An Assessment Of The Role Of CAD Programs For Architecture

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An Assessment Of The Role Of CAD Programs For Architecture


The current concept of architectural design education in most schools of architecture in Nigeria is a blend between manual pen drafting and digital approaches. However, the disconnection between these two methods has resulted in the students’ failure to transfer skills learnt through traditional methods to the digital method of CAD. The objective of this study is twofold: to first compare students’ attitudes toward using both methods and to then assess the impact of CAD use on the quality of architectural design. An open-ended questionnaire was designed to measure variables related to students’ preferences toward CAD and traditional methods. The quality of sixty graduation projects at three Nigerian universities was investigated. The results appear to support the assumption that CAD tools are used largely as visual means in design quality. These findings call for a reconsideration of the status quo and a rethinking of perhaps the entire architectural educational model.

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

In the last few decades, revolutionary developments in the field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) have significantly impacted everyday life. The internet, advanced illustration tools and Computer Aided Design (CAD) software are obvious examples of this digital revolution that has affected the very process of teaching architectural design and, in fact, has even transformed the architectural profession itself. Thus, the development of such digital tools over a relatively short time and their continuous advancement and refinement had, and continues to have, an inevitable major impact on many key pedagogical aspects of architectural education and curricula design.

A fundamental pillar of the contemporary theory of architectural design education is the approach of combining the traditional method of drafting with a drawing board and T-square with the new method of using digital tools in the design process. Most architectural schools developed and introduced computational courses into their curricula, which resulted in a dramatic shift in their educational context, i.e., from “traditional methods” to computational “new methods”, and other various shifts in architectural design media, design thinking and design theory. Although digital media has become an essential part of the design studio culture, this transition has not been clearly addressed because schools of architecture have had difficulty in appreciating the dramatic impact of this new technology on their existing and long-established educational infrastructure.

This paper presents a framework to assess the impact of CAD on the architectural design process and the quality of its product. The framework focuses on four major aspects of the architectural design process, namely, the generation of design solutions, communication, the evaluation of design solutions and decision-making.

Furthermore, the following group of indicators was also investigated: architectural program; site analysis; conceptual design development; buildability; and design presentation. This assessment may reveal certain indicators that can help educators and practitioners to understand the impact of this rapid and radical transition on the architectural design process and thus help to redirect the future of architectural education into a more adaptive and qualitative system.

1.2 Problem Statement

The current concept of architectural design education is a blend of the traditional method of drafting on paper and the modern method of using CAD in the design process. This paper argues that the transition to the new digital media has been vague and largely ill-defined, which causes several serious pedagogical problems. The introduction of these new tools into design teaching has been combined with a dysfunctional relationship between the tools and the intended end tasks. Consequently, this dysfunction has resulted in a separation between architectural design and the context of the project, specifically its sense of scale and proportion, and has led to a marked decline in the spatial quality experience and a disproportionate dependence on illustrative techniques. The inappropriate use of the digital tools and the heavy reliance on them, the lack of integration among different digital tools and, more importantly, the absence of effective coordination between theoretical courses and design projects has resulted in a relatively poorer overall design quality.

1.3 Aim of the Study

The main aim of this work is to present a framework to assess the impact of CAD on the architectural design process and the quality of its product.

1.4 Objective of the Study

The objectives of this study is in twofold. First, this study quantitatively compares students’ preferences and attitudes toward the use of CAD tools and traditional methods and analyzes these attitudes. Second, this study assesses the potential impact of these digital tools on the quality and creativity of architectural design by examining graduation projects.

1.5 Research Question

  1. What motivates the student to use CAD software in the design process?
  2. What is the importance of the role of CAD in an architectural curriculum?
  3. What impacts do CAD tools have on the overall quality of architectural design in all of its stages (conceptual, design development, presentation)?

1.6 Significance of the Study

This study help the student involved in this work to fully understand how CAD software enables engineers and architects to design, inspect and manage engineering projects within an integrated graphical user interface (GUI) on a personal computer system. Most applications support solid modeling with boundary representation (B-Rep) and NURBS geometry, and enable the same to be published in a variety of formats. A geometric modeling kernel is a software component that provides solid modeling and surface modeling features to CAD applications.

1.7 Application of the Study

In the past, all of the designers and engineers were relying on board drawings in order to layout their design imagination. However, since we live in a modern world we can take the help of a computer now and some tools and systems the output comes neater and quicker.

Probably the best software is CAD and it is really beneficial because it allows easy storage of copies of drawings, data, blueprints, etc. CAD also includes mechanics, interior design, engineering, architecture, electronics, modeling and animation. In addition to this CAD has done lots of new approaches especially in the area of fashion.

CAD Application in Engineering Projects

CAD is widely used in the area of engineering. It is used for manufacturing, planning, computer aided analysis. When it comes to material requirements, CAD inventory control and production planning, you can always use CAD. It also helps in purchasing, manufacturing, planning and several other activities. When it comes to manufacturing, it is used for controlling the whole production by letting processes to start action thanks to exchanged information.

CAD Application in Modeling Area

In the area of modeling, CAD is used for automotive, aerospace, shipbuilding, consumer goods, machinery, etc in order to create blueprints and designs that are going to be used later in the manufacturing of those structures. Of course the blueprints are 3D designed which helps the designers to find out any errors easily. In the fields of electronics, CAD is used for designing different circuit boards and other various applications in the area of software
Even specialists use it to design different buildings that they have imagined. CAD gives them the chance to create those buildings in both 2D and 3D and reproduce the replica as it will look like in real life. Fashion designers also use the help of CAD because thanks to it they are designing their latest expressions and making them come true as soon as possible.

CAD and Computer Animation

In the film and media industry computer aided designs have significant role because thanks to them a production of highly entertaining and graphical visions can come true. CAD is widely used in the movies for the creation of special effects and it takes place even in TV commercials.

If you have a company and you also have some great ideas, you can use CAD in order to construct some of the parts and eventually put them together and see the final result. This is a great way thanks to which you can see how a product will be doing when it is released on the market.

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1.8 Project Organisation

The work is organized as follows: chapter one discuses the introductory part of the work, chapter two presents the literature review of the study, chapter three describes the methods applied, chapter four discusses the results of the work, chapter five summarizes the research outcomes and the recommendations.

Chapter Five

Discussion and Conclusions

This paper assessed the impact of CAD tools on the design process and on the quality of the architectural end product at three schools of architecture in eastern part of Nigeria. The findings revealed that all three schools have the same design educational approach that mixes traditional design methods with digital methods.

Although the students were found to have a strong tendency to employ new technologies, such as CAD software, in their design process, CAD is still being utilized for drafting and virtual modelling rather than as a problem-solving strategy. Moreover, the transformation of students’ design trends from traditional methods to CAD is still not clearly defined; thus, students are unable to transfer the skills that are learned through traditional methods to the more complicated CAD method. Therefore, this shift in students’ preferences toward CAD systems has resulted in a dramatic change in the study context together with other various shifts in design media, design thinking and design theory. The relationships among architectural design thinking, representation and media should be continual such that media provides the means for engaging in design thinking and progressing through various representational media.

Moreover, digital media should be utilized as an essential part of the new design studio culture that integrates with other design methods and other courses in the architectural education curriculum. Thus, we must rethink and reconsider the potential of computers and communication technology to orient the entire institutional infrastructure and pattern of behavior for better architectural education and practice. There is also a crucial need to review the national accreditation criteria for architectural education to make them more adaptable to these emerging and ever-changing digital technologies.

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