Muse MATTERS is a series of dialogues that as a studio we shall engage in– the purpose of the dialogues is for the studio to discuss matters, ask questions, share lessons learnt and may be in the process we can make a difference. Topics discussed shall not be restricted to the field of architecture and design necessarily; they could be about an experience, a journey, a comic strip and anything in between or beyond. We will use this space to share our thoughts and blurbs.
As we were beginning to think of topics–this week’s matter was handed to us in the form of an invite to speak at an architectural college. The theme given to us was ‘The architect’s role in the digital age has eroded.’ The topic seemed quite open ended and so we decided to debate amongst ourselves and find out.
Architecture as a profession has predominantly focussed on built environments and people. There is a growing belief that in contemporary architectural practice in which digital technologies and tools are gaining prevalence the role of the architect has diminished. Yes, certainly the future of architecture lies in the blurring of boundaries between architecture and all other fields.
Largely we disagreed with the statement as we believe that the architect’s role is not diminishing it is evolving. It is no longer egocentric – it is inclusive and collaborative in nature. Digital tools at hand aid us in visualization and there is a certain precision in the modelling methodology. The statement is frugal-the architect never worked tools free.
There are certainly some set-backs and limitations as there are with most tools. Most architects have moved from the sketching boards and trace sheets. While modelling there are certain limitations within parametric models so some designers avoid exploring certain forms and ideas. In some situations templates are copy pasted directly to projects. Also the process of documentation has changes-the good old process books are disappearing from studios and being replaced by archived CAD files. At the same time some of these digital tools are used to create a stop motion of the process which beautifully captures the design narrative.
Tools are always going to evolve-how we use them and control them is in our hands. Because digital technology is available and constantly evolving we cannot get regressive-and it is not a necessity. And the silver lining, architecture is a generalist profession, regardless of what happens in the future the possibilities are endless.
P.S. We have pledged to sketch more.