The Appropriate Balance between Digital and Analog Techniques

By Susannah Dickinson.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Design is increasingly becoming linked with technology: computer generated algorithms and parameters, analysis tools, CAD/CAM/CAE technologies for prototypes and increasing developments in production tools are just a few examples that support a more dynamic, technologically driven design processes. Information transfer through the web, E-learning, BIM and IPD imply a more transparent, collaborative, inter-disciplinary design process.
What does this mean for analog systems in practice and architectural design education? Some information can effectively be disseminated through more of a web-based/video form, but face to face interaction and the ability to quickly sketch ideas are obviously an important part of a design process. Sketching appears to be becoming more and more digitized. Will the hand sketch and non-prototypical physical models eventually become obsolete?
The multitude of digital skills and techniques that young architects now need can seem overwhelming. Increased knowledge in these areas is just part of the solution to good design. Designs now are often based on scripting and data libraries that are available online or within software programs: some designers use this data without understanding the implications involved or they show increased levels of detail at inappropriate stages of the design processes.
It is essential that we continue to keep the link between seeing, thinking and making, which is inherent in the process of design. Designers need to be process creators, rather than being process consumers. This paper seeks to address the issue of what analog and digital skills are currently most appropriate for design, the interface between them and discusses the increased technological transformation of the academy and the profession.

Keywords: Integrated Design, Technical Agility, Building Information Modeling

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.467-474. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.558MB).

Susannah Dickinson

Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA

Susannah Dickinson came to the United States for graduate school, after completing her undergraduate studies in the United Kingdom. She has become involved in research and projects that stem from a background in digital processes, parametric modeling, BIM, and digital fabrication. This background was largely gained through years of professional experience in the offices of Frank O. Gehry, Los Angeles and SHoP Architects, New York. This technological background is coupled with a belief that it is our responsibility as architects to be concerned with the entire built and natural environment. The interest is in whether technology, in the form of computational design and fabrication processes, can lead to sustainable and ecologically responsive systems; leading to new architectural and urban paradigms for sustainable environments.


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