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The application of computer aided design, CAD, and information technology, IT, continues to grow in architectural design. Developments in new information technology have provided architects to extend the realm of architectural design. The late 1980's architectural design overcame an important transition with the introduction of CAD in which computers were introduced to become a key aspect of architecture, not only in professional practice but also in architectural education. Many architects invested in computing resources to ensure and provide themselves/practices with the necessary equipment and skills to have a competitive edge and to be advantageous.
Computer Aided Architectural Design (CAAD) and/or Computer Aided Design (CAD) have been an important part of architecture since the 1990's, this is when it was adopted and adapted by many work places around the world. However attempts were made in the 1950's to create a relationship between architecture and early computing. Research and development continued to build throughout the next two decades and by the early 70's most of the research material and theories created the basis on which many of the first architectural computing programs were developed. By the late 1980's and early 90's computing systems were increasingly being used in architecture, but there was a resistance to these systems and programs by many of the traditional design studio practitioners, one of their strongest arguments against it was "computer drawings were talking away the suggestive nature of hand drafting and hand modelling which were very important elements in developing rationalisation in the design process." (Reffat, R., 2008) it wasn't until the mid 1990's that CAD became widely recognised as a necessary requirement in the core of architectural design "CAD proficiency has become an important requirement for the employment of undergraduate architects." (Reffat, R., 2008) However old studio methods of developing design ideas and concepts through plans, sections, elevations, and model making have virtually been untouched by the new computer software and tools.
In most practices the initial design ideas, sketching, drawing and modelling are done manually and the final computer drawings and renders are used at the final stage for presentations and the documentation of the project. Since its introduction into architectural design, CAD systems have gone through three main evolutions. In its first inception computer programs were to aid and assist in designing. Software to help with special organisation, plans and to find solutions to specific areas of designing. These programs over time were developed, resulting in the second evolution of the CAD system. The computer software became a drafting machine and CAD became known as Computer Aided Drafting. The third evolution is currently on going and will be possible in the near future, CAD will become Computer Aided Design and will "demand the elaboration of new methods of using the computer at the early stages of this process" (Asanowicz, A., 1999). The computer will be utilised for creating 3-D forms by 3-D sketching, transforming the computer from a tool into a design medium.
First Evolution of CAD
CAD was first used to analyse the design, and were of a linear function. The information from the architect was imputed into the design system and each drawing/image created is analysed and observed. Methods of evaluating special distribution, relationships of areas/objects and geometries in several scales are developed and enables the architect to review areas of the design closely. These initial tools proved to be not very successful, and more often than not the designer would refer back to their more traditional, tried and tested, design process. The more the architect/designer looked into the systematic procedures of the program, the designer somewhat lost control over the design situation. The first evolution CAD methods had many flaws, there was a limitation on the program to solve functional problems, and there were also minimal ways for the designer to understand graphically what was occurring between themselves and the computer. These tools and programs we a success in that they were a direct influence on design problem solving and finding functional solutions in the areas of designing.
Second Evolution of CAD
Due to the many difficulties associated with the early use of computers in architecture, mainly down to the lack of communication and interface between the architect and the computer system, resulted in minimal backing and support for their use in architecture. Research and development into these programs were undertaking to enable the designer to have more interaction and input with the computing system. Some of the first programs created in this second evolution allowed the user to draw on the computer screen, essentially replacing the drawing board. Designers started using these programs to produce technical flat plans as well as three dimensional models, the software allowed the user to change elevations, sections, plans whilst at the same time developing the design. The old ways and processes were integrated into these new software programs, the stages of design could be described as the following: Concept, Initial Design, Design development/integration, and Presentation. CAD software allowed these stages to be coherent with the current design process. In the conceptual stage the sketches developed of the concept and ideas could be scanned into the program or digitally drawn to bring these drawings/images into an electronic format. During the design stage, 2-D and 3-D drawings and designs can be created and the architect/designer is able to explore a broad range of ideas and solutions in different areas of the design and at several scales. At the following stage, Design development/integration, after initial studies and designs have been explored, analysed and resolved, the architect begins to generate hard information about the design/project. These could be the structure layout, service integration, junction details, wall make ups, or construction details. The programs allow drawings to be layered up and studied and analysed as a whole and rational decisions can be made. The presentation stage is the point near the end of the design process. The architect, once the design is precise, is able to begin generating 3-D rendered images and models to give the client an idea and feeling for what the building will look like. These new systems became a one stop shop, allowing the architect to develop the design for the conception on the idea through to the detailed design and construction, and on to presentation drawings and models. There is little difference between the old design process and this new digital one, resulting in the architect having a better relationship with his new designing tools. The pencil or pen is being replaced with computer mouse and keyboard and the drawing board with the computer screen. "The computer was transformed into a drafting machine and CAD means Computer Aided Drafting." (Asanowicz, A., 1999) It was believed that the introduction of these systems would allow the architect to spend more time on the creative stages. CAD systems accelerated the development of the technical stages of the design process and furthermore the creation of documentation.
Third Evolution of CAD
Within the third evolution of CAD new methods of designing at the early stages of the design process are being created, but problems of transforming the computer into a medium arises. The computer can be called an extension to the architect's abilities, supporting the designer and enabling them to explore ideas of the design in more depth and in more detail. Others have said the computer has been treated like an artificial limb (prosthesis). Computer systems take over from the designer and carry out tasks that they would normally be responsible for. These two ideas may seem contradictory to each other these two ideas in fact complement each other "just as a prosthesis substitutes a lacking organ, a computer substitutes the brain. On the other hand the computer is an "extension" when it stimulates the designer to a more efficient work on generating the idea of the designed object." (Asanowicz, A., 1999) The computer should be seen as an object to help enhance ideas and design, not as a substitute.
Means of displaying designs graphically is one of the most important and basic forms of media, sketching results in the flexibility to explore design ideas, each drawing created is an expression of the architect's idea of the form and geometry, allowing the exploration and evaluation of every new idea. Computing systems have been created to more fully explore these issues. The sketches created that represent the view of the designer do not necessary create additional value to the design process. Direct designing is created by architects designing virtually. The work of the architect becomes closer to that of an artist, manipulating the design directly area by area, room by room and thus becoming fully engaged with the present project. The designer has a direct relationship with the created forms, acting in real time to resolve and change design issues and problems.
These third evolutions of CAD systems are very possible in the near future and some are currently being used and developed. The computer should be used for creating 3-D forms via 3-D sketching rather than just a drafting tool for discovering functional solutions to design problems, for this to be achieved the computer has to be seen not only as a tool but a medium for designing. "Computer architecture has been revolutionary in both sensorial and the intellectual spheres" (Ananowicz, A., 1999) Computers have played a large hand in modern day architecture and the traditional design methods have been transformed and evolved by the computer. However the computer may not be being used to its full potential in designing as many still view it as a tool rather than a medium and is still referred to for drafting, finalising, and presenting designs rather than actually designing. "CAD tools are increasing their expressive and geometric power to enable a design process in which the computer model can be used throughout the whole design process" (Achtens, H. and Joosen, G., 2003)