Architectural Renderings

Which is the greater illusion, the photographic rendering, or the hand-drawn watercolour sketch? A new book from Wiley, Architectural Renderings: Construction and Design Manual doesn’t pretend to offer any answers, but does present a fairly well-rounded overview of the current state of the industry. Renders have been a staple subject of discussion here at things (a couple of sample posts, I and II.

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The book contains portfolios that include a relatively traditional approach – Simon Jones and Associates, Lee Dunnette, Dennis Allain, Kirk Fromm, ArtandDesignStudios.com, and Andy Hickes – studios that use 3D programmes in one way or another to form the base layers of their compositions, before finishing off with a watercolour wash – to the more conventionally avant-garde, whose methods and modes of presentation are more attuned to the architectural firms they work for.

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The more ‘contemporary’ practitioners include Labtop Rendering (who quote political consultant Patrick Caddell on their gallery page: “Too many good people have been defeated because they tried to substitute substance for style, they forgot to give the public the kind of visible signals that it needs to understand what is happening.” (from the Initial Working Paper on Political Strategy directed to Jimmy Carter, 1976). ‘We like to quote this excerpt mainly because it insists on the strategic approach you need to build when producing an image of any kind,’ Labtop write. Cadell ‘served as a consultant to various movies and television shows, most notably the movies Running Mates, Air Force One, Outbreak, In the Line of Fire, and the serial drama The West Wing). Other studios include Rendertaxi Gbr, studio amd – painting + motion, Federico Pitzalis, Marco Giovanni De Angelis / Studio Vision SRL, ArtefactoryLab, Pure, and Stack! Studios.

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Where contemporary rendering comes into its own is when it’s called upon to prep our expectations of new forms and methods of building. The most spectacular imagery – be it drawn or digital – tends to be the unbuildable, places that have no real world counterweight to balance the way they are presented. Most interesting of all are the ‘self-commissioned’ works, the flights of architectural fancy that illustrators create to bolster their portfolio, explore new techniques and technologies and indulge in impossible flights of fantasy, Gormenghastian extravagances that even the most self-consciously iconic architect wouldn’t dare to indulge in. There’s something obviously cinematic about these images, and the line between presentation drawing and matte painting is a fine one. But most of the digital studios presented here (with a very European focus) offer up a sourcebook of the modern rendered aesthetic, that artful blur, the shifting depth of field, the self-conscious mix of deliberate artifice and reality.

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The mode of presentation now influences the subject, just as the first pioneering photographers of modernism – Lucien Herve, Dell and Wainwright, and later Shulman, etc. -added a sheen of abstract perfection to an already rigorous art. The contemporary sheen isn’t perfection, but hyperrealism, where surfaces are richly reflective and impossibly crisp, their forms indicative of their digital origins. In the real world, the most obvious manifestation of the influence of renders is in the Expo pavilion.

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Here’s a round-up of (real) imagery from Shanghai Expo 2010: Beijing Pavilion, Serbian Pavilion, French Pavilion, Estonian Pavilion, Chinese Pavilion, Belgian Pavilion, Japanese Pavilion, Norwegian Pavilion, Luxembourg Pavilion, Finnish Pavilion, Dutch Pavilion, German Pavilion, Swiss Pavilion, Swedish Pavilion, Australian Pavilion, New Zealand Pavilion, Polish Pavilion, Spanish Pavilion, Italian Pavilion, Korean Pavilion, United Arab Emirates Pavilion, Singapore Pavilion, Danish Pavilion, UK Pavilion, as well as some general views. The formal gymnastics are pretty spectacular and it’s hard not to conclude that these buildings would not exist were it not for the virtual flights of fantasy they resemble. See also, Art and pOrnmentation, a project by Yaojen Chuang that uses the hyperdense language of pure digital architecture – and its corollary, the 3D printed object – for a concept that is ‘muscular and visceral’, playing with ‘the elasticity of spaces, the theatrical experience of sacredness, and the spatial formulation of perceptions and senses.’ Not for the trypophobic), Chuang’s project is an attempt to harness computing to form a new physical aesthetic.

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Other things. The Great Piano Scam, a short film about Joyce Hatto / tributes paid to Bill Mitchell, former architecture dean at MIT. Mitchell was author of City of Bits, one of the very first books to look at the potential long-term impact of digital culture on architecture and the built environment / Concrete Mushrooms, ‘a research project about the 750,000 bunkers in Albania’. Blog and documentary trailer / marvellous: Great Literature Retitled To Boost Website Traffic (via K).

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Gethabilis, for emailing to Dropbox. 2011 will be the year we shift everything to Dropbox, now that it works pretty seamlessly online and with mobile. Things will just get a bit cloudier / How I met your motherboard: tales of early computing, especially ‘One Sweet, Bright Snip‘ / Subzin, find quotes from movies / Literary Towns.

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A gallery of 575 Wandsworth Road, the home of Khadambi Asalache and now owned by the National Trust / Fuck Yeah, Magazines, a tumblr that helpful sums up the zing zing zing of cover-driven design culture / a selection of daily projects / Kilian Martin: A Skate Education, a short film by Brett Novak.

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2 Responses to Architectural Renderings

  1. Sarra says:

    My RSS feed vanished! I’ve been missing you! x

  2. Fantasy says:

    Where did you get this?

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