Design Software (part I): Introduction to Digital Modeling and Fabrication

“Architecture continually informs and is informed by its modes of representation and construction, perhaps never more so than now, when digital media and emerging technologies are rapidly expanding what we conceive to be formally, spatially, and materially possible” (Iwamoto, 2009).

“It is inconceivable today to imagine designing buildings without the use of computers” (Iwamoto, 2009). Digital fabrication is said to have spurred a design revolution, pushing boundaries of architectural invention and innovation due to the technological advancement of this digital, computerised age where seemingly everything can be done on a small personal device able to be placed on a single table in our comfort. Digital fabrication is subsequently present in every step of the architectural design process, from the conceptual design stage to construction (Iwamoto, 2009).

Of digital practices employed by architects and building consultants include three-dimensional modeling, rendering and visualisation, dimensional orthographies, generative form finding, scripted modulation systems, structural and thermal analyses, project management and coordination, and file-to-factory production, etc. Although digital fabrication offers a large range of possible usages, it is often one of the final stages of the design process: to control a fabrication process with digital data (Iwamoto, 2009).

With this technology, architects and interior designers alike are able to speed up the design process as editing two-dimensional drawings is made easier and more efficient, not to mention work time used for manual rendering and model making is decreased due to the usage of rapid-prototyping machines that make accurate scale models from computerised data with materials of the user’s choice, eliminating intermediate steps between the design process and final production. Not only that, architectural advancement is also fueled by three-dimensional computer modeling and digital fabrication that energizes design thinking by expanding the boundaries and possibilities of architectural form and construction (Iwamoto, 2009).

In contrast to this, in Why Architects Still Draw by Paolo Belardi (2014), Belardi explains the importance of traditional methods of presenting design ideas with sketching and manual rendering such as how sketching is DNA of an idea, as its rough, undefined nature makes it more user-friendly and open for change and development. With this in mind, I would like to add that no single method is flawless in execution, it merely depends on the requirement of the user.


Belardi, P. (2014), Why Architects Still Draw, Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Iwamoto, L. (2009), Digital Fabrications: Architectural and Material Techniques, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, p. 4-7.

Uddin, M.S. (1999), Digital Architecture, USA: The McGraw-Hill Companies, inc., p.2-4.


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