Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Architectural 3D Printing Moves Forward with AI

Wow, the field of machine learning and architectural 3D printing is moving fast. I wasn't planning to write about the topic again so soon but I didn't want to let these examples pass without sharing them first. Eureka Magazine has an interesting article up about a small London-based 3D printing firm, Ai Build, which people are going to want to check out. To date, they hadn't been on my radar either. Lately I've been impressed following MX3D's progress on a 3D printed metal bridge in Amsterdam. Ai Build's "Daedalus Pavilion" has similar goals so it's a sign the sector is very competitive. The technology is finally out of the lab but still needs further field research. Recommending architectural 3D printing for anything other than architectural features at this point might be risky, on the other hand, construction company Cazza says it's up to the challenge. They're determined to build a full-scale skyscraper in the Middle East using cementitious 3D printing techniques. The interesting thing here is that while some of the technology is still to be developed for the project, it also piggy backs on well-known and established construction techniques. The tower by Cazza will use cranes as a base of support for the 3D printers. This seems like a really efficient approach in my opinion and is different than the prefabrication techniques, say, used to accelerate Barcelona's Sagrada Familia's completion.

Returning to Ai Build's Daedalus Pavilion, we wish to stress that as this type of technology becomes more widespread, and more and more studios develop the expertise to execute complex generative design programmes, clients are encouraged to raise their expectations as well. This strategy creates a bulwark for our built environment against mediocre 3D printed blobs. Referring to the London installation, descriptively it's a symmetrically deformed surface; maybe some type of hyper-surface. But ultimately these shapes already have a history of use in architecture (in concrete shells). The difference here is that the structure was built by robots with some very interesting underlying software implementations. As people walk around it in a gallery however, I'm not sure how well this story unfolds. It never really breaks away from its nature as an architectural feature. Its engineering challenges are a bit better expressed in my opinion. It looks amazingly delicate. Like a person could lift it up with one arm. Here to keep the whole thing from snapping in half on opening night is the engineering expertise of Arup. I love structural engineering and even love designing strip malls and warehouses, but one has to admit calculating out the forces on lattice structures as shown is not something within every shop's capability to do. Quickly touching on the software before ending, the coders implemented deep learning algorithms during the production phase to improve the accuracy and speed of manufacturing. The approach appears to be quite computationally heavy, hence the involvement by NAVDIA, which I'm assuming brings a substantial amount of electrical engineering and computer science expertise to the project.

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Friday, March 17, 2017

Architectural Cage Match: MAD vs. BIG

In this article we try to exercise our good judgement by comparing two works each from two rival design studios. Each firm has expanded their branches all over the world but I still find where their home base is located informs their style. Copenhagen has been driving European style and technology trends for years now so it should be no surprise the Bjarke Ingels Group emerged as a leader in the field as clients looked around to hire some of that avantgarde postmodern appeal themselves. MAD Architects continues to open satellite offices from their Beijing headquarters, infusing their projects with that perfect sense of asymmetrical balance Asian art is known for. While trying to pick strong candidates to represent each, I'm definitely bias toward MAD Architects on the account of having lived overseas in Asia for years, but that doesn't mean there isn't a lot we can learn from BIG Architects as well.



To my eye, a lot of BIG Architects' portfolio strikes me as quite monolithic; and not the good type of Minecraft monolithic, but rather a more sinister dystopian future type monolithic. Modern designs' demand to be multi-functional highlights the fact some of the spaces created around their buildings become very inhospitable to humans under certain conditions. That said, one project where the monolithic forms create a balanced impression is the soon to be completed LEGO House in Billund, Denmark. Set to open later this year to hundreds of thousands of visitors per year, here I think the placement of shapes to echo the placement of LEGO bricks was appropriate and successful. There is a restraint in the design characteristic of traditional and modern Japanese architecture but missing in other BIG projects. The Grove at Grand Bay, Miami, is another tower complex which BIG Architects executed successfully. Some might be getting tired of white parametric designs going up all over the world, but I really identify with the style's rhythm. It's very musical to me. The Miami example also thankfully transitions away from being a strict rectangular prism skyscraper by including a dramatic twist at the bottom which is both visually playful and structurally challenging. This is another way BIG distinguishes themselves: they relish technical challenges, having recently opened a multidisciplinary engineering services firm under the Bjarke Ingels Group umbrella. And architectural and engineering challenges is always something we always champion here on the blog. 


A close comparison of the style is offered by MAD Architects' Absolute Towers of Mississauga, ON. Here the floor plate shape, in addition to structure, is manipulated to artistic and aesthetic ends through parametric modelling. The design pulls ahead of the BIG example because the curvilinear form smartly breaks away from monolithic characteristics. Again, the flowing rhythm and music of the design is excellent. Lastly, we come to MAD Architects' Harbin Opera House of Harbin, China, completed in 2015. The structure is a true tour de force of design, especially in its attention to detail. I really have to give credit to the studio for being able keep the aesthetic style consistent and functional at all scales. This represents a completely non-trivial challenge which many structures don't even attempt to solve, explaining why so many of our buildings end up looking the way they do and falling short on creativity. The Harbin Opera House is certainly a good example of the level of execution expected to be truly worthy of celebration and study. No one said being at the sharp point of design was going to be easy.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Nano-architecture


We try to deliver developments in materials engineering field because it's a valuable component anyone's ongoing surveillance of the AEC Industry. Engineering specific material qualities shows great promise but has been slow to leave the lab and find a place on the construction site. Useful nano-coatings are starting to emerge onto the market but I find it's the materials' structural and mechanical properties – which often merry contradictory qualities – most impressive. 


Credit: Glotzer Group, University of Michigan.

The first update comes from Northwestern University professor Chad Mirkin who's lab perfected a novel way of combining DNA to produce different crystallization structures. A lot of his research was based on previous advancements in modelling protein folding, one of the most computationally complex branches of applied mathematics, which here was used here in conjunction with other materials to create crystallization structures not previously seen in nature. The basic process harnesses knowledge of how A, C, G, and T nuclides fold but then include other nanoparticles in the self-assembly process to create the crystal structures. Here the medical benefits seem more apparent than the architectural goals, medicine delivery mainly, but different coatings could be developed in the future which have aesthetic or functional value to the AEC industry. His university summarizes his work thusly: "Mirkin is director of the research group that invented the chemistry for conjugating DNA and nanoparticles and a pioneer of the concept of programmable colloidal crystallization with nucleic acids."

The next update was super interesting because of its connection to 3D printing. Normally we promote a much bigger version of 3D printing suitable for architecture and construction, but Washington State University used 3D printing on a microscopic level which still has implications for architecture. Amazing! The details of the project are many but the general idea is that researchers used lasers to etch out their 3D structures from metallic vapour clouds, in this case gold. As the technique advances in sophistication and scale, the properties of these materials, say if carbon is substituted, start to have architectural implications. These materials can be engineered to have very specific mechanical properties of strength and lightness while still retaining certain amount of deflection and flexibility required for safe and productive building. Whole buildings made with of this sort of nano-technology are probably a way off but large-scale manufacturing of 3D printed materials is progressing quickly and there is nothing to say gravity defying architectural features can't be utilized within a decade. Having materials which combine characteristics that historically have always been contradictory openthe door to many creative design options. As adoption evolves, the laws of physics won't change how loads are transferred to the ground, but the structural members themselves could look radically different leading to new building forms heretowith not considered. 

Credit: Washington State University

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Let's Drink to Architecture!

Vineyards tend to be good locations in which to place postmodern architecture because, being surrounded by greenery, there is less conflict with neighbouring structures of different styles. Contradicting the area's historically established style is one way to really line up the locals against your project. Winemakers' healthy profit margins on the high-end and sensitivity to the way architecture can establish brand has made risk-taking common place in the field. Below we've collected six examples of structures where we think the risks paid off.

I'll have to be excused for making the reader do a bit of homework for this article. Getting all the image copyrights sorted out for a growing blog is turning out to be a bit of a pain. I've moved to plan B and made little iconographic sketches from publicly available images with links to more information and images.



B Birdsell
We start with a pure expression of form by Lisbon firm Promontorio in Portugal's wine making region. The simple white aesthetic might be divisive; but, assuming one accepts it, the form really is amazingly creative and the colour plays a role in highlighting it. Beyond functioning just as winery, the building also houses a spa and hotel which elevates the interior finishing to a refined and luxurious state. The design establishes some really inviting outdoor spaces around the structure for guests which is why I'm sure this winery gets named as a place worth visiting in the wire tourism industry.


The Winery at VIK, Millahue, Chile.
Smiljan Radic, Loreto Lyon 2014
Though this structure isn't quite as successful as some of the other wineries listed it should be celebrated for the larger than average creative risks it took. Completed in 2014 by award-winning Chilean architect Smiljan Radic, the structure includes a spectacular water feature at the entrance that's hard to describe. It's sort of this low pool which serves a heating and cooling function for the building that visitors walk over to enter. The reason it was such a risk is that the whole space is pretty experimental which lends it an unpredictable atmosphere no matter how many times it's used. It serves the purpose of a garden courtyard but looks nothing like it. The use of the space in this way seems disproportionate to the building's overall function as a winery but I like that the client took a creative risk and included it because I think the feature enthuses visitors and employees to the building.


Foster + Partners 2010
I wanted to make sure I left room on this list to highlight some of the most sustainable vineyards on the planet. A couple of solar panels and a water use plan was not going to cut it. I considered Renzo Piano's Rocca di Frassinello in Tuscany but ultimately felt the design fell a bit short compared to his other very strong work. Impressively, Foster + Partners again represents their sustainability credentials well with their work for the Faustino Winery in Bodegas Portia, Spain. Photovoltaics panels, materials choices and an extensive passive energy plan all contribute to the building's sustainability features. Great care was taken to accommodate the winemaking function of the building with a tourist function overlaid on top. I think the firm also did a good job understanding the winemaking process in implementing its function in the design. 



Archea Associati 2012
I liked this example because it showed real ambition in its landscape design and how it situated the building within the site. The Antinori Winery in Tuscany was designed to sort of materializes out of the main hill of the vineyard. There's also a wonderful staircase feature worth pointing out because these are the sorts of ideas clients and developers can aspire to without having to bankroll the intensive custom design process normally associated with high-profile, high-design buildings. Adopting an architectural feature to highlight goes a long way toward showing users the project cares about their well-being.


Bodegas Darien Winery, Spain.
Jesus Marino Pascual 2002
This building reminds me so much of Frank Gehry's work but without the strong curvilinear forms. Here we introduce architect Jesus Marino Pascual and his fine work for the Bodegas Darien Winery in Spain. He was able to offer a design that distinguishes itself by its balanced geometric aesthetic which if any one piece was removed would destroy the entire effect. Left unseen in the picture is that the building sinks into the ground quite far to accommodate wine-aging storage facilities.



Museo Provincial del Vino, Penafiel, Spain.
Refurbishment Architect Roberto Valle Gonzales, 1999.

Pivoting back now to end our travels we end at Penafiel Castle and the wine making museum housed within. The castle and museum sit in the center of an ancient winemaking region with the foundations of the earliest buildings on the site dating back to the 10th century, with most of the current exterior dating back to the 15th century. The castle, situated on a high narrow rocky ridge, reminded me of Game of Thrones or the headquarters building in Westworld. The same contrasting of old and new design is also evident in the wine museum which is snuggly fit into one of the courtyards. Architect Roberto Valle Gonzales completed it in the late 90s and I think it's a successful modern addition with lots of simple linear lines and natural materials and tones which complement the older stone structure. Unfortunately, even 20 years ago museum exhibit design was not as sophisticated as it now, and I'm not sure that if one is already familiar with the winemaking process these exhibits will blow anyone's mind.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

How to Adapt to Disruption Through Collaboration in the AEC Industry


This article begins by raising a red flag that disruption is coming to the AEC industry. A maturing workforce with expertise in building information modelling and computational architecture could not have arrived at a better time to match these challenges. However, business models and best practices around architectural 3D printing and additive construction are still very much in flux and a different type of mindset is needed to successfully tackle these subjects. Education is needed:


  • Building Design Management. Here we strive to understand additive construction techniques, architectural 3D printing, and building information modelling with the tools of business analysis and economics.
  • Digital design. There's a range of digital design characteristics to consider which affect creativity. Starting at the almost childlike interaction with technology through to architecture-specific traits like modularity and prefabrication.


One thing a fair and open society can do to adapt to these changes is collaborate; and here yes I mean in the warm-and-fuzzy sense but also the literal sense. A significant feature of preparing wisely for such a disruption is acceptance of the solution's multi-disciplinary nature. Here I'd like to introduce the work of Swiss-scientist Jonas Buchli in support. His recent research published through the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research is proposing a drastic change to the construction site, stating "radical focus on domain specific robotic technology enabling the use of digital fabrication directly on construction sites and in large scale prefabrication." Doesn't that sound like science-fiction? Science Daily goes on to describe the importance of multidisciplinary skills in the research, "They bring a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach that incorporates researchers from architecture, materials science, and robotics."


Jonas Buchli ETH Zurich/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

As buildings become more complex, the proportion of a structure an architect is qualified to design decreases. This highlights the collaborative role of the contemporary architect. Author Stephen Emmitt suggests "cross-cultural leadership intelligence" is needed and that is a very good way to describe it. Combining different engineering disciplines, construction specialities, and stakeholders into one motivated team still strongly depends on more ancient and subjective leadership qualities like open mindedness and compromise. Building projects are complex and expensive and therefore deserve a great amount of scrutiny and study to drive positive results. 


Understanding economic developments in the field are a bit more complex. To date, I haven't read an authoritative analysis of how the economic structure of the industry will shift when the effectiveness of economy-of-scale methods are reduced. Additive construction reduces the penalty for customization by moving the process dominantly into the software realm. It might take a once-in-a-century economic thinker like Adam Smith to frame our understanding of how these new markets will behave. In other respects, the educational component seems to be taking care of itself. Human playfulness and curiosity have ignited maker spaces across the world and there is lively research in the field into how best to introduce digital design to students of any age. Here readers are encouraged to check out the work of educator Corinne Okada Takara and institutions like MIT's Multimedia Lab which really are the sharp point of the multi-disciplinary architectural practice.



Thursday, February 23, 2017

Beacons of Sustainable Architecture


This post focuses on a still developing building-type that has some sustainability and quality-of-life features which deserve to be more widely known. Maybe green lighthouses are a widely known building-type or maybe the reader was like me and thought literally "green lighthouse" when they first heard the term. Digging into the subject these are really interesting buildings and might represent a good design option for some projects. The examples I've collected here are from Nanjing, China and the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and we're going to explore all sorts of connections between them to describe the type. Digital design and prefabrication techniques allows modern architecture to be very adventurous in experimenting with form, however, some projects will be looking for options which optimize modularity through simplifying form. Adapting the cylindrical shape to sustainable architecture drives a lot of the buildings' high-performance features, two of them being the amount and quality of the sunlight, and zero-carbon footprint.

University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Making some assumptions about the reader's familiarity with the characteristics of interior sunlight and how to control it, these buildings exemplify what is possible with careful solar modelling. I'm picky as sin when it comes to the quality of interior natural light and draw upon its connection to the productivity of employees and the comfort and health of staff to encourage its use. Materials on the development of the buildings make clear modelling the behaviour of natural sunlight inside over the day and year was key to optimizing the equal distribution of quality sunlight inside. Dynamic shading is utilized on the Nanjing example which contributes to the sustainability features of the building. Secondly, each building is carbon neutral which is a goal I try to champion because I feel an obligation on the behalf of the architecture profession to contribute to solutions of climate change.

There were too many other sustainability features to mention all of them which signals the maturing field of the sustainable design. Some of the credit for the abundance of efficiency features included in each project represents our last connection between the two. COWI Engineering, headquartered in Denmark, had a consulting role in each. I really liked their approach to sustainable architecture and infrastructure design and this is totally something we should all be supporting as we at the same time raise our expectations of how the AEC industry should contribute to lowering a building's carbon footprint and increasing its energy efficiency.



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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

VanDusen Botanical Gardens Visitor Centre


Reviewing the VanDusen Botanical Gardens Visitor Centre of Vancouver, we should be happy sustainable architecture continues to be second-to-none in terms of aesthetic appeal. Industry professionals should take note that the construction of the visitor centre in many ways exemplifies the benefits of building information model in streamlining the workflow of complex forms. To beginning, the website describes the overall building thusly:
"Shaped like an orchid when viewed from above, its organic lines echo the way nature and conservation have been considered at every turn. The building is widely recognized as a pioneering structure in green design—and is LEED Platinum certified."



A curved structural grid system was used to organize the building's layout from which the structural system of columns and custom glulam beams were derived. Much of the building's enclosure was made from pre-fabricated wood panels to capture the complex free-form surface. Again building information modelling software platforms are optimized for this type of work. Custom glulam beams and pre-fabricated wood panels would have been carefully tracked and laid out on page after page of construction details. BIM gives the additional confidence that as changes occur, the drawing set would have been automatically updated. The story of architecture separated from other design fields decades ago in setting aside how the design was to be built. It's just a characteristic of the professional field that unlike consumer-goods, architectural designs – "the product" – are sold before the design is even completed or built. As BIM matures we're seeing construction processes considered earlier in the design phase with the application of modularity and prefabrication techniques which have the effect of reversing this trend. Fast+Epp is again here again lending their expertise in the structural use of wood. 

When Frank Gehry was experimenting with free-form shapes at the beginning of his career he was really struggling against the 3D modelling software and manufacturing constraints of the time. Architectural 3D modelling skills are now much more advanced, including the availability of a wide talent pool of computational architectural specialists and programmers experienced in deriving complex geometry from the underlying maths. Therefore, the architecture loving public, which I include myself in, have a role in encouraging projects which are able to add depth and meaning to our visual world. Enter landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander. Practicing in Canada for nearly 60 years, she seems to be at the height of her powers on this project. Every angle of this building looks great and the wood detailing throughout is an inviting detail to copy but I doubt is replicable in any other building without her and the project team's help at Perkins + Will. Architect Peter Busby of P+W's San Francisco office also deserves a big shout out – especially for the green roof – because it's a heck of a sustainability feature. The street-level views of this building are great and I love the the free-form lines defining the elevations. If developers and real estate agents are trying to figure out what architectural features really add value to a building, this is definitely a good example of contemporary sustainable architecture to include in any early research. The building earned both Living Building Challenge Certification and LEED Platinum status, which is quite a unique accomplishment by my estimation.




Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Software Tools for Great Architecture

This article is not meant to be an introduction to parametric design – there are a gazillion other articles online for that – I write to strike right at the economic heart of BIM to develop productive design workflows, and in doing so hope to build valuable architecture. To keep our commitment of supporting not only creativity but also helping build more, from time to time we turn to look at the tools of design. It's only fair in the 21st century that this means reporting on the complex software which drives building information modelling. In the space of a day last week I read an online article about the growth of parametric design and accompanying commentary that didn't know what it was ever going to good for. To me this signaled that there is quite a lot of confusion around the subject meaning design firms will struggle to capture the efficiencies of BIM when such an ambiguous environment exists.

Before addressing how architecture and engineering firms can harness parametric design a short description of how BIM intersects the topic is appropriate. In this article I draw very little distinction between building information modelling, computational architecture and parametric design. Sometimes the differences between these topics is very important, today approaching the topic from a building design management angle each relates to the other so tightly in the design process such distinctions become unhelpful. I'll confess to being a bit of a math nerd and one of my favourite applications of calculus is the parameterization of systems. Formally the topic is applied to modelling dynamic systems but it's a good analogy for how we need to break down and organize a building model to start leveraging the advantages of digital design. If a building has three different roof heights, each can be assigned a variable. If a building has two window sizes, each can be assigned a variable and so on. The same way applied mathematics breaks down a complex dynamic movement (i.e. free-body diagrams), a building model too can be thought of as system of equations. Parameters are the handles we use in order to control the equation and model. The reason there is so much overlap in the topic is because pretty much any information attached to the digital model geometry can be considered a parameter, though this time not so much in the mathematical sense but instead a very functional one: Material type, material specifications, manufacturing information etc., in addition to every type of relation and offset amongst the geometry that is conceivable by the human mind or computer. These parameters allows for different types of model control and comparative analytics.    

Breaking down four ways firms can start leveraging parametric design today, parametric design:

  1. Can streamline the production of a construction drawings.
  2. Supports the search for an optimal design solution through rapid design iterations.
  3. Helps develop a building's advanced sustainability features and functional requirements through comparative analytics.
  4. Can generate complex yet elegant design forms.

Construction Drawings. Even the most basic applications of parametric modelling require skill and foresight to ensure success. Experience correlates only weakly with its application because the process is so complex and other factors begin to overwhelm the process. Architects, engineers and industry professionals need to have an excellent understanding in how the model will behave when the programmed variables change. For example the basic variables discussed above: Roof heights, floor elevations, offsets, etc. When design changes come across my desk sometimes I smile ecstatically – almost laughing out loud – because of how trivial it can be to make complex comprehensive changes (assuming the digital model has been caringly and intelligently built). All my beautiful details updating automatically across the drawing set. An example of this from last year was when an engineer brought some foundation changes to my desk. He looked so despondent because he thought I would have to spend half a day updating everything. Instead, with a few clicks, I updated everything while he was standing there, and could show him the updated sections and annotations. The ability of a well-designed building model to quickly absorb changes makes me smile even now as I write this remembrance.

Design iterations. Sometimes the solution space for a proposed design is truly prodigious; and while I love discussing the intersection of complexity theory and architectural theory, here we need to remember our priority should be searching the vast solution space of possible designs efficiently and productively. Here the task is supported by being able to generate and test many possible proposed designs efficiently. Clients have a lot on their plates and it's appropriate they ask for quantifiable ways to produce their expensive buildings. Being able to show the solution space was much more thoroughly searched leading to an even better high-performance building is an important way of distinguishing the project in the marketplace and ultimately offering the client a more valuable design.

Comparative Analytics. Having oodles and oodles of possible design solutions and making sure the solution space is well searched is only one step in creating a valuable building for the client. Comparing proposed designs relies on analyzing the differences between models. Comparative analytics is a field within computational architecture and all those parameters associated with the geometry are now needed to accurately model and control all sorts of conclusions about the proposed structure. These include energy modelling, solar modelling, building safety, material optimization, etc. A further step often seen in high-performance buildings is that results from predictive modelling can be fed back into the building model to optimize all sorts of things. The simplest example might be orienting a building to optimize the location's solar properties, but pretty much anything can be compared; material economization, mechanical systems, user travel paths, solar shades, and on and on. This is why beyond the formal skills needed to compare features, the subjective meaningful qualities of architecture again rise up to distinguish good architecture from great in what features were highlighted by the architect and client.

Parametric Forms. As referenced above, the advantages of parametric design can be utilized without any drastic changes in visual characteristics. It's still a strip mall but at least it's a computationally optimized one. Over the last number of years, however, several projects have been completed which, to my eye, establish parametric design as a visual style. (Calatrava's New York Oculus Station is very successful in this regard but Pinterest is as good a catalog as any to understand it further.) The notable feature of the of parametric exteriors and interiors is their seductive rhythmic variation. Looking forward, I hope parametric design isn't used for the sake of parametric design. As programming skills mature and expand amongst BIM professionals, there's going to be a tendency to use it everywhere. Complex patterns really are trivial to generate and critical thought will need to be applied to probe the meaning and depth of its use. It's the only way to ensure clients and communities get the beautiful sustainable architecture they deserve.





Wednesday, February 08, 2017

How Architectural Photography Makes Buildings Better

Personally I prefer a white page to write or draw on but undeniably the internet is a powerful visual medium. Now a stream of architectural photography comes at us literally seconds apart. How we can frame the subject to highlight the good from the merely average? I have a Linkedin connection to thank for getting the wheels turning on this post. He's recently introduced me to a pair of architectural photographers we should all take note of to improve our perceptiveness to good design and communicating good design. Much of what I have to say applies to 3D visualizations as well.

First to distinguish some of the theory behind photography's use in architecture. There's certainly a long history of its value portraying the structure honestly. Here meaning the journalistic sense; in that one wants to record or communicate the structure at a particular time and place. If the photographer can somehow move the viewer emotionally all the better.

If viewed on a continuum, the photographers I've chosen to feature distance themselves from this journalistic truth and embraces more use of artistic license. There are as many ways to use artistic license in architectural photography as there are creative photographers. This is why perceptiveness plays such a key role distinguishing good from average and is so helpful in improving one's own photography and renderings. Examples of artistic license's use include impossible exterior angles, positions from which people will never see the building from or access is restricted, or unnatural lighting conditions, which can never actually exist but can be quite dramatic and engaging nonetheless.

If playing with a viewer's perceptions, there must be a pay off for the viewer. Unburdening itself with strictly following reality, the images are free to communicate deeper truths about architecture such as what the structure means to the people who built it and to those who use it. Artistic license increases the expressive power of images to capture and communicate the subjective qualities of architecture. 
These are a building's qualities which are worth trying to write poems about or capture the in a few flowing lines on paper. It is exactly these qualities that when condensed amplify so well in visual network we participate in online and in galleries.  


This post is a bit light on images for the purpose of giving the photographers maximum credit. Swiss-based photographer Adrien Barakat brought us the stunning image below which I wanted to include its for educational purposes. It's a top down view of Calatrava's Oculus Station from a drone or something. I assume this top-down view will be become standard on Google maps eventually but this is where the artistry comes in and why Adrien is so good. The rhythm of the structure is so well expressed in this image. Composed asymmetrically with a strong form pushing bottom-left to top-right, it recalls to my eye Japanese woodblock prints' use of unbalanced yet harmonious asymmetries. There's a lot of technical things done right too. The colour pallet and exposure look perfect and there is absolutely no distortion to my eye either. Good job!

The gallery of Ulf Wallin also deserves a shout out. Many images are taken under challenging lighting conditions and I enjoyed seeing how he worked around them to produce excellent results. This is where smartphone images just crash and burn. All sorts of detail starts to be lost in the highs and lows because of the combined effects of internet compression, sensor noise and lens distortion. Wallin's images still read exceptionally well. There's technical skill on display here fighting back against challenging exposure conditions which is why he's the professional and I'm not. Others would seem to agree with me as to the value of Wallin's photography because looking at this portfolio he's been booked on jobs across the United States.