Architecture & Computers

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Outline Intentions

The intention of my research is to investigate the role computers play as a visualization and representational tool in the architectural design process. The thesis proposes to ascertain an appropriate understanding of our experience of the emergent digital realms.This involves investigating the ‘need’ to visualize a building before it is created in practice and the degree to which CAD programs are used as a design tool as a means of testing and evaluating architectural processes. As part of examining the benefits computers has in the field of architecture I assessed the degree to which they have distanced the practitioners in architecture from hand drawings and physical model making and how virtual architecture could be detrimental to the disciplinary field – Involving the emergence of ‘paper’ architecture showing theoretical proposals using visualizations. Many architects believe that the traditional hand renderings and conceptual sketches have now become a lost art to the cost of architectural design.

The research examines how these digital technologies help architects to design and how visualizations’ act as a way of communication between client and designer. This involves researching into architectural graphics as a marketing tool and looking into the future of computational methods as a visual and development tool for building design.

The question will therefore be proposed of whether architects and designers have maintained the ‘hands on’ approach associated with the discipline, or whether this has been abandoned in favor of computer graphics as a visual tool. Are computers taking away from the traditional methods and if so what are their advantages to the discipline?


To assess the degree to which CAD software helps architectural design firms, I looked at two firms which rely heavily on CAD software as a design tool and one firm, which not only believe in a traditional approach, but use predominantly models and hand drawings for conceptual stages. This involved assessing critic’s views, personal judgment and analyzing the pathways they took in relation to initial brief and concepts to construction stages. The three case studies selected are intended to show the varied use of computing software and its adaption to various styles of office organization and philosophies. A description of the three firms working methods is analyzed and comparisons drawn against these case studies focusing on the diverse working methods. The study then formed the basis of a conclusion in which a summary of the results is documented.

Chapter 1:  Literature Review of Current Computation Trends

What should be the exact scope of the computer involvement within the architectural discourse? This question has been present since the beginning of the use of computer aided architecture software. It is notable that many of the designs we see in today’s architectural world could not have been achieved without use of computer visualizations and extensive 3D graphics, However the question of how much should computation techniques be used is always present. Will the age old two dimensional flattened image give way to the intelligent three dimensional digital models as a way of communication?

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