Renderings versus Realized

We’ve seen tons of glitzy and glamorous renderings that immediately attract our attention.   You know the kind we mean – a picturesque snapshot where the weather is absolutely perfect, the sunlight is bursting through the glass facade magnificently, and people are laughing and strolling hand in hand.  And, sometimes, the rendering style speaks louder than the actual architecture – convincing clients and jurors, or perhaps misleading them, to invest in the project.   Of course, we love seeing the variety of presentation styles and how firms market their work, but we also enjoy seeing construction shots and finished photography to see if the realized project lives up to the idealized renderings.

More after the break.

This loop of amazing renderings and a not so amazing final result can happen to all different kinds of projects of all different scales.   Take the New York public art installation, the Water Falls by Olafur Eliasson.  Early images depicted monumental waterfalls crashing powerfully into the river, but in the photos, the flow does not seem as strong, and thus the overall effect of the waterfalls is not as stunning nor dramatic.

Or, look at Herzog and de Meuron’s amazing facade for the almost completed Elbe Philharmonic Hall. In renderings, the translucent articulated facade appears to be a seamless and almost weightless blanket. Yet, construction shots show that the multi-million dollar facade is not giving the same effect as the glassy waves shown in the renderings.

Perhaps some completed projects feel like they are almost missing something because the renderings have ingrained a flawless vision in our minds.  Whereas, perhaps, if we weren’t exposed to such a sublime picture in the first place, the completed result would be more fulfilling.

Do you think renderings should continue to depict a perfect image – with a somewhat majestic quality – for the project to compete with other proposals striving for the same commission, or is there more to be said for a realistic rendering that offers a more truthful image of the final project?   Do you find that the architectural-ness of some projects fall short of what the renderings originally offered?   We’d like to hear your thoughts…

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Cite: Karen Cilento. "Renderings versus Realized " 31 Jul 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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