Don't you feel like architecture is becoming this kind of contest to show off these amazing Photoshop and rendering skills, but a little hollow and out of touch with reality? I mean, the pictures you post are incredible, and the ideas enticing, but most of them are downright illogical and impossible to actually carry on. Is it still architecture if it's not meant to be built, or are they just pretty images? I just wanted to pick your brain about this
Real architecture, or just pretty renders?
First of all, I love your question and thank you, I’ve been arguing this for a long time with other architects. You are right on point. Next, a wise man (my grandfather) once told me - “Practically anything can be build, if you can add foundations. But you will have to ask yourself - will you be able to justify the idea economically and functionally?!”. And after my years in school and on the job, I’m seeing everyday what he meant. Few years ago someone on Tumblr asked me - “How can you build a building-like pyramid upside-down?”. I bet that would make an awesome render. So that got me wondering. I knew that we can’t found a pyramid in one point, there should be things happening underground, but is it actually possible? After talking with a professor of mine, we elaborated the idea and came to conclusion that (in theory) is possible, but will be so damn expensive and actually not practical at all, plus there would be much maintenance needed on the construction over the years.
Me, personally, I like concept projects and renders, as many other architects and especially “ordinary” people do. I believe that those concepts encourage creativity and visions for the future of architecture. Maybe there is no practical way to build those things now, but they open discussions and thinking that make us find a way for more practical and economic approach. Today we have many building technologies and principles, that human kind couldn’t imagine a century ago, so why can’t we see things in a way for the future?!
But we have to draw the line somewhere and start seeing things more realistic. I don’t approve of firms that make realistic renders, that confuse people of what is real and what is not. There has to be a limit and difference between realistic renders and architectural renders. Don’t get me wrong, realistic renders are a still and those 3D artists should work in Hollywood and not in architectural firms. The pre-build concept render should show the architectural side of the project, not make a vision in the clients head, where frequently the final product lacks those shiny views.
Also, I hate when architects make concept projects in a illogical way, breaking the boundaries of nature, that are simply not possible or dangerous. - Stop putting trees on the 125th floor of buildings. It’s stupid and dangerous. Up there, there are winds that can blow that tree right off. Trees attract lightning strikes.Also, it’s expensive. - Stop designing gardens with trees on top of buildings. - For a small tree to grow on top of a slob, it needs more than 3 meters of earth in depth. That’s huge static weight on the construction. It can eat through the concrete and with the huge moisture that it needs, it can damage the construction.
Lets not get into it, but to summarize: Concepts are a good thing. They make us think of different ways to do things, to see the future, to seek for ways to make better buildings that serve us, the people, they encourage our creativity. But we should have boundaries when designing and not go over some basic logical things. Make pretty renders that present your vision in the best possible way, but remember the gift of 3D CGI is just a tool, and it should be just an extend of our practice. Make a distinction between real life photography and concept renders, because we, as architects and designers should nurture our gift, but not overextend and present to the people fake visions of the future.