Friday, 19 June 2015

The Plan Is (Still) the Generator

More often than not architectural students confuse renderings with drawings and pictures with plans. There is no doubt it is a fascination with the laborious nature and potential verisimilitude of computer renderings that diverts attention, and it is completely understandable in the student, but it has become a distraction to the extent that tutors can now find themselves thinking that some projects suffer from over rendering; all the lights on with nobody home. Certain types of rendering seem to drive work in to outer space, and it's now a compliment when conversely, you hardly notice the rendering package at all.
This is the time of year when I have to look at a lot of projects and it's a complex business. When running a design studio, there was always the aura of combat, but now, as more of an observer, I like to think, rather corny though this might sound, that the Sweeney has finally made the shift to Morse. I can enjoy it a good deal more for sure, as well as being able to leave the fray after a reasonable time and the others to carry on slugging it out as they invariably do (even though you wont find me returning home to listen to Wagner).
The plan, over these agonising assessments, still strikes me as the generator. Excessive rendering distracts from the plan, and good planning is still the essence of a good project in every sense. There are other architectural components too; the distribution of structure, the integration of servicing and fabric, use of precedent and so on and guess what; these are all compromised by rendering as well! Whilst I have pondered for many years the possibility that these things don't matter anymore (Las Vegas casinos come to mind) now the bloody things have come back to haunt me. Even this I can put down to my desire to find an alternative to the dreary formalism the computer has brought to that other area, shape making and fabrication- because I don't draw on a computer!
It is also a myth that computers bring accuracy and accuracy is the be all and end all. Well if you are building a space station it will be, but while we still have building sites here on earth, while we still use wheelbarrows and boots sink in mud, it certainly isn't. It is extraordinary how we, so called intelligent men and women piloting the course of architectural development, have collectively extinguished such considerations from our appreciation of the architectural project. Perhaps this is because we have been too busy fighting with each other. In the process we have perhaps been as destructive as the multinationals destroying the rainforests.
I think back to those boffins who were inventing CAD whilst I was an undergraduate at Bristol University in the eighties and realise some things don't change; I didn't trust them then and I don't trust them now.

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