Facades are the first barrier outside a building. They weather rain, snow, winds, sun, and temperature changes. Their primary function is to keep interiors free of water, thermal bridges intact, and internal atmospheres as comfortable as possible. This reality is why the detailing of facades is usually done by experienced architects or specialized companies, who understand materials and construction methods well and are able to select the best solutions for each circumstance. But some projects have facades with such complex detailing, encompassing thousands and thousands of lines, hatches, and dimensions, that they inspire a particularly awestruck response. Making these drawings didactic, technical, and, above all, beautiful, is a task few can achieve to perfection. We spoke with Troy Donovan, the creator of the 188,000 follower Instagram account @the_donnies, who does this job like few others. Read the interview below.
Design Tools: A Critical Look at Computer-aided Visualization and Hand Sketch for Architectural Drawings
As the foundation of any architectural design, sketches and drawings have long been known for their ability to allow the architect to interact with his/her design efficiently and express concepts intuitively. While the importance of hand drawing is understood broadly in architectural schools, what happens to those who is incapable of hand drawing? Numerous students have found it extremely difficult to cope with the intensity of hand drawing exercise during their first year in architectural training. Among these students, some would choose to quit architecture simply because they cannot draw well, some would decide to focus more on learning the techniques of computer-generalized design drawings.
According to Howard Gardner, human intelligence can be classified into 8 different categories. One of these is spatial intelligence, which describes the ability to mentally create and imagine three-dimensional spaces. Architecture is one of many disciplines that benefits from this ability and in this article we will explore just how visual representation in architecture has evolved throughout history--from displaying the most brilliant of ideas to capturing the wildest of dreams.
Luca Tranchino is a production designer well known for his participation as an art director in Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, the Aviator, Hugo Cabret, and Disney’s Prince of Persia, among many other productions. His work is designed to take us to magical and historical worlds. We recently interviewed Tranchino to look behind the scenes and uncover connections between film and architecture.
Manuel Lima is a designer, researcher and author well known for his work on visualizing and mapping complex networks. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, he was named one of the "50 Most Creative and Influential Minds" by Creativity magazine, and is both the founder of VisualComplexity.com and a Senior UX Manager at Google.
When we hear the term visualization, it’s likely that we picture a flashy render full of lights, people, dazzling finishes, and a sense of energy about the place that we are viewing. Aside from rendering a three-dimensional space, architects also need to develop their skills in the representation of intangible ideas that help drive the narrative behind their arguments. Instead of creating one-off concepts that are presented in a traditionally linear sequence, designers need to craft a story, structure their designs like a thesis, and consider how our presentations have the power to reveal the priorities of a project.
Representation of the real world is, without any doubt, in the genesis of cinema, an art originated from photography, by creating a sequence to convey the impression of movement to the viewer. In fact, the earliest known film recording is from 1895, picturing the arrival of a train at Ciolat station in France, a trivial event in the daily life of 19th-century European cities.
Techniques in visualization have evolved significantly over the years, providing increasingly accurate depictions that give architects a realistic view of their work before the foundation is even laid. For architects and the people they work with, the goal of a visualization is to illustrate the qualities and characteristics of a three-dimensional space that has yet to be built or is in the process of being constructed, by using hand or computer drawn images, videos, and even virtual reality platforms. All of these tools serve as a way of bringing an idea to life, whether for clients or judges in an architectural competition.
We’ve asked our ArchDaily readers about which video game has impressed them most in terms of architectural visualization, and why. Hundreds of various answers later, it became evident that there isn’t one element that makes a video game stand out, but the virtually-built environment is almost always a key factor in how the game is experienced.
When someone mentions architecture visualization, most immediately think of sketches, computational renderings, and drawings. This connection occurs because we almost always associate visualization with picturing a project that is not yet built, either for the validation of aesthetic and functional decisions or to represent the idea to a client, who is often unfamiliar with technical drawings. Yet in addition to considering superficial elements such as materials, plans, textures, and colors, when carrying out a project, the architect needs to be aware of technical issues that are invisible to the naked eye, which may directly influence the project.
In architecture, professionals must constantly deal with the challenge of representing a project clearly and understandably before it is built, making the space somehow more perceptible to people who are often not specialized in the field. Rendering is one of the most popular methods of three-dimensional representation among architects because it portrays the project more realistically. Reality, however, implies the presence of people and their ways of inhabiting spaces, which can be depicted through human figures, that must be coherent with the intended picture and interpretation of the architecture, the place it is located in, and the way it is inhabited.
Many times I have not been able to decipher whether the video or the image I was looking at was real. In the same way, I had to convince friends or relatives —namely, people unfamiliar to the idea of the architectural render— several times that a building featured in a storefront advertisement or in a printed magazine was not real. There is no longer a gap —or limits— between hyper-realistic, computer generated visualization and reality itself. Are we reaching the limits of visualization of our spaces? Do our architectural visualizations meet our architectural expectations?
As architecture is increasingly reliant on renderings to convey its message and depict the unbuilt, many practices turn to seasoned 3D artists to help them portray their designs in the most favourable light; thus they externalize visualizations to a handful of firms.