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 . Image © Tom Noonan

Historically, the ability to draw by hand – both to create precise technical drawings and expressive sketches – has been central to the architecture profession. But, with the release and subsequent popularization of Computer Aided Design (CAD) programs since the early 1980s, the prestige of hand drawing has been under siege. Today, with increasingly sophisticated design and presentation , from Revit to Rhinoceros, gaining in popularity, the importance of hand drawing has become a topic of heated discussion. Even so, when we published the short article “Hand vs. Computer Drawing: A Student’s Opinion” last week, the number of people offering their thoughts in the comments was far beyond what we expected.

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

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.

The courses offered include:

Those who haven’t already signed up for a ThinkParametric account need to act fast, however – the deadline to be able to access the courses for free is this Thursday, the 26th March. Find out more information here.

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

© 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.

Pratt Institute Students Create Sinuous Screen Wall From Concrete Blocks

© 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

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.

The aptitude for quick, cost-effective variation and the capacity for intuitive visual re-presentation of scripting plug-ins like this one ( for Rhino) is a gold star for design.

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

Courtesy of the Parametricisit Manifesto

From the prevalence of unpaid internships to the power of the C-suite, architecture is, according to writer Ann Lui, an “unlevel playing field.” Of the many obstacles facing young designers, one (that you may not have considered) is the prohibitive costs of design software for architects trying to start their own firms.

As Lui points out in her article for Archinect, the times have changed since Maya Lin won the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial competition “with a blurry, hand-rendered sketch of a thick black line in the haze.” Today, “the winning entries of recent widely-published architectural competitions, like eVolo, are thick with unearthly renderings. Recently issued RFPs and many contract docs, even for small projects, include BIM deliverables. LEED certification — or other more holistic methods of “sustainable design” — require energy modeling; and new advances in thermal calculations and daylighting rely on digital building data. Whether or not we continue analog methods for design and how they are integrated in an architectural process is besides the point: to be competitive, cutting-edge digital design programs are integrally necessary. [...]

Yet when it comes to purchasing software, the costs of programs like Autocad and could be resulting in a self-selecting pool of designers who are able to compete, at least initially, at a higher level.”

Do you think Software is a significant barrier to entry in architecture? Should software be more accessible to all? How could we alter the profession to be more inclusive? Let us know in the comments below.

Read Lui’s article in full at Archinect

PointCrowd: RhinoScripting in Python

PointCrowd is a RhinoScripting workshop using the remarkably easy to learn Python programming language that is available in the upcoming release of 5. This three week mini-course will start with the basics of programming and move into the mathematics of space and ’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 is welcome.

Workshop Topics:

Automation: Increase your efficiency by programming Rhino to complete tedious and modeling tasks.
Optimization: Create a better design product by testing and improving your models against physical conditions like light and circulation.
Generative Design: Work through complex geometric ideas using simple Python scripts.

The class will also touch on topics such as scripting in Grasshopper and interfacing with other programs. Sessions will be held in DUMBO, Brooklyn on Monday and Thursday evenings from 6:30-10pm to fit into the schedule of working professionals. Register by May 7th to save $100. Please visit www.pointcrowd.com for details.