Fantasy and Reality

This year’s Art of CAD submissions range from photorealistic presentation panels to evocative experimental videos.

The Canadian Architect Art of CAD competition received 51 submissions this year. Like last year, Theoretical entries in the categories were few while the highest number of entries fell under the Applied Dynamic category. The jury noted that the drawing tools were engaged for both design development and new architectural expression, but that between engaging a client and trying to move beyond the daily dictates of practice into explorations of architectural possibility and process, it remains to be seen if architects are using the digital tools to their limits.

The 2003 competition was once again sponsored by Autodesk, Business Information Group and the Works Visual Art and Design Festival in Edmonton, where selected entries will be exhibited from June 20 to July 2, 2003. Prizes in the Applied Category were Autodesk Revit for the Rendering, and Autodesk VIZ for the Dynamic; in the Theoretical Category, no winner was awarded for Rendering but in the Dynamic sub-category, a $1,000 cash prize was awarded from Business Information Group.

This year’s jurors were Schawn Jasmann of Ottawa and Viktors Jaunkalns of Toronto. Jasmann has been working in architecture, exhibit design, destination attractions, film, television, video, interactive new media, game and Web design since 1992. He has lectured and exhibited at festivals, symposiums and conferences in Canada, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan and Austria and teaches at the School of Architecture at Carleton University. In addition, he is principal director of Subterranean Digital Laboratory, Sub.Arch Productions, Subterranean Films and Subterranean Architecture.

Viktors Jaunkalns is a graduate of the University of Waterloo School of Architecture and a founding principal of MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects. MJMA is a Toronto-based office involved in the development of new forms of civic building organized in a public landscape. The office emphasizes innovation in the development of new hybrid public building types. The firm has active design projects across Canada, in the United States and Europe. MJMA has designed more than 40 civic projects and landscapes and has been recognized with numerous design excellence awards, including the Governor General’s Medal in Architecture, Canadian Architect Awards of Excellence, The Ontario Association Architects Awards of Excellence, Toronto Architecture & Urban Design Awards, and the National Post Design Exchange Gold Medal. NM

Jury Comments

The work submitted to this year’s competition was a collection of diverse ideas pertaining to the representation of architectural ideas through the employment of digital tools. Throughout the adjudication significant debates took place over the use of digital tools within both the theoretical and pragmatic domains of architecture, particularly as they related to the Canadian architectural setting and how it, in turn, relates to the global practice of architecture. The applied rendering category was exemplary in securing the greatest number of submissions while the theoretical rendering and theoretical dynamic categories were disappointingly low in entries. This is characteristic of past competitions, making me wonder whether more than the meagre dozen Canadian architects who submitted to those categories has any theoretical ruminations about the possibilities of architectural expression in a digital medium. It was suggested that perhaps these architects have fled Canada for the greener pastures of foreign lands, where they dream of a differing set of poetics that can only be explored through the topologies of expression liberated exclusively through the digital medium, but this is only conjecture. The jury was perplexed over the lack of enthusiasm towards the theoretical categories. It is well known that there exists some truly innovative Canadian architects and within that tradition there is a younger generation of forward-thinking rebellious architectural explorers who have produced provocative work and yet hold back from truly testing the boundaries of human imagination in the spirit of a competition surrounding ideas related to architecture. Where have all the young guns gone? For we are, no doubt, occupying a new frontier of exploration as seen by architects such as Karl Chu and Marcos Novak. I should add, however, there were several projects that demonstrated imaginative work. These were applauded for their innovation and passion to move beyond typical architectural ideation and to provide critics a fertile environment for dialogue and debate. Schawn Jasmann

Reviewing the submissions for this year’s competition, the jury discussed how to measure progress and achievement. Evolving digital tools allow for new interactive ways to communicate and present accurate utensils for investigating and analyzing the architectural proposal. The jury was looking for new connections to the field of architecture.

There has always existed a traditional reciprocity between the representation of architecture and the completed object. The act of drawing has been a personal operation that structures the intention of the project, that clarifies its rhythms and expresses the overlapping organizing forces. The connection between conception and realization has been tied to the current methods of representation. The relatively recent introduction of digital technology has modified and advanced the ways of seeing and has initiated an effect on the methods of real production. The exponential increases in computing power have advanced the ability to both conceive of and represent the work in a way that is participatory, open and potentially immediate. Some of the high quality submitted proposals clearly point toward an upcoming open process that could parallel the spatial experience of the real object with a democratic virtual experience. These proposals were interactive, united remote participants and established perspectives that would be unavailable without the digital instrument. A fair percentage of well executed submissions however were generally digital equivalents of the traditional forms of representation, with more emphasis on an accepted painterly appearance than on developing the power of the tool to actually simulate and investigate the proposal. Even some of the submissions that employed sophisticated radiosity programs capable of accurately simulating the behaviour of light in precise ways used the programs as atmosphere and flavour enhancers instead of calibrated instruments. The jury was anticipating that the Theoretical categories would outline clear new developments in ways of seeing, would show direct connections to ways of producing and provide new bridges to other components of contemporary culture. With digital technology made transparent and accessible, the jury was looking for the development of advanced positions as well as on-going progress in applied works. We were disappointed that more theoretical work was not submitted; we know from the small field that provocative work exists and that it would continue to elevate the field. Viktors Jaunkalns

Applied Rendering: Winner

Mauro Javier Carreo, Toronto


Master’s thesis, Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, University of Toronto

PC with AutoCAD 2002 and Photoshop 6

Jasmann Reminiscent of the representational styles of years past in its highly illustrative expression of dense pockets of core information. The conventions of cutaway sections, high contrast lighting and hidden line rendering inclusive of scalar references in the form of figures show an authentic unconventional use of digital tools. This work challenges the high realism or hyper-realism/photographic realism that we find in the profession today and should be applauded for its restrained and effective use of the digital tools to impart critical information in a brilliantly layered manner.

Jaunkalns The applied rendering category was represented with nume
rous well ray-traced and radiosity softened final perspective images. This image stood out because of its connection to a traditional body of architectural representation that produced graphic instruments for measurement and investigation. The drawing dissects a key corner of the scheme, with precise incisions in both plan and section. The information provided is dense and authentic, with real structural conditions, wall/floor assemblies and cladding details sculpted by a clear light casting deep shadows. The elemental nature of the drawing is supported by a pale monochromatic base, with the moving elements gently colour coded.

Applied Rendering: Mention

Nicholas Moschenko,, Toronto

Ryerson Continuing Education

Presentation Panel for Rounthwaite Dick & Hadley Architects

PC with Autodesk Viz, Photoshop

Jasmann This entry is a well crafted technical rendering that offers us a convincing snapshot of the proposed architecture and demonstrates its relationship to a Toronto landmark site. The artist has demonstrated his/her expertise in the use of lighting, compositing, and detail finishing to effectively capture the essential qualities of this building.

Jaunkalns A number of similar submissions replicated the dramatic angle and heroic sight lines of view camera photography. Two images by the same author combined detailed modeling of a modern tower inserted into a high resolution base photograph, resulting in a very clean, corporate image. This final rendering combined a new central object with substantial foreground digital painting to form a seamless image. The business suit skin of the office tower is its major public presentation; simultaneously transparent and reflective. The author carefully crafted the detailed interior in order to make the prime glazed wall believable.

Applied Rendering: Mention

Diamond and Schmitt Architects Incorporated, Toronto

South atrium section, University of Michigan Computer Science and Engineering Building

Presentation Panel

Pentium 450 with 3D Studio Max, Lightscape, Photoshop

Jasmann This work demonstrates a technically proficient use of lighting, which is most likely a global illumination rendering solution. This has become more commonplace today with the affordability of tools and the necessary talent to utilize them. This entry has an painterly quality that invites the viewer into the interior architectural landscape to explore the qualities of the programs described. It demonstrates both the technical and experiential qualities of an architecture that anticipates the dimension of human presence within a fully realized building.

Jaunkalns This single point perspective of the atrium was one of several beautifully lit studies for this facility. This is an early design study, with a limited and simplified modeling of the surrounding texture of office trays, and an emphasis on the pure form of the central spiral and the enclosing grilles. We noted that the construction detail and texture is intentionally reduced and incomplete; this image is all about the condition of soft light descending from above. The rendering program relies heavily on the quality of light generated by the radiosity function. The illumination is so soft and buttery, that it becomes the main focus of the image.

Theoretical Rendering: Mention

Golbou Saravandi-Rad, Toronto

Threshold of Image

University of Toronto Architectural Studies project

PC with Rhinoceros, 3D Studio Max

Jasmann Threshold of Image challenges the form of architectural expression through the subject that constitutes its identity. Here, the architecture becomes intrinsically tied to the commodification of the image of brand-based products of consumption. The surface of experience is defined through the space of the identity of commercialization, questioning the limits of the encounter within the referential field of the image. This results in the positioning of architecture at its limit as an instrument of encounter through which the corruption of the sign of commodification is the subjectivity of experience.

Jaunkalns That branding information now leaks from or is adhered to most of the First World’s manufactured surfaces is a given. This neutral container must have been provocative in its luminous and animated form, but for me, it failed to communicate its message onto the printed page.

Theoretical Rendering: Mention

Ramon Janer, Toronto


Independent research

Dell laptop 8100, with 3DS Max, Lightscape, Photoshop, A.I.

Jasmann Tools is a fascinating exploration into the architecture of smooth space and its corresponding topologies. It delightfully invites the senses to become engaged with curious pleasure in the continuous polymorphic interplay between form, space, movement and light. This is a project that shares the spirit of architectural works by Preston Scott Cohen, Greg Lynn, and NOX Architects.

Jaunkalns While the author’s statement proposes that visual design has changed dramatically from old-fashioned sketches to realistic images, the submitted image is a simple maquette, traditionally modern in its composition and expressive in its lighting of a series of simple, sculptural shells.

Applied Dynamic: Winner

Stoke Tonne and Gwyn Vose, Vancouver


School of Architecture, University of British Columbia Design Studio

Auto Dys-Sys formZ 3.8, Adobe Photoshop 5.0, Macromedia Flash 5, Macromedia Dreamweaver 4

Jasmann Lumenex is one of the few interactive submissions to this year’s competition. It explores the implications of issues that are central to architecture in this age of hyper-communication in a global context. Cultural identity, social presence, and broadcast communication were explored thoroughly in this project and resulted in a proposition that was inventive in its deployment of interactivity within an ambitiously defined architectural program. The primary concern of social change in relation to communication technology is a contemporary architectural problem that has a lengthy history. An example that comes to mind is the NASDAQ MarketSite in New York. The polymorphic electronic skin of the eight-storey building externalizes media content to the existing media-soaked and technologically-laden intersection of Broadway and 7th Avenue and in so doing it manipulates the transformation of information as visual communication largely what influences the cultural identity of a critical urban zone.

Jaunkalns This document is the result of a collaborative virtual design studio between Canadian and Japanese schools of architecture. The original project proposes a new civic network inserted into existing global urban and rural sites while the submission is the website document compiled in Macromedia Flash. The Web is populated by many commercial ventures that allow the user to flip through digital files card to retrieve the information they want. This submission re-interprets that form with a minimal deck of cards, rendered in a clean, easily accessible language. The jury appreciated this volume of mapping, graphs, text and animations for its spare, elegant imagery and the clarity of the information sequence. The renderings and animations of the civic future-pods that are the subjects of the scheme are rendered with precisely the amount of detail necessary to communicate their texture and scale.

Applied Dynamic: Mention

Eugene Radvenis, Vancouver

Gleneagles Community Centre

Patkau Architects Presentation Video

Pentium 4 with 3D Studio Max

Jasmann This entry extends the conventions of a typical orientation to how we move through an architectural space of expression as a cinematic event. There exists a delightful inversion of the relationship of the viewer to the architecture. This work captures an inside-out orientation, thus initiating a focus around a material and spatial experience, rather than the more traditional orientation of viewer to object in a landscape. Here we find the landscape to be circumscribed by the glass perimeter that contai
ns its own hyper-real projection, and we find ourselves outside of it rather than situated immediately in it.

Jaunkalns The basis of this animation is a single fly-through that explains the sequence of major public spaces in this compact civic building. We enjoyed viewing a submission in the form of a digital holiday greeting, starting with the building model in a sno-globe and pulling back to reveal the entire sequence of the building before curving back into the same toy image. The entire presentation was light and entertaining, but the fundamental technical structures, lighting and texture mapping were detailed and finely crafted.

Theoretical Dynamic: Winner

Jody Bielun and Pablo Leppe, Toronto

Audio in collaboration with Fernando Leppe


Digifest 2003: Interactive City Showcase

Pentium 4 with Autodesk Viz 4, VR4 Max, Adobe Photoshop 7

Jasmann Co[re]late reminded me of Surrealist found objects in which a confrontation is created through the recontextualization of a familiar utilitarian object such that the value of the object, tied to its function, had been subverted, thus creating a space of reconciliation between the viewer and the newly defined art object. Co[re]late achieves this confrontational space through the reuse of an urban ruin. This work searches for, and achieves, an authentic architectural space of encounter within the domain of interactive virtual reality.

Jaunkalns Co[re]late wraps the incomplete grey core of the Bay-Adelaide Centre in Toronto, abandoned since the last recession, with a mantle of civic images and local urban sounds. The submission is the record of a single real-time exploration of the interior and exterior environment of the relic, with movement and aural fragments activated by the visitor’s presence in a painterly three-dimensional world. The basic structure of interactivity in real time is enormously useful for communicating a complete envelope of experience. This proposal combines it with an elegantly dark cubist visual language and an appropriate jungle of local street noise fragments to produce a complete world.

Theoretical Dynamic: Mention

Ramtin Attar, Ottawa

The Elevator: the invisible space of painting

Independent Study, School of Architecture, Carleton University

Intel station (XEON) with formZ, 3D Studio Max, Adobe Premiere

Jasmann The Elevator is replete with the spirit that is necessary when employing new tools as a mode of inquiry. However, as well executed as this project is, it does not challenge the process of abstracting an idea through the representational capacity of the digital medium. This could be done in a manner that critically engages the audience beyond the familiar realisation of an abstract digital landscape. This project is full of spirit but requires a more refined focus in bringing the work back into a cinematic event space that is at once accessible, challenging, and engaging.

Jaunkalns The author states that the traditional connection of painting to the formulation and investigation of architectural space can be extended by the power of the computer, both in the spatial complexity of the construction and the change in time and viewpoint afforded by animation. The scheme establishes a complex digital framework, which is slowly explored with measured, deliberate camera work and a dramatic lighting structure.