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How Architectural Visualization Will Change This Year

Architectural visualization is always changing. Here’s where we see the industry headed in the next year.

Being on the bleeding edge of architectural visualization is a constantly moving target. As technology advances, users get more experienced, and new software is developed, the capabilities of 3D rendering artists continues to change the design landscape.

There are thousands of firms and offices out there willing to invest in better work, better communication, and a better process. They are the ones driving the conversation forward, and always trying to make their designs better and their workflow more efficient. Better visualization leads to better architecture. No one knows this better than the people behind the desk.

Architectural visualization will change this year. The only question is, how?

This article will examine where architecture visualization stands in 2018, and where it might go in the next 12 months.

Realism is Dead

There was a time, not too long ago, when the pinnacle of architectural visualization was to produce the most photorealistic renderings and animations money and technology would allow. However, what many designers came to realize is that realism isn’t everything, and in fact can have the undesired effect of serving up promises it can’t deliver.

In many ways, people are reverting back to a more artistic and conceptual representation of unbuilt work. Of course, this depends on the stage in which the process is in, but sometimes being diagrammatic and vague are in the best interest of future flexibility.

Today, rendering and visualization are becoming more about experience, and less about what color of brick your going to end up arguing over for the next six months. This flavor of rendering allows designers to remain dexterous, and give clients information they need without selling the hand before it is dealt.

VR and AR are Coming

Actually, they are already here. Virtual reality is already making massive waves in the architectural visualization industry, with offices investing in technology that will further immerse their clients into a conceptual work. These experiences don’t have to be photorealistic because they are allowing people to feel exactly how a space will operate in terms they can easily understand.

And client relations is just the beginning. Architects are even using virtual reality to communicate with builders to better explain details, and make sure things are being constructed to support the design, and not in spite of it.

Augmented reality is a bit further out, but it would seem to be a natural extension of VR, providing a real-world backdrop for the superimposition of the unbuilt architecture. It is a frontier that has yet to be explored, but is positioned to revolutionize the way we design, and the way we communicate that design to the rest of the world.

In the next year, expect VR to make its way into more and more architecture studios. As a low bar, it has the potential to be used internally as a fast, responsive design tool that eliminates a lot of the guesswork out of experiential architecture. AR is probably still a bit behind, but as the technology becomes more advanced, don’t be surprised to see a mainstream system released in the next 2-3 years.

Back to the Basics

As many architecture firms are thinking about the direction of their design communication, many are getting back to the things that worked 20 years ago, and still work today. They’ve realized design drawings don’t need to be flashy, shiney, and neat - they need to be successful at communicating ideas. As the writer says: show, don’t tell.

Diagrams - both static and dynamic - are making their way back into the repetrior of architects around the world. And whether they are sketched out on a napkin or digitized and animated, a simple diagram has the potential to say more about a design than an image that aims to replicate the finished product down to the exposed hexagonal screwheads.

Simplicity will always beat out complexity when it comes to drawing. Architectural visualization has become a game dominated by one-uppers. This is a dying trend, as people are working hard to do the very simple, but very difficult thing of conveying an idea. I don’t care what color the brick is, I want to know why there is brick in the first place.

Along the horizon are new technologies, old ideas, and a whole mess of people looking to make their stylistic stamp on the arch viz industry. The direction that architectural rendering takes will be driven by these individuals, and rest on the merits of their ability to distill information and make it plainly obvious to digest.