Virtual Architecture

2 July 2006 (Last Updated July 2nd, 2006 18:30)

Amandus Sattler, Partner at Allmann Sattler Wappner, tells us about the changing role of the architect.

Virtual Architecture

Many projects are not planned before being introduced to the client, but rather begin with a picture, an idea in mind at the beginning of a planning process.

In Dubai, urban planning offices are selling images of skyscrapers as if they were going out of style. In a variety of shapes and sizes, architecturally skewed pieces can be put together in whichever way you like.

Architects celebrate virtual success a long time before the physical project is finished, and should a project actually go into planning, one realises that good architecture is much more than a computer drawing.

CHANGING RESPONSIBILITIES

"Novel buildings can be put together like blocks in a kindergarten."

A few years back, European architects created their work entirely themselves. A contract was either made directly with the building owner or won in a competition, but in both cases, the contract was given solely to the architect.

The fee-charging regulations, which architects and engineers are obliged to go by, act as guidelines for the building owners and their planners throughout the different phases.

Due to the different areas of responsibility within a build, it would be almost impossible for the architect to refrain from supervising. Every single task would be very important in completing the work precisely and successfully.

FLEXIBLE PLANNING

Parallel to the development of modern means of communication, architects have modernised the way in which they win and monitor the progress of a project.

Weekly, no, on a daily basis, inquiries flow into the office via email, post or simply by cell phone, asking if there is interest in participating in a competition, doing an expert report or in making an offer, - and they all require a decision by
tomorrow – do you partake?

House planning has also lost its approved structure. The work is no longer based on a yearly cycle but much more week by week. Budgets are being negotiated as if one were negotiating with an agency.

"Good architecture is much more than just a computer drawing."

The codeword for office structure is definitely flexibility. The process moves rapidly, meaning ideas have no time to ripen. Pictures for marketing campaigns and company brands are developing and meetings are being attended to without any decisions
being made. The architects become the strategists, even decorators if you like, but no longer the master builders.

BEST FAÇADE COMPETITIONS

Shopping centres are supposed to be planned. For that task, specialists are hired who know how a commercial shopping centre must be built to guarantee success. However, the city however refuses approval for the unimaginative building. What happens
now? A competition for the best façade takes place.

Good architecture does not come about because formal decisions have been made, but because of an entire design strategy. The inside of a building is strongly interweaved with the outside. The façade not only stylises a formal architectural
standing, but also expresses and communicates the floor plan assignment.