Surviving the Design Studio: How to start making architecture with an actual drawing.

BAN Pinterest

If you think an architectural design is about merely downloading stuff on Pinterest, think again.

 Many architects have now lost the ability to draw. Hey, for some the computer is so much better. But is the machine the same kind of speculative instrument that drawing, or model making, is? I don’t think it is and my concern is that we have substituted Pinterest, and image collecting memes in general, as a way to draw.

Designing has always been about speculation, and I think it is reasonable to collect, download and collage material together and then employ techniques of estrangement and distortion. Why would you do that when everything now ready-made and easily customizable with a bit of site and user functionality and value management thrown in. Why would architectural design be anything else? Plus, those other techniques, the ones of distortion and estrangement, would mean you might actually need some kind of theoretical model or position to work from rather than slopping around in the lather of consumerist capitalism. But I guess Theming everything is oh so easy these days. Contextual theming is the worse and goes like this: “my project design is in an area with lots of (fill in the most predominant and visible thing in the local context) widgets, So I am going to make my building look like a bit like and widget.
Lousy copying in architecture seems to be rife these days. Hey, who needs to draw in the early stages of a project when you hit me up with some of that old vs. new architecture, or give me a slug of arches, or worse still, a shot of archetypal gable profiled zinc. As a friend of mine remarked: Danish or Japanese projects published in Archdaily in the morning quickly end up on Melbourne drawing boards in the afternoon. Nothing like consuming the 24-hour global design cycle.

A slight digression

Worse still are the digital poetics advanced by the digital tribes is, regardless of aesthetic appearance, which embodies an overriding sentiment of the architect’s office as a kind of frontier. A frontier where men are real men (just like in the Searchers) and where design workflows can be optimized and rationalized. Nowhere, is this ripsnorting wham-bam, boys with toys technological frontier, and associated frontierism, more evident in the discourse that surrounds the implementation of Building Information Modelling in architecture. BIM has been a central focus for the digital tribes and at the center of this crap poetics of efficiency, is an entity called the BIM model. The BIM model, the holiest of holies, the modern equivalent to the arc of the covenant, is a static centralized and hierarchical conceptual entity. (sometimes I wonder how much research money was spent ton the development of the IFCs).

Arguably, this statism combined constrains architects from design speculation through drawing. Their rhetorics of the frontier around all this stuff makes architects think they are speculating about something when they are doing no such thing. While researching this blog post I found this on the BuildingSmart website, (hey, whats in it for me) and it’s worth quoting in full:

Who benefits from standardized BIM-processes?”

  1. Owners, architects, engineers, facility managers, because they do not need to re-invent the wheel in each project, and because everyone would know the standard procedures. It will be much easier to partner-up in new projects and to build consortia. A lot of money and effort will be saved.
  2. Software vendors, because the market will become much bigger. As procedures become widely accepted state-of-the-art, vendors will increase investment in software development.
  3. Educators, because education is based on state-of-the-art, only on this basis a mass-education can be established and it is worth the effort to develop educational books/media (anything else is just short-term training). If you demand today from universities to educate their students in BIM, most of them are helpless, because they don’t know what to teach. Certificates of education need a standardized basis. State-of-the-art is also a necessary basis for accreditation of studies.
  4. Building owners, because they will ask for state-of-the-art BIM competence confirmed by certificates.
  5. Contractors, manufacturers, authorities, maintainers and operators, because their work processes will be streamlined and efficient.
  6. Everyone in society, because they use the built environment for living, working and life.

Sorry, I know I am digressing a bit. That “living working and life”  bit gets me choked up everytime. Sure, you can play with and do things with the plug-ins nowadays. But is that really the same as drawing? Drawing is a non-standard thing, and the con, of the infamous Non-Standard architecture exhibition in the early 2000s Paris, was to delude architects into thinking that we were all heading into a non-standard world of super digital design.

I wonder if all the above horrors of contemporary design, including digital design, are because we have lost the ability to conduct in-depth research through drawing and sketching

So just like last’s week’s post. Here are few clues to help you get your design drawing skills up and running.

Pinterest DETOX

1.Buy a pen and pencil and get some white paper.


2. Start to do something without overthinking


3. Think about a building or space or place you might like to design.


4. Have a first go at drawing it. Do a section. You can even annotate if you like. You can even employ humour.


5. It may start as a diagram and then evolve.


6. It doesn’t even have to be neat or even legible to others

IMG_50638. Without wanting to sound like one of those awful American Architecture school composition manuals: As you draw think about how the drawing might develop: Which aspects of it could change or remain fixed? What are its limits? Which segments of it do you want to design more than others? Think about its attributes. Most simply, should it be bigger or smaller?


9. Try and draw it in different ways and from different perspectives.


10. Draw quickly then draw slowly and even just scribble a bit if you like.


11. Iterate a few more designs or sketches.


12. Start again and repeat. Try doing all the above in a computer and see how long it takes and don’t forget only the most narcissistic architects will draw these types of sketches on yellow trace. ( if I had signed my drawings with Siza or Hejduk’s signature the might be saleable and people would drool over them).

So, if you cant do this, or couldn’t be bothered, and its more comfortable to pretend to be a BIM superhero, and you still think Pinterest is the only way to go, then don’t bother calling yourself an Architect. But if you try drawing not only will you be a better architect but the profession itself might just be that little bit more resilient, when the value managers come knocking on your door. Especially when you are sitting around a table, and they are trying to delete every bit of pathetic design you have Pinterest plastered into the project.

The feature image is a Raisbeck drawing collage from the early 90s. Its little wonder I was never invited to be a guest critic or “Assistant Professor” at Harvard, Columbia or the AA.  

Surviving the Design Studio: How to avoid plan reading blindness

Sometimes I get to tutor, as in actually teach in front of students face to face, and a lot of the time it is fun. Another night in a practice tutorial I held up the three plans and a section of Corbusier’s La Tourette to the students and asked them if they could look at these plans imagine what the building was like in 3 dimensions. Some responded with an educated guess, but most just looked at me blankly. I then held up a trade breakdown of figures for a different project and asked them to imagine what these figures might also suggest about the three dimensionalities of the project.Hence, the seemingly perverse exercise of comparing some photocopied plans of La Tourette with a list of Trade Breakdown figures I suppose I was trying to indicate how “reading” plans are the same as reading a list of figures. More blanko looks.

Plans and Trade Breakdowns

But I then led them through the figures with a close textual reading as historians also do. I told them how you could “read” the trade break-down figures to understand what these say about the buildings final form and the opportunities buried in the figures for getting some design into the project. One student had the insight to ask me, “how might an architect stack up or shape the figures to achieve some design objectives”? Which in the real world, if you are not a so-called architect obsessed with project productivity and optimization, means having further opportunities to design as the delivery process unfolds.

Afterward, I thought about this encounter with the students and begun to worry if they had now lost the ability to read drawings or anything else for that matter. Although, that is a little harsh, and far be it for me to appear to be or seem harsh in my judgments (you only have to look at my last two blogs to see what a paragon of fair-minded generosity I am).

Plan reading blindness

Anyway, I then began to wonder if that is the case, if the students now ensconced in the joys of computers and Instagram had now lost the ability to read plans. And dare I say it, these plans are, what some of us might call “traditional plans” and sections. But reading and interpreting plans and sections and other documents is a critical skill that all architects should possess. If my hypothesis is correct, that architects are no longer teaching, or taught, how to read plans (and I hope it isn’t), it might nonetheless explain why the industry thinks that the skill base of graduates is declining. Is it any wonder if graduates are not learning actually to read, interpret, ponder or wonder about plan drawings.

What an architecture course is not

Same with digital graphics and the other evils of computing. I wonder if the problem is that interpreting or reading a drawing requires an attention span that goes beyond the ten milliseconds it takes to like an Instagram or Zuckerberg post. Then there is the obsession with just making stuff.  Many schools are nowadays obsessed with making stuff. I suppose the highest planet of all this maker-spacey making seems to have been the AA’s DRL lab. That’s all fine and good but making stuff is not the same as learning to interpret drawings. Nor is the obsession with a computer or some other kind of digital graphics. You can’t build an architecture course around digital technologies and prefabricated construction and workshops. This isn’t actually an architecture course!

These algorithmic things are ancillary to architectural design and they always have been. I know you might think I sound like an old curmudgeon and that’s also part of the problem as well. The traditional-new polarity is a misnomer. All because a technique is new, or has a legacy, doesn’t necessarily mean it is either excellent or needs abandoning. Architects and educators have a responsibility to consider how new techniques should constitute and shape architecture. The problem with that proposition is that might mean thinking and arguing about architecture in a theoretical sense. What broad techniques, instruments or ways of thinking should we be encouraging in architectural education and through our industry bodies?

After a while, architects may not even know what a plan is. So here is an exercise that everyone might do to remedy the situation.

A remedy for plan blindness

So, If you an architecture student this is what you need to do. Its kind of like a mindfulness exercise for architects.

1. Find some plans and sections print them out.

2. Look at the plans for about an hour.

3. Lie down and think in your mind what these plans imply about the buildings three-dimensional form and materiality.

4. In your mind walk through the building.

5. Go to sleep.

6. Wake up the next day

7. Go and visit the building and see if it is the same as what you thought.

8. Write a few notes about the experience.

9. Repeat for a different set of plans.

Avoid the urge to skim around the internet or look at your phone while doing the above. It is entirely possible that all of that attention seeking digi distractions are making you a dumb and dumber designer. The problem is you may not even realize you cant read plans.

The Rise of the Box Building: Bananas in Pajamas and BIM software.

I fear that the latest digital software dictates our design decisions without architects really thinking that much about it. Instead of jumping on the new great new BIM technology bandwagon we need a different debate.  I worry that some of the readers of this blog may be a bit tired of my seemingly old school rants about the hazards of digital technologies and design. But they need to be voiced, or written about, before it is too late. Architects need to resist architectural design and design knowledge becoming a sub-system of a commodified production process. Debating the merits of the prevalent software brands is critical to developing a resistance to anything that diminishes our field of knowledge.

B1 and B2: The predominant global software brands 

Let’s call the two predominant software tools beloved by our profession B1 (Trade name of large white almost extinct animal) and B2 (Weird trade name that conjures up Cousin IT). How did our discourse become beholden to these global brands? In order to protect the guilty, I prefer not to name them by their trademarked and branded names. That would give their developers too much dignity. You can work out who I mean.

Like the Bananas in Pohjamas, also named B1 and B2, both are entities that are the result of the new digital media arena that architects work in. A landscape, dare I mention it, intertwined with the emerging digital-military complex. I wont dwell on this broader point, as today I would like to focus a bit on the hazards of B2.

Firstly, for those readers who need further prompting, B1 is a software brand with animal logo of an almost extinct mammal. In total, there are only about 20,000 of the white species of animal left. B1 allows you to design and create plastic and fluid curves and shapes. Arguably, and supposedly, B1 allows you to generate a design. The emphasis here being on the word generation.

The B2 database

In contrast B2 is different to B1 it is not a modelling tool. It is essentially a database. Yes, an actual database that allows you to do some 3D drawing. You can even do 4D in B2. Wow. Googly Moogly Batman: you can slowly watch the Banana being peeled in order to meet supply chain logistics and OH&S logics. All the information created by the B2 can then be used as the B2 created banana withers and dies. All very sustainable. Or so it is claimed.

B2 does have some add-ons which augment it. But in the rush for technical skills, and post graduation jobs, many students and indeed studios are being hampered by the lack of generative capability. Disturbingly, I am starting to see more and more design studios employing the B2 software tool as a generative and primary tool. No conceptual drawing, no generative diagrams, no annotated sketches, no exploration of options, no physical models. Just jump in and start the model.

CAD and BIM Monkey Magic

Who needs the fluff of design when you need the BIMMY B2 skills to get a job, to become a CAD BIM monkey eating B2 bananas. Who needs that when you can quickly whip up an orthogonal framework and put stuff into it. Yes, using B2 in a design studio you can quickly develop a convincing orthogonal structural frame; and a so-called system; and  lo and behold fill your overall frames with some little boxes; or even slightly bigger boxes; Holey Moley Batman these could be rooms: you can then easily pretend you have designed and actual building. A building that is little more than an overall orthogonal frame filled in with boxes and frames and segments.

Pleasuring the reward centres 

But B2, unlike B1, does not create a NURBS wonderland and it has a limited ability to manipulate individual polygons. The pleasure and experience of using B2 is quite limited. You can easily pull stuff out of the B2 database, as that is what it is made for. Coffee tables, dining tables, office tables, chairs, sofas and trees. Not to mention all sorts of windows and doors. It’s not about generative design: It’s about scrolling, clicking and selecting and then placing. Not so different to Ebay. Each time an architect undertakes this process in building a digital model, a reward pulse goes from your eyes once the database object is placed, to the reward centres of your brain. You then feel good using a database even though you have populated your building model with slop. You feel like you have achieved something. You feel as if the model you are working on is real.

Architectural Design requires thought and effort to conceive, generate, manipulate and then recast. It is an iterative process. Sometimes, two steps forward and one step back. The upshot is that with software tools like B2, limit this process, and encourage the least course of resistance to be followed in the design process. Architectural studios and graduate schools are quickly becoming populated with the results of an over use of B2. Our discipline is getting getting swamped with B2 boxes.

A guide to recognising the B2 designed Box

These projects are B2-like boxes, they are easily recognised, and the following guide should help you to spot them as well.

1. They are boxes: Usually with a few additions and subtractions. Addition, subtraction, orthogonal segmentation and division are about the limits of compositional nuance. Of course, you might find a few abberrant curves, But these will be outliers.

2. They are boxes: The box finishes at the lines of its border. Everything is contained within and there is no effort to either extend or consider how the design might extend into or be a part of a surrounding context. No need to think of architecture’s broader urban responsibilities. The bunny is definitely in the box.

3. They are boxes: and utilise a segmentation that is commensurate with the most advanced, but simplistic, prefabricated building techniques. It’s always a melange of concrete and aluminium panels. No need to think about constructional craft or detailing. Its flat packed world of timber and chipboard.

4. They are boxes: and whilst a section may have been cut through the model for display, it is at worst a section that shows an undifferentiated layer cake of walls and ceilings, at best a few gaps have been dropped out or erased to make some interior spaces. There is no crafting, shaping and contouring of sections.

5. They are boxes: The only light that illuminates these creations is the final oh-so-awful V-Ray renders. B2 software does not allow the architect to think about how light might enter or be manipulated in these toxic creations. I mean who cares. You can’t dial up or select actual light from the database.

6. They are boxes: They are dumb and inchoate boxes that have abandoned architectural theory and history except in the most superficial way. There are no cultural tones or thoughts in these creations. No authentic design research and experiment. They are lacking in irony and there is never any subversive hint or self-awareness in their own making. I hate it when these types of projects win prizes.

Architects decried the modernist box of the 1950s international style. But these new boxes are more insidious. Who needs a critical theory of architecture when you can appease your pleasure centres by using a cool database. Who needs theory when you can be part of the B2 Banana cult future.

A future that is a retrograde technological utopia devoid of architecture.


How Drawing Got a Bad Name: The sketch performance as ritual.

The Alpha male star architects gave drawing a bad name. This is because these Mofos see drawing in all its forms as foremostly a performance. It is never about design. No wonder architects have flocked to the illusory certainties of the computer and and have fled the sketch and the drawing. 

What I contest, is not drawing and sketching itself, but the uneccessary perfomances that sometimes go with it. These perfomances have nothing to do with creating design knowledge and everything to do with the actor. With a few flourishes the actors, or architects, who see drawing as performance end up belittling and demeaning the worth of design drawing and sketching. 

There is nothing worse for any architect or architecture student to have to sit down and watch someone draw in front of you. Usually this performance arises as an effort to tweak, meddle and fiddle. To know best. It is rarely the result of any methodical thought in relation to a design process. Whatever drawing, or image maybe on your screen, the drawing performance involves an intervention that involves a number of ritualised steps. These drawing performers will hover and attempt to solve design problems that don’t exist. In a design studio, they will take your printouts and then intervene with their own pen or pencil. The important thing for these so-called architects is the performance and the pomposity of this performance never ceases to amaze me.

The ritual

Firstly, there is the earnest discussion and then the actor performer steps in. Secondly, they reach for the holy instruments and sacraments of drawing. These are often at hand, the fine liner pen, the pencil of various grades, sometimes coloured pencils, a scale ruler, the tracing paper and of course the holy yellow trace. The drawn gestures are often crude but imbued with meaning and there is normally an associated commentary that has always struck me as being slightly creepy. A constant refrain in this ritual is ” let me try this” or “it needs to be bigger” or “we need more of a shape here” and of course there is the  “yes, thats almost it, hmmm, yes a bit more, yes, thats good.”

The gathered throng of observers, architects, students, sometimes clients are forced to watch this onanistic ritual as they watch each gesture, each line each tweaking of the elevations or plans, each seemingly mind blowing solving of a particular design problem. The more sycophantic of the onlookers will um and ahh. The less intelligent will unquestionably subscribe to the solutions which, despite the trivial nature of these gestures, are after a few minutes set in stone.

The horror of poetic ambiguity

Some architects will do a few conceptual drawings and gestures and then just hand them over to the adults and grown-ups in the studio to implement. I know one architect who has created an entire career out of a few flexible sketches produced in the early to mid 90s. These sketches are now enshrined in an archive that shall remain nameless. In tectonic terms these sketches are barely legible, expressionistic scribbles which may have taken perhaps 30 seconds to a minute to have produced. They are of course poetic with a capital fucking-P (apologies to my more genteel readers). This is poetic ambiguity at its maximum. A creative impulse directly translated from the deeper consciousness of the architect’s brain to the appendage of the hand grasping the holy pencil that squirts its line of graphite or ink onto the yellow trace. Remind you of anything? It is uncomfortable to watch. Give me the safe refuge of the computer screen any day.

The digital outline


But sadly, the computer screen has itself also succumbed to the crude gestures of performance. Of course, what is really disturbing is that these often careless and trivial gestures seem to be linked to and transformed into the norms and forms of parametric culture. The parametric computer generated diagram has now supplanted the hand drawn sketch. But the performance around the screen is little different. It’s like in front of these screens everything is new again and the sketches and biomorphic forms of Frederik Kiesler, Pascal Hausermann, Chanaec and Archigram never existed.


 The sketch has been supplanted by the printout of a generic and outlined parametric diagram usually with a honeycombed or diatomic, geometry. All you have to do is use the computer to fill in the detail between the lines. Its called form-finding optimisation. What would happen, if Scarpa-like, you started designing from the parametric details up rather than from an overall all outline down?


Working in an office or studio and having to watch this performance is excruciating. It really is. I think drawing is both an analytical, investigative and generative tool. The best design architects know this. They know when to employ a hand sketch or drawing, employing different modes. They are interested in the design and not the flourish and the poetic mystery of the performance. They work to produce a design once the sketch is done. The initial sketch generates further sketches. The original sketch is not enshrined as art representative of male genius. Less infantile architects use drawings to observe as well as solve problems and develop a design. Simply put, design drawing and sketching is work. 

Yellowtrace fiddling

Once built you can tell the buildings that have been designed via this type of yellow traced performance. You can see the little tweaks and fiddles that have been added to the Revit or Microstation model. The adjustment and shifts in facades and window elevations. The added bits of architectural figuration. The big ideas, first conceived as sketches, that remain as vestiges in the built form, around which an underling has desperately tacked on the rest of the spaces. The shaping and skewing of plans that are knee jerk reactions to the immediate urban or heritage context. The problem is you have to walk through this slop.

Maybe that’s why I like Rossi’s drawings because they are the same elements and forms repeated and re-presented over and over again. Rossi’s drawings are in obvious contrast to those architects who create poetic art each time the squirt the graphite onto the yellow. Maybe thats why Rossi writes about the process of “forgetting architetcure.” John Hedjuk’s drawings represent a different and more subtle kind of poetry than the crude performances described above. There is a humility in the best architectural drawings and design sketches where it is less about the gesture and the performance in place of an almost animistic presence in the drawing itself. Hedjuk’s sketches contain an Archipelago of ideas not content or seduced by their own gestures of making. I think that there is a kind of frenetic desperation in Hedjuk’s, or even perhaps Alvaro Siza’s, sketches. At least Siza looks like he is trying to work some things out. But, the performers and actors in architecture always make it look oh so easy and individuated to their own personality.


I am not sure if this is true but, I always had the idea that the great, and syphilitic, architect Adolf Loos burnt all his papers and drawings. I think that to forget architecture is probably best and most courageous thing any architect can do. All architects have to do that at some point.

In Praise of Drawing: Six design things you cannot do in a computer.

Digital computing has destroyed essential elements of architectural design. Digital software is killing our architecture schools and the profession. When I read about Schooomaker (king of the market processes) or the other dudes in the parametric digital tribe my eyes start to glaze over when I hear the same old stream of consciousness about how the, fill-in-the-word-space-with-a-Zeitgeist-word, is going to change fucking everything. This Zeitgeist word is sometimes computers, robots, VR, AI, AR, smart infrastructure, 3D printing or some alliance of technology with ecological systems. But then, when I look at the productive design work spat out by the adherents of the digital tendency, in the words of the former FBI chief George Comey, “I feel mildly nauseous.”

Limited learning

At the level of design practice the digital impetus has wrought much damage in our schools of architecture. A focus on digital practice has limited the range of what emerging architects learn. This has been compounded by the ongoing development of  performance metrics related to financial outputs in our university sector. Much easier to teach a narrow version of architecture via digital computing and then dazzle everyone by pretending the design outputs are great. Usually, and on closer inspection, these outputs too often seem to be riffs on the orthogonal frame with plug-in boxes: straight jacketed versions of Cookie’s Plug-In-City with none of the fun. Too often the allure of the computer limits an understanding and practice of the design process.

Craft Beer

So let’s raise a unique and handmade crafted beer to the old ways: to sketching, drawing, to typology and composition, and to a more mindful consideration of ecologies than just making stuff look like bones, or aortas, or slimy mucus with aerated bubbles. The best architects draw on all available media to design. and here is my list of 6 design things you can do better outside of a computer.

1. You can annotate

You can actually write words on a drawing. Its true. You can use words like “maybe” if you don’t really want to do something. You can add room names, colours, and even thoughts (yes, actual thoughts) about the design’s next iteration. A great thing to annotate on a drawing is to denote different design options and iterations. Even better you can write numbers on drawings. Annotations can help bridge the qualitative and quantitative aspects of a design.

2. You can diagram quickly 

Architects love diagrams. They help to structure concepts and help you bridge the gap between a conceptual arrangement, or relationship, and an emerging form or figure. A flow chart, a graph, a complex social structure, a landscape or a site can be quickly mapped and diagrammed on a bit of paper. The smaller the better (joke).

Design diagrams can help you to remember what the fuck you are doing. Digital deisgn gives the impression that the designer is in control. But design is really about exploring the limts of control. It is about always skirting the line between the chaotic “what the fuck am I doing” and a stable and controlled order.

3. You can scribble and smash things up 

Yip, smashing up your digital model in parts is limited by the software. Digital software just whispers in your ear and urges you to extend and grow things. But with a small drawing you can easily and quickly smash something up into its constituent parts or fragments. You can scribble and cross things out. You can erase things. You can do this in a sketch to test and then see what something might be made of.

There is no point producing prototypes if they aren’t dissected and smashed up. Drawing allows you to draw prototype after prototype after prototype. The problem with digital and CNC computing is that the resultant prototype are too often the result of a linear and step-wise series. With sketches you can do the prototype first and then work back from there.

4. You can stick your head into the models

There is nothing like the joy of a physical model you can hold up to your eye, stick your head into and even place your whole body into. With a physical model we can easily and very quickly apprehend the design from different scales and perspectives. We can get both in and out of the physical model.

Will  VR be the same and supplant the physical model? I doubt it. This is because, we can easily get inside a VR environment, but I am not so about viewing a VR environment from afar or at different distance or scale. Moreover,  physical model’s models, depending on the material they are made from, have an abstracted presence that conveys information that may not be communicated through VR.

5. You can really get fuzzy

There is a tyranny of precision inherent in digital practice. Design precision is not something architects should necessarily value all the time. But with a sketch or drawing you can draw two, three or four or more lines over or near an initial single line. Linework in preliminary sketches and drawings are iterative and help the designer explore the tolerances and limits of a design in a given context.

Its fun to  put icky bits of paper over a sketch, and through further drawing change the design, ever so slightly.

6. You can colour in a lot

Colors are evocative. But, I fear the digital tribes have no need for the evocation of memory or tone. This because, colour is actually a real thing and there are a lot of colours in the world. More colors in a box of Derwent’s than there are on a colour wheel or pallete in a computer. It’s great to color code sketches to denote and then explore different tones, spaces, materials, or functions. Maybe in the digital world we forgot that real colours, like real fragrances,  are actually derived from the natural world.

Spin me around and around

How did architecture become a race to spin the model around and around, to zoom in and out, How did it become such a stylistic cliché and banal mix of Frei Otto structures, Darcy Thompson geometries, Penrose tiling and fractal geometries that look like unconvincing Origami. This stuff was boring in the late 50s and early 60s and it is still boring now.

The digital tendency masks the social constructs of architectural production and privileged taste-making. Whenever, I see the parametric polemics I always think of the original Futurists Manifesto. For a few minutes, Marinetti and the other Italian Futurists, were the brightest stars in the architectural firmament. The digital tendency is worryingly a re-enchantment of the Futurist trope: an impetus that seeks to legitimise itself with a universal history, and then simultaneously populate our shimmering screens with new figurative angels and demons. A polemic with an underlying passion for imagined enemies and the technologies of war (e.g. Drones).

Despite its claims to the opposite, the digital tendency abhors ecological memory and masks this loss with a belief in a universalising human agency. The digital is the contemporary engine of the Anthropocene.

For some of us architecture is still, and should be, a generalist pursuit. By this I mean that, it is a field of knowledge that spans between disciplines as well as media. But the worst of the digital tendency is rapidly turning it into the domain of techno-nerds with no memory for politics. After all, who needs politics when you can convince yourself that the parametric gesture, through its common and seemingly literal organic images, will bind the human species to nature. This unifying concept has always been a little paradoxical because it has facilitated the project of modernity in its orgiastic destruction of the earth.

So given all of the above, what’s wrong with designing outside of the computer?