Rick Harrison posts at New Geography part two of the Home Building Recovery series – this time on “automation” in the architecture industry.
I’ll let you read the entire post over at New Geography, however here is a snippet of what Rick has to say about CAD-ing:
The front cover of Engineering News-Record on March 12th, 2012 was about a technology survey conducted a few weeks earlier. Of 18 issues surveyed, the need for better software was mentioned most frequently. Under the heading “Software Shortfall – Better, Simpler, Cheaper”, the editors noted that ‘dissatisfaction with current products cuts across all responses,’ and labeled the area, ‘Needs Improvement’.
Better Software: Until a few decades ago the development of the world was represented by a hand drawn plan. Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) did not exist. There was an intimacy between the design of buildings and the land development task at hand. Since the introduction of CAD, the typical American city has seen few technology changes in the ways that housing is designed. There is virtually no advancement in the design of land development that can be associated with this new era of software-enabled design. If anything, it could be argued that CAD technology resulted in worse design of the cities in which we dwell.
All I can say is two things:
First that having seen some architects hand drawings been presented to the public for things such as the Tamaki Transformation Project, I am wondering what our universities are teaching here and at what standard.
Second; when I was doing my (abortive) Master of Planning Practice at the University of Auckland, I was taught by a very good academic on how to do hand drawings for urban design developments. Now they were not flash hot and Rebkekka (my wife and not a graduate) assisted me in the hand drawings, however they were presentable and understandable to outsiders. After I left the program I have kept all my urban design work, tools of the trade, lecture material and tuition notes safely stored away here at home in case one day again I might take it (hand drawing urban development) up. Needless to say hand drawing compared to using the computer is not my biggest strength in urban design work.
While I was taught the basics of draughtsperson, the class did learn how to use the computer to represent our urban designs. I self-taught myself Google Sketchup so I could create basic renditions of urban design work I was tasked by my lecturer to do. Unlike my class mates who spent 99% of their time creating micro-detailed pretty stuff, I focused on the macro-detail when drawing up my computer generated urban design work (using a combination of GIS and Sketchup). You can see my work with Wynyard Quarter, POAL Relocation Project and The Auckland Water-Frontier by clicking on the respective hyperlinks. Basically I might create some micro-detailing, but usually is blocks, colours and importing of models to represent my urban design work. I let qualified Draughts people do the micro-detailing for me.
In fact here are two pictures of my current work under way with the Auckland Water-Frontier:
Work in progress but once complete you should be able to see a basic mock-up to reasonable scale (in relations to surroundings) of my proposal for The Auckland Water-Frontier.
Funding Sources For Innovation: Would it be possible for someone to discover a way to create an affordable base for permeable pavement? Probably. There are hundreds of millions of dollars available from private foundations and government grants for solutions leading to sustainable growth. However, foundation grants fund only 501c non-profits. Should future solutions to development be tied only to non-profit or politically connected entities, or to private firms which may be more capable of innovation?
There is no technology that can create a better design; we can only create better designers. Instead of educating CAD users on how to automate design, we need to create a generation of designers who use technology to create wonderful neighbourhoods instead of quick subdivision plans.
The consultant needs to concentrate on the best solution, not just the solution that is a mere button press away. Today, there is no excuse for creating designs that are not precise. Architects, engineers, planners, and surveyors need to learn to fulfill each other’s basic needs. This would go a long way towards creating a new era of collaborative design.
A note that our lot should probably take heed of if nothing else from the article.
So CAD is a tool to aid innovation and creative design, not as a total replacement through mundane automation and laziness (in the name of efficiency and speed) for urban design projects. Creative innovation and design gives heterogeneity and dynamic sub-divisions, neighbourhoods and communities. Automation and laziness gives us boring, bland homogeneous neighbourhoods and communities that as my late grandfather said: “The same house build with the same cardboard and same piece of sticky tape for the front door.” McFries Boxes and McHouses anyone – and would you like a side of garden with that.
Will be interesting to see how our urban design in Auckland goes and what Rick offers as Part III to the Home Building Recovery process.