Sur(real)

Image credit : OOIIO Architecture

Image credit : OOIIO Architecture

Unrealistic renderings are not just a symptom of the misguided nature of architecture education. It’s also our industry’s obsession with the image of architecture.

Digital architectural renderings and their hand-drawn counterparts both serve the purpose of allowing clients, investors and architects to envision a building and what it could be in its own setting. Our eyes are trained to believe that a photograph is a true representation of an existing condition. Thus in the digital age, the graphic representation of architecture is not only an exercise in persuasion, but it has also become an exercise in deception. Photoshop and similar software have become the architectural profession’s pharmacy of performance-enhancers. It is possible that the proliferation of such photographs leads clients and the public to expect from architecture and architects a degree of quality that is impossible to deliver at this time.

In an age in which the rendering has already set expectations far higher than reality could achieve, is a realistic rendering rendered useless? Should we attempt to present architecture as realistically as possible in order to eliminate unrealistic expectations for both clients and ourselves? Is it okay that renderings be idealized in order to sell a design or should we all stick to models and give up renderings altogether?

- Felipe Carvalho