Archive | December, 2011

Programming For Architects

27 Dec

A recent article in Metropolis Magazine, Digitally Enhanced | Custom Jobs, touched on an issue I had been pondering for some time — computer programming for architects. The article addresses two areas where computer programming have aided architects, in form finding and customizing software.

Programming for form finding has become a field of inquery for some architects. According to Yolande Daniels, in Architect Magazine, students at Columbia “fall into two basic camps: those interested in digital form-making, and those interested in architecture’s environmental and humanitarian possibilities.” While using computers to generate forms seems rather obvious, it is still not a universal practice but rather a niche area of study. With Rhino and grasshopper, as well as Vasari, it is become more widespread. See Buildz for some amazing form creation in Vasari.

Two widely used software programs allow for their own modification – AutoCAD has AutoLISP and Revit has API access. Building plug-ins or modifying software is by no means something architects need to do; however, being able to modify your tools to fit your needs is a valuable skill. An architect should not be limited by the software in front of him.

Where I see programming as a tool for architects is in the management of data. The move to Building Information Modelling (BIM) requires the creation of more information and more sharing of that information. Luckily for us, BIM tools provide better access to that information. In my work, I have found that through the use of PHP, a programming language, I can connect to a database of my building model. With this connection I can read, modify, and analyze this data in ways that the program does not allow. I can reformat the data to other file formats and I can join this data to other files. As buildings move from lines in CAD to objects within a database, those that can manipulate, access, and analyze that data will be the ones that get ahead.