View of a drafting table: the old way of produ...

View of a drafting table: the old way of producing architectural and engineering drawings. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Architectural Design

Architecture design is in definition: a concept that focuses on the components or elements of a structure or system and unifies them into a coherent and functional whole, according to a particular approach in achieving the objective(s) under the given constraints or limitations.

Architecture is the result of both the process and the product of planning, designing, and constructing buildings or any other structures.  Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural symbols and as works of art.  Historical civilizations are often identified with their surviving architectural achievements.

Since the 1980s, as the complexity of buildings began to increase (in terms of structural systems, services, energy and technologies), the field of architecture became multi-disciplinary with specializations for each project type, technological expertise or project delivery methods.  In addition, there has been an increased separation of the ‘design’ architect from the ‘project’ architect who ensures that the project meets the required standards and deals with matters of liability.  The preparatory processes for the design of any large building have become increasingly complicated, and require preliminary studies of such matters as durability, sustainability, quality, money, and compliance with local laws.  A large structure can no longer be the design of one person but must be the work of many.  Modernism and Postmodernism have been criticised by some members of the architectural profession who feel that successful architecture is not a personal, philosophical, or aesthetic pursuit by individualists; rather it has to consider everyday needs of people and use technology to create liveable environments, with the design process being informed by studies of behavioral, environmental, and social sciences.

Environmental sustainability has become a mainstream issue, with profound effect on the architectural profession.  Many developers, those who support the financing of buildings, have become educated to encourage the facilitation of environmentally sustainable design, rather than solutions based primarily on immediate cost.  Major examples of this can be found in passive solar building design, greener roof designs, biodegradable materials, and more attention to a structure’s energy usage.  This major shift in architecture has also changed architecture schools to focus more on the environment.  There has been an acceleration in the number of buildings which seek to meet green building sustainable design principles.  Sustainable practices that were at the core of vernacular architecture increasingly provide inspiration for environmentally and socially sustainable contemporary techniques.  The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system has been instrumental in this.

Concurrently, the recent movements of New Urbanism, metaphoric architecture and New Classical Architecture promote a sustainable approach towards construction that appreciates and develops smart growth, architectural tradition and classical design.  This in contrast to modernist and globally uniform architecture, as well as leaning against solitary housing estates and suburban sprawl.  Glass curtain walls, which were the hallmark of the ultra modern urban life in many countries surfaced even in developing countries like Nigeria where international styles had been represented since the mid 20th Century mostly because of the leanings of foreign-trained architects.

Computer-aided design (CAD) is the use of computer systems to aid in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimization of a design.  In architectural drafting, CAD software allows architectural drafters and other types of design engineers to utilize computers to bring ideas from concept to completion, increase the productivity of the designer, improve the quality of design, improve communications through documentation, and to create a database for manufacturing and architectural design.

Architectural drafters prepare structural designs for new construction under the direction of an architect.  Architectural drafters collect construction site reports, analyze building codes, and make weight, volume, and stress calculations for the materials to be used.  They may also lay out interiors, draw landscaping, and represent the architect at the construction site.  CAD drafters coordinate the collection of data and incorporate this information into drawings, schematics, and maps.  They consult with architects, engineers, surveyors, and workers while preparing and presenting their drawings.