Unreal Architecture

I wasn’t expecting that my first entry into the new radical architecture series would be produced by a large firm known for constructed the Radio Shack campus or the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium.

But as I read Monday’s email from ArchNewsNow, that turned out to be precisely the case. Last year, my colleague at NYU, Alex Galloway predicted that architecture would soon adapt rendering engines from video games. This has happened much sooner than I expected as HKS has adopted the Unreal Engine to produce interactive visualizations as Business Week recounts in this story on Unreal Architecture.

And it’s about time. If Mayatecture’s days were numbered before, it is doomed now. But punning aside, the devices that architecture uses for projection are constituent for its production. So if video games have replaced cinema and television as the dominant mass cultural form, then architects should respond appropriately. 

The transformation promises to be immense. Take the means that we experience projects in the studio. For the most part, rendering engines based on cinema have produced static images or animations that offered no interactivity. If such technology takes hold the ubiquitous powerpoint or plotter image as well as the long zoom and pan on the object floating mysteriously in a field of black will be history, as well the row of critics staring obediently with their mouths agape.

Instead critics and audience alike will be riveted to their laptops, running through projects to understand them. Narrative and procession will become important again. Surfaces will cease to be interesting, except for the effects they produce as you pass them at a high rate of speed. Perhaps we’ll see the critics shooting at each other with rail guns? Take that, you gratuitous formalist! 

More at the Archengine site. 

 

I wasn’t expecting that my first entry into the new radical architecture series would be produced by a large firm known for constructed the Radio Shack campus or the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium.

But as I read Monday’s email from ArchNewsNow, that turned out to be precisely the case. Last year, my colleague at NYU, Alex Galloway predicted that architecture would soon adapt rendering engines from video games. This has happened much sooner than I expected as HKS has adopted the Unreal Engine to produce interactive visualizations as Business Week recounts in this story on Unreal Architecture.

And it’s about time. If Mayatecture’s days were numbered before, it is doomed now. But punning aside, the devices that architecture uses for projection are constituent for its production. So if video games have replaced cinema and television as the dominant mass cultural form, then architects should respond appropriately. 

The transformation promises to be immense. Take the means that we experience projects in the studio. For the most part, rendering engines based on cinema have produced static images or animations that offered no interactivity. If such technology takes hold the ubiquitous powerpoint or plotter image as well as the long zoom and pan on the object floating mysteriously in a field of black will be history, as well the row of critics staring obediently with their mouths agape.

Instead critics and audience alike will be riveted to their laptops, running through projects to understand them. Narrative and procession will become important again. Surfaces will cease to be interesting, except for the effects they produce as you pass them at a high rate of speed. Perhaps we’ll see the critics shooting at each other with rail guns? Take that, you gratuitous formalist! 

More at the Archengine site. 

 

One thought on “Unreal Architecture

  1. HKS may have been the first
    HKS may have been the first group to drop the cash, but this has been brewing for a while. I’ve been hearing rumors of students attempting to use game engines at various schools over the past four (and likely more) years with little to show for it. Unfortunately, as proof that architects are always late to the techno-party, HKS decides to go with Unreal, an outdated engine by now! What about Half Life or Crytek? Check out the latter for some very impressive realtime visualization.

    The level of quality as evidenced in those unreal shots seems like a pathetic reversion to the early 90s. The visuals are not the architecture, but at a point when photorealism is the default the best game graphics are either so photoreal that they’re fantastical or eschew reality all together in favor of a hyper cartoon (think mario). HKS used it to make “custom pitches” for million dollar condos? With those graphics?

    So while I agree with you that game engines (or, more correctly, an easy pipeline from rhino/3dmax/maya to a decent game engine)could change the way crits and discourse work both, why are architects once again settling for someone else’s twice warmed over dessert?

    A good blog to watch on the subject is Digital Urban’s Game Engines category.

    And as an aside, while a rail gun would be an expeditious way to get rid of rivals, I’ve always thought it would be nice to skate around a building.

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