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It’s a fair statement to say what the term “architecture” means is simply how a building is designed, particularly the creative style used to do so. Storied and famous architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright have left us with some breathtaking artistic statements that will be admired for many years to come.
It’s also a fair statement to say that architecture is so much more than just an impressive visual statement in the form of a building. Creative design notwithstanding, there are many more facets to architecture than you may think.
Before we go much further, it may be a good idea to get an idea of what architecture truly is. In the macro sense, architecture can be defined as “…the process and the product of planning, designing, and constructing buildings or any other structures.”
From that definition, it’s easy to see that it is much more than just how a building looks; it is a general term that can cover a wide range of engineering and creative functions.
Let’s take a look at some of the different areas and niches that architecture can touch, and then also discuss how today’s CAD technologies can most effectively turn ideas into reality.
Residential architecture is the most common perception of what architecture is all about. It’s a specialized set of processes that take into account a wide range of factors, each of which can be different depending on the client. Each of these factors is carefully planned and designed, from the visual impact and functionality of a home’s exterior to how well the rooms on the inside flow and integrate.
The creative end is only one part of it though. A residential architect then documents his ideas, using CAD systems specifically intended for building design such as AutoCAD Architecture. Once done, they can then determine cost estimates and work with the general contractor to ensure smooth execution of the project.
A commercial architect follows many of the processes and procedures that a residential architect does, but there are inherent differences.
The visual appeal of a commercial building is vital, but the functionality and flow can be just as (or even more) important. For example, a well-designed shopping center will result in a better experience for customers.
There are many factors that a commercial architect will need to consider that would not necessarily be relevant to a residential architect. Having a firm understanding of the various codes and regulations for safety and building requirements is an absolute necessity.
It would be pretty hard to find a product that wasn’t produced in some sort of warehouse or factory.
Industrial architects have experience designing manufacturing plants. Many times, the end design is driven not by the desired style or visual requirement, but by the process flows that will be conducted. An efficient design will allow for placement of items such as equipment, material storage, and office space that will support an optimum production process.
Utility requirements are usually much more significant for these types of buildings, so the architect needs to be well-versed with what is typically required (high voltage requirements, compressed air lines, chilled and potable water, etc.)
Urban and civil architects use their skills and training to design the macro environments in which we live.
Efficient cities and the supporting infrastructure (roads, bridges, mass transportation, etc.) are only one part of how an urban landscape will function. There are social, economic, and political considerations that must be considered to optimize how a community will interact on a daily basis.
Urban development is typically a large-scale project that will require the talents of many urban and civil drafting experts and engineers.
The highly specialized people that design the outdoor environment of a building (both residential and commercial) are considered architects in their own right.
The design and execution of the perfect landscape should not be underestimated. It is much more complicated than just throwing out some grass seed and planting a few trees, shrubs, and flowers. Getting the outside space of a property to be close to perfect is just as much of a project as the building itself.
That being said, there are cases where the building may already exist, and the entire scope of the project may be to refresh just the outdoor area.
Creating a functional and visually attractive building is one thing, but having a pleasing interior environment is a niche of architecture all unto itself. It’s important to note that effective interior design is an element which crosses all areas of external architecture.
Office environments can be designed to maximize worker efficiency and morale. Commercial and retail environments that have the right design elements can lead to a better overall customer experience, which may lead to increased sales and foot traffic.
Residential homes will benefit from pleasing color palates, furniture type and placement, and flooring types that can define the overall mood and atmosphere of any room.
The overall design of any building may be just right for the intended purpose when it is initially constructed. That’s the whole goal of successful architectural design.
Using an architect for the remodeling of existing space – either internally or externally – is the key.
A residential home may need the kitchen or living space updated, or rooms could be consolidated or divided as a young family grows over the years. Maybe it’s time to update the exterior as well, such as building a new deck for the warm summer months.
Commercial buildings may have changes that come upon as retail tenants change, move out, or grow. That will lead to alterations to the current design within the existing four walls.
Industrial buildings most certainly go through remodeling as well. Entire areas of plant floor space can be altered to produce new products, and office areas can change as well to meet the needs of a business as it evolves.
The design elements of effective architecture are only as good as the medium used to convey those thoughts and processes, both to the contractor and also to the end customer.
There are many CAD packages commercially used in today’s environment, each with their own purposes, strengths, and weaknesses. You may come across many of them during the course of a project depending on which phase you are most involved with.
One point to note is that we are mentioning only a few of the capable software platforms that are effectively used for architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) purposes. There are many others on the market that range widely in product features and price ranges.
3D rendering and visualization is typically used at the front-end of a project. The importance and benefits which CAD solutions provide at this stage cannot be overstated.
The client can get a firm grasp of the design intent, much more so than with traditional 2D paper drawings. Some software packages have complete 360° and flythrough capabilities, which can allow the viewer to essentially immerse themselves in the internal and external environments. All of this without laying a single brick or, in the case of landscape architecture, planting a single tree or blade of grass.
Creative changes can be made quickly and efficiently, greatly reducing the time from the design phase to the execution phase.
Common CAD packages for 3D rendering include:
Once the design is completed and approved, the next step is the creation of engineering and construction drawings for use by a contractor.
Here is where more traditional CAD packages are more appropriate. While it is true that some packages have 3D capability, some will allow that 3D model to be translated into 2D drawings. These are the drawings that define the building specifications and dimensions that are required for the actual building processes.
Many types of drawings are needed before ground can be broken on any project, and the requirements can be different depending on the type of building that is being constructed. For example, all buildings will typically need drawings for the actual floor layout (walls and door openings), electrical systems, and heating systems. Other types that may be required are fire suppression systems, IT infrastructure and routing diagrams, and industrial power and plumbing.
You may see these popular CAD software programs used:
As you can see, there is much more to architecture than just designing how a building appears to the eye. Having the right type of architect (and the right type of CAD software support) for your particular project is a must, and finding one that has just the right skill sets can be a daunting challenge given the sheer number of professional architectural firms that may exist within your area.
Premier talent for architecture isn’t limited to traditional brick and mortar firms, however. Freelancers can provide a level of service on par, and that’s where Cad Crowd can help.
Our architectural drafting and design services take the guesswork out of hiring freelancers. We can connect you with top-ranked members of the Cad Crowd community, and you can have confidence that you are working with the best pre-vetted and qualified sources.
Tell us about your vision. We’ll connect you with a top-tier architect and provide you with a free quote for your personalized project.
Our architectural design experts offer a wide range of services. Freelance 3D modeling, 2D & 3D drafting, building information modeling (BIM), house floor plans, site plans, building layouts, survey drawings, elevations, cross sections, full construction documents, presentation models, working drawings, industrial designs and 3D renderings for your building project. Whether you're looking to build a sleek modern bungalow or are planning a mixed retail and residential development, our network of architects have the expertise you need.
We also offer interior design for both residential and commercial contexts, as well as 3D modeling services for marketing or investor presentation purposes. We pride ourselves in being able to meet all the demands of our clients.
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