5 Ways Computational Design Will Change the Way You Work

09:30 - 15 April, 2016
5 Ways Computational Design Will Change the Way You Work, Adapted from an image © hanss via Shutterstock
Adapted from an image © hanss via Shutterstock

This article was originally published on ArchSmarter.

These days, nearly every architect uses a computer. Whether it’s for 3D modeling, documentation or even creating a program spreadsheet, computers are well entrenched within the profession. Architects now need to know almost as much about software as they do about structures, building codes, and design.

As our tools become more powerful and sophisticated, we need to evolve and develop our working methods in order to stay competitive. I’ve written previously about how architects should learn to code. A lot of the problems we need to solve don’t fall within the capabilities of off-the-shelf software. We need to tweak and customize our tools to work the way we work. Creating our own tools and software is one way to do this.

That said, the reality is that not everyone has the time or the inclination to learn how to code. It’s time-consuming and you’ve got projects to run, show drawings to review, and buildings to design. Fortunately there are new tools available that deliver the power of programming without the need for all that typing.

Enter computational design and visual programming.

The Architecture Software Revolution: From One Size Fits All to DIY

09:30 - 11 December, 2015
The Architecture Software Revolution: From One Size Fits All to DIY, Cedars-Sinai 360 Simulation Lab / Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design. Image © Benny Chan
Cedars-Sinai 360 Simulation Lab / Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design. Image © Benny Chan

We’ve always been a profession of hackers. Every building is a one-off made up of countless elegant hacks, each bringing disparate materials and systems together into a cohesive whole. But when it comes to the software that designers have come to rely on, most of us have been content with enthusiastic consumerism, eagerly awaiting the next releases from software developers like Autodesk, McNeel (Rhino) and Bentley (MicroStation).

It’s been 5 years since we officially launched our research program at the Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design, and during that period we’ve come to understand the evolution of our process reflects the larger, changing relationship architects have with their means of production. Specifically, we've noticed that in late 2007 something changed. McNeel introduced a visual programming plugin called Grasshopper, and more and more architects began to hack their tools as well as their buildings.

Courtesy of Yazdani Studio of CannonDesign Courtesy of Yazdani Studio of CannonDesign Courtesy of Yazdani Studio of CannonDesign Courtesy of Yazdani Studio of CannonDesign +7

Call for Entries: Flux Emerging Architects Competition

14:30 - 9 December, 2015
Call for Entries: Flux Emerging Architects Competition

Today over 3 billion people live in urban areas, composing 50% of the world population. By 2050, it is estimated that the world population will grow to between 9 and 11 billion people, and over 70% will be living in urban areas. This means within 35 years, we will need to house an additional 3 billion people within cities by the most conservative estimates. Even if we could build large apartment complexes that house 500 people each, we would need to construct 500 buildings each day every day for the next 35 years to meet that demand.

The Best Software Tutorials on the Web (According to ArchDaily Readers)

10:30 - 22 June, 2015
The Best Software Tutorials on the Web (According to ArchDaily Readers), via Shutterstock. © Max Griboedov
via Shutterstock. © Max Griboedov

In a world where architects can use computers to produce representations of designs with new levels of accuracy and artistry, software fluency is becoming increasingly necessary. With that in mind, last month we asked our readers to help us develop a comprehensive list of tutorials. After studying the comments and scouring the internet for more sources, we have developed this improved list, which we hope will help you to discover new work techniques and better ways to apply different programs.

Of course, it's unlikely that any list of internet resources will ever be complete, so we're hoping to continually update this list with the web's best learning resources. If there are any tutorials sites we've missed which you found helpful, let us know in the comments!

Architecture Software Tutorials: Which Are The Best Out There?

10:30 - 18 May, 2015
Architecture Software Tutorials: Which Are The Best Out There?, © Faberr Ink via Shutterstock
© Faberr Ink via Shutterstock

In contemporary architecture practice, proficiency in an ever-widening array of architecture software is becoming increasingly important. For almost every job in the field, it is no longer enough to bring a skilled mind and a pencil; different jobs may require different levels of expertise and different types of software, but one thing that seems universally accepted is that some level of involvement with software is now a requirement.

While software has opened a huge range of capabilities for architects, it also presents a challenge: universities have taken wildly different approaches to the teaching of software, with some offering classes and access to experts while others prefer to teach design theory and expect students to pick up software skills in their own time. New architecture graduates therefore already face a divide in skills - and that's not to mention the many, many architects who went to school before AutoCAD was even an industry standard, and have spent the past decades keeping up with new tools.

The internet has therefore been a huge democratizing effect in this regard, offering tutorials, often for free, to anyone with a connection - as long as you know where to look. That's why ArchDaily wants your help to create a directory of the internet's best architecture tutorial websites. Find out how to help (and see our own short list to get you started) after the break.

The Computer vs The Hand In Architectural Drawing: ArchDaily Readers Respond

10:30 - 5 May, 2015
The Computer vs The Hand In Architectural Drawing: ArchDaily Readers Respond, Designs for Truro Cathedral, 1878 Artist: William Burges. Image Courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Designs for Truro Cathedral, 1878 Artist: William Burges. Image Courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London

In the architecture world, there are a handful of persistent debates that arise time and time again: the challenges of being a woman in the field of architecture is one of them, for example; the problems of a culture of long hours and hard work is another. But one of the most enduring arguments in architecture - especially in the academic sphere - is the battle between hand drawing and computer aided design. Both schools have their famous proponents: Michael Graves, for example, was known as a huge talent with a pencil and paper, and came to the defense of drawing in articles for the New York Times, among others. Patrik Schumacher, on the other hand, is famous for his commitment to the capabilities of the computer.

To advance this heated conversation, two weeks ago we reached out to our readers to provide their thoughts on this topic in an attempt to get a broad cross-section of opinions from architects from all walks of life. Read some of the best responses after the break.

What Is The Role Of Hand Drawing In Today's Architecture?

09:00 - 20 April, 2015
What Is The Role Of Hand Drawing In Today's Architecture?, Competitions such as the RIBA Journal's "Eye Line" contest celebrate the importance of drawing. Image © Tom Noonan
Competitions such as the RIBA Journal's "Eye Line" contest celebrate the importance of drawing. Image © Tom Noonan

Update: We have now published our follow-up article of readers' responses - see it here.

ThinkParametric Offers Free Online Classes

10:00 - 23 March, 2015
ThinkParametric Offers Free Online Classes, Among the courses offered by ThinkParametric is one in which users learn to create "challenging designs" such as MAD Architects' Absolute Towers. Image © Iwan Baan
Among the courses offered by ThinkParametric is one in which users learn to create "challenging designs" such as MAD Architects' Absolute Towers. Image © Iwan Baan

Launched in May of 2014, ThinkParametric is an online platform for learning the tools of the digital architecture trade. Gaining access to their video tutorials and the benefit of their online community would usually set you back $29 per month, or $269 for an entire year. However, to celebrate a successful first year, on March 12th they announced an "Open Class Season," a full month for people to enjoy their courses for free.

AA DLAB 2014: The Natural and Digital Worlds Combine With Root-Like "CALLIPOD" Pavilion

00:00 - 29 December, 2014
AA DLAB 2014: The Natural and Digital Worlds Combine With Root-Like "CALLIPOD" Pavilion, © Alexandros Kallegias
© Alexandros Kallegias

Created for AA DLAB 2014 - the annual summer workshop undertaken by the Architectural Association at their Hooke Park facility - the 4.4 metre wide "CALLIPOD" pavilion blends perfectly into the wooded surroundings, appearing as though the roots of nearby trees have sprung from the ground to create a dome in the depths of the Dorset woodland. However, despite its natural outward appearance, the process of creating CALLIPOD was highly technical, combining a detailed algorithmic exploration of form and structure with both digital and traditional methods of fabrication.

© Elif Erdine © Max Winter © Elif Erdine © Elif Erdine +16

Pratt Institute Students Create Sinuous Screen Wall From Concrete Blocks

00:00 - 22 October, 2014
Pratt Institute Students Create Sinuous Screen Wall From Concrete Blocks, © Lawrence Blough via the Architect's Newsaper
© Lawrence Blough via the Architect's Newsaper

Students from the Pratt Institute have created a wall of concrete blockwork... but not like any you've seen before. Challenged by their tutors Lawrence Blough and Ezra Ardolino to produce something highly customized from something highly standardized - the 8-by-8-by-24-inch AAC brick - the students used Rhino software and a CNC miller to create a 96-block screen wall composed of 20 different block profiles. “The earlier stuff I’d done was trying to use as much off-the-shelf material as I could,” said Blough. “Here we decided to really push it, and to take on more of the ideas of mass customization." Find out more about the project at the Architect's Newspaper Fabrikator Blog.

VIDEO: Angles on the View with Parametric Design

00:00 - 31 January, 2014

This two-minute video with NBBJ’s Andrew Heumann highlights a valuable capability of parametric design; whereby the architect can optimize the shape and orientation of a building to appropriate a variety of viewing conditions at the client’s request.

Is the Price of Software A Barrier of Entry to Architecture?

00:00 - 22 April, 2013
Is the Price of Software A Barrier of Entry to Architecture? , Courtesy of the Parametricisit Manifesto
Courtesy of the Parametricisit Manifesto

According to writer Ana Lui, architecture is an "unlevel playing field." From unpaid internships to the C-suite, the profession has made itself awfully difficult to break into - unless you come from privilege, of course. However, there is one factor contributing to the profession's inaccessibility that you may not have considered: the prohibitive costs of design software for young, budding architects. 

PointCrowd: RhinoScripting in Python

11:01 - 4 May, 2012

PointCrowd is a RhinoScripting workshop using the remarkably easy to learn Python programming language that is available in the upcoming release of Rhino 5. This three week mini-course will start with the basics of programming and move into the mathematics of space and Rhino’s representation of geometry. The workshop is designed specifically for architects and designers with little or no programming experience or those interested in learning a new platform for expressing geometrical ideas algorithmically. Anyone with a good working knowledge of Rhino is welcome.