The ability to draw well is one of the most coveted skills in architecture. Unfortunately for those without an innate gift for sketching, it's also one of the most difficult to learn—even if it can, contrary to popular opinion, be learned with commitment and practice. But for those poor souls without such talents, there is now a fix: an app called SketchAR.
Available for iPhone and Android devices that incorporate Google's Tango technology, SketchAR can take photographs or other images, convert them into sketchable line drawings, and then use augmented reality to overlay them onto real-world surfaces.
Laptops and tablets are great tools for the designer on the move—but when it comes to maximizing your productivity, there's simply no alternative to a larger desktop screen. Smaller devices simply don't have enough space to efficiently display the many apps, images, multiple view frames and other documents that most designers juggle in their work, and while switching between different apps and programs might only take a few seconds, those seconds add up over the course of a long day. According to a study by the University of Utah, using a larger screen allowed people to complete tasks up to 52% faster, saving as much as 2.5 hours per day. These findings are also backed up by myriad anecdotal evidence: ask any architect and they will likely agree that a larger monitor helps them professionally.
During a conversation with the New Yorker, a window washer who worked on the Empire State Building says that some of his toughest moments have been cleaning the trash that tenants toss out the windows. In his many years working on the Depression-era skyscraper, he’s wiped numerous half-empty coffee cups off window panes, and even scraped 20 gallons of strawberry preserves from the building’s facade. Tossed out in the winter, it stubbornly clung to the outside of the skyscraper.
Cracking a window open in a skyscraper seems like a quirk, especially today, when hermetically sealed steel-and-glass giants offer the promise of climate-controlled comfort. But ever since Chicago’s Home Insurance Building, considered one of the first skyscrapers, opened in 1884, the challenge of airflow, ventilation, and keeping tenants cool has been an important engineering consideration shaping modern architecture.
The great commercial buildings of the modern era owe their existence, in many ways, to air conditioning, an invention with a decidedly mixed legacy.
Today, app developer Morpholio has unveiled the newest addition to its collection of architectural aids. Ava, short for Automated Visual Assembly, aims to streamline the interior design process by allowing the user to navigate seamlessly between visually-appealing presentation boards and detailed, editable data spreadsheets.
Ava seeks to reform the status quo for interior design projects, which often involves the separate creation of visual presentation boards for clients, cut sheets and specs for drawing sets, and product lists for purchasing. Ava has been invented to package images and information more intelligently, optimizing beauty, clarity, and ease, and allowing designers to navigate neatly from process, to presentation, to project delivery.
In order to help design the sculpture, Watson was taught about the history and style of Gaudí and the architecture of Barcelona through volumes of images, literary works, articles, and even music. From these references, Watson helped to uncover critical insights on patterns in Gaudí's work—like crabs, spiders, and color palettes—that the design team didn't initially associate with Gaudí. The resulting four-meter-tall sculpture features a structural surface made of over 1200 unique aluminum parts, and is unmistakably reminiscent of Gaudí’s work both in look and feel, yet entirely distinct.
The sculpture was on display from February 27 to March 2 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where it interacted with visitors by changing shape in real-time, in response to sentiments from Twitter. To learn more about the sculpture, ArchDaily was given to opportunity to speak with IBMWatson Manager Jonas Nwuke.
This is the inaugural column “Practice Values,” a new bi-monthly series by architect and technologist Phil Bernstein. The column will focus on the evolving role of the architect at the intersection of design and construction, including subjects such as alternative delivery systems and value generation. Bernstein was formerly vice president at Autodesk and now teaches at the Yale School of Architecture.
This semester, I’m teaching a course called “Exploring New Value Propositions for Practice” that’s based on the premise that the changing role of architects in the building industry requires us to think critically about our value as designers in that system. After studying the structure and dynamics of practice business models, the supply chain, and other examples of innovative design enterprises, they’ll be asked to create a business plan for a “next generation” architectural practice. I’m agnostic as to what this practice does per se, as long as it operates somewhere in the constellation of things that architects can do, but there is one constraint—your proposed firm can’t be paid fixed or hourly rate fees. It has to create value (and profit) through some other strategy.
The conference, organized by the IARC (Independent Architecture Research Colloquia) of the University of Architecture of Innsbruck, is related to the issue of aesthetics; recollecting and reframing the reflections over architecture, representation, formalism, aesthetics, composition and historical changes that have been discussed within the last years. The Symposium’s aim is to collect a comprehensive set of state-of-the-art approaches to the questions of architectural and urban form and thus provide an updated examination of aesthetic, formal and typological investigations.
The ShiftxDesign Conference at Harvard, this February 19th, is an annual exploration of all things design. Launched in 2012, the conference is a collaborative effort between student groups at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Harvard Business School, and Harvard College - and the only cross-school event of its kind. The event brings together creative thinkers, design luminaries, experts from a variety of backgrounds, and students to engage in and reinterpret the design process.
The New York Times has published an in-depth article entitled ‘How China Built iPhone City With Billions in Perks for Apple’s Partners’, revealing a treasure chest of public benefits for the world’s biggest iPhone factory in Zhengzhou, China. In a city of six million inhabitants in an impoverished region of China, the local government has contributed $1.5 billion to Foxconn, Apple’s supplier of iPhones. The money is used, in part, to improve local infrastructure, reduce Foxconn's export costs, and build housing for the factory’s 350,000-strong workforce (five times the number of people employed directly by Apple in the United States).
FAAB Architektura has designed a smog-fighting music academy on the site of a former military base in Cracow, Poland. In a city constantly tackling air pollution, FAAB has incorporated a 1300 square meter "Air Purifier" into their proposal, combating CO2 levels as effectively as 33,000 city trees. This system, however, is only one element in a music academy wholly integrated with its natural surroundings.
New typologies in architecture generally arise in two ways. The first is through a reevaluation of existing typologies that cater to familiar programs such as housing, schools, or healthcare. This is done in an effort to improve on the norm and to challenge accepted architectural notions, as seen for example, in the work of Moshe Safdie and OMA. The other is when an entirely new program, site condition, or client emerges and forces the invention of a new typology simply through their design requirements.
For his Master’s degree project at the University of Alcalá in Spain, Saúl Ajuria Fernández has envisioned the essential civic building of the future: the Urban Droneport. Located in what Ajuria has identified as a “disused urban vacuum” in Madrid, Spain, the Urban Droneport “allows and optimizes the transport of goods with Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems in urban areas” - in other words, drone-delivered packages.
Digitally modeling objects from real life has just become easier.
Tech innovation company InstruMMents has unveiled a new functionality to their 01 portable dimension scanner that allows you to capture the 3D curves of any surface. Logging in to the Pro App, users can then track, share and export the curves into key 3D formats, allowing you to quickly recreate any desired object in 3D.
Pneumatic Vacuum Elevators, LLC has created a series of air-powered, space-saving, “plug & play” elevators designed to be easily installed into home environments.
Ranging from a single-passenger to a three-passenger, wheelchair accessible model, the elevators—called Pneumatic Vacuum Elevators (PVE)—are self-supporting, and do not require equipment rooms or other additional spaces above or below the shaft. Similarly, the elevators are completely enclosed and are not built into the framework of the home around them, and thus it can easily be relocated.
Young tech team (Bar Smith, Hannah Teagle, and Tom Beckett) has launched a Kickstarter campaign for Maslow, a four-by-eight-foot at home CNC cutting machine made to assist construction efforts by cutting user-specified shapes out of wood or any other flat material. Designed to be affordable—at under $500—easy to use, inclusive, and powerful, the project aims to share designs digitally so that you can build on the work of others or create your own from scratch.
Based on the design of the hanging plotter, Maslow “uses gear-reduced DC motors with encoders and a closed-loop feedback system to achieve high accuracy and high torque.”
Today, Microsoft announced the latest in their Surface family of personal computers. Called the Surface Studio, the device is essentially a 28-inch touchscreen drawing board which the company is targeting specifically at creative professionals, potentially placing it at the top of many architects' wish lists.
The MIT School of Architecture’sSelf-Assembly Lab has teamed up with Google to create Transformable Meeting Spaces, a project that utilizes woven structure research in wood and fiberglass pods that descend from the ceiling, transforming a large space into a smaller one. Designed as a small-scale intervention for reconfiguring open office plans—which “have been shown to decrease productivity due to noise and privacy challenges”—the pods require no electromechanical systems to function, but rather employ a flexible skeleton and counterweight to change shape.
This skeleton is composed of 36 fiberglass rods, which are woven together into a sort of textile or cylindrical braid. Thus, the structure behaves “like a Chinese finger trap: The circumference of the pod shrinks when it’s pulled, and expends when relaxed.”