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A Vision For The Future

Jun 4, 2008
When it comes to architectural visualisation, the epitome has to be that of Joseph Paxton in his Crystal Palace design. With a distinct lack of architects credentials, the brief was to design a building that would encompass the Great Exhibition. This exhibition was planned for the following year so whichever design was chosen had to be constructed and ready for use within this strict time frame. Two weeks after informing Paxton he would be allowed to submit plans, the design for the Crystal Palace was approved.

This design won for several reasons. Paxton may not have had the appropriate degrees but he did have the architectural visualisation that covered all the points that were needed as well as creating a building worthy of admiration for its beauty and strength.

There was concern about the large, old Elm trees situated in Hyde Park where the building was to be constructed but Paxton's design allowed for these to be protected. It was also the only design that could possibly be built in time for the exhibition and when you think that this scale of exhibition had never been carried off before, it is clear that plans could not be changed.

Paxton did have some experience in this field as well as architectural visualisation and his vision for a wrought iron and glass construction was inspired by the Duke of Devonshire's Conservatory that he designed while working as a gardener. This led him to create a building on a never seen before scale that covered 770,000 square feet of floor space, over a million feet of glass and tons and tons of iron.

The Crystal Palace, as it was so aptly named, was an architectural visualisation that came to fruition well ahead of its time. It was constructed from prefabricated panels that were constructed rapidly, were strong beyond expectations and were easily dismantled when the building was moved to new grounds the following year.

The Crystal Palace was one of the buildings that set the precedent for the future of architectural visualisation. It showed others in the profession that anything was achievable and has led to today's masterpieces of construction that we see around us. It has opened up ideas that no material is out of bounds, no size or shape that cannot be achieved and no environmental concern that cannot be overcome.

Architectural visualisation today stretches to properties that allow us to build homes that blend in with the environment without destroying it, it allows the construction of buildings that bear up under the pressure of earthquakes and other such natural disasters and it allows us buildings of functionality and beauty that find new levels to the expected limits of physics.

Take a look at what we have had since the inception of the Crystal Palace. There is the Taipei 101. At 1,671 feet this is the tallest building in the world with 101 stories (hence the name) as well as the five stories it has underground. Constructed in an area that has some pretty major earthquakes to take into consideration, it is amazing that this building has come about.

Wembley Stadium is also on the list of amazing structures as it is now the biggest stadium in the world with the capacity to seat 90,000 people. It boasts a 436 foot arch that supports 5,000 tons of the 7,000 ton movable roof.

So, it would seem that ideas of a little known man that moonlighted as an architect really were the forerunners for some of the most amazing architecture to date.
About the Author
Design expert Catherine Harvey looks at the way architectural visualisation manifests itself.
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