3D Architecture and design software with Yashaen Luckam, President of The South African Council for the Architecture Profession
How is 3D software transforming the architecture industry?
3D software is beneficial to both the process of design and the representation of design to clients and other stakeholders.
The historic 2D representation of architectural concepts is difficult for many clients to imagine as built liveable space. Scaled physical models, which supplemented 2D drawings, provided a better understanding of the form and general aesthetic of the building, however, 3D digital software represents architecture at the human scale. A person can now walk through a building or view it on the site as he/she would in the real built form.
For architects and designers, 3D software provides opportunities to engage with architecture “inside-out”, exploring spatial interconnections in volume. The scales of experience and grades of intimacy between user and space are unlimited, thereby enhancing the development of place through socio-spatial interaction, which all good architecture aspires to.
Do you believe this is a trend which is set to grow and why?
This trend has been growing ever since inception. The demand for high quality 3D software is on the increase. This has driven the continuous development of 3D software packages which has seen new/revised versions being released in short time. Software developers have grasped this opportunity although market competition is high.
Is the cost not prohibitive or is this coming down – is this perhaps a factor in its adoption at the moment?
Cost does not seem to be prohibitive as the vast majority of architectural practices are using 3D software. There are “Lite” versions of software at lesser cost, with obviously fewer possibilities and options. Student versions are a fraction of the cost of the full versions and this exposes young practitioners to 3D software. A significant number of these students move on to set up private practices which then purchase licensed versions of software for commercial use.
How is 3D technology being used today by architects, what are some of the more innovative ideas and solutions?
Some of the more organic or amorphous architectural forms, which are near impossible to achieve through 2D drawings or physical modelling, become possible with 3D modelling. Many internationally acclaimed, award-winning architects rely heavily on 3D software for design development. Nowadays, 3D software affords interdisciplinary interfaces with engineering and construction software, which can translate ambitious and innovative design forms and structures into working drawings, details and ultimately, production / construction.
What are the implications of this technology for the industry in SA?
3D software has to translate into Building Information Modelling (BIM), in order to realise idea / concept as built form; this is what will transform practise in South Africa, especially in the SMME sector. Computer technology has literally shrunken the office footprint and the one-person practise becomes much more possible. Access to the profession and business is therefore easier, which is of particular importance to transformation in a volatile, growing economy.
Any other thoughts?
3D software and digital technology has to be harnessed and exploited to the fullest in order to benefit practices in the SMME sector. Technology has redefined the concept of the office or studio as well as access to resources. Mobility and connection is the way of professional business today – a computer with the relevant software and wifi is all that may be required to run a sustainable practise. The office and library have largely become virtual spaces, while the coffee shop has taken the place of meeting room. All this is to the credit of computer and digital technologies.