Computer Programs in Architecture

Introduction

Computer architecture is a model used to explain how hardware and software are interconnected to form a system. It explains the structure of the system and how given elements are related to each other. It is noted that this form of architecture can be viewed as the process of developing a blueprint. For example, it is used to explain how input devices are connected to their output counterparts. Computing in general can be traced back to the 1950’s. Computer applications are used in, among others, weather prediction and gaming. The programs have made life easier and more enjoyable than it was in the past. Such programs include 3D motion images, which are applied in architectural disciplines. The computing industry is an important feature of the 21st century (Findley 2005).

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The architectural design is a complicated process involving many stages. The developers begin from an abstract and proceed to the final products. The design process brings together the parties involved in creating buildings and other structures. As such, it has an impact on the quality of life. The use of computers has increased the efficiency of the architectural design process (Abel 2004).

In the current paper, the author is going to look at the development and use of computer programs in architecture. A number of these programs will be analysed. The author will analyse this topic in a timeline fashion, starting from the 1970s to the present. In addition, the future and social aspects of computer programs in architecture will be reviewed. The use and development of Computer Aided Designs (CADs) and Building Information Modelling (BIM) will be looked into. The main objective of this dissertation is to develop insights into the design and architectural aspects of computer programmes. The author also explores the social aspects of CAD and whether it has added up more work in the process of design or not. A qualitative research method will be used to achieve this objective. To this end, the author will analyse literature made up of studies by various scholars in the field.

The Use of Computer Programs in Architecture: A Historical Timeline

Architecture has gone through a series of developments since early times. It first evolved out of human needs for worship, security, and shelter. It was made possible by availability of building materials and attendant skills. Architecture at this early age was classified as primitive and prehistoric. As human beings progressed, it developed into a craft. The craft methodology involved trial and error approach. Due to increased production, rural areas developed into towns and cities. There was more development in architecture in Egypt and Mesopotamia. In these regions, the art was associated with divine and supernatural engagements. Over time, buildings became more complex. Communities started building bridges, schools, hospitals, and recreational facilities. With more developments in engineering and technology, the architect began to lose ground in architecture. The industrial revolution led to aesthetics and machine production. The dissatisfaction with such a situation gave rise to new perceptions of architecture, which led to modern technology of building. For instance, the Bauhaus school in Germany rejected history and reviewed architecture as craft, technology, and synthesis of art (Mansbridge 1999). Such developments led to the development of computerised design in architecture.

Architects use advanced software to design buildings and other structures. As such, knowledge about how a computer operates is an added advantage to these professionals. Just like most things in human society, computers have a history. The first designs made using these machines were 2D in nature. However, with advancements in technology, it is now possible to produce 3D models (Findley 2005).

Some of the first computer applications used in architecture included the scientific calculator and the game pong. The programs were first developed on paper and later built physically on a processor. The first form of communication that was understood by the computer was the machine language. In the 1960’s, other simpler languages like FORTLAN were developed. For a program to run on a computer, it has to be processed. The programs used in architecture are no exception. In 1970, Intel built the first single microprocessor. It is noted that the speed of executing programs is tied to the strength of the processor. The Intel 404 microprocessor had a clock rate of 740 KHz. It processed data in 4 bits and was available in the market by 1971. Saving time in the execution of programs is advantageous to the end user. As such, the use of a fast computer enables the architect to take less time in designing a structure (Prensky 2005).

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In 1972, the first successful commercial game was introduced.The game was referred to as pong. It was based on ping pong, a popular version of table tennis. It served as a platform for the development of multimillion dollar games. Moving from graphics to reality, it is apparent that different companies, including those operating in the architecture industry, have perfected the art of gaming with the creation of 3D models (Helgesen 2005).

Data stored in a computer may be required for use by a different party. For example, a group of architects working from different computers towards a common goal may need to exchange ideas. They can achieve this by accessing the data archived in computers used by their colleagues. Ethernet solved this problem by making it possible to create a connection between different computers. The program was developed in 1973. It made it possible to share information between different end users. With the use of a local area network (LAN), one can access data stored in other computers and printers in the same system (Smith & Nair 2005).

The first computer based on parallel architecture was made in 1974. Improved microprocessors, which operated at 2MHz, were designed. The ideal computer is associated with low costs and maximised results. Power consumption was made more efficient with the use of the 2MHz processor than with other programs. The development was a significant event in architectural design (Smith & Nair 2005).

Early computers were big in size. However, this physical feature reduced with time. The first commercially viable hobby computer was introduced in 1975. In spite of the low processing power and memory, 200 units were sold in the first day. Later in the year, microcomputers were written and Microsoft was formed. The company is one of the leading information technology organisations in the world. It designed the Microsoft Windows operating system and a number of games. With the help of this technology, the 6502 CPU was released. The CPU was very popular in gaming consoles. IBM followed suit and released the first personal computer with a keyboard, storage, and display unit. The programs were used extensively in architectural designs (Hennessy 2012).

Soon after, Apple Inc. unveiled Apple 1. The product was launched in 1976. Architectural designs stored in the computer had to be printed. The need to print led to the creation of the first laser printer, which was not coloured. Intel went ahead and produced a better chip, which required less power to operate. Supercomputers were the only machines that made it possible for vector processing. Cray 1 was the first supercomputer. It was designed by Seymour Cray after he left his formal job to form a company (Findley 2005). After two years, Intel introduced the first x86 microprocessor. The program is still common in Instruction Set Architecture (ISA). A year later, the Compact Disc (CD) was invented (Smith & Nair 2005). By 1980, a number of games were available and colour printing was possible. The soaring demand for personal computers led to mass production of these machines. Technology was improving and Apple Inc. successfully developed a mouse driven computer with a Graphical User Interface (GUI). In addition, high quality printers were been produced.

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Technological developments made it possible for 3D games like Grand Theft Auto and Tomb Raider to run on computers. Later, gaming consoles like the PlayStation were invented. Microsoft was not left behind in the race to improve technology. The company came up with Xbox (Hofmeister & Nord 2005). Gaming experience in these devices is better compared to laptops. The 21st century saw the introduction of the first iPhone, Windows 7, PlayStation 3, Core 2 processors, Xbox 360, tablets, and Ubuntu Linux (Prensky 2005). Computer storage is important in architectural modelling. In 2011, the first 4 terabyte hard drive was made available in the market. Microsoft Windows 8 was released in 2012. In 2013, Xbox 1 and PlayStation 4 were introduced. Operating systems with a friendly user interface are ideal to work with. The realisation led to the development of improved visual products for final presentation, which translates to building projects (Scheer& Nuttgens 2000).

Computer Programming and Development of Software in Architecture

Programming is the root or core of all software. AutoCAD and Turbo CAD are examples of such software used in building design. The process involves designing software that can help in problem solving. A programming language is used to code a program. A computer can only understand the machine language that is made up of binary numbers (Smith & Nair 2005). The early programming languages were hard to write and understand since one had to use 0s and 1s. The process was hectic for architects wishing to use computer programs to design projects.

A code should be written using Integrated Development Environment (IDE). The integration of an interpreter into the IDE has made it possible for other higher, simpler, and better languages to be used. The interpreter converts the high level programming lingo into machine language for execution. A compiler is also present. It makes it possible to debug. Modern languages like java are widely used nowadays in computer design. Over 6 billion devices are believed to run on java system. With this, the development of any algorithm is made easy. Other common programming languages that can be used in architecture include Python, C, C++ and JavaScript.Computer programs are a set of instructions that tell the machine what to do (Smith & Nair 2005). Depending on the problem at hand, a programmer formulates the steps for problem solving by developing an algorithm. In designing, the first stage, which involves analysis, should introduce the rules for the required algorithm. A functional computer application or software should be reliable, efficient, easy to use, portable, and easy to maintain. Such features make the work of the architecture easy.

An algorithm is a series of steps stipulating how a program will be executed. Computer experts designing programs for architects should develop algorithms that are easy to understand. Every application is generated from the source code. It is debugged, tested, and documented. The language used in coding is important since it affects the functionality of the overall software. High level languages make it possible to create 3D objects that are user friendly. The software used in CAD has to go through the stages stipulated above. It helps in the development of effective programs for architects. Designers prefer using a program that saves time and money. BIM is a good example of this development. It makes the design process easy and possible to implement using CAD (Findley 2005).

Computers in Architecture

The changes that the computers are bringing into the architecture are as a result of innovation. The projects implemented today by use of digital systems are not the same as the ones witnessed 20 years ago. Many architects have learnt to express, represent, generate, and construct buildings through digital information. Digital technology makes it possible to solve complex calculations by use of computer algorithms. The development improves architecture design and production. Computer technologies also allow viewing of the original diagram before a structure can be set up (Hennessy 2012).

A computer can be programmed to perform any task. Computer Aided Design programs are used by architects to develop blueprints. In the past, these plans were drafted by hand. The introduction of CAD made things easy. Such effects as twisting, stretching, rotation, and movement are hard to achieve manually. Another major advantage of using computers in architecture is the fact that it helps in designing 3D views. A 3D plan enables the architect to view the design from all angles. In some instances, CAD is also referred to as Computer Aided Design and Drafting (Helgesen 2005). A number of software applications are used in CAD. They include AutoCAD, Turbo CAD, and Vectorworks. The use of these programs makes it possible to achieve independent results in designing. No human intervention is needed between data input and output. The objective of these applications is to create plans and construct drawings (Helgesen 2005). Computer programs help the architect to meet the needs of all the stakeholders. In addition, the applications enhance the creativity of the designer.

With technological innovations, architects are moving from CAD to BIM. The latter provides the professionals with an enhanced platform for design. The use of electronic design programs saves resources. Professionals who have used the new technology report improved quality of work. The program reduces redundancy and erroneous and misleading results.Like other programs, BIM is associated with a number of risks. The architects should put these threats into consideration when using the program. Unnecessary upgrades should be avoided (Prensky 2005).

Computer Programs in Architecture: The Design Process

Architectural designs undergo five major stages. The first involves system design and analysis. It is very crucial to the success of the whole process. In this stage, the problem is broken down into small and manageable tasks. After collecting the relevant information, the problems are then analysed (Helgesen 2005). At this level, every problem is in sketch form.

The second part involves the development of ways to come up with solutions according to the preferred design (Findley 2005). The third stage is evaluation. The possible solutions are tested and evaluated against the design objectives. The final solution is selected at the appraisal stage. If by any chance all the answers to the problem are similar, elements of the successful parts are picked and evaluated. All this takes place at the fourth stage. Finally, there is presentation. Presenting a solution can be tricky since people are not willing to take chances with things that they are not sure of (Scheer & Nuttgens 2000).

In relation to building and construction, the design process can be viewed as the life cycle of the structure. A competent architect should be able to produce a set of data that is visually appealing. It is this presentation that determines how the design impresses the client. After everything is finalised, preparations to start building are made. Construction time depends on the type and size of the building. Logically, smaller designs take little time than complex ones (Scheer & Nuttgens 2000). The entire planning process can be achieved with the help of computer programs. The following diagram illustrates how the process flows:

The flow chart of architecture process
Figure 1: The flow chart of architecture process

Computer Applications in Architecture and Microsoft Games: A Comparative Analysis

Animations are commonly used in the gaming industry. Just like in process of designing buildings, these animations are generated with the use of computers. However, these programs are more complex than those used in building and construction. The reason is that animations should have motion (Prensky 2005). Games need rules, strategies, and tactics. A gaming application is closely related to a program. Designers of a given game should take into consideration the rules and regulations associated with the same. The case is different in architectural designs.

However, it is important to note that designing a house using a computer is like playing a game. The system design and analysis stage determines the rules of the building ‘game’. The architect tells the computer what to do and it provides them with feedback depending on how it is programmed. Games have come a long way. Highly advanced gaming programs are released daily. Similarly, the architectural industry is growing, making it easy to design a building (Prensky 2005).

The Use of Computer-Aided Design in Architecture

Computer-aided design (CAD) is a new development in architecture. It entails the use of computer systems to develop, transform, and analyse drawings. The programs associated with this application are the key factors behind the accurate and inclusive records of buildings in modern architecture (Helgesen 2005).

The initial program can be traced back to the 1960s. It was introduced to solve the problem associated with the use of a lot of time on sketching blueprints. At the time, CAD was the only available software used by architects. However, it did not provide the professionals with the tools required to complete the task. As a result, an improved program was created. The development gave rise to Computer-Aided Architectural Design (CAAD) software (Abel 2004).

Both CAD and CAAD systems make use of a catalogue. The directory used contains geometric and other aspects of entities. The systems are equipped with a graphic user interface. The aim of this element is to direct the visual representation of the program. Architectures use this application to put together designs from standard and non-standard parts. Today, people discuss the variations between CAAD and CAD based on their knowledge of the software. The description touches on the precise architectural objects, data, performance, and process support. There are two major differences between CAAD and CAD programs. The former contains an improved object catalogue of building pieces and construction information. In addition, it has the capability of supporting the process of designing architectural entities (Morrison 2008).

Architects consider CAAD as the use of any computational skill in the area of design (Abel 2004). The software created for use in industries that specialise in animations can also be used in architectural drawing. Such applications help designers generate 3 dimension image renders and cartoons. Due to the improvements made on graphic cards, rendering has become popular around the world. It appears that people are obsessed with bigger and better things (Abel 2004). Currently, architects use 3D design software to come up with a number of projects. However, there is lack of a clear demarcation between the programs falling under CAAD category and those that do not. For example, under certain circumstances, the software developed to calculate structural elements in a specific manner may fall under CAAD. However, in spite of such clustering, the software may still be used in crafting new designs (Helgesen 2005).

CAAD program comprises of two major elements. They include the surface and deep structures. The surface makeup offers the designer a graphic forum to represent 3 dimensional images using 2D creations. It also supports algorithms. The computations facilitate the invention and analysis of patterns. They achieve this through the use of a programmed format and information storage caches. The deep structure implies that computer processes have various natural limitations (Drake 2007). The hardware and language set in the two elements is the force behind architects’ ability to execute arithmetical tasks promptly and accurately. As a result, the professionals are able to design and construct buildings with a complex geometry.

CAD Software for Interior Designers

There are a number of commercial Building Information Modelling (BIM) applications in the market today. They are used in a number of fields beyond architecture and design. For example, today, the CAD software has emerged as an important application in the field of interior design. To this end, interior designers have various programs at their disposal. Such programs include ArchiCAD, AutoCAD, Autodesk Revit, and Autodesk 3Ds Max. Others are Chief Architect, Turbo CAD, Sketch Up, and Vector works (Helgesen 2005).

ArchiCAD

ArchiCAD is one of the various BIM applications. It can be used on Windows and OSX. It was invented in Hungary by Graphisoft. Its core interface is a 2 dimensional drawing application. It is represented by floor levels (Leatherbarrow 2000). In most cases, the modelling starts with the arrangement of the building essentials in accordance with the sketch view. The complete 3D replica of the structure is formulated at the same time. The elements can be positioned over diverse floors to facilitate a proper illustration for the 2Dimensional display (Leatherbarrow 2000). On their part, the architect is capable of opening the 3D window and progressing with the work. All the modifications are carried out through the construction elements.

The software has its pros and cons. One of the advantages is that it is easy to use. It enables experts to alter images from 2D to 3D format. Finally, the program holds an extensive library of BIM interior design components (Drake 2007). On the downside, the program is expensive. In addition, it has limited capabilities of formulating designs with complex geometry. Lastly, the program is not fitted with distinct key commands.

Autodesk Revit

The software was developed for a specific purpose. It was meant to illustrate ideas similar to those of mechanical CAD programs. Each view represents some aspect of the building’s structure. All the drawings, angles of elevation, and layouts have a link to the actual model. The elements are integrated by the use of a constraint system. The arrangements and distributions are viewed as sketching aids. In addition, they are used to provide a look into provisional measurements. The view of the structure exhibits all the floors, elevations, sections, and output sheets. However, it is impossible for the architect to show the entire building in a pecking order. A major strength of the software is that it enhances the understanding of architectural components. In addition, it increases the pace of developing plans and elevations. However, the program is very expensive. As a result, it is only used by big architectural companies (Abel 2004).

AutoCAD

AutoCAD was created by Autodesk developers. It was meant for architectural work. It was previously referred to as AutoCAD Architectural Desktop (ADT). However, the name was modified in 2008. The modification was carried out to match the other Autodesk products. The software uses the binary file format. To be able to access, display, and control data, an architect must use an object enabler (Morrison 2008). The program features include sketching walls, door, and window that represent the actual constructions. It creates 2D fragments and elevations from the floorboard graphs. It also designs diagrams with specific components and keynoting tools.

Pros of the software are that it enables architects to come up with complex sketches and comfortably use 3Dimensional images and graphics. The cons are it is expensive and replicas formulated in AutoCAD cannot be interpreted in other programs (Findley 2005).

Chief Architect Software

The software was developed for the home construction industry. Architects and designers consider it as the best drafting tool available in the market. The creation is a standard BIM product. It is has both CAD and AutoCAD features that facilitate quick adding of information in construction designs. In addition, it allows people with little knowledge about computers to use the technology. As a result, individuals can come up with both 2D and 3D designs. The software pros are that it is easy to use and understand. It facilitates quick generation of sketches. The cons are that it lacks the capability of handling sophisticated projects (Drake 2007).

Autodesk 3Ds Max

The software was previously referred to as 3D Studio Max. It was created by Autodesk Media Entertainment to generate animations, games, and images. The program is equipped with flexible plug-in architecture. In addition, it can perform modelling operations. Autodesk 3Ds Max is mainly used to create video games and television commercials (Morrison 2008). It is also used in architectural visualisation studios. The most modern version of Autodesk max has a number of unique features. They include shades, particle systems, and a user interface that can be personalised.

Advantages of 3Ds Max are its ability to swap 2 with 3D data and its wide-range of devices and plug-ins. The disadvantages include reduced in performance and failure to properly link with other architectural software (Drake 2007).

Sketch UP

The software belongs to a mapping, surveying, and navigation Company referred to as Trimble Navigation. Previously, it was owned by Google. That was from the year 2006 to 2012. Sketch Up is used in architecture and other fields, such as mechanical engineering. The software exists in both a paid and free version. Its uses include generating accurate drawings, rendering surfaces, and positioning models within Google earth. On its part, it supports other programs such as third party plug-ins and provides a platform for creating visualisations and animated walk-through (Morrison 2008).

An advantage of the software is the fact that it has a huge 3Dimensional Warehouse full of models. In addition, the architect can bring in snapshots of customers belongings and set them within the program. Disadvantages of the Sketch Up include challenges when modelling 3D images and sophisticated surfaces (Morrison 2008). Lack of directed point lights and rendering capability is not fully advanced.

Turbo CAD

The software origin is traced back to South Africa. It was created by Hendrik Vermooten and Hein Oosthuizen. Turbo exits in two editions which are the Pro Basic and Platinum (Gorton 2006). Both have the tools used for drafting and generating 3Dimensional architectural and mechanical blueprints. In addition, they can develop ACIS solids and TC Surface items. Turbo CADs Pro Basic version is equipped with a less tools compared to the Platinum which is fully equipped. The software can be purchased based on the users level of expertise and needs. As a result, individuals who wish to perform less complex tasks can procure a Deluxe 2D or 3D or the Designer. On its part, Mac editions of Turbo are developed on a different catalogue (Morrison 2008). They also contain some level of incompatibility with the Windows version.

The software is advantageous in that it has loads of custom-made tools to meet architects needs. It is also easy to set up and suitable for 2D and 3D rendering. That is because of its rich qualities, for example, the Extrude Face device, the Drag on Facet, and the 2Dimensional Bisector. In addition it is very efficient in data sharing. Despite the pros, the software has some disadvantages. It was designed with shortcut keys and it lacks help options.

Vectorworks

Vectorworks Architect is Building Information Modelling software developed for sketching and formulating 3D designs and technical drawings (Drake 2007). At the time of its launch, it was referred to as MiniCAD. It supports 2D, 3D, and production management. The software also enhances proper presentation in each stage of the planning course. In addition, it is equipped with an open mode of distribution BIM data. Other file formats supported by Vector works include Rhinoceros 3D and COLLADA.

Pros of Vectorworks are that it allows for proper incorporation of 2D and 3D blueprints, useful to architects when generating floor plans and it is very cost-effective. On its part, the software offers good illumination and texture effects. Its main weakness is lack of a high-quality 3D-delivery (Drake 2007).

Significance of CAD in Architecture

Architects projects entail the use of visually represented data. All the problems that arise are noted and solved through graphical approach (Leatherbarrow 2000). Due to that, they must ensure full levels of visual control on the procedures being carried out within the design continuum. Generally the invention of Computer-aided architectural design software has helped speed up the process of design. The technology is considered to have triggered the most crucial step forward in the construction industry. A rough drawing can now be converted into a digital form. Architects can spot all the construction, space, layout, and lighting features. As a result architects are able to worker faster on their plans. Before the development of the software, architects used pieces of drawing papers to draft their designs (Abel 2004). That affected their ability to illustrate the uniqueness of their work and ideas. With the use of CAD, they can present the projects in an actual time environment. However, it is still necessary to seek the services of a professional company that majors in cadastral mapping. The reason behind this is influenced by the desire to produce a precise design for a sensible building. A firm should have the most modern computer programs for drafting and mapping (Drake 2007). They are crucial for coming up with perfect maps that show how the construction is expected to look like once it is over.

CAD has helped in the modification and customisation of designs considered to be very complex. In the end, engineers and architects are able have a better understanding of their work. Management of the projects has also been made easier. Architectural designs now have minute possibilities of getting damaged as they are stored in safer forms compared to paper (Hofmeister & Nord 2000). They include hard drives and external memory devices. In addition, details of the plan can be easily discussed among the members mandated with the construction duty. With the use of CAD, less effort is required to sketch the angles of elevation, columns, windows, doors, and the interior of the construction (Morrison 2008). On its part, 2 and 3dimension rendering can be altered to match the exact requirements. Generally, transforming a paper to Computer-Aided Design architectural drawing leads to a better work approach.

CAD facilitates the mapping of activities and processes in two ways. The cases are between the surface and deep structures. They include TM1 and TM2. They are concepts that are brought into play to dictate the course of the blueprint and the software operations. Program developers consider surface structures when creating systems (Abel 2004). At this level, the main activity is one-to-one mapping. Computer based functionality is developed to execute various tasks. They include sketching the buildings staircase and examination spatial variance between structures. In addition, it produces perspectives from a wide range of angles. The architects knowledge, tools and skills are integrated together. The planning procedure covers the entire buildings life sequence. The parts covered include construction, operations, restructuring, and demolition. Designers can exchange data and share technologically advanced digital tools from across projects that are poles apart (Drake 2007).

Coming up with a good architectural design requires a critical thought process. Broad imagination is also another key factor to consider. It is a normal occurrence for the experts to spend a lot of time trying to figure out a blueprints problem (Leatherbarrow 2000). The reason is because the solution does not come automatically. Most architects argue that answers to the issues at hand come after one takes a rest. However, since the introduction of CAD, faults in designs are easily detected and corrected. As a result, the speed of formulating the required design is enhanced.

Ways of Improving the CAD Software

Computer-aided design programs have been very beneficial to the architectural field. However, regular improvements need to be made by the developers to ensure more efficiency in the designing process and data representation. Ways of improving CAD software include use of high-level API, efficient tools, better data exchange, and efficient memory management. In addition, there is need to create a more comfortable user-interface and a customisable upgrade structure.

High-Level API

Generating a good design in architecture involves great imagination and use of special tools. As a result, architects are forced to use different pieces of software to develop the required plan. A way to address the issue involves use of high-level API. That allows for compatibility and software developers can be able to design computer programs that perform a variety of tasks. In addition, single software will contain numerous applications. As a result, the architects will be able to key in and access data at greater speeds (Abel 2004).

Improved Data Exchange

Compatibility of different CAD software is always a major problem for architects. Various well established architectural and engineering companies have been faced with the problem of data exchange. They include Zamil, Eurned, and CASAIS. Different CAD programs are always needed when dealing with complex projects (Morrison 2008). In addition, both architectural and engineering skills need to be integrated in such scenarios. As a result, developers responsible for creating the applications should come up with products that contain very high compatibility levels. That will ensure architects can easily open and access client files with minimal possibilities of losing data. In addition, more time will be saved and by that they can focus on other areas of the project (Scheer & Nuttgens 2000).

Efficient Tools

The main reason for the development of CAD programs was to make the designing and illustration process of blueprints more professional and accurate. However, architectural field still needs more advanced computer tools with more features. The applications should be developed with new interfaces that can be customised to fit the users needs (Drake 2007). Such an improvement will enable the architects to access all the software features that are extensively used in the in the drawing and building process. In addition, tasks and procedures can be repeated more conveniently with high levels of accuracy and speed. Such companies as ZWAD have been very influential in improving CAD programs. The reason is because it has been able to develop applications with commands that can be easily modified by the architects.

Efficient Memory Management

The use of more complex CAD programs and generation of bigger and more detailed blueprints results to computers getting slower (Morrison 2008). Replacement of the machines hardware is an option for dealing with the problem. However, acquiring new pieces is very costly for most architectural companies. The best possible way of ensuring the computers maintain their super high speeds is by developing programs that can support the processor abilities. For example, ZWCAD has developed very advanced memory management software for architects. It can open outsized blueprints with less use of computer memory. As a result, working speeds are enhanced and the architectural firms also save money. The reason is because there will be no need to procure new computer hardware (Prensky 2005).

Customisable Upgrade Structure

Programs such as AutoCAD are increasingly becoming expensive for architectural firms. As a result, they are seeking for less costly CAD software to be used as alternatives and reduce the issue of cost. New and more efficient programs that are less costly for both small and large companies should be developed. On its part, it is at times challenging to make huge architectural project representations (Abel 2004). That is because some CAD software cannot be modified and upgraded to the required levels by the architects. The developers should create applications with more innovative features that meet the needs of the user. As a result the architectural field will be able to produce better building blueprints through a cost manageable process (Smith & Nair 2005).

Comfortable User Interface

Most Computer-aided design programs lack the appropriate user-interface layout. AutoCAD is the main starter software used by architects in the designing process (Drake 2007). Due to that, some architects believe that the development of a different layout would result to confusion when working. In addition, they would be forced to re-learn how to use the new software. Being taught how to use computer programs is a costly process since the lessons need to be paid for. More time will also be consumed as architects go through the learning process (Hofmeister & Nord 2000).

To avoid such scenarios, the software developers should design AutoCAD with similar layouts but features that can be custom-made. Such a step will enable the architects to easily access their most frequently used commands. In the end, the designing and representation process will become more efficient (Gorton 2006). On its part, no re-learning costs will be incurred. Valuable time will also be saved since the architects will be comfortable with the user-interface layout available for use (Hennessy 2012).

Factors to Consider when Purchasing CAD Software

When procuring computer-aided design software programs, architects should examine various features. They include design tools, interface characteristics, and editing tools. In addition compatibility and help and support are also key elements of consideration.

Design Tools

High-quality CAD software is judged by its capability to support the designing of 2D and 3D models (Morrison 2008). As a result it is very important to ensure program of choice is equipped with all the necessary tools. Some developers design programs to be used specifically for 2D representations or 3D modelling. However, the best piece of software should incorporate both features. The ability to render is also a key aspect. The reason is because it enables an architect to see how the project will look like after completion.

Editing Tools

CAD program should have various editing devices. They include point markers and layer managers. Such tools aid in organising architectural designs. Text and colour variations ensure an architect makes distinctions between components of the project (Abel 2004). On its part, a snap tool is very important. Currently, most programs contain 2D and 3D symbols.

Interface Characteristics

Most CAD software seem to be very complicated programs and difficult to use. However some have inbuilt features that guide a user. They include tool palettes that can be modified, command lines, and the capacity to bring in blueprints. An architect should examine the set up and micro recording quality (Drake 2007).

Compatibility

When working on a project, proper presentation is highly required. As a result compatibility becomes a key factor of consideration when selecting the right software. For example, when using a program such as AutoCAD, the file formats to check for are DWG, DXF, DNG, and DWF. In instances involving 3D printing, they key feature is STL set-up (Drake 2007).

Help and Support

Architects with different levels of experience may be faced with the problem of learning how to use a specific program. As a result, it is vital to have a support network to help in such instances. Most CAD software developers offer their email addresses to clients. However, the best means of direct communication is by a phone and not all companies provide that service. In addition, some manufactures offer free technical support during the first few weeks after purchasing the software (Gorton 2006). Due to that, the fine print should be clearly examined before setting up the program.

3D CAD Preservation Challenges

In most architectural companies, the project archive is fitted with a hard drive full of digital files in their original formats. 2Dimensional diagrams created by programs such as AutoCAD have minimal preservation problems (Morrison 2008). The reason is because they are built to the required standards and can be transformed to into other 2D formats. In addition, the drawings are extensively interactive in their systems. As a result, the procedures taken to preserve them for long periods are similar to those applied when dealing with formats such as visual images. In cases where a design is illustrated finest by a 2D CAD program, preservation can involve the use of normal layouts and migration maintenance measures.

Preservation means of 3D CAD drawings differs greatly from those of 2D. 3Dimensional designs are developed in programs using non-standard layouts (Gorton 2006). In addition, no software has a similar system of capturing the figure of a blueprint. That is because every developer creates a unique parameter for storing geometry and rendering of images. They do so through use of the complex mathematical procedures such as parametric B-Spline equations. Generally, competitive advantages among the programs are influenced by the methods applied by every designer (Drake 2007). Due to that, it becomes very difficult to correctly interpret 3D CAD files. The process is only made possible by use of the initial software version. Despite the numerous technological advancements, no programs have been developed with the capability of exporting internal 3D parametric models. That is into ordinary or neutral formats.

Various levels of data exchange exist between 3D CAD programs. However, all of them result to loss of information preserved in the primary parametric replica. The reason is because the standards alter the model and transform it to static geometry. In order to avoid such losses, architects will be forced to retain the original program, used to develop the 3D CAD. The same case applies to software installed in custom computer games and virtual worlds. The need to preserve 3D CAD over long periods of time has driven developers to produce imitations (Abel 2004). However, the process of software emulation is expensive and sophisticated.

CAD Preservation Strategies

Various well-established architectural firms and libraries are conducting the Future-proofing Architectural Computer-Aided Design project (FAÇADE). It is aimed at discovering the best preservation measures for digital designs and data. The currently advisable strategies are storing all projects in their original or standard format, encouraging software developers to fully support long-term archives (Drake 2007).

Storing Projects in their Original Format

Files stored in their original format and with the software used to develop them have minimal chances of getting lost (Morrison 2008). In addition, license keys for CAD programs created for designing 3Dimensional models need to be frequently renewed. The reason is because they expire when the developers come up with a new version. Generally, they are very different from other computer programs such as Microsoft Word which can be used for long-term periods of time without being updated. Failure to use up-to-date license keys results in difficulty when opening using the software to access the needed information (Abel 2004).

Saving Copies in a Standard Format

Architects should save their most vital pieces of work such as blue print files in a standard format. Professionals who use CAD should select IFC or STEP when saving their projects. However, that is greatly determined by the original program being used and the model of the design. The process of transforming files into a standard format is done manually (Drake 2007). As a result, the architects should have total understanding of the specific software chosen to perform the task at hand. On its part, CAD files have the greatest chances of getting corrupted or lost. That drives most experts to archive them in consideration of their original formats.

Relevance of Digital Preservation to Architects

Digital preservation of files is very important to architects and architectural companies. Once a building has been set up, that does not mean the blueprints used are no longer valuable (Leatherbarrow 2000). In the future, cases might arise that require the reviewing of the old and original designs. For example, some sections of the building could be requiring modifications. To ensure the new task is done appropriately the architects will need functional digital archive. The digital records should be stored in libraries each time a section of the project is completed and not months or years later (Morrison 2008). That is to ensure every piece of the blueprint can be accounted for. On its part, better digital software and procedures of preservation should be invented to make it easier for architects to store their projects.

Representing Building Models in Digital Formats

Computer programs have played a key role in enabling architects to analyse their plans in digital formats. Illustrations are not just output files acquired from the design of a building to be constructed (Abel 2004). They are an explanation of the structure in a graphical way. The graphics enable the architects to view in a realistic way the building to be set up. They are viewed as encodings that can be modified at any moment to fit the required model. The digital representation models include 2 and 3Dimensional, hierarchic, schematic, and textual.

2D Plan Representation

Demonstration of a plan involves keenly analysing the building on an eye-level. In the representation, the invisible sections of the blueprint are also considered since they can be viewed in 2D or 3D format (Gorton 2006). The parts that cannot be viewed may include beams above each floor and the contours spaces. The use of 2D representation plans comes into play in such cases. However, that does not guarantee that all sections of the building will be visible to the architects. For example, some blueprints of the corners might be very complex to be revealed in 2D graphics.

Despite the limitations, the plan is very useful when describing simple curves that match the drawing plane. The computer technology advancements have enabled the integration of manual drafting and sketching in a digital context (Morrison 2007). The 2D representation of buildings can also be done in a video format.

3D Plan Representation Model

The 3D plan is used to simplify the complex elements of a building. It helps the architects to fully analyse all the parts of the building that could not be viewed with the use of a 2Dimensional plan. In addition, the software can be use to analyse large volumes of structure elements. That enables the experts to perform numerous calculations and simulations more easily and within short periods of time. The process of generating a new section by use of the model is done directly with very high levels of accuracy (Drake 2007). That is through the use of clipping planes. However, applying the process of extraction alone does not produce entire graphical output necessary for sketching a building. Despite the model’s significance, it also has contains some limitations. Its level of detail is often limited because it is permanent. To make a representation of more complex phases of a building, the architects in some cases are forced to modify the entire design (Gorton 2006).

Hierarchic Representation

A hierarchy is an order illustration of various elements. In architecture, the blueprint design has a pecking order (Leatherbarrow 2000). It made of the building blocks, number of floors, and different rooms. Numerous BIM applications enable architects to have various views of the project and drawing outputs. Each program produces a different hierarchy of a building. Those that generate the best representations are developed around the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC). It is run by the International Association for Interoperability. The applications are equipped with a neutral file format that supports the sharing of building data (Drake 2007). In addition, there are those that provide both the 3Dimensional and hierarchic view. They include the IFC engine and Solibri model viewer.

IFC is supported by almost all the BIM applications. However, an architectural computer program such as ArchiCAD illustrates it from inside the IFC support add-on. As a result, it varies from the core software. On its part, the applications composition characterises the part-of relationships of a building by using the phrase “containment.” Despite the use of computer programs in architecture, it is still difficult to describe a distinct hierarchy used for each project (Gorton 2006). The reason behind that is because some floor sections are not well divided. Generally, the appropriate order of a buildings structure is identified by the architect. The BIM software is responsible for ensuring flexibility.

Schematic Representation

Architects are mainly concerned with a designs appearance (Leatherbarrow 2000). In the schematic plan, symbols are used to make graphical depictions in place of size. The entities associations are illustrated as arrows. Semantic demonstration of complex data sets is made possible by various factors. They include the use of shapes and unique lines. Such representations are very important in architectural designs. Schematic drawings help architects to describe the space links (Morrison 2008). However, they must apply high levels of information exchange, connectivity, and visibility. Schematic catalogues are found in various applications. They include Microsoft Vision, Demicron Wire-fusion, and Autodesk 3D max. On its part, there are other multimedia applications that are equipped with interface similar to schematics. One example of such is Apple Quartz. It describes data in which is in form of audio and video.

Textual Representations

Summarising information concerning the building project is very important. Architects do so in tabular format. The data could be the quantity or the entire bill of materials used. In architecture, detailing of such information is done separately from the diagrams (Abel 2004). With the development of various computer programs, it is now possible create custom records. In addition, the experts can update information about the construction process from the textual output.

The applications endorse the listings as supplementary cross points to the construction model. Even with the use of computer programs, editing of records is not such an easy task. The reason is because changing a number in the list can result to an architect altering the calculations initially made. In the end, the changes lead to uncertainty and misinterpretation of the information (Abel 2004).

Selecting a Hybrid Representation Format

Architects are mainly restricted to the use of 2D and 3D illustrations (Drake 2007). As a result, computer programs that offer different models of representations should be developed. Each should present information about a plan in a unique format. Numerous applications are very important because they enable experts to apply models that best suit the project.

Social Aspects of Computer Programs in Architecture

Since the early 1970s, computers have continued to play a great role in simplifying the day to day activities of man. Many companies have come up to produce both the hardware and the software components of the computers. Their main aim is to simplify the existing processes and designing new ones. Through programming, architects have been in a position to produce better architectural designs (Abel 94). With constant innovation in the construction sector, even better and more efficient designs are expected to be produced. As such, computer programs have a positive impact on the society. It is beneficial both to the designers and the future users of the structures whose designs were generated through the use of computer programs.

The use of computer programs in architecture has helped in raising the living standards of the society. The reason behind this is that the programs are designed to address certain limitations that have been previously encountered in coming up with designs for structures. With the use of computer programs, such as AutoCAD, architects are in a position to come up with more efficient designs that better meet the needs of the users (Gorton 2006). As such, designers of structures have been in a better position to meet the needs of the society.

With the use of computer programs in architecture, the quality of life of the designers has been improved. Traditionally, it often took architects a lot of time to come up with efficient structures (Leatherbarrow 2000). The occurrence of human error in designing of the structures was also common. As such, there was no possibility of coming up with perfect structures. However, with the use of computer programs in architecture, the process of designing structures has been simplified. As such, designers have been in a position to save time and money spent on designs. As a result, the cost of construction has been brought down making it more affordable to all members of the society. The use of computer programs in architecture has also made working in the field more enjoyable (Morrison 2008). The designers are also in a position to rectify their mistakes without necessarily having to repeat the entire designs. It is also possible to manipulate the designs to meet certain standards. As such, the needs of the society have been met. For instance, through CAD, most modern buildings use special climbing lanes that can be used by the physically disabled.

The use of computer programs in architecture has also helped in enhancing innovation and creativity in the society (Drake 2007). The two can be achieved at different levels. To begin with, the designer of the program itself can come up with additional features aimed at solving certain problems that have been identified in the already existing structures. As such, architects using the program will be in a position to come up with designs that better suit the needs of the people. Innovation and creativity in the society through the use of computer programs can also be achieved at the architect level. The final design of a particular structure is dependent on the architect’s ability to manipulate the variables (Abel 2004). As a result, the architects can be in a position to design structures that are more suited to meet the needs of its users.

Through the use of computer programs in architecture, the safety of the community has been improved. Designers have been able to achieve this through the use of CADs. Programs, such as AutoCAD and Turbo CAD allow the designers to simulate their designs in order to assess them (Gorton 2006). Since one is able to produce 3d designs through the use of such programs, architects are in a better position to assess it from all angles. Safety is one of the key considerations when designing structures. It forms the basis of approval of most developmental projects, such as commercial buildings. With increased safety of architectural designs following the use of the computer programs, the welfare of the society is better looked into (Abel 2004).Fewer mistakes are also bound to be made with the application of the computer programs. The reason behind this is that they minimise the chances of human error occurring. The architect’s only responsibility in coming up with the design is keying in all the necessary data while the computer program generates the design. Chances of disasters occurring are therefore minimised.

The use of computer programs in architecture also helps ease the work done by the architect. As a result, the quality of life of the architects is improved in terms of saving them the agony of creating complex designs. Often, computer programs used in designing of structures, such as AutoCAD and Turbo CAD allow for the saving of the final design (Drake 2007). As such, the architect can be in a position to use the same design for other similar structures. Previous designs can also be constantly improved to come up with better designs. As such, the old designs act as the basis of new ones. The architects are therefore saved the agony of designing new designs from scratch each and every time they wish to come up with new blueprints. The practice also reduces on the total construction cost. Members of the society are therefore in a position to acquire property as a result of the reduced costs of construction.

Despite the many social benefits associated with the use of computer designs in architecture, there are also a number of limitations. To begin with, the use of the programs is only beneficial to those persons who have access to computers. The programs used in the generation of architectural designs, such as AutoCAD and Turbo CAD are also often highly priced (Gorton 2006). As such, they are unaffordable to architects with a low capital base. Those who are unable to afford the programs are disadvantaged. Social inequalities therefore arise following the use of the CAD programs. The use of CADs is also considered to be a preserve of the wealthy in the society. As a result of the expenses incurred, it is only viable for large construction activities. The poor are not in a position to share in the benefits of using computer programs in architecture.

Today, safety issues have also arisen from the use of computer programs in the design of structures. Computer programs are considered to be intellectual property. Users must acquire the program from its developer in an honest manner. However, cases of pirating of the programs have been rampant. The practice among designers is considered to be unethical (Abel 2004). It has also been found to discourage innovation. The designs generated by the architects are also considered to be their intellectual property. They should not be used without their consent. However, computer systems are often considered to be vulnerable to attacks. As a result of social vices, such as hacking, the designs can be leaked to other persons. As such, the morale of the architects has been boosted.

The extensive use of computers has also led to negative social behaviour. Members of the society, especially children, have become addicted to certain aspects of the computer, such as browsing and gaming. Architects who use computer programs to design structures can get addicted to other activities associated with the use of the device, such as browsing (Gorton 2006). As a result, a lot of time will be wasted by the members of the society.

Limitations of Computer Technology in Architecture

It is a fact that computer architecture is associated with a number of benefits. However, it also has some weaknesses. First, some people have no access to computer technology. The machines are relatively expensive. In addition, the use of technology is associated with a number of threats. Trojans, worms, and other viruses affect the computer and alter its normal way of functioning (Hennessy 2012).

Programming helps in the creation of algorithms that can be used to solve problems. However, some people use their programming skills to exploit other vulnerable computers. Hackers stage malicious attacks on other computers and access personal information. Architects can lose designs stored in PCs this way. Simulating such attacks helps to detect and fix the weak points of an operating system. However, cyber crime remains a problem today (Findley 2005).

Games are a form of entertainment. However, some people spend a lot of time on gaming programs. Such an indulgence reduces the usefulness of these programs in the society. In spite of this, it is important to note that games are not entirely negative. However, they are addictive and people should use them with care. 3D motions also bring about nausea, which affects the output of the architect using the program (Hofmeister & Nord 2000).

The Future of Computer Programs in Architecture

In the near future, every aspect of human life will be affected by computer technology. The machines have played a major role in development. Computers should be viewed as machines that imitate what is known by humans. At the same time, the technology is used to explore the unknown. Software design reflects what people think. Programs like CAD act like a human brain. The architect has to reason with them to solve a problem. As such, it is advisable to use highly advanced computing mechanisms to solve problems in the future. For example, CAD should be replaced with BIM (Hofmeister & Nord 2000).

Today, people have moved away from traditional computer systems, such as desktops and PCs, to new hybrids and highly complicated devices. The new technology is set to revolutionise the next generation of computer programs in architecture. Mobile phones, tablets, and phablets are some of the new devices that resemble computer systems, but which are targeted at medium and low end users (Hofmeister & Nord 2000). The growth in programmable hardware will see the emergence of software as a major industry. Today, the society is witnessing the adoption of hi-tech devices, such as smart phones, smartcards, and smart homes. The technology industry will thrive in the next decade.

New technologies in the architecture business, such as BIM, will be unveiled in the future. The problems encountered today in architectural designs, including performance limits and unmet expectations, will be overcome in the future. A look at the long journey taken by CAD shows that change can take place in ways that are unimaginable (Prensky 2005).

Conclusion

Technology has led to the development of computer applications that make it possible to carry out daily activities. The scientific calculator and the game pong are some of the programs developed in the 1970s by information experts. Originally, pong was an exciting program among the users. However, at some point, its popularity declined. Modern games like Grand Theft Auto, Football, and Tomb Raider have generated millions of dollars for the developers.

CAD is used to generate 3D building models. Technological developments have seen the introduction of BIM. Playing a computer game and designing a house are similar undertakings. As such, it is possible to come up with an application to solve different problems in these fields. Many elements of contemporary society are computerised. Computers function in the same way as human brains. For example, life is characterised by intermittent challenges and victories. The same applies to the development and use of computer programs in architecture. Technological advancements improve the skills of the individual with regards to the use of computers. Architects can use these developments to improve their future designs.

References

Abel, C 2004, Architecture, technology, and process, Elsevier, Amsterdam.

Drake, S 2007, The third skin: architecture, technology & environment, Sydney NSW Publishers, Sydney.

Findley, L 2005, Building change: architecture, politics, and cultural agency, Psychology Press, New York.

Gorton, I 2006, Essential software architecture, Springer, Berlin.

Helgesen, S 2005, The web of inclusion: architecture for building great organisations, Beard Books Print, Hoboken.

Hennessy, J 2012, Computer architecture: a quantitative approach, Elsevier, London.

Hofmeister, C & Nord, R 2000, Applied software architecture, Addison-Wesley Professional, London.

Leatherbarrow, D 2000, Uncommon ground architecture, technology, and topography, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Mansbridge, J 1999, Graphic history of architecture, Hennessy & Ingalls, London.

Morrison, R 2008, Software architecture, Springer, Berlin.

Prensky, M 2005, ‘Computer games and learning: digital game-based learning’, Handbook of Computer Game Studies, vol. 18, pp. 97-122.

Scheer, A & Nuttgens, M 2000, Aris architecture and reference models for business process management, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, Berlin.

Smith, J & Nair, R 2005, ‘The architecture of virtual machines’, Computer, vol. 38 no.5, pp. 32-38.

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