Paper sigradi2008_012:
What is the state of digital architectural design?

Cumulative Index of Computer Aided Architectural Design
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id sigradi2008_012
authors Dokonal, Wolfgang
year 2008
title What is the state of digital architectural design?
source SIGraDi 2008 - [Proceedings of the 12th Iberoamerican Congress of Digital Graphics] La Habana - Cuba 1-5 December 2008
summary What is the state of digital architectural design? The ubiquity of the computer in architecture can be seen in the many computer based presentations from famous architectural practices. BIM (Building Information Modelling) is the key word and we can see implementations in very ambitious projects all over the world. Glossy magazines show the results of this kind of architecture and predict that this is the future of our profession. But when we go out into the “small world” (in Europe) and talk with architects in small firms, there is a very different reality – at least at the moment. Although they all agree that the computer is crucial for their work, it is a love/hate relationship for many them. Most still use the computer purely as a drafting device and AutoCAD is still the dominant tool. Although many of them agree with the statement that you can use the computer for design, only a minority really use the computer as a design tool in the early design stages. To find out more about the reality of the use of computers in design in “small town Europe” we have been undertaking two different kinds of research over the past 4 years. The first one is an educational experiment using first year’s students to find out about the different qualities of designing with and without the computer. The results have been presented at previous conferences and, since we are doing a last run of these experiments this year, we will update and finalise our findings in this paper. To make it comparable to previous years, we use largely the same settings using the same type of student (first year) and the same project/site. We will also be comparing the results for students designing ‘freestyle’ ie in the way that they want against the previous years controlled groups. The second strand of research we have followed is a survey amongst practitioners and some of the above statements came out of this survey. We did this survey using a web questionnaire and focused on a particular region of Europe. Although the numbers of participants for this survey were quite satisfying we are re-running the survey in a different region and country to see whether there are significant differences. The results of our research and our experience as teachers and architects leads us to the main question of how we can give recommendations on how to teach design the new generation of architects. In many aspects most of the teaching that is done in our faculties is still strictly divided into teaching design and teaching computer skills. The crucial question for architectural education are the implications of the ubiquity of the computer will have especially in the field of design. We will try to give some suggestions for these effects this could have on our teaching. In the long run, this is the only way to avoid some of the pitfalls and bring the benefits of computers in design to our small architectural firms. The paper will present a summary of the results of our research and try to propose an answer to the question: “What is the state of digital design in small town Europe?”
series SIGRADI
email dokonal@tugraz.at
content file.pdf (228,844 bytes)
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