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Natural vs urban architectural rendering challenges

It’s the age-old question in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry: Which is better, natural or urban?

It’s the age-old question in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry: Which is better, natural or urban? The question, though straightforward, doesn’t necessarily lend itself to easy answers. And rightfully so as there are a lot of nuances, aspects and factors that need to be considered before you choose the style that fit your needs, tendencies and expectations. And while you’re at it, throw in the different 3D rendering challenges that come with both natural and urban architectural techniques for good measure.

It goes without saying that before we start to seek for answers, we must first know the basics, the nitty-gritty if you will, of the two fascinating, yet totally disparate disciplines in the AEC industry.

So what is natural architecture? First and foremost, it is more of a movement as much as it is a technique, approach or discipline. It is an art form that takes us back to the basics; to the primitive, when mankind was still closely connected to nature and when natural environment was considered an asset and not as a liability to the overall designing and building process. It’s main thrust and aspiration is to form a harmonious and lasting relationship between man and nature, hence the name ‘natural architecture’.

Its roots can be traced back in the late nineteen sixties via the land art movement. Though initially the movement was aimed to protest against the commercialization of art, it has evolved into somewhat of a different thing entirely. It became an activism; an awakening if you will that helped a new generation of designers and builders respect and appreciate nature in every aspect of the designing process.

Natural architecture is a minimalist art and it utilizes the simplest, most basic yet most fascinating materials nature has to offer. Though it requires the most elemental skill, it requires a great deal of imagination to integrate living materials into the building process and come up with a structure or design that not only is economical and sustainable but is also something that is profoundly moving. In a nutshell, this style or movement is quite simply the seamless melding of humanity and nature through architecture. It’s a bit ambitious but its potential is undeniably boundless.

Urban architecture on the other hand is a totally different animal. One can even argue that it is the polar opposite of natural architecture in terms of approach and aspirations. Unlike its natural counterpart, urban architecture is highly focused on the efficient use of space because just like what its name suggests, its design is specially intended for an urban setting, where people live and work in close proximity. Great examples of urban architecture are high-rise buildings like Tapei 101, Empire State Building, Pertonas Twin Towers and Burj Khalifa among others.

With half of the world population now living in urban cities, the demand for urban architecture has been at an all-time high. And looking at how things are going, the numbers would surely be up for several years, if not generations to come. In urban architecture, efficiency and practicability is king and unfortunately, nature is an afterthought. The only time when it gets in the picture is that when architects and engineers are required to make buildings that are safer for the environment. But that’s few and far in between. Having said that, urban architecture is an integral part in modern living as it provides designs that make city life that much bearable. And with visionaries now in the forefront of architectural design, there seems to be a conscious effort to merge natural and urban design when the occasion calls for it and when technology would permit it. It’s not a lot but it’s a great start.

Now that the differences between the natural and urban architecture have been clearly delineated, the next important question would be: What are the different 3D rendering challenges that both pose? Because at the end of the day, the one that sells the idea or design is the final step in the designing process which is architectural rendering. Unfortunately again, there are no simple answers to this question. The most challenging part however whether it be natural or urban architecture, is choosing the right 3D rendering firm that fits your needs and vision.

So how do you do it? How do you know that such firm is the one for you? Some would say that the ‘almighty dollar’ would determine that. If it fits your budget, then it might be right for you.

Well, that’s not entirely true in most cases because there are firms that offer more but are not better or worse than those that offer less. Why? Because now everything is wired and interconnected and workloads and talents can now be outsourced with a flick of a button--which makes the market and pricing that much competitive.

In fact, there are firms in China and India that offer less but are as good if not better than the more established alternatives in the market. They can do this because they don’t have huge overhead costs plus the fact that the cost labour in countries such these are comparably low compared to their western counterparts. And then there are freelancers who provide architectural rendering services at a very cheap price. My point is this: The choices are unlimited and if you only base your decision on the pricing, then you’re leaving the future of your project to chance.

Additionally, choosing those more affordable firms can also cost you more money in the long run because, in outsourced work, you don’t know what you going to get until you try it. Sure there are portfolios or feedbacks that you can look at but they are just glimpses to what they can really do. At the end of the day, communication is the key to a successful 3D rendering project and in outsourced jobs, proper communication dissemination and management is the ultimate challenge that you need to get over.

What you need to do is do a little bit of research, ask people in the business that you personally know and you go from there. It’s the least that you can do to save yourself from unnecessary headaches and additional costs in the future. So do yourself a favour and choose wisely. It’s not a question of whether or not natural architecture poses more 3D rendering challenges than its urban counterpart or vice versa because when all is said and done, even if they are distinctly different, the right 3D rendering firm would be more than capable of dealing with the challenges that each poses.

Comparing natural architectural to urban architecture is like comparing colours, it’s a matter of preference aesthetically speaking. Their functionality however, is not as subjective as it may seem as there are instances in which one is applicable and practical to employ than the other. In the end, it’s not actually a matter of preference but a matter of need; just like everything else in the demand-oriented world of the AEC industry.

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