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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.

Moleskine Synchronizes Analog and Digital Sketching with their "Smart Writing Set"

13:00 - 11 April, 2016
Courtesy of Moleskine
Courtesy of Moleskine

Moleskine has announced a new product which it hopes will allow users to "bridge their analog and digital worlds." The Smart Writing Set is a system that includes the Paper Tablet, a specially-made Moleskin sketchbook which works in tandem with the Pen+, a digitally-enabled pen that recognizes the notebook and tracks the user's movement. The Pen+ then sends this information to the new Moleskine Notes App (for Apple users) or Neo Notes (for Android) in order to record the user's notes digitally, in real time.

New Web App Lets You Navigate Downtown Miami’s Growing Skyline

14:00 - 9 April, 2016
New Web App Lets You Navigate Downtown Miami’s Growing Skyline, Renzo Piano's Proposed Tower at 87 Park in Downtown Miami. Image Courtesy of Terra
Renzo Piano's Proposed Tower at 87 Park in Downtown Miami. Image Courtesy of Terra

While certain cities in the world have instantly recognizable skylines, other burgeoning cities like Miami are still finding their architectural identity. A new online, 3D-map by the Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) outlines the over 100 new towers being erected in the city by architects including Renzo Piano and OMA, set against Miami’s existing cityscape. The projects are color-coded according to their status as either proposed, under construction or built. You can access the interactive map here.

7 Futuristic Fabrications Leading Us Towards a Newer Architecture

12:00 - 26 March, 2016
7 Futuristic Fabrications Leading Us Towards a Newer Architecture

Swept up in an age of digitization and computing, architecture has been deeply affected in the past decade by what some critics are calling “The Third Industrial Revolution.” With questions of craft and ethics being heavily present in the current architectural discourse, projects taking advantage of these new technologies are often criticized for their frivolous or indulgent nature. On the other hand, there has been an emergence of work that exemplifies the most optimistic of this “Third Industrial Revolution” – an architecture that appropriates new technology and computation for the collective good of our cities and people.

We’ve collected 7 of these projects, ranging from exemplars of engineering to craft and artistry; projects that 80 years after Le Corbusier’s modernist handbook hint at a further horizon – towards a newer architecture.

Why a Career in UX Design is Perfect for Dissatisfied Architects

09:30 - 23 March, 2016
Why a Career in UX Design is Perfect for Dissatisfied Architects, © Sentavio via Shutterstock
© Sentavio via Shutterstock

This article by Gavin Johns was originally published on Medium as "Architects, stop everything and pursue a career in UX."

As an architect turned user experience (UX) designer I have many strong opinions about both my former and my current profession. But in short, I am now enjoying greener pastures, getting the fulfillment I expected while studying architecture but the profession didn’t provide.

Many like-minded architects ask me when and why I decided to transition into software. This puts me in the unusual position of praising the initial skill-set achieved by studying architecture, while promoting departure from it. That said, I have a very abstract definition of architecture, and believe if you have the interest to pursue any other design discipline, you’ll be successful. This guide is intended for those driven and curious architects who are looking for a change.

PimpMyDrawing Provides Ready-Made People for Vector Drawings

14:00 - 6 March, 2016
PimpMyDrawing Provides Ready-Made People for Vector Drawings, via PimpMyDrawing
via PimpMyDrawing

Complementing the many websites that already provide people for renders, PimpMyDrawing is a growing online database of vector drawings of people. The site was started by three recent graduates of architecture school. After realizing the amount of vector drawings that they had produced during their academic career, they decided to share them for free.

7 Reasons Why Transitioning to BIM Makes Sense for Small Firms

09:30 - 25 February, 2016
7 Reasons Why Transitioning to BIM Makes Sense for Small Firms, Courtesy of Autodesk
Courtesy of Autodesk

The benefits and capabilities of building information modeling in large-scale architectural practices are well known. But is BIM really necessary for smaller firms? Many small firms have been operating using traditional CAD methods for some time now, and switching technologies can seem a daunting task, especially for companies that operate on small budgets and without the specialized personnel of large international firms. But this is 2016 and the economic landscape has changed, with more and more expected from architects all the time. Time is more valuable now than ever. Where BIM software programs were once seen as simply nice to have, their large range of benefits have now made BIM an essential part of the design process. And as the following reasons show, BIM is just as important a tool for small offices as it is for larger ones.

How To Tune Your 3D Models For Online VR Viewing With Sketchfab

11:30 - 31 January, 2016
How To Tune Your 3D Models For Online VR Viewing With Sketchfab, 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

Earlier this month, Sketchfab announced a new feature which would allow any 3D model on their platform to be viewed in virtual reality on a device such as Google Cardboard. At ArchDaily, we think this is a huge step in defining how we will view and share architectural design in the future, and one of the best things about the new feature is how seamlessly it blends into Sketchfab's existing model sharing platform. At the same time, it's worth bearing in mind that creating a model for VR may take some extra consideration. In this post originally published on the Sketchfab Blog as "How to set up a Cardboard VR scene for Sketchfab," Bart Veldhuizen explains what designers can do to make their models as VR-friendly as possible.

With our new Cardboard VR button, Sketchfab has become the easiest way to view your designs in Virtual Reality. You can now literally publish your model to Sketchfab and view it on your Cardboard in under a minute.

As Cardboard relies on mobile devices, there are some extra things to keep in mind. In addition to displaying a regular Sketchfab model on the lighter hardware of your phone or tablet, we now render each image twice (once for each eye). So it won’t come as a surprise that you need to keep some things in mind when designing a Cardboard scene.

This tutorial will give you an overview of the most important limitations and will help you to quickly teleport yourself into your first Cardboard experiment.

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

Design Trust and Farming Concrete Release World’s First Public Urban Agriculture Database

08:00 - 30 October, 2015
Design Trust and Farming Concrete Release World’s First Public Urban Agriculture Database, Hells Kitchen Farm Project, Hell's Kitchen, Manhatttan. Image © Rob Stephenson for the Design Trust for Public Space
Hells Kitchen Farm Project, Hell's Kitchen, Manhatttan. Image © Rob Stephenson for the Design Trust for Public Space

The Design Trust for Public Space and Farming Concrete have released the Farming Concrete Data Collection Toolkit: the first public platform for gathering, tracking and understanding urban agriculture production and the benefits of community gardens, urban farms and school gardens. The result of a six-year initiative, Five Borough Farm, the Toolkit features a user-friendly manual with simple methods of generating and collecting data at each garden and farm, with accompanying instructional videos; Barn, an online portal for farmers and gardeners to input and track their production; and Mill, a public database providing access to numbers, reports for practitioners, researchers, policymakers, funders and anyone with interest in urban agriculture.

Renderpeople Releases 3D Models "Rosy" and "Dennis" for Free Use

14:00 - 23 August, 2015
Renderpeople Releases 3D Models "Rosy" and "Dennis" for Free Use, Renderpeople in a Modelled Environment. Image via Renderpeople
Renderpeople in a Modelled Environment. Image via Renderpeople

Renderpeople, a company that produces 3D-models of people ready to be rendered in any program, has released two of their models for free, to demonstrate the effectiveness of their product. “Rosy” and “Dennis” are now available through their website, and can be used in any 3D-modeling and rendering software. Unlike other, free sites like SKALGUBBAR and Escalalatina which offer PNG images of people for use with Photoshop, Renderpeople offers detailed, life-like 3D models which can be placed directly into the modeled environments in question.

Teach Your Children to Think Like an Architect with Imagination Playground 3D Builder

16:00 - 22 August, 2015
Teach Your Children to Think Like an Architect with Imagination Playground 3D Builder, via Imagination Playground
via Imagination Playground

It's no secret that most architects who are also parents want their children to follow in their footsteps. But how can we encourage our children to think like architects – critically, spatially and creatively? For parents in Manhattan, for the past five years Rockwell Group's Imagination Playground has provided an answer. The educational play system consists of large-scale blocks of varying sizes and uses, allowing children to build whatever they can imagine – without the long hours and deadlines. Now, with the release of Imagination Playground 3D Builder, the creative platform is now available digitally, for free.

Sketchfab Begins Beta Testing for 3D Animations

16:00 - 15 August, 2015
Sketchfab Begins Beta Testing for 3D Animations, via Sketchfab
via Sketchfab

Sketchfab, an online database for 3D-models, has announced that they will soon begin implementing support allowing users to showcase not only their 3D models, but accompanying animations as well. The site, likened to a “Youtube for 3D models”, has grown tremendously in the short time it’s been active, and the new step adds many possibilities for both new users and veterans of the platform (read more about Sketchfab here).

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!

PixPlant 3: Create Custom 3D Texture Maps for Rendering

14:00 - 31 May, 2015
PixPlant 3: Create Custom 3D Texture Maps for Rendering , Courtesy of PixPlant
Courtesy of PixPlant

Rendering has become the ultimate tool in the architect’s arsenal for communicating designs directly to clients. But with the seemingly infinite number of real-life material options that exist today, the textures built into rendering programs often fall short. In some cases, one may be able to find appropriate texture maps for their desired materials online, but when experimenting with new materials or unique colors the need for greater customization arises. In the past, perhaps you could attempt to manually create and edit your own texture maps, but this can be a long and arduous process.

12 Excel Formulas Every Architect Should Know

10:30 - 19 May, 2015
12 Excel Formulas Every Architect Should Know, © Studio_G via Shutterstock
© Studio_G via Shutterstock

It may not be the most exciting piece of software an architect will ever use, but Microsoft's Excel is a powerful tool which can help architects with the less glamorous parts of their work - and if you learn how to use it correctly, it can help you get back to the tasks that you'd rather be doing much more quickly. In this post originally published by ArchSmarter, Michael Kilkelly gives his short rundown of formulas that every architect should know - and a brief explanation of how to use each one.

Excel is more than just digital graph paper. It’s a serious tool for analyzing and computing data. In order to access this power, however, you need to understand formulas.

If you’re like me, you started using Excel as a way to create nice looking tables of data – things like building programs or drawing lists. Lots of text and some numbers. Nothing too crazy. If I was feeling a little bold, I’d add a simple formula to add or subtract some cells. That’s about it.

I knew I was using only about 10% of the software but I wasn’t sure what else it could do or how I could access the other functions. I’d heard about formulas but they seemed really confusing. Plus, I was an architect, not a bean counter.

Sefaira Incorporates Customizable Graphics Into Daylight Visualization Software

17:00 - 17 May, 2015

Sefaira, the market-leading daylighting visualization tool, has just announced a new feature for their software plugins for Autodesk Revit and Trimble Sketchup. In addition to the real-time visualizations announced last year, the new update adds customizable, exportable graphics which offer both a point in time analysis or an annual overview, and analysis tools which help designers easily identify overlit and underlit spaces and review heating or cooling requirements.

Taking Daylight to the Next Level: How Daylighting Analysis is Changing Design

10:30 - 14 May, 2015
Taking Daylight to the Next Level: How Daylighting Analysis is Changing Design, 10 DESIGN's Ashjar at Al Barari residential project. Image Courtesy of 10 DESIGN
10 DESIGN's Ashjar at Al Barari residential project. Image Courtesy of 10 DESIGN

Until recently, renderings were the architect’s primary tool for understanding daylight in their designs—renderings, and a healthy dose of intuition. But a new generation of daylighting analysis tools, which is emerging alongside a new generation of daylighting metrics, are enabling architects to look at daylight in new ways—with important implications for design.

Business as usual, when it comes to daylight, is to use rules of thumb to design, then use renderings to check the design and communicate the intent. Rendering has fast become an art form: the creation of exquisite, evocative, often atmospheric imagery that communicates the mood, the experience, the visceral feel of the design. This is no accident: daylighting is a magic ingredient in architecture, bringing dynamism to static structure, imbuing buildings with a sense of time, and renderings are a powerful way to capture and communicate these ideas—a necessary complement to the hard line plans and sections that comprise much of the architect’s lexicon. Renderings have expanded our ability to communicate designs. They have also expanded our ability to conceptualize designs—and especially to conceptualize the daylight in our designs.

But there’s something missing: there are important daylight-related questions that renderings simply can’t answer. Even if they can be made reasonably accurate, they’re still incomplete: depicting a moment in time, but not providing an indication of whether that moment is unique or typical.