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:
- Basic courses in Rhino, Grasshopper and Revit (the leading software for 3-D modeling, parametric modeling and Building Information Modeling respectively)
- Project-based learning in which you learn how to create projects such as MAD Architects’ Absolute Towers
- And “building blocks,” smaller everyday operations that you will be able to apply to your own projects.
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.
Astropad, an app for iOS and Mac, transforms your existing iPad into a professional graphics tablet without the need for additional hardware. Having been developed by Matt Ronge and Giovanni Donelli – both former Apple engineers – the app allows for the iPad to act as a extended trackpad as well as work with most third-party styluses.
Arrette Scale have released an update ($8.99) for their iOS app which addresses the level of precision and dexterity in the use of the Edge Tools, which have new controls and behavior. The app itself has proved popular among architects, aiming to provide designers with a simple, familiar drawing environment usable by anyone comfortable with traditional drawing tools. Allowing users to digitally review work by sharing ideas and drawings, Arrette’s platform welcomes incremental design changes and collaboration on iPad without the need for printing reams of paper.
Find out what’s new after the break.
Using over 180 reviews from industry professionals, the Grid℠ plots software satisfaction levels against market presence (determined by vendor size, market share, and social impact), categorizing products as a “Leader,” “High Performer,” “Contender,” or “Niche.” G2 Crowd’s review platform encompasses all CAD software widely used within architecture and construction, ranging from BIM to tools and libraries for mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and architectural design and construction.
Google Earth Pro has dropped its $399 yearly subscription and is now freely available to all. Beyond providing imagery, detailed maps, terrain and 3D building models of the world, Google Earth’s pro-version is particularly convenient for project planning and research; unlike its standard tools, Pro allows users to print images at 4800×3200, import and pin thousands of addresses onto the map at once, capture HD videos of what’s on screen, and easily measure distances and areas with polygons, circles and more, rather than with just lines and paths. Download it for free and fill out a quick form to unlock its Pro features.
Pixelmator, an app which has been familiar to Mac users since 2011, have released a version of their powerful photo editing software for iPad. Although the App Store is awash with photo editing and manipulation packages, Pixelmator’s clean interface and collection of the most used features iPad users require, makes it a good substitute for desktop based software packages when on the move. Alongside allowing image enhancement, a “painting engine, precise colour correction, and live histograms” (allowing you to gauge real-time colour values as you edit), the app also takes step into providing “layers, non-destructive layer styles and a collection of professional-grade selection tools.”
This week Autodesk launched the latest (2015) release of AutoCAD for Mac, featuring a number of enhancements that seek to bring new improvements to the drafting and design software package without sacrificing important functionality, key to people’s everyday design workflows. According to Amy Bunszel, VP of AutoCAD, ”this release has some rich new features but, at its core, is about eliminating dead ends that prevent people from being as effective as they can be when working together on design projects.” For example, users can also share their work with colleagues that are using Windows versions of the software for uninterrupted collaboration.
See the new features in full after the break…
Building upon our Top 10 Apps for Architects, this collection brings together some of the best quality and most valued technical apps for designing, sketching, calculating and collaborating. Although the majority of those featured here are designed solely for the iOS platform, every time we collate lists such as these it’s clear that more and more high quality apps for the Android and Windows platforms are being developed. From condensed versions of large scale software packages that architects and designers use every day, to blank canvases to scratch ideas down onto, you might just find an app that could improve the way you work.
Part of an increasing trend of apps which allow precision scale drawing, Arrette Scale seeks to provide designers with a simple, familiar drawing environment usable by anyone comfortable with traditional drawing tools. Allowing users to digitally review work by sharing ideas and drawings, Arrette’s platform welcomes incremental design changes and collaboration on iPad without the need for printing reams of paper.
PlanGrid, touted as “the fastest blueprint viewer” available, is one of the most mature apps for viewing, amending and discussing construction drawings on a collaborative cloud-based platform. This week they launched PlanGrid for Education, allowing students full and uninhibited access to every feature of the app free of charge. According to the company, they currently have “40,000 blueprints being uploaded to PlanGrid daily and over 9 million blueprints stored digitally”, making the platform one of the fastest growing in its market.
The Morpholio Project’s latest iPhone application, Morpholio Frame, “is like having a DJ booth for your photos.” The application allows users to merge, crop, and filter photographs before posting them to social media outlets like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Sounds typical, right? Not so fast.
The application gives users more control than most thanks to an interactive matrix approach. Users can select up to three filters and three related masks, creating an image with one of 64 million unique filter combinations. One of the most interesting filters for architecture fans is “sketch” – as seen in the image after the break.
Smart phones are designed to collect a variety of personal data, from location and orientation to sight and sound. But what if these devices were capable of tracking our visceral response to the built environment?
The architects and academics behind The Morpholio Project have been researching ways in which biometrics, such as EEG, EMG, face tracking and pulse measurement, could be used to quantify the physical impact of an image on the human body. By turning to the medical industry, Morpholio has studied the capabilities of photoplethysmography (PPG) and envisioned ways in which it could be integrated with the smart phone.
With a simple 3D printed fitting, the iphone can be transformed into a miniaturized blood pressure machine that records the heart rate fluctuations of a user while they photograph their surroundings. By tracking an individual’s unique emotional response to what they are seeing and experiencing, Morpholio believes they can unlock new potentials in which technology can evolve of the design process.
More information from the creators after the break…
Framebench, an online tool for visual collaboration, seeks to alleviate the digital sharing problems architects and designers commonly face in practice. Aiming to do away with file storage systems, FTP clients and other kinds of complex software, this web application allows for teams and individuals to share, discuss and annotate drawings in real time. Framebench suggest that “this could be the online space where you can organize all your drafts and finals, get feedback and approve the work that’s finished” – in realtime.
The system works by creating workspaces for teams to quickly share their files with one another. You can share any image, video, or document with your team, who can then view it right there without any downloads or installation. While viewing, anyone can annotate on top or leave comments; these comments transform into discussion threads that can be referred back to and added to later.
Although tablets have opened up a whole new range of possibilities for architects and designers, using them for drawing and doodling is often a clumsy experience. In many cases there’s far too little accuracy and far too much complexity when it comes to working simple operations. Archisketch, which was formerly known as Archipad, seeks to streamline this experience with a smooth, cleanly designed app for iPad that not only allows you to import drawings and doodle over them, but also draw to scale.
“Green” measures nothing. Which is greener: a building that saves water or a building that uses certified carpet? There is no obvious answer to this question – this is why trying to quantify “green” is biased and leads nowhere. Using carbon as a metric, on the other hand, makes sense. This is something you can accurately measure and therefore reduce. Going “low-carbon” not only contributes to fighting climate change but also totally redefines construction (choice of materials, energy sources, etc.).
This is why shapedearth.com, the first free online calculator for assessing the whole life embodied carbon of building projects, is such a useful tool.
The original version of this article, entitled “Why (Most) Architects Don’t Get Digital,” first appeared on UXB London.
For super smart people who spend so much time imagining the future, it seems odd that, when it comes to digital, architects are so stuck in the past. Don’t get me wrong, I love architecture and hold the profession in high regard. But I’m mystified as to why the digital revolution has been largely ignored by a profession so proud of integrating emerging technologies.
We recently carried out some research as part of a commission to develop a digital strategy for an established practice in London. We wanted to check the state of mobile adoption in the sector. We figured a good place to start would be the big guns, the award winners, and the ones that others want to be.
We made up our list* and visited each practice on a smartphone. Oh dear. I wouldn’t advise you to do this – it’s a dispiriting experience that could make your fingers hurt and your eyes bleed.
Trimble Buildings Group have recently released SketchUp 2014, the latest version of its 3D modelling platform for architects, engineers, design and construction professionals. With “more than 30 million unique activations in the past year”, SketchUp is claimed to be the most widely used 3D modeling software in the world today. The latest incarnation of the simple tool features a new 3D Warehouse and some interesting integrations into the world of Building Information Modelling (BIM).
The social life of cities is complex. Where once the networks which operated within cities could be understood – to an extent – through their physical infrastructure, in the internet age much of the network that supports city life is hidden, existing only through intangible data.
Invisible Cities is an app which makes this network tangible, using geocoded data from Twitter and Instagram to morph the landscape, displaying where the most activity is occurring. These hills of activity can then be linked by lines representing keywords, showing underlying affinities between different geographical areas.