Beautiful images may be nice to have, but are redundant now you can test your building virtually before it’s even built
Nothing will ever completely replace the alluring efficacy of the carefully calibrated render, of the lovingly constructed view in which all the best characteristics of your design are shown off in a way that highlights qualities the client had emphasised in his or her briefing documents. Software like Maxwell Render and Vray have made professional level, real-world camera-quality like images available to all architectural practices, whether they are working in Autocad, Rhino or Sketchup. Images from these programs have brought the level of the average presentation render along leaps and bounds, to the point now where if you look at the line-up of any competition’s entries there is a simply astounding level of sophistication present in almost all of the digital imagery, from almost all practices regardless of their size.
Past the point of sale however, and perhaps even encroaching on the totemic value of the money-shot, is the incredible power of gaming environments – and the kind of interactive inclusivity and appeal to user curiosity – that they bring to a whole range of situations. Games like Minecraft, now regularly and simultaneously used by over 100 million people, show how architecturally complex user-generated environments, with a dizzying array of interconnected situations and designs, can become shared spaces in which players develop and exhibit their efforts in a kind of infinitely extending live show-and-tell playground.
BIM has revolutionised the co-ordination of architectural information with the coherence of a centralised model and instantly updated sets. Programs like Revizto go further by uniting this kind of embedded 3D information with the benefits of the render (which illustrates a design’s aesthetic qualities and real-world presence), turning the principle of the central model from an info bank into a live-rendered, immersive world that spans the full breadth of your design at any given moment in its development. Without the need to prepare separate images or drawings, or to explain the meaning of grey and black abstract geometry in a 3d file, clients can be taken into the project, in a realistically represented manner, to participate in problem solving or design discussions at any point, over the internet. They can even just log-in and take a stroll around the current state of the model whenever they like, as if they were walking around their Sims house; and the same goes for general co-ordination.
Crossrail has turned its stations into gaming environments, inviting subjects to navigate around the models at simulated periods of less or more congestion to live-test the efficacy of each site’s way-finding (or otherwise) strategy. With the rise of live-rendered interactive information environments, static images may become like watches in the 21st century: attractive appendages which are fashionable and nice to have, but which are essentially redundant in the age of the awesome functionality of the smartphone.