For a while now, I’ve been creating architectural renderings for projects. When I first started doing these, computer generated images and 3D models were typically created by the large firms with the technology to do so. Smaller offices were still creating perspectives the old-fashioned way… hand drawn.
In the past decade, digital renderings from 3D models have become a standard. We use them here as a way for our clients, and ourselves, to understand the proposed design. The ability to visualize your design before you put hammer to nail is important. We can alleviate issues we might not see in 2D. But as far as the official architectural rendering goes, it allows us to say, “Here it is, the design.”
This brings me to the big question – Does an architectural rendering need to be a “photo?”
As technology has evolved, we have the ability to generate realistic lighting scenarios, insert photographic entourage and simulate environments. This is all well and good, but what about the architecture? For some designers, photo-realistic renderings are the only tool for selling their product. Shiny, polished, squeaky-clean images of hip people doing fun things in a well-lit space… great.
What about the design? How does it function? Sometimes a simple sketch is all that’s needed. Form, scale and relationships. These can be expressed without the glitz and glamour of European supermodels imposed on an ultra-reflective, spot-lit interior.
Have we gotten to the point as a culture that can no longer make the imaginative leap to understand a sketch? Can we only understand what space will be if the image is a photo?