Don’t Shoot the Visualizer

The amount of detail that can be put into computer-generated images (CGI) is unlimited. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish ideas from reality, which from time to time cause disappointment when the final results deviate from the architectural visualization.

Zu Schön, um wahr zu sein?” (“Too good to be true?“) is the title of an article brought in the Zurich newspaper Tages-Anzeiger Saturday the 11.01.2020. In the article, we give a response to the critique that architectural visualizations, from time to time, are disappointingly far from the realization.

However, it is not the first time that there have been aimed sharp attention on this topic. In May 2018 Es Devlin was in a Dezeen article quoted for saying that “Architectural renderings are >troublesome and problematic<“. And, one year earlier Dezeen Editor-in-Chief, Marcus Fairs, on his Instagram, brought attention to the 56 Leonard Skyscraper in New York, which he frustrated pointed out deviated from its architectural visualizations.

The short and boring answer to this is that building projects are intellective processes that last years and includes decisions that have to be taken appropriate to one another. And that building projects including tons of decisions regarding design, needs, function, materials, sustainability, budget, technology, legal permits, location, stakeholder expectations, execution and more. Therefore, many things can change over the years of planning and latter building and since changes affect one another it is plain logic that an architectural visualization of a given design most likely will vary from the finished result.

Additionally, the intention of architectural visualizations is not to make a one-to-one replication of a future building project, it is to prove a design and portray the atmosphere the the buildign will add to its surroundings. Even though visualisation is a marketing tool it also is an artistic discipline and a paid service.

In conclusion, there is no clear place to put ‘the blame’ for a building design’s deviations and development when it is taken from idea to realization. Disappointment may occur from time to time when the ‘promised’ design is not delivered. However, it is important to remember that the information that is transferred within an architectural visualization is much more than just the visual appearance of the design.

Words are great, but when it comes to architecture, nothing speaks like giving a true impression of your design through visualization.”
Brewer Smith Brewer Group, 2017

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