Category Archives: BuilDesign Magazine

THE IDEAL WEBSITE FOR AN ARCHITECT.

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Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been handling the task of compiling a database of architectural projects that will be featured in the magazine. In this day and age information is just a few button clicks away on the interwebs. Eager to see what amazing structures lay waiting for me I searched through the websites of various architectural firms in the country. From the so called ‘big’ firms to the upcoming design houses. My search led to me multiple websites, some really met my expectations, some fell short of my expectations and some left me angry.

Which led me to think, in this day and age. The digital era where we transact more money online than through bank tellers, why were most architectural firms not maximizing this platform?

At this point most people would argue that CAP 525 hinders them from running platforms. So I got a copy of the act and this is what I found out. CAP 525 under Section 45 (3) (e) states, and I quote “In particular and not exclusively and without derogation of the powers of the Board under paragraphs (1) and (2) of this by-law, an architect or quantity surveyor may be deemed by the Board to be guilty of unprofessional conduct or professional misconduct if he –  advertise or publicly offers his services by means of circulars or otherwise or make paid announcements in the press except to publish in the press and notify his correspondents by post once of any change of address, opening of a new firm or branch office or alterations in the partnership or constitution of a firm”

That’s the closest that any article comes to in terms of addressing the issue of websites. The word ‘otherwise’ would be left up to your own personal interpretation.

However , Practise note number 39 published after the 644th meeting of August 2002 is the most recent regarding advertising in the press. Taking note of the advances in technology, changes in attitudes and the market turning to be consumer centered, the board found it necessary to align the practice note to the realities of the market.

Among other things, the note allowed firms to host websites, issue circulars, brochures and newsletters on condition that the information provided is factual and self praising. The note was however still conservative on vacancy advertisements allowing architects to only give their addresses in the advertisements.

All that being said, it would certainly be erroneous for any firm not have an online presence in this day and age.

While I am still in the process of completing the database, I took some time out to ask myself. What would anyone looking for an architect/designer online hope to get from their website? The moment you meet an architect at an event and they give you their card and tell you to go check out their website, what should you expect? The moment as an architect/designer you give out your card and ask the potential client to check out your website, are you confident that your website will impress them enough and give them enough confidence to give you a call for a meeting?

I therefore came up with the basic components that every architectural firm’s website should have.

WHO ARE YOU?

This portion of the website should introduce any new visitor to who you are as a firm. The people behind the firm and probably their qualifications. A brief history of the firm is also encouraged. This section helps in creating trust between you and a potential client.

WHAT DO YOU DO?

This section should inform the visitor of what services you offer, basically the scope of works that you can handle. For potential developers it would be an added advantage to walk them through your process from the initial design stages to the final handover of the completed project. You need to give a comprehensive detail of what you do.  You also need to give a basic workflow of all the areas that you cover to allow any potential client to understand how things will flow. Another plus would be a basic indication of the charges you offer. This might not be detailed but you could share with them the estimates and maybe rates for the various services that you offer.

YOUR PORTFOLIO.

The first mistake that most firms make is the assumption that just posting renders or photos is enough for a portfolio. And therein lies the downfall of so many websites. A portfolio has to be a good balance of graphics and information. The first portion of your website was meant to create trust between the potential client and yourself. The second section of your website, now having all the attention of your potential client was meant to inform them of what service you can be to them. The third section, the proverbial hook line and sinker, should have the client calling you in a matter of minutes. In this section you should show what you have done before and use it to convince the potential client that you are the best suit for them.

So what should your portfolio section contain? PHOTOS. You can never have enough photos for this. Get as many good quality, high resolution images for this. Please do not use thumbnails. Don’t! It would be an added advantage to show photos of the project from the initial stage to completion or whatever stage the project would be at as at the point of the website post.  INFORMATION. Alongside the photos for each project, give us:

  • The name of the project
  • What scope of work you carried out in the project. This is really crucial as there is a big difference in design consultancy, the actual construction and sub-contracts for various parts of the projects.
  • The caption of the photo showing which part of the project this is
  • The location of the project
  • The size of the project. The floor area
  • The cost of the project to completion
  • The dates. The beginning of the project and the end of the project
  • The current status of the project.

YOUR CONTACTS.

You’ve now got your client excited and they can’t wait to begin the project. In this section of the website have your contacts and your physically address to allow them to get in touch with you

EXTRAS.

  • BLOG – Run a blog where you could be giving opinion pieces on current matters relevant to your industry.
  • CSR – Everybody loves an organization that sows back into society. Let the world see what difference you’re making to the society.
  • SOCIAL MEDIA PAGES – I cannot emphasize this enough. In this day and age staying clear of the interwebs would only be detrimental to you. No good would come out of it.
  • JOB/ATTACHMENT VACCANCIES – As a product of the system, it would be good to provide opportunities to the younger generation to improve their skills and become better professionals.

Finally it would be to your advantage in a proper modern website platform. It is advisable to get an expert in web design to actually design your website to avoid having to look like it was done by a someone still learning how to program.

With this information you can now hopefully transform you cobweb laden website into a piece of captivating beauty.

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My BuilDesign debut.

I recently joined the contributors team for BuilDesign Magazine. I’ll be joining them as an IT/Technology matters contributor. This is what i had to share with the readers.

 

We are very happy to introduce a new segment to you, our readers. We are debuting a technology review section where we will be looking at technological advancements across the construction field.

 

For the premiere we will start by reviewing one of the game changers in the architectural visualization field. For any of our readers that might not be familiar with what architectural visualization is have no worries. Architectural Visualization is the process and methods by which any designer effectively communicates their idea to a client. It takes the client beyond a 2D plan or sketch and lets them actually see what the finished structure would look. Visualization gives the client a complete feel of the project. The end product is what is commonly referred to as renders.

 

In the 20th century this was majorly done using hand drawn perspectives or paintings. Actual scaled down models were done. Then came the advent of the 21st century and computers started replacing hand work. Companies came up with various software platforms that would let the designer take the actual model and produce a 2D image of the structure or landscape. These softwares reduced the workload but were still tedious, painstakingly complex with their user interfaces and dialog boxes not forgetting the hundreds of boxes one had to check for just one setting. One had to get a manual or even watch YouTube tutorials to be able to use some of these platforms. Finally almost all designing houses had to outsource resources and people just in case you accidentally got a client that wanted to see a fly through of the project. And if this calamity happened to befall you It would take close to two or three weeks to get a 2 minute video. Did I mention leaving your computers on the entire night to process a batch of less than ten images.

 

If you been through any of the above then a product called Lumion is your saviour. Have you had sleepless nights rendering five images ?? Have you had to wait more than a week to process to get a thirty seconds fly through ?? Do you have to consult YouTube tutorials in order to know which box to check to get the proper lighting ?? Are you leaving your computer on throughout the night to render your images ??? Say goodbye to all that and say hello to Lumion.

 

Lumion is your one stop shop for all your visualization needs. Lumion takes the client and designer right into the project and have a virtual feel and sight of the project. It is a product of a Dutch company Act-3D B.V. Lumion gives your renders a new lease of life. With Lumion the client gets your idea and message instantly.

 

Let’s start with why if you’re into visualization Lumion should be your best friend. YOU CAN DO IT YOURSELF. Unlike all the other platforms Lumion does not require you to have any training or tutorials. It’s so simple. You wouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to learn how to operate the software. TIME SAVING. Say goodbye to overnight rendering. Say goodbye to a week-long waits for videos. Unlike all other platforms , Lumion takes an average of 16 seconds to produce a 1280x720p high quality photo. To get a render of the same size from most of the other notable rendering platforms it would take you not less than 10 minutes. Doing a batch of 10 images would take you 1 hour 40 minutes. On Lumion it would take you 2 minutes 40 seconds. HIGH QUALITY IMAGES. For this I’ll just let the images on this blog do the talking. QUICK FLYTHROUGHS. This is probably my favorite. It takes approximately through hours to produce a high quality fly through. No more days and days of waiting. In a single day you can present a flythrough to a client , get their remarks , work out the revisions , redo the flythrough and send it to the client. SIMPLISTIC USER INTERFACE.  There are no dialog boxes, no boxes to be checked. The Lumion UI is the definition of simplicity. All it has are 5 buttons that pretty much do everything you need it to. No scary bunch of boxes to check to make settings. THE LIGHTING. All I can I say about the lighting from this software is once you’ve used it , you’ll never look back. LANDSCAPING MODELLING. Have you ever needed to create a lake ? River ? Mountain ? Range of hills ? A crater in the ground ? Create a rolling plain ? How frustrated were you at not being able to visualize your idea and if you were finally able to do it , how painstakingly slow and annoying was it ? Worry not though, Lumion is the perfect earth modelling tool for any landscape project that you might be working on.

 

At this point you’re probably wondering, Can I model and render in Lumion all at once. Sadly enough, the answer to this is no. You can’t have your cake and it eat. The silver lining to our predicament is that Lumion works seamlessly with a host of designing softwares such as and not limited to TRIMBLE SKETCHUP , AUTODESK REVIT, GRAPHISOFT ARCHICAD, BENTELY MICROSTATION, NEMETSCHECK ALLPLAN, NEMETSCHECK VECTOR WORKS, RHINOCEROS and 3D STUDIO MAX. All these softwares have a plug-in that allows cross work between themselves and Lumion. You can move your model easily from the building platform to the rendering one. Most of the softwares actually come with an in-built plug-in. Users of Graphisoft Archicad however have to download the plug-in from the Lumion website. So whichever software you use to model, you can use Lumion to do the renders or fly through. Another feature that makes me enjoy using Lumion and one that should help you cross-over to Lumion is the ability to make changes in your building model and update the Lumion model without undoing anything that you might have done while on Lumion. Take for example you’re doing a children’s hospital. You can go back to your building model change a window or swing and update the lumion model. Maybe you’d altered the wall paint for the rooms in Lumion. Once you update the lumion model using to reflect the new window or swing , all the change in paint colors will remain as you had edited. How cool is that ??

 

At this point you’re probably wondering if there is a downside to working with Lumion seeing as I’ve been pointing out merit after merit of Lumion. Well there are only two reasons that I’ve found that would keep anyone away from Lumion. One is the fact that you can’t actually model structures within Lumion. The best you can come to modelling structures is using the template scenes that come pre-installed. The second reason you will probably keep off Lumion is the machine specifications required to run Lumion. If you have a graphics card is smaller than 2GB please avoid lumion, you’ll end up with ‘The Blue screen of death’ immediately you try to run it. The basic specifications for running Lumion are :

  • A graphics card with a minimum 2000 pass mark with minimum 2GB memory. You can rate your graphics card at lumion3d.com.
  • A screen resolution of minimum 1600×1080 pixels.
  • A system memory of 8GB with as high a MHz value as possible.
  • 20GB of Hard disk space.

The 2GB graphics card will only allow you to produce very simple images. For higher resolution images you need a 8000 pass mark card.

 

All that being said i give this software 8 out of 10. Give it a try and let me know what you think.