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From Cathedral Domes To Glass Office Blocks

May 26, 2008
Think of architecture and what immediately comes to mind? Is it an old church or cathedral complete with gargoyles? Or is it some angular, glass structure that has been erected in the city? Either way, we will see architecture as the building of 'nice' places and often this is as far as the opinion stretches. But architectural visualisation goes a lot further than this and effects each and every one of us.

Even your local council estate has had the input of someone with architectural visualisation at one point. There are many rules and regulations that have to be taken into account when designing a building, whether for residential purposes or otherwise. Local authorities are very hot on the legal issues and they have to be applied to the letter for building plans to be approved. Architects will be well aware of these rules and are constantly being updated.

But the whole business of the architect takes so much more into consideration. A building will start off as a picture in someone's mind and the onus is on the architect to put that idea onto paper and into proper drawn up plans. Of course, computers help a great deal these days and have made the whole process much quicker.

Most people would be amazed at just how much detail is needed on building plans when these things are never seen by the average person. Every single item that goes into that structure is accounted for and logged down to the thickness of the plaster on the walls.

Often, when it comes to larger public buildings where more detail is required, architects have a much more complex job that takes into account incidental decoration as well as the basic structure. Architecture is actually a science whereby calculations need to be worked on to overcome physical issues and often a designer will have some grand scheme in mind that appears to defy the laws of physics and this is where true architectural visualisation comes into play.

Both designer and architect need the same vision for it to come about. They need to work in conjunction with each other to overcome issues, adhere strictly to health and safety and realise the dream of the designer. To do this, they also need to be aware of old laws such as the 'ancient lights' rule that measures the amount of light a person is entitled to in a room.

If they have experienced a certain level of light in their home for twenty years or more, then nobody has a right to restrict that level without permission and this law has been citied on many occasions, causing losses to a construction company who have failed at seeking permission from nearby property owners.

Architectural visualisation involves being able to see, in the mind's eye, the finished product but also taking into account the issues that need to be surmounted en route. Take a look at the dome of St Pauls Cathedral and you will at once realise that architecture is more than just pretty buildings. It takes a scientific mind to get over the issues of how to make such a construction stay put. A whole host of mathematical equations have to be taken into consideration as well as the laws of physics to realise the architectural visualisation.

With new technology, new discoveries and new materials being invented all the time, architecture is making leaps and bounds in all directions. The forces that restricted many building designs in the past are not necessarily so anymore and more inventive designs are springing up.

The science of architecture has been a leading force in the construction of buildings that are able to withstand stronger and stronger earthquakes and has saved many lives.

Within architectural visualisation comes the effect of a building on the senses as well as the physical construction itself. I for one, cannot pass through an old building without wanting to touch some of its fabric - whether it be old stone work, ancient wood the marble carvings of building details.

The effects of space are truly remarkable when you step into somewhere like a cathedral. It's more than the effect of a large, open space. It involves the sense of smell, the sense of touch and the way light floods into a space.

Light is very important when it comes to designing a building and this will be considered in the planning stages. This is the exact reason why a South facing building will be easier to sell than any other.
Everybody wants the sun and the maximum amount of light as it bodes so well with a sense of well being. Unless, of course, you are considering building a glass structure when the rules are reversed and you need to take into account the greenhouse effect and allow for some shelter.

Recent years have seen great concern and debate over the ecological effects of the way we build. Many designers and architects are making huge advancements in building environmentally friendly homes and buildings that hopefully or families will be enjoying for many years to come.
About the Author
Design expert Catherine Harvey looks at the effects of architectural visualisation on our past and future.
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