Modern computing and digital fabrication make exciting and complex designs possible, and at speeds that were never possible before.
We’re in the midst of a rapid shift in the way we design architecture, says Brady Peters, assistant professor of architecture at the University of Toronto. That shift is largely driven by the move from working manually at a drafting board to working digitally, with computers being the everyday design tool for young architects.
“We’re in this period of massive change,” says Peters. “I think we’re really only just now realizing the potential of the computer, using computer code to generate architecture.”
These powerful tools are allowing today’s architects to quickly develop complex geometries, but that leaves important questions about how to construct them. For rapid prototyping, Peters was one of the first to adopt 3D printing technology. But computation also opens doors to collaborative work.
“Computation, as well, enables architects to integrate more with engineers and building performance through things like environmental analysis and structural engineering,” adds Peters. “So we can make our architectural designs respond to performance needs.”
As the tools used to design architecture evolve, so does the entire practice of architecture. That makes this an exciting time to influence the development of emerging technology.
Peters thinks of computer programming as analogous to drawing with a pen, allowing the creation of custom digital tools by sketching with code. It opens up the palette of options that come as standard options with computer-aided design software.
“I think that’s the new generation that’s really going to have this opportunity to not only use this design technology, but shape it,” says Peters. “They’ll shape it into what they want, and therefore shape architecture and the practice of architecture into what they want.”