Architecture offices are always finding new ways of using 3D rendering to not only grow their practices, but build better buildings. From very early on, architecture students are taught the foundational elements of design communication, and how best to present ideas to people who might not know a t-square from a french curve.
As technology propels 3D modeling and rendering towards the frontier of architectural visualization, new and interesting presentation techniques are always floating to the surface of a vast sea of precedents. Architects are using these techniques to show the world what they can do, and convince clients to spend money creating architecture, and not just a haphazard amassing of concrete and steel.
The following techniques represent the best of old and new world presentation drawings. Some things simply never go out of style, but it’s important to acknowledge what the next crop of designers are doing to get more out of pixels and polygons.
Perhaps the most well known presentation drawing is the one that demands the most attention. The hero shot is the image of the design that draws you in. It should represent most important conceptual aspects of the design, and give viewers an inherent sense of place, perspective, and scale. The hero shot is vibrant, colorful, dramatic, and should be the only thing anyone needs to see to understand why your design matters.
This is the drawing designed to tell a story about the tectonic qualities of the architecture, as well as the interconnected quality of program and space. A well executed section perspective can give detailed information about building construction and experiential information about how the building will be occupied and used. Be careful, though, because if there’s too much story being told, the message can get lost in a mess of poche’d walls and tree roots.
A collection of strategic diagrams can tell more about the process of thinking behind a design better than anything on this list. They should be easy to understand, sequential, and very specific about the morsel of information they are trying to convey. A diagram can represent massing, lighting, circulation, program, zoning data, or just about anything that’s important to why architecture manifests as it does. Diagrams work great as complimentary drawings to experiential renderings.
3D animations and flythroughs are a product of the previous generation of technological advancement. What was once only available to studios like Pixar and Dreamworks became commonplace among professional renderers working in architecture and design studios. The are effective presentation tools that let viewers get a better sense of space, materiality, and how a conceptual work of architecture might be experienced when it’s completed. In recent years, animations have become cheaper, better, and moving closer to complete photorealism.
The bleeding edge of architectural visualization is the recent explosion of virtual and augmented reality technology. Hardware has officially hit the mainstream, which means designers are suddenly flooding the airwaves with hand-crafted virtual reality experiences they can use to literally walk their clients through their designs. Augmented reality still has a way to go, but there are still a handful of talented artists out there doing incredible things with little more than a smartphone and a piece of printer paper.
For interior architects and designers, perfecting interior renderings and drawings is the backbone of their business. If photorealism is the end goal, artists must work diligently to make sure lighting, materiality, and entourage are all working together in a natural way. Depending on the design, this can be a challenging endeavor, but one that is rewarded with clients who have a much better idea of how they will occupy the project once it’s complete.
With the rate in which technology is making the life of an architect easier, there is still no substitute for a roll of yellow trace paper and a sharpie. Sketching ideas is one of the quickest, most effective way to convey the essence of a design. Good architects can even use these sketches in a professional presentation to help viewers understand the design process and see without hearing how the designer came up with the end result. Don’t stop sketching!