Latest architectural breakthroughs

The emerging technologies exhibit is often the most interesting aspect of the conference. Students and researches from all over contribute some of the most fascinating and innovative technologies.

Probably my favorite this year was this project conceived and created by a couple of Architecture students. On the table is a plan of an architectural design (in this case a church) and the LCD screen above has sensors on the bottom which detect it’s placement on it, thus allowing it to cut a section through a 3D model (or if placed in front of the building, the elevations) of the building and displaying it on the screen in real-time. Wherever you put the screen a section of the design is cut and rendered automatically. The brilliance is in the simplicity of the user interface – even the most neo-Luddite of clients could figure it out. The only drawback was that the rendering system tended to push the model down as you passed over it. Still, an excellent job by a pair of students. They are clearly not having enough fun in school:

The first interactive system I saw of this manner was at the project when I visited in Zurich in 2001. This system is clearly more sophisticated and very easy to use. by moving the little wood widget on the lighted table, one can navigate through the interior of a 3D modeled building. Again, ease of interaction is key and I’d wager kids would have this figured out in seconds. Also, there’s a nice touch with a camera mounted on the top if the display with photographs the user and displays their image reflected in the glass when they look into it.

Part of our office’s design workflow are weekly design review meetings where all the partners and the associates in charge of design get together and review projects currently in schematics. We sit in the central studio and pin drawings up on the wall like any school crit. Well that is why a system like this, especially as we move more and more into 3D modeled design (in our office about 90% of the designers are primarily using a program for schematics) would greatly help the workflow providing a collaborative way for the whole group to integrate with the design together (and maybe kill fewer trees without printing so much).