The Birth of new technology - the 3D realm
Our architectural 3D models were born from an inspiration in design. Design had always been difficult when the client couldn't understand the concept that you were trying to communicate. But drawing up sketches, architectural illustrations, artist impressions, perspective drawings and elevation after elevation was becoming too tedious and still too hard for clients to truly understand. We had faith in our design ability, just not in the method of displaying it to our clients.
In the early 1990s CAD (Computer Aided Design) was growing popularity and as computers increased in speed we rapidly saw more and more portions of architectural drawing being done electronically. The process was more or less an electronic version of a drawing board. But we also noticed a new field in CAD emerge - 3D modelling. To this date many architects and designers still see 3D CAD and 3D models as too hard, but this perception is borne from ignorance and an inability to look beyond that day's work.
3D Models in Design
The head of Archiform 3D, Steve Bell, took what appeared to some as a gimmick technology and started design in 3D. It was wire frame to start with and then he developed in house software to create true perspective views, automatic 3D element generation and general production tools. 3D models were an instant hit with clients and the design practice grew not just on design reputation but the quality of service! Clients now had 3D models to view all aspects of their design and Steve extended design meetings so they could view their models and design changes in almost real time.
It became clear that the beginning phases of design took about 25% longer in 3D compared to working in 2D, but the resultant 3D model increased the speed of all other subsequent tasks. The quality of the 3D model is also critical to the end result. It is the architects that could see the long term advantages or didn't have the patience or knowledge to build a quality 3D model that have never embraced the technique.
The Refinement of 3D Models
Newer and better software became available and Steve became an early user of ArchiCAD. 3D models were now being produced quicker, to more detail and they could now be "rendered". Rendering the 3D models added colour, texture and lighting to the presentation, and photomontage techniques allowed incredibly lifelike representations of the design. Remember, this is all still in the early 1990s so the relative technology being used was considered staggering.
Steve soon saw the need to add more to 3D models – intelligence. What if a wall was a wall, not a line. Or what if a window was smart enough to understand the wall it is in and adjust it's own construction technique time and time again as the design changed. Steve's company harnessed it's computer programming skills to create parametric construction elements, many of which are still used today in architectural practices around the world.
The Birth of a new 3D model company - Archiform 3D
As the abilities and realism grew Steve extended the services, and created the very first "virtual prize homes". These 3D models were used to create high quality lifelike renderings that took the place of real homes in a grand lottery. This was the ultimate in effective use of the technology and the launch of a whole new concept - Archiform 3D. Steve's original company soon wound down as he vowed never to design another building again.