By Charles Mgbolu &Daniel Alfred Without doubt, IT continues to go beyond borders; taking computers, software and the internet to virtually every profession on the face of the earth. Already,traditional architecture has witnessed a dramatic transformation that has seen the profession move from crude pencil designs and plan sketches to breath-taking 3D graphics and animation.
In this interview, Mukoro Kenny a 3D architect and principal partner at MGB Imperials; an architectural firm based in Lagos, however, tells of a war that brews between the Art in architecture and the sweeping effects of modern 3D technology. Although he admits that technology couldn’t have come at a better time for architects he insists “architecture is an art and will never be fully taken over by technology” Excerpts:
How would describe the field of architecture before computers came in? Computers in architecture came fully in Nigeria in the early 1990s. I started using computers professionally in 1997 and I will say that computers have brought remarkable speed to architecture. But while we were in school, we had not been allowed to use the computer because lecturers wanted us to stay put to traditional architecture which is the pencil and paper thing. In truth, this is the crust of architecture.
Design concepts start with the hand sketch; you can’t use the computer there. This is where a true and gifted architect is known. The sketch is the originator of everything, the computer itself only helps to bring the design to life. But again, the remarkable help from the computer cannot be overemphasised. It now helps us to create three dimensional drawings.
This couldn’t have been possible in the past. In those days, it had just been 2D; just plans with front and side elevations. The computer has really made the difference for us.
Tell us how. There are different software now being used in architectural firms; popular is the AutoCAD. You can build your 3D drawings from AutoCAD. There is also the Web page that helps bring out your 2-D and 3-D pages. The 3D man is also another software and is out-phasing the model.
The model is a rustic way of presenting the end look of a design work. It portrays what the building will look like. But these overtime gets dusty or all cramped up; thus failing to continually show the eventual end look of a design and it is in most cases thrown away.
On the contrary, the 3d is a computer generated model; pictorial and very colourful, it can be printed out or put in a frame. Because it’s computer, animation could be worked into it to show before and after scenarios. Thus, presentation is more exciting and livelier.
That is what the computer has brought. CorelDraw is another software that brings bare floor plans to life. There is also the Photoshop, 3D plugging, 3D max, a lot of them, all these help bring about the realism of our design presentation.
If computers are capable of doing so much why the emphasis for a hand sketch first? It is inevitable, some may not be doing a hand sketch first but every good concept comes from the it. I have a couple of friends who before they do anything on the computer do what is called a sketch trace on paper. Not that they don’t use the computer but they actually do a lot of their work without the computer.
The plans of the elevations are all done via sketching. Generally, the computer is faster and the finished work looks much better. But then architects will never because of this ignore the traditional method no matter how tempting the computer softwares becomes, they all still come back to hand sketch first.
Will you say it’s a struggle between using the computer and not using the computer? In a way, yes. Architecture, despite the fact that one has to bring excellent designs, actually needs a plan. Mind you, these architects are good but most times they decide not to use the computer because they feel they can bring out their best out from a hand sketch rather than a computer generated approach. However, a clause hangs here.
Today’s architects need to sell their designs to survive and this is only possible if good presentations are made; a solution that has been brought easily by the computer and so using the computer eventually is inevitable. Somehow even the most traditional of architects must resort to using the computer and it’s many softwares.
But do you ever see the computer completely obliterating the hand drawing? In my own view, No.You see architecture is primarily an art and no strength of modern technology will be powerful enough to take that away. I still insists that the best architects are not the architects that sat in front of the computer.
The best architects are architects that started their construction from hand sketches. These software have brought so much good to the profession but because architecture is an art. It can never be outphased by the computer.
How has these softwares helped personally? I will say I was one of the fortunate ones good enough to grab the knowledge when the computer boom came. I grabbed both 2D and 3 D knowledge. I now know that if I am working on a project for a client, I have to start thinking ahead what it would look like on 3D 3d. Without the computer, architecture would have been cumbersome, tiring and maybe boring.
Tell us about you firm. I’m a principal partner at MGB imperials; an architectural firm that has been in existence now for over a decade. I am in charge of the firm’s IT architectural angles and designs.