How visualization technology is enabling a better balance between artistic expression and the incorporation of client feedback in architectural designs.

Frank Gehry once said “I don’t know why people hire architects and then tell them what to do”. This comment hints that communication between Architects and their clients is not always seamless. On the one hand Architects require freedom to apply their art but on the other hand, wonderful architecture is often created with active involvement of the client. Finding an effective way to communicate would ideally balance the two elements of artistic expression and client feedback.

A reflection of this discussion can be found in the changing role of the client in the design process and some would argue, that when it’s done right, it leads to better buildings. They would say that the communication of architectural ideas is undergoing nothing short of a silent revolution at the moment, driven by technology.

Above: Examples showing the power of visualizing designs to create a better dialogue with clients during the design process

Being able to build and even experience a building before it exists is a field of interest to many within the architectural community. Interacting with a design in real time and experiencing a space in an engaging way was hardly possible 10 years ago. Hand-drawn sketches, maquettes and CAD drawings often failed to communicate a design in a compelling way.

Nowadays, the ambience of a new space can be experienced by Architects together with their clients throughout the design process. Client feedback happens naturally as they experience the design. Design changes can be made and re-experienced in near real-time. This on-the-fly, open style of designing is revolutionizing the design process and may in turn revolutionize the built landscape in the coming years.

Telling better stories and creating more engaging experiences for customers using combinations of still images and 3D animations is what many modern architecture firms believe is crucial in helping them design better buildings. Ryan Stevens of KMD Architects went so far as to say “visualization and story-telling are the key to designing great things”.

Above: Ryan Stevens describes KMD’s design philosophy 

Scott Slaney of Terrain Studio explained how their process of landscape design integrates feedback from their clients by exploiting real time visualization technology.

Above: Yijia Zhu and Scott Slaney of Terrain Studios describe the role of animated visualizations in their projects

“….one thing we’ve learned is that people seldom perceive the landscape still. Traditionally you might draw an elevation or a section of something. It’s very static, it’s sort of assuming that the viewer is standing for an extended period of time and they get it, you know? People don’t experience it that way. You’re either walking, or in a car, or on a bike, or on a scooter…. you’re in motion, right?  So it’s very helpful for everyone to understand how a space is perceived in motion. It changes everything I think”

3D modeling and visualization technology is taking off in the architectural design world. There are those embracing the technology and those who haven’t yet made the jump. For those who have, it is enabling a new way of designing and a new kind of communication between Architects and their clients.

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