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Computers & architecture.

Architects have long been interested in the potential of Computer-Aided Drafting and Design (CADD) and Computer-Aided Design and Manufacturing (CAD/CAM). it has taken considerable time for computer systems to meet the demands of the architectural world as well as the budget limitations. All of this has changed in the last few years. Computers are now used for tasks such as drafting, design, rendering, modeling in virtual three-dimensional space, animation walk-throughs, surface texture and color treatment, lighting, energy analysis, layout and printing of plans, and the writing of reports. Architectural firms, schools and home remodelers have embraced the computer as a tool for processing design ideas.

Software and Special Features

Software is available for developing designs for homes, interiors, landscapes and walk-throughs so the designer can explore "what if" scenarios. Some programs work in two dimensions so all the images are in diagrammatic, plan or side view. Special features allow the designer to create layers of multiple floors, plumbing and electrical schematics. other programs provide three-dimensional wire frames and solid modeling features in three-dimensional environments. These allow the user to build or construct models with walls or basic forms as well as roof shapes and window openings. When designing interiors, some programs provide standard predrawn furnishings, fixtures and appliances. Special landscape programs even have an "aging" feature to see how your landscape will change over time when plants mature.

Design and Production

What role does the computer play in the important design process that takes place throughout the early development of an architectural concept? The challenge for software developers has been to provide tools that help in the design process as well as in the production of the many detailed drafting plans that must be developed for the bidding process and construction drawings.

Personal computers have had a significant effect on architectural offices in the way that work is done. Computers are being used at each stage of a building's development. it may, however, not completely replace the pencil.

As one architect told me, "There is something magical that happens when my #2 pencil touches that canary yellow paper and my creative ideas start flowing."

Reference Software

By Graphsoft: Blueprint 5 MiniCAD 5 By Abracadata: Design Your Own Home--Architecture Design Your Own Home--Interiors Design Your Own Home--Landscape By Artifice: DesignWorkshop By IDDMacroModel: MacDraft 4.0 By Macromedia: 1.5 By Virtus: Virtus WalkThrough Pro 2.0 Virtus VR Kenneth R. O'Connell is a professor and head of the Department of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Oregon in Eugene.
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Article Details
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Author:O'Connell, Kenneth R.
Publication:School Arts
Date:May 1, 1995
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