Is 3D Printing Taking the Artistry out of Architecture?
When we posed the question ‘is technology creating lazy architecture’, we had no idea it would spark such profound responses or such highly intelligent debate, leading us to come to the realisation that CAD and BIM are only one tool under architects’ and designers’ belts.
One technological element that is truly hitting its stride in the architecture sector is that of 3D printing. While CAD and BIM allow architects and designers to draw and create using a computer, 3D printing takes these exact, computer-developed plans and prints them as is.
The absolute exactness of this architectural development medium means speed and precision are high on the list of positive elements associated with 3D printing. There is no level of human error involved and exact specifications can be tested in miniature form.
It is this lack of the human element, however, that provokes the question: could 3D printing take the artistry out of architecture design?
According to Yale School of Architecture dean Rober A. M. Stern, the personal, tactile nature of design development is paramount in his works.
“I personally still make little drawings and I like to use sculptors modeling clay, which I was introduced to by Louis Kahn who used it,” says Stern. “But it goes back in the architectural terms tradition in art terms in general to the tradition of sculpture. And I like to shape things, and mush them around, and play with shapes.”
While 3D printing is precise and highly efficient, it is still imperfect. Small details are often lost in the printing process, with delicate features easily snapped off. In its defense, however, the latter point could also be said for hand-developed modeling.
3D printing can, however, allow architects the liberty of making mistakes without leaving them to face the consequences of a tedious complete model redevelopment. The mistake can be amended through the software program and the model can be quickly reprinted.
Herein lies the key point upon which many of our readers have agreed; technology is a tool. Just because writers now use computers instead of pen and paper does not mean that literary greatness is gone. The implementation of modern technology into any of our sectors means elements of tasks presented to us are simpler and can be completed more efficiently. This brings with it the downside that when approached by the lazy or mediocre, results can still be achieved even if they are not particularly groundbreaking.
Like nearly everything in life, it comes down the individual. For motivated and talented architects, technology only aids their artistry. It is when those who are capitalise on the ease created by various technologies that the industry becomes less than it could be and cities begin to take on a dull and monotonous aesthetic.
What we cannot forget is that this industry will, for the most part, be safeguarded from a proliferation of truly terrible design, the reason being that if an architect presents a truly unfeasible, unattractive design, it will look just as bad whether it’s sculpted out of diamonds or printed from a 3D printer.
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