Technology in the construction industry has been gradually evolving to meet the needs of architects and construction managers alike. The technology available to architects today has come a long way since sketching 2D pencil drafts on sheets of paper.
They are now able to do the same thing through modern software alternatives on accessible and portable devices like tablets and to do it with ease.
The question is: how has this technology affected the work of architects and their relationship with construction managers?
For architects, bringing their vision to life is the core of their craft. Their focus revolves around expressing ideas in the best possible way. Even though 2D models can offer great conceptual works for construction projects, they lack one thing that 3D models offer — spatial context. This is especially important since a critical aspect of visualising a building does not involve solely the structure itself but the urban environment in which it exists.
What is 3D Rendering?
3D rendering of complex architectural drafts allows architects to present a more detailed and advanced visualisation of their work.
According to Pjotr van Schothorst of Lumion, the construction industry is currently transitioning from 2D (flat) drawings to 3D designs, which contain a lot more data on the materials and items used, indicated as BIM (Building Information Modelling). This can further facilitate the workflow between designer and builder.
3D rendering of complex architectural drafts allows architects to present a more detailed and advanced visualisation of their work. This ability to conceptualise a building within its prospective context facilitates a stronger relationship between architects and construction managers. Thus, both sides of the project team get a clearer vision of how the building will look and function in that environment.
Stan Zaslavsky, founder of Eagle Vision, says 3D rendering is all about simulating a 3D model. “The digital model is simulated with textures, lighting and scenery elements to represent what the proposed development could look like once the computer processes the scene setup.”
The Software Behind it All
The software that makes 3D Rendering possible is known as CAD (Computer Aided Design), and it’s revolutionising the workflow between architects, project managers and civil engineers in the industry.
According to Schothorst, CAD is software for designers and architects that aids their design work with electronic drawings. With typical CAD software, he notes, architects and designers can create sections, floor plans and 3D models, for instance.
As with many digital products, part of the success lies in the quality of the trained professional using the technology.
Zaslavsky believes while some can CAD as a push of the ‘render’ button, the artistry in creating 3D visualisations is far more complex.
Undoubtedly, 3D rendering offers a fast and efficient way to architectural modelling. However, the software can only perform as well as the user. As with many digital products, part of the success lies in the quality of the trained professional using the technology.
Zaslavsky provides an example of rooflines. “Although some software is sophisticated enough to generate rooflines automatically — if the operator doesn't understand construction intricacies — then the roofline, although it may look good, in reality would be extremely expensive to manufacture if left as the computer designed it,” he says.
Facilitating a Strong Relationship
Arguably one of, if not the most important aspect of any working environment, is communication between people. 3D models allow architects to visually communicate their designs to project managers quicker than ever before. Ultimately, this technology has allowed for a quicker system of delivery and feedback between the two professions.
"Misunderstandings between the two professions often lead to delayed projects, projects that go over budget, structural or design issues, and so forth."
“Communication between architects and builders is fundamental. Misunderstandings between the two professions often lead to delayed projects, projects that go over budget, structural or design issues, and so forth,” says Schothorst. “Properly using CAD software to create a high-quality 3D model can make the process from design to construction easier while reducing the possibility of errors.”
Schothorst continues by saying the visual component of the technologies strengthens the relationship between construction managers and architects.
“Whether through a video or a static image, architects can show what the final result will look like, eliminating the need for second-guessing and improvisation,” he says.