag, even to rent. Drones equipped with the same capabilities can now be purchased for a fraction of the cost, making aerial photography more attainable. Aside from capturing standard video or images, drones have given rendering artists access to software that allows them to accurately map the topography of an area slated for development, adding a new level of context and accuracy to the rendering.

AD Essentials: Rendering

09:30 - 20 September, 2015

This article is part of ArchDaily Essentials, a series of articles which give you an overview of architecture's most important topics by connecting together some of our best articles from the past. To find out more about ArchDaily Essentials, click here; or discover all of our articles in the series here.

Surreal Renderings of Disaster-Resistant Structures

00:00 - 8 April, 2014
Surreal Renderings of Disaster-Resistant Structures, Rendering by Dionisio González, for his series "Dauphin Island". Image Courtesy of The Huffington Post
Rendering by Dionisio González, for his series "Dauphin Island". Image Courtesy of The Huffington Post

The following article by Priscilla Frank originally appeared in The Huffington Post as "Artist Designs Surreal Futuristic Forts That Can Withstand Natural Disaster."

Dauphin Island, located off the coast of Alabama in the Gulf of Mexico, is known for experiencing perpetual and catastrophic hurricanes. When a storm hits the small island of around 1,200 people, it often washes away much of the coastline with it, leaving residents to rebuild their homes again and again following every big storm.

Artist Dionisio González became fascinated by this society's ability to endure creation and destruction in such rapid succession, willingly succumbing to the whims of nature's cycles time and time again. The artist, who has always held an interest in architecture, embarked on a mission to design surreal structures that would better suit the fraught island's populous, fusing fantasy with the inhabitants' inevitable reality.

More on González's surreal architectural images, after the break...

The Fear Sustaining Sustainable Urbanism

09:30 - 24 February, 2014
The Fear Sustaining Sustainable Urbanism, ‘Habitat of Homo Economicus’, a piece for ‘The Competitive Hypothesis’, Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York, 2013. Image Courtesy of Ross Exo Adams and Ivonne Santoyo-Orozco
‘Habitat of Homo Economicus’, a piece for ‘The Competitive Hypothesis’, Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York, 2013. Image Courtesy of Ross Exo Adams and Ivonne Santoyo-Orozco

In this article, originally published on the Australian Design Review as "Longing For a Greener Present", Ross Exo-Adams examines the fear that lies behind the trend toward sustainable urbanism, and finds that the crisis we find ourselves in might not only be confined to an ecological one.

Over the past decade, architects have found themselves increasingly commissioned to design districts, neighbourhoods, economic free zones and even entire new cities: a phenomenon that has been accompanied by a commitment to ‘sustainability’, which now seem inseparable from urban design itself. While ‘sustainability’ remains a vague concept at best, it nonetheless presents itself with a sense of urgency similar to that which galvanised many of the great movements of modern architecture vis-a-vis the city. Underlying such urgency is a rhetorical reference to a collective fear of some palpable sort, whether it be fear of revolution (Le Corbusier), fear of cultural tabula rasa (Jane Jacobs, Team X) or our new fear: ecological collapse. It is obvious that the myriad ‘eco’ projects that have popped up all around the world would not be viable if not for the fact that they appear against a background of imminent catastrophe – a condition of terrifying proportions. Yet the essence of this fear is far from clear. Indeed, in light of ecological catastrophe and amidst any fetish for windmills or vegetation, architects have cultivated what seems to be a curious nostalgia for the present – a pragmatism whose lack of patience for the past seeks a kind of reconstitution of the present in imagining any future. So if not for climate mayhem, what is the true nature of fear that lies at the core of today’s urban project, ‘ecological urbanism’?

Find out after the break

CLOG Presents 'New Views: The Rendered Image in Architecture'

00:00 - 28 June, 2013
CLOG Presents 'New Views: The Rendered Image in Architecture', New Views: The Rendered Image in Architecture © Eric de Broche des Combes from Luxigon
New Views: The Rendered Image in Architecture © Eric de Broche des Combes from Luxigon

As a continuation to their in-depth review on the render, CLOG has selected 60 images from an international group of architects and design studios - including Zaha Hadid Architects, BIG, Mansilla+Tuñón Architects, and visualhouse - to serve as case studies in the exhibition New Views: The Rendered Image in Architecture. Now on view at the Art Institute of Chicago through January 5th, 2014, New Views will explore the diversity of rendering types being produced today and their effect on contemporary architecture. More information can be found here

Are Renderings Bad for Architecture?

00:00 - 6 June, 2013
Are Renderings Bad for Architecture? , Hotel + Congress Center Proposal. Image courtesy of OOIIO Architecture.
Hotel + Congress Center Proposal. Image courtesy of OOIIO Architecture.

At the opening of his latest article for The Guardian, Olly Wainwright finds himself observing a slew of thesis projects produced by the best and brightest students of the UK. But Wainwright is most struck - not by the display of technical skill or imagination - but by the sheer lack of connection these projects had with actual, built, imperfect architecture: “Time and again, the projects seemed intent on fleeing the real world of people and places, scale and context; retreating instead into fantasy realms of convoluted forms with no seeming purpose.”

It’s a trap that many Architecture schools have fallen into, in the UK and around the world, but it’s not just a symptom of the misguided nature of architecture education. It’s also symptomatic of Architecture’s obsession with the image of architecture, an image completely detached from reality. 

More after the break...