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Updated: Jun 30, 2020

People often ask “do architects still use a drawings board?” Well I can say yes they do…

I often use computer aided design (CAD) software to prepare a lot of my drawings, especially on projects such as Wellington Lane where the proposed building is square and regular, or in other cases such as SOPHA where a lot of technical information about the construction is required and contained within the digital model. More about this approach, called BIM in the industry, another time.

But sometimes it just feels right to get the drawing board out, not just for the early concept and sketch design stage, but to proceed right through the design process to planning permission and even for the technical/construction drawings.

I quite often work on old buildings, for example thatched cottages in Cornwall and Devon, where the walls are never square, floors are not level and the materials have aged over time to bring natural curves to the internal and external surfaces. Drawing straight lines on CAD, not only doesn’t capture the essence of the building, but can force an inaccuracy to the representation which will be a problem later down the line.

If I am undertaking work to listed buildings, it is important to look closely at the building and understand the qualities of the existing building which makes it special. A conservation officer looking at drawings will want to be assured that the building has been recognised as special and will be dealt with sensitively by the design team, client and the building contractors.

Updated: Jun 30, 2020

Sopha in the Sun

Earlier this month I paid a visit to a recently completed project in Somerset: Sopha.This is the first time that I have been back since the shop has been opened and it was great to see the building fully fitted out and buzzing with visitors, having lunch in the cafe and browsing for furniture in the shop. 

I was lucky to pick a bright day which gave some great pictures of the front elevation, showing off the restored brick and stonework, together with the newly constructed timber shop front. Internally the spaces proved to be well lit with natural light, largely from the north and east facing window openings which were reglazed with new timber sash units.

Interior of the furniture shop

During the day I also caught up with the company who supplied these windows, David Salisbury, at their factory only a stone's throw from the site. Historically David Salisbury are renowned for orangeries, conservatories and for large commercial projects, and are now experiencing growth in demand for their bespoke timber windows and doors.

The factory is an impressive, highly mechanised operation, but still employs many staff to do the jobs the machines can't do, making a high quality and well crafted final product. We are proud to have worked closely with this local business, and with many others, who helped restore the George to it's former glory.

huge machinery at the factory in Highbridge

It is exciting times for Sopha who have already won local business awards, and we are wishing them the best of luck in their new home. For more information about the project do have a close look at my project page. For information about Sopha, please do visit their page and find time to visit the shop. The cakes are fantastic!

Updated: Jun 30, 2020

Early this year I have been researching new computer graphics software which will help me produce photorealistic images of my designs. This can be really useful in the design process to explore how materials will look in different lighting conditions and allow the client to get a better understanding of the scheme.

Which software?

There are a lot of packages out there which are now mostly subscription services where digital model files are rendered in the cloud. Whilst reviewing the alternatives, I stumbled upon Blender which is a 3D modelling, animation and light simulation package. Blender is actually open source which means that it is completely free to use, but it still remains a very powerful programme used by hobbyists and professionals alike.

Initially the software is proving very complex and would be hard to learn without the support of a large resource of training and information videos on YouTube and elsewhere on the internet. Having spent some time exploring the tool set, it is clear that I have only just scratched the surface and the possibilities are endless.

The results

Here is an example of my first render where I have modeled an existing farmhouse in Devon, ready for the design proposals. So far I have learnt how to apply textures to surfaces, model the topography and landscape, and setup realistic lighting conditions. My next step will be to experiment with different materials and backgrounds to improve the scene.

#blender #render #architecturalrendering #workinprogress

My first render in Blender

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