Monday, November 17, 2008


It won't go away.

My Stormhouse project apparently came to the notice of the company that produces one of the higher-end computer modeling and rendering applications, and they quite generously provided me with access to software products that are either more expensive than I would ever purchase for myself or simply unavailable commercially at this point.

And the result? (Compare to the published versions, in this earlier post.)

Startling, as far as I am concerned. I am impressed with the seeming "photorealism"...what an amazing tool.

Now my little apocalyptic fantasy looks build-able, as fresh as a sparkling new toy just out of its shrinkwrap. Fresher than it ever could look, built.

But it was always, even when rendered less realistically, something that could be built, or at least it was close, in terms of design, to that generally sought-after condition. I spent some effort, like a good little architectural designer, on researching materials and building technology. It might not be the most practical item to erect on a storm-strewn, iceberg-threatened Antarctic island's coast, but there is no reason why it wouldn't stand up and provide a certain amount of decent shelter, there or anywhere, until a world-ending Something really did smash it flat.

Should it look build-able, though? Should it be an assembly of things culled from a building supply catalog, given my "program"? As if there is a special chapter in the Sweets catalog for cataclysm-resistant products!

Of course, the Stormhouse program arrived long after the idea for the building, which was (I am almost certain) suggested by a near-ruinous Quonset Hut-style structure I saw fleetingly through the smudged-fingerprints-window of a train I took down the coast nearly a decade ago. I adapted the general form to several programs, initially as a quasi-public boathouse that was part of a poorly-imagined and quite-unlikely project assigned by a callous instructor in a dingy architecture school. Later, after I made my own soul-sucking accommodation with the monstrous agglutination of institutions and "professional" regulations that produces architectural cannon-fodder in my country, I redrew it and reworked it as a callous instructor in a dingy architecture school myself, as a design and illustration example for my tyrannized students. It wasn't until someone (not an architect) saw this rendering of an interim version from three years ago

and wrote me, "What? Is this waiting for the Hurricane?" that I began to understand what I had imagined and the black tide of the Eschaton it was meant to resist.

I'll ask again, Should it look build-able, though?

By "looking build-able," I do not mean to imply that there is anything wrong--at all, at all--with the design and rendering of architectural projects using those not-so-new-fangled computer programs. Only senectitude and fear could lead anyone to spurn tools that allow one to view and adapt a design from inside--from outside--from multiple sides and in multiple ways at once--for the old smeary haptic tools of graphite and ink on ground-up trees. I've come to despise several architects I once admired, after reading their unexpected Luddite diatribes upon the crippling effects of the use of computers in architectural design. The common fear among the supposed greats of learning something new--of adapting to new circumstances and techniques--is simply more crippling, and more fatal, than any tool.

I am crippled as a designer, but not by my tools. I'm crippled by all those years of dungeon-work in that dingy concrete hell of an architecture a lowly drudge-serf intern in some big a maker of pretty pictures of steel-framed cathedrals to crony neo-Con theo-Con capitalism! I only think in terms of structural-steel-arch roofing systems and reinforced fiberglass pilings...when I should be thinking of other things entirely. Why would anyone wait for the world to end in something like this? Coast Guard-approved fiberglass pilings? I should be specifying the bones of murdered giants! Steel roofing? It should be woven spiderweb stiffened with a generous coating of mummia, the embalming lacquer used on the corpses of dead Pharaohs.

How do I get the grand dead weight of architecture--soul-crushing education, regulation, institution, profession--out of my imagination?  What computer program will help me work out that?


Paulo Guerreiro said...

hum.... I love that project, the ppb images were brilliant, but I must confess i'm more a GI guy. I'm betting that somewhere between vray and mentalray, the new c4d render engine would also be able to do it. The sky is HDRI ?

Lewis Wadsworth said...

No, it's just a particularly striking sky that I saw from an airplane window. These are 3D Studio Max Design renderings with Mental Ray. The software provider actually wished me to test a largely-automated importer, so in fact I really did very little to my original digital model other than to assign some default ProMaterials. The sky was added through post-processing.

Paulo Guerreiro said...

ok ok, keep your secrets :)
I'm joking.Seriously, you added some drama to it. I'm a drama apologist, selling a project, or a image has to emotional. I really like that in your stuff, it's the emotional density it carries (also some inconformism). We almost can see your guts in your projects, and that has to be good, it takes it to the next level, Art with a major A.