For architects and interior designers, creating an impression that is as identical as possible to the final product is an essential element of their professions.
Most clients desire to see their buildings or interior spaces transformed into the ideal concept they had visualised. The architects are tasked with the unenviable responsibility of making this happen.
It is for this reason that the use of architectural animation and 3D modelling software in the design of buildings and interior spaces is fast gaining popularity.
Not so long ago, building plans used to be done and presented entirely on paper, consuming a lot of resources, time and labour.
However, an architectural job that could typically have taken up to three months in the past can now take two weeks.
Experts say that the increasing adoption of 3D imaging and architectural animation has resulted in more accurate representations, convenience and saves clients time and money in construction projects.
According to Waweru Njuguna, an architect and interior designer at Synergy Arc, an architectural firm in Nairobi, use of digital imaging in architecture boosts accuracy and speed in design.
“It’s now become much easier to show the client exactly what you want to build and the projected outcome using 3D models and animation,” says the architect. “In addition to this, changes and manipulation could easily be factored in as the project progresses eliminating the hassle of having to redo entire plans.”
Adds Njuguna: “If, for example, you are changing the flooring from wood to carpet, you can easily go back to your project design on the computer, make the changes and have the new layout reflect on the final design.”
This according to Njuguna, has made consultation between the design team and the clients easier and as such, proposals are developed much faster.
Steven Oundo, an architect and the chairman of the Architectural Association of Kenya, says that digital imaging is catching on and is changing the way modern construction is done.
“Using imaging software is much faster and more accurate compared to the old system where we used to draw by hand and take a lot of time,” he says.
“In the past it used to take between one to three months from the time of making the actual drawing to the time it took to go to the site. Using imaging software, the same project now takes between two weeks to about a month depending of course on the complexities of the design.”
In addition to this, Oundo says that the adoption of technology by other stakeholders in the field of construction has further streamlined hitherto lengthy processes.
“We are now able to submit our drawings to the relevant building authorities online and get the approval of the same within a month; this is compared to the three months it used to take in the past,” he says.
Clients can also easily monitor the progress of the design irrespective of their location since architects are able to send plans through email at specific stages of the project design.
“For those projects which require funding from donors, it’s easier to share the concept with someone halfway across the world than if you would have done the entire project on a piece of paper,” says Oundo.
However, the inherent benefits of computer generated architectural designs do not come without their downside, the greatest drawback being the initial cost of original architectural software.
“The most common software that is in use in the country is Archicad of which its latest version Archicad 15 costs between $3,000 to $4,000 for a single use professional licence,” says Njuguna.
Other architectural imaging software used include Atlantis and 3D max.
Njuguna, however, says that one can negotiate a special pay-for-use plan for which one could pay about $1,000 annually.
The mainstream use of imaging software in architecture has made institutions that train architects to incorporate digital imagery in their curriculum to prepare future architects for the changing trends in the profession.
However, Oundo says that the use of hand drawn designs has not been abandoned entirely.
“There are those clients who are very impressionistic and insist that their projects be done entirely by hand,” he says.
“Because of these individual cases, design by hand is not about to be completely abandoned.”