An Interesting Approach to Architectural Design by Tatiana Bilbao
An Interesting Approach to Architectural Design by Tatiana Bilbao

In the past couple of years, computer visualizations have become a standard in architectural design. More than ever, architectural visualization is used for creating models and presenting future projects. At the same time, they allow customers to imagine how a particular structure will look when it’s done.

Many other benefits come from using architectural visualization, both for customers and designers alike. However, this is raising questions among some parts of the architecture community. A lot of people believe that this computerization of the whole process has made the “art” disappear out of architecture.

Still, the whole market is shifting towards technology, and it seems like there is no way to go around it. Or is there? Today, we’re going to talk about Tatiana Bilbao and her exciting approach to architectural design.

How is her Bilbao’s approach different?

What makes this Mexican architect stand out from the rest is the fact that she refuses to make any computer visualizations of her designs that are still a work in progress. Instead, this architect relies on collages during her work process to develop new building ideas and spice them up.

Most of her recent work exhibitions show her collages, sketches, and models. She avoids using finalized images as they are disruptive for her creative process and can make it challenging to finish designs.

Instead, she uses collage. This approach helps her implement a more collaborative approach, which improves the whole design process. Bilba says that she sees her architecture work as a platform where everyone can add their complexities, diversities, and personalities.

Renders can be damaging and uncreative

Bilbao has dismissed renderings early on in her career, and she was still able to build a successful career. When finishing her first residential project, she instantly noticed that rendering has a significant downside. When the whole project was finished, the client was a bit shocked by the final result.

The reason for this was that her client saw an early rendering, and this idea got stuck in their head. As an architect, she further developed the idea and made something new. On the other hand, the client was focused on the basic concept, and this is where disputes happened.

She says that this was damaging, and it disrupted the creativity of the architect. The process of designing should be a dialogue between the architect and the client. This is how architects can have their freedom and express their creativity while clients will get results they will love.

If the architect is creative, building ideas, while the client is stuck with a single image, the whole project will be harder. This is why Bilbao stopped doing renders during the design process and saved them strictly for the end.

Collages as a “substitute” for rendering

As a replacement for renderings, Bilbao started using collages. This might seem like a step back, but it isn’t, and there is a lot of sense in what she is doing. There are many exhibits where you can see her work, as well as the constructions that are now finished.

All of these projects were done using collages and had successful outcomes. She first did this because she didn’t have time to prepare a full presentation for a client. She improvised with the limited time she had and made a model out of foam, which she then transformed into a composite image using Photoshop.

The client loved the whole presentation. This was when Tatiana realized that there is a lot of potential in this approach.

The importance of collage

A collage can be essential for an architect’s work. All structures designed by architects are at first foreign objects that try to integrate themselves into already existing structures and surroundings. Every new structure is another piece added to the college.

This is a different approach to architecture. Professionals see space, buildings, and cities as a result of collective effort. Everyone is adding a piece of their vision, which leads to a system. Collage is used for coming up with new ideas, as a design method, and for representing projects.

This method can be used for projects where architects design relying on references, photos, images, or other spaces, and then they are collaged. These collages are shown to clients, and the design process starts from them.

This method integrates visual and physical elements, and all references are retained within the design while having a free flow of ideas. Clients can recognize what designers think because they can see relevant references that are displayed.

Collaboration is essential

This method is also very collaborative for practical reasons. At the same time, the collaborative effect showcases the whole approach to architecture Bilbao has. As a professional, she is not afraid of involving others on a project and hearing out their ideas instead of trying to do everything on her own.

The great thing about collages is that everyone can add their touch to a project quickly. There is no need to have any pre-knowledge of the whole project. As soon as a professional sees the displayed work, they can give their input instantly without having to restrain themselves.

She is one of the rare architects that naturally wanted to do the job this way. In a recent interview, she even said that collaboration is not just important to her personally, but it’s the only way she approaches her work.

Why hand-drawing still matters in architecture

As a 47-year-old architect, Tatiana started her work by hand-drawing. Later on in her career, she started doing a bit of AutoCAD. However, even though she used computer tools, she always understood how important it is for architects to use their hands and draw.

Digital software does make the job a lot easier. Architects can instantly see the scale, change features, angles, and add new elements quickly. The digital environment can be sterile in terms of creativity within the architect’s mind.

Paper forces architects to conceive the space by themselves. This makes their minds go to a new level and showcase their creativity. There is nobody to babysit architects, and they can go on a spree with “crazy” ideas. However, the beauty of it is that they also need to learn to restrain themselves and be realistic.


Architectural visualization is taking the whole industry by storm, and there are a lot of benefits. However, does this mean that Bilbao is entirely wrong? What do you think about the whole issue? Feel free to share your opinion.