Software within a pipeline

“the problem with the current generation of architects and their resultant architecture is that they think analogue but produce algorithmically”

– an excerpt from Peter Eisenmann’s Lecture at RIBA Lecture series, December 2008.

It’s been 09 Years since I heard that claim. Although, Eisenmann chuckled that he too did not know what it meant, I believe there is merit to it even today. Especially since the advance of tech and its resultant influx into mainstream lifestyles is ever increasing. The potential of ICTs infiltration still amazes our civilization.

Professionally, diagram 1, is a typical example of a Design to Delivery software pipeline of any project worldwide. Depending on complexity of the project and maturity of the region, the tools/software maybe be added/subtracted. Personally, the conversation on software in the professional realm is quite cumbersome. At one level, the majority of architecture produced in every era has been a reflection of tools being used at the studios. At the other, tools were invented by Otto, Nervi, Gaudi, Musmeci to express their formal and theoretical aspirations.

However, the marriage between present software methodologies (beginning in mid-late 90s) and the architectural endeavour can be attributed to essentially 2 offices. Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry. While, ZHA’s lust to utilise urban Data to influence design (example One-North Urban Design, Singapore) gave us Max/Maya/rhino/excel Design workflow; Frank Gehry’s drive to solve and build complex geometries provided the world with Digital Projects.

With this at the background, There are essentially 2 reasons we like to discuss software today:

1 – STRENGTH TO DREAM BIGGER, WILDER AND THEN BUILD IT – This is an obvious one. The tools are providing architects with the opportunities to test their potential. What is more encouraging is that the professional construction industry has the prowess to build the aspirations, no matter how wild it may be. Every building has the potential to be Revolutionary.

2 – ARCHITECTS ARE NOT IN CONTROL – I wrote and lectured about this back in 2009. The influx of ICT has caused architects to become data manipulators and designers of systems which in turn are capable of generating tangible, tectonic, physical products. Gone are the decades where an architect would sway a pencil over a sketch to express the vision. This is both exciting and nerving, since the final outcome is not necessary the vision; it is merely one of the ‘correct’ outcomes. Our built environment has the potential to be evolutionary.


The above thoughts were published in MGS ARCHITECTURE, April 2018; along with the following article

Whinings of an Architectural Practice