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Impact Of Technology In Architecture Cultural Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 5460 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Technology is a kind of tools, techniques, systems and machine, in order to help people in solving problems and achieve goals. With the improvement of technology, people find it easy and convenience in doing things in their life. In addition, it also helps people to save time and cost while achieving goals and even improves the quality of works.

In the twenty-first century, technology is almost everything and everywhere in the world. ‘As long as there have been people, there has been technology.’ This quote hints that people use technology in almost everything they do and wherever they go. People find it hardly to avoid by using technologies, mobile phone is one of examples.

Nowadays we can see most of the people are holding a mobile phone in anywhere. With the advanced technology, mobile phone can be used to take photo, web surfing, play games, watch videos and etc. other than just calls. This shows that technology has been already a part of human life.

Other than that, the invention of internet by technology has directly changed the way on how the people live today compared to the previous generations. Almost everything can be done by doing it online in anywhere and anytime as long as they have a device that can access to the internet.

Besides, the improvement of technology has influenced the several fields in the industry such as business, automobile industry, healthcare, film industry, architectural and etc. In the past, there were many issues that couldn’t be solved but with the technology research through the years, the impossible became possible, many knowledge and information, machinery and device have been enhanced and brought into the industries.

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In this essay, architectural will be the range of study, the influences and impact of technology on architecture. Technology has affected architecture in several ways. Firstly, computer aided software was created to help architects in the development of design ideas in architecture project. Secondly, the construction machinery and methods were improved, in order to build any kind of form and shape to achieve the unique design of the architects. Thirdly, knowledge and information of architecture were enhanced by the invention of the new materials.

Architecture has been played an important role in human life, without it human couldn’t live in the earth until now. Previously, building was intended as a shelter or habitation for human, however human seems to be more concerned and demanded on the appearance of the building rather than its function in this twenty-first century. What is the reason of this issue? Does the technology affect the function of building?

There are three topics to be discussed in this essay, information technology (IT) will be the first topic, the impact of information technology on architecture. The second and third topics will talk about the particular architects, Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry, how they use the technology to apply in the design process and the construction of the unique form of the buildings. Several case studies of their buildings will be done in these topics.


“Modern architecture was a revolution. It destroyed the existing Beaux-Arts regime and replaced it with a new order. The face of earth would never be the same.” (John Peter, 1994) Beaux Arts is a kind of style in architecture design and it remained in the architecture industry for two-and-a-half centuries before the modern style of architecture take place. The appearance of Beaux-Arts architecture looks much more complicated compared to the modern architecture because it was depended on the sculptural decoration and modern architecture was depended on simple kind of forms.

With the time passed, the Beaux Arts style of architecture was slowly replaced by the modern style of architecture. It was difficult to find the Beaux Arts style of architecture in the twentieth century. The buildings were mostly designed with modern style by the modernist architects. “As the twentieth century dawned, architecture was clearly overdue for a change. The nineteenth-century Beaux-Arts style was out of joint with the times.” (John Peter, 1994) In the twentieth century, the mindset of architects in the design process of architecture was changed. The appearance of the buildings were started not to design with the purpose for historical commemoration but based on the specific function of the building.

“Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight or the open apple-blossom, the toiling work-horse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function, and this is the law.” – Louis Henry Sullivan (Frei, 1992:32) This quote was made by one of the famous architects, Louis Henry Sullivan in his essay, ‘The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered’ in 1896.

With the quote that Louis Henry Sullivan made, every building has its own function which means how the way that the owner of the building used it and all the buildings should have its particular facade and form based on their specific functions. For instance, a hospital should have to be designed like a building that use to serve those people who come and seek for medical attention and people can be able to differentiate a hospital from a library that people use to borrow books and find research and resources or a school that people use to study.

There were the good points and bad points in architectural by the law of Louis Henry Sullivan, form follows function. People may find it easy in finding the particular building that they want to go but it limited the design ideas from designing a building with a unique form, in order to make people have a different kind of feeling on the sense of sight. Other than just the law, the design ideas were also limited by the technology in the past. Some architects may have the design ideas with different kind of architecture style but they couldn’t proceed to the construction stage by using the old technology.

In the twentieth century, the technology has been improved and architects are starting to design with a phrase, ‘function defies form’ which was the changing of the concept of architectural form and functions. The law of Louis Henry Sullivan, ‘form follows function’ will be no longer exists in the next century. The form of the buildings were not designed according to their own function like the facade of a library may looks like a museum or people may not know what is it until they go into the building. “Bernard Tschumi, a renowned architect and a transgression thinker in architectural issues, suggested that function does not follow form, form does not follow function. However form and function certainly interact, if only to produce a shock effect.” (Izham Ghani, 2007)

“The new technology, defined as industrial or applied science, produced a multiplying array of new machines and materials.” (John Peter, 1994) With the improvement of technology, several new materials were invented into the architecture industry. These new materials were inexpensive and flexible to use in construction and the invention of these enabled the architects to create different kind of unique design in architecture. Other than that, the limitations of the past in construction can be solved by using the modern technologies.

“The products of the new technology – steel beams and cables, reinforced concrete, and plastic changed the way buildings were designed and built. Units mass-produced in factories and assembled with modern machinery on the site save both time and money. Perhaps most important of all, they save labor. All of this is still true today, despite the fact that our buildings contain sophisticated equipment for heating, cooling, lighting, communications, and security unimagined in earlier times.” (John Peter, 1994) Human got a lot of benefits by the improvement of technology in the time passed. Aesthetic architectures were created to beautify the environment, in the same time people can live or work in a comfortable environment, in order to produce high quality works.

Architecture with the application of new materials for the appearance of the building can produce a beautiful sense of sight to people. “At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the German architect Peter Behrens designed the influential Berlin Turbine Factory for the electrical firm Allgemeine Elektrizitats-Gesellshaft. With its reinforced Concrete and huge glazed side-walls, it signaled the emergence of a new architecture. Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier worked in his office.” (John Peter, 1994)

In the twenty-first century, many architecture styles were created and many buildings were designed and constructed with different ways to produce aesthetic and unique appearance. Irregular shape of architecture can be constructed by using the high technologies of construction. It is based on the demands of the architects, architects can design the building in any kind of shape that they want with the advanced technology today.

The advanced technology allowed the architects to generate their ideas digitally which designing in a virtual space. It can be done by using the computer aided software which is another creation by the technology. With all these technologies, architects gained a lot of benefits in the designing process and even can produce a great work in architecture.

Information Technology

Information technology (IT) is the meaning of the use of telecommunications and computers equipment for the purpose of storage, processing, transfer and manipulating data. People normally used IT as a term of synonym for computers. However it has consist of many different kind of technologies such as computers, computer software and networks, telephones, mobile phones, printers and scanners and even fax machines.

With the invention of IT, it did change the way people work other than the way people live. It helps people to save time and cost to produce even better work compared to working manually. Most of the works can be done with paperless in the electronic way. Other than that, it has the ability for people to produce mass production in a short time.

“Electronic mail, groupware, telecommuting and videoconferencing, have become relatively standard technologies to enhance group processes. These technical innovations have made it possible for work teams to communicate at anytime, anyplace and anywhere.” (Johnson & Clayton, 1998) IT brings benefits for the people who work in group, it makes people convenience in communications and allows them to have group discussions at anytime, in order to produce a better and quality result. “Information technology can significantly improve work group productivity by increasing the speed and decreasing the cost of communication and coordination.” (Johnson & Clayton, 1998)

At the same time, people are also able to transfer or exchange data and information with the internet technology by using the electronic mail or several software such as Dropbox, Virtualbox and etc. They can instantly get all kind of data and information in electronic forms from the certain person that they are communicating with. In this way, people manage to save cost and time in travelling around to get all the documents that they want. “The top three organizational effects were: allowed business to be done at greater distances, shortened work cycle time, and reduced the need for clerical support staff.” (Johnson & Clayton, 1998)

With all these advanced technologies, the way of architects think in designing a building has been changed. The design of architecture will be demanded on the conceptualization, aesthetic or functionality. It is because of the advancement of the technologies has been resulted in the lost of the basic function of a building.

In the past, people have to send letters by putting them into the post-box, shopping in shopping malls, super markets and retails or do research and borrow books in the library. With the advanced technology, all these activities can be done by using email technology, online shopping and web searching for information or download e-books from the internet. Nowadays, people are too relied on using the technology to do everything, they can achieve their goal or complete their task by using the internet without leaving the chair. Architects have to design with the aim of beautify the space instead of the functionality of it because the need of built space has been reduced. As a result of this, many buildings were designed in curvilinear forms with the assist of information technology. “IT has freed the architect to create heretofore unaccomplished curvaceous form, and new service areas are emerging in the “information age” frontier marketplace.” (Larry R. Barrow, 2000)

Other than that, IT has impacted architecture in the design process as well other than just the form. In the end of the twentieth century, architects are starting to design and generate ideas by using computer. Complex and unique design of architecture can be done with computerized and the invention of computer aided software such as AutoCAD, InteriCAD, Adobe software, Rhinoceros, 3D Studio Max, CATIA (Computer Aided Three-dimensional Interactive Application) and many more.

With all this computer aided software, architects are able to save time and create unique design that cannot be done by manually. Other than that, it enabled architects to have accurate measurement for the space calculation, in order to create realistic visual of the designed building.

In the twenty-first century, “computerization and the improvement of design technology and practice are two of the most important technology in the architecture industry. Improving design technology means the development of new design tools that help designers spend less time and effort on data collection, computation, and preparation of design documentation, and more on problem solving.” (Hugues Rivard, 2000) It is clear that computer aided software has already become one of the design tools in the designing process in the architecture field.

Drawings are the main output of the design process in architectural and there are two types of drawings which are the two-dimensional drawings and three-dimensional drawings. Two-dimensional drawing defined as having all elements in a flat surface and normally it comes with only two dimensions either length and width or width and height, without any depth or thickness. And, three-dimensional drawing defined as images or pictures with the objects that come with all the three dimensions which are the length, width and height.

Furthermore, drawings are produced by using the computer aided software with the application of virtual reality (VR). “VR is a computer-generated world involving one or more human senses and generated in real-time by the participants actions. The real-time responsiveness of the computer to the participant’s action distinguishes VR from other kinds of computer-generated simulations. The participant in a VR environment is perceiver and creator at the same time, in a world where the object of perception is created by actions.” (Daniela Bertol, 1997)

A virtual model can be created with the application of VR in the computer aided software to simulate reality for a three-dimensional image. This model enabled architects to have a detailed planning and predict any kind of technical issues, in order to achieve the demands of realism. Besides, it allows architects to visualize spaces efficiently and produce a most truthful image of a building. Moreover, the real image of the building can be seen in the computer or printed it out before it is built. Thus, architects are able to edit or change the design if there is any unpleasant feel or it looks unsightly.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR) is clearly introduced in the previous contents. From the research, VR applications have also been used in various fields like medicine, astronomy, entertainment, sport, art and etc. And, it has been used as a design tool in architecture design. We can easily observe how the characteristic of VR such as interaction, immersion and three-dimensionality, react in the architecture field. By the application of VR, rendering tools have been provide for perception, evaluation and the aesthetic view of an architecture environment before construction from the change of perspective. Hereby, a question will be bring up into this content – How does VR use as a design tool in architecture design?

Based on the investigation of design issues through the year goes, the design process has been improved and became interesting after the applied of VR in the architecture field. However, using VR as a design tool has the least potentiality among the VR application. Traditionally, the process of concept ideas input was running with hand-rendered, two-dimensional representations or sketches by writing materials such as pencil, paint or ink on paper but it can now be transformed with the immersive way to produce preliminary sketches or three-dimensional visuals with computer-assisted technology. It is all credit to the implementation of VR.

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During the implementation of VR in the architecture design, the three-dimensional modeler 3DM that has been developed at the University of North Carolina created the three-dimensional models by using a HMD system and hand-held pointing device. By the providing of this application, models can be transform and edit with the capabilities of copying, pasting, cutting, moving and scaling and even can be manipulated with the immersive ways.

Design Process from Sketches to Models

There are many stages in the design process such as mapping, diagrams, sketches, construction drawing and etc. Sketches and working drawing with the concept ideas input are important while they can be differentiates by the accuracy, detail and amount of representative information. When the input of the concept ideas on the sketches are enough to be expressive and able to develop into working drawing which mean it can be program and execute by the computer.

Computer-aided design (CAD) is useful and convenience in modeling because it provides valuable tools. For an example, a unique curved wall design of a facade can be extrude with a round shape of opening while its model can be implement with exact dimensions given of the wall and the opening. And, repeating operation can be implemented in the CAD application as well.

In the other hand, the immediacy of the process by translating a sketch straight into a functional model can enhance the act of creativity and the understanding of the three-dimensional space.

Two-dimensional Media and Scale Models

The two-dimensional media such as paper is always using in the design of architecture as the communication of concept ideas into the design development. Other than that, the presentation drawings such as the construction drawing, detailing drawing and three-dimensional perspective are representing the three-dimensional objects with two-dimensional media. Even every output of the computerized such as CAD has to be present with the two-dimensional media by displaying on the screen or printed on paper.

There is another option for the design of architecture which is the scale models while it can define the understanding and fulfill the usage of the unbuilt three-dimensional space. However, the quality of the space has been reduced due to the model cannot be inhabited and user cannot experience from the inside.

Virtual Environment

While the running of design process takes place in a virtual environment where the designer is inside the product of his design is called immersive design and different conceptions will be bring to the act of creativity by this process. The creation of form is possible in the immersive design environment like the raising of walls, subtraction and rotation of the objects. Floors and stairs can be built and edited with the reaction by the perceptual impact. Boolean operations of addition or subtraction can be used for the design which based on volumes to allow the act of molding and carving motion.

The different values have been assumed while the implementation of traditional compositional rules changed from two-dimensional representations into three-dimensional immersive environment. Proportions between various architectural elements can be verified by inhabiting the space.

Though to date, immersive design should be realize with the virtual reality application which will revolutionize the design of architecture. The discussion of the traditional act of designing should be carry out for the architect to adapt to the notion of sketching in space and being inside and a direct experience of three-dimensional space.

Zaha Hadid

Zaha Mohammad Hadid is an Iraqi-British architect who born on 31st October 1950 in Baghdad, Iraq. She is the first Muslim and female who got awarded the Prizker Architecture Prize in 2004. She also received the Stirling Prize continuously in 2010 and 2011.

In Zaha Hadid’s education, she studied architecture course at the Architectural Association (AA) School of Architecture in London after she got a degree in the mathematics course at American University of Beirut. After that, she worked for her previous lecturers who are Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis. She also worked as a lecturer of AA in 1980s after she became a partner with Koolhass in 1977. She then established an architecture and design firm, ‘Zaha Hadid Architects’ with over 300 employers in London, United Kingdom.

Zaha Hadid’s buildings are always designed with the appearance of uniquely futuristic style and complex form. With the advanced technologies and new materials, she is able to produce curvilinear kind of architecture with her contemporary and innovative design. Her completed and on-going projects included Contemporary Arts Centre, Guangzhou Opera House, Vitra Fire Station, BMW Central Building, London Aquatics Centre, Galaxy Soho and etc. Other than that, she is also working on interior and designing furniture and automobile with the characteristic of fluidity.

Zaha Hadid has become one of the famous contemporary architects by taking the benefits of the advanced technologies to apply on her architecture design. She is interested on the impact of technology because it helps in the possibility of the construction and affected the way of designing a building. In 2012, she won the Jane Drew Prize and from a particular interview by ‘Architects Journal’, she advised architects to invest in digital technology and travel around, it helps in the inspiration and creativity of design. (Merlin Fulcher, 2012)

BMW Central Building

BMW Central Building was the winning design of Zaha Hadid of the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004. It is located at Leipzeg, Germany and its complex built was cost about 1.55 billion dollars. It is use to manufacture the BMW 3 Series Automobile. BMW AG. Munich Germany is the owner of the building, 60 million dollars were used for the cost of construction. It was constructed by Arge Rohbau, OBAG and Wolf & Mueller GmbH with the supports of structural engineer, AGP Arge Gesamtplanung, IFB Stuttgart.

The original construction of the BMW factory consists of three different buildings which were designed by their own estate and management group. The three different buildings are functioning as for the manufacturing process of the production of BMW 3 Series automobiles. They are separately undertaking the making of auto bodies, painting process and the final assemblage process of parts. There is a competition held for the purpose of designing and connecting all the 3 different buildings. Connectivity was used as a concept of Zaha Hadid in the design which was the method of overlapping and interconnecting between the spaces and levels. As a result of the concept application, the separation of the three buildings was blurred and it gave a complex design in the interior.

Zaha Hadid has fully utilized the advanced technology of design tool and machinery of construction and the new materials in both constructions and design process of this project. A conversation has been carried out between Zaha Hadid, Patrik Schumacher (Partner of Zaha Hadid), Lars Teichmann (Project Architect of Zaha Hadid Architects) and Todd Gannon (Series Editor, Source Books in Architecture) about the design process and construction techniques of this project.

In the conversation, Lars Teichmann said that there is always a person testing the ideas with physical models in the workshop and in the same time, few persons will be doing development of three-dimensional models and two-dimensional drawings in the computer. And, all this process allows them to develop a range of possible interpretations of their ideas. Besides, concrete was used as the material of the walls to solve the loads problem that would be carried down through the building. Concrete walls are much stronger to carry more loads and they were able to cut openings through the concrete walls with advanced technology as they needed. (Todd Gannon, 2006)

London Aquatics Centre

London Aquatics Centre is a centre for the use of indoor sports which are swimming and diving. It was constructed to be a venue for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The centre has been built at 27th July 2011 and it is located at Olympic Park, Stratford, London, United Kingdom. It is operated by the Olympic Delivery Authority, moreover, the construction has cost about 269 million pounds. Besides, the centre has been built by the contractor, Balfour Beauty with the help of structural engineer, Ove Arup & Partners. Furthermore, the capacity of the centre can fit up to 17,500 seats.

Evidently, from the complexity and unique design of the aquatics centre can be seen, that was under Zaha Hadid’s contemporary and innovative design. The aquatics centre was designed by Zaha Hadid with the concept of the fluidity of water in motion. The design of the spaces and surrounding environment has come with the inspiration from the landscape of Olympic Park. Precast-concrete has been used as the main material for the construction of this building. Other than that, the roof that looks like a wave was constructed with steel and glass was used for the facade of the building.

There were wings on the both side of the building that used to provide extra seating for the audiences of the Olympic Games. However, they would not be there permanently because they were not a part of Zaha Hadid’s original design. Once the games are over, they will be removed and in the same time, the aquatics centre will be deconstructed and it will be open again for the public in 2014.

Jacques Rogge, IOC President, described the Centre as a “masterpiece”. He said that he had a visual shock when he was visiting the centre last year (2011) because he felt that this centre is unique and a state of art compared to other venues that he saw. (BBC Sport, 2012) It is apparent that Zaha Hadid has applied the technology well in her architecture design. Thus, she can create many kinds of unique design and aesthetic buildings to beautify the environment and of course with her innovative mindset.

Frank Gehry

Frank Owen Gehry was born with the name, Frank Owen Goldberg but with the suggestion by his wife, Anita Snyder, he has changed his name to Frank O. Gehry. Frank Gehry was born on 28th February 1929 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He was a winning architect of the Canadian-American Pritzker Price who based in Los Angeles and he also awarded several prize such as AIA Gold Medal, National Medal of Arts and Order of Canada.

In the World Architecture Survey in 2010, his works have been quoted as the important contemporary architecture in the world because he was one of the most influenced and important architects in the twentieth century. With his reputation as a famous architect, he has considered as a modern architectural icon in the architecture industry. His buildings are well-known in designing with sculptural in form and always full of surprise with amazing architecture design.

In 1954, he studied architecture course in the University of Southern California and got the Bachelor of Architecture degree. He then studied city planning in Harvard University Graduate School of Design and he worked for a few architecture firms. In 1962, he established his own company, Frank O. Gehry and Associates, Inc. and he started his architectural career.

In 1989, the way of his designing process has been changed, from manual to computerized. Jim Glymph who was the computer systems expert joined Gehry’s company while he wanted to design more on curves. He then wanted the more complex shape in his design and Glymph helped him by getting CATIA program from the aerospace industry. (Mild Friedman, 2002) With the help of the computer software programs, Gehry started to reject in designing with straight lines and boxy shapes in architecture. With his built up architectural career, he managed to produce designs for the public and private architecture in Europe, America and Asia.

In the year 2002, Gehry Partners, LLP was established, with over 175 employers in the company and it provided full services for the residential, commercial and institutional. In the Gehry Partners company, most of the employers have the ability to produce technical drawings and construction documents and they are qualified to manage complex architecture projects. The company is working by depending on the ‘Digital Project’, a computer aided design (CAD) application based on CATIA software which was developed by one of the Frank Gehry’s companies, Gehry Technologies.

Within the years, Frank Gehry has produced many buildings with striking and unique design. His buildings consist of his owned residence, Guggenheim Museum, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Experience Music project, Weisman Art Museum, Dancing Horse, Art Gallery of Ontario and etc. With the assist of the computer technology and the application of unconventional materials, Gehry was able to create deconstructed aesthetic building in deconstructivism style.


CATIA is a type of computer aided design software with a full form of Computer Aided Three-dimensional Interactive Application. It was developed by a French company named Dassault Systemes with the licensed, Proprietary software. A French aircraft manufacturer, Avions Marcel Dassault started to develop CATIA in 1977 and it has been applied in several industries such as automobile, aerospace, shipbuilding and etc. It helps in the design development with conceptualization, three-dimensional modeling, visualization and etc. Complex innovative forms can be also created by using CATIA.

Guggenheim Museum

Guggenheim Museum is an art museum that designed in modern and contemporary arts. It was established on 18th October 1997 and located at Abando, Bilbao, Spain. This contemporary building is owned by Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and it was built by Ferrovial, S.A. with the construction cost of 89 million US dollars. Moreover, it was built along the Nervion River and mainly used to exhibit the works of international and Spanish artists.

Besides, it has been one of the most famous buildings especially in the year of 1998 and 1999 because it was the famous topic among the architects in the industry. In the year of 2007, there were more than one million of people to visit the museum. In the 2010 World Architecture Survey, it has been called as one of the most important building since 1980. Other than that, it has been called by the world-famous architect, Philip Johnson, “the greatest building of our time.” The New York Times even said that the building is a miracle. (Frank O Gehry A Modern Architectural ICON,


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