The Debate Over Artistry and Modern Architecture vs 3D Printing

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Architecture Design 3D Printing

Australian publication Architecture Source has written a series of articles about the impact of technology on traditional architecture and artistry. They initially suggested that design excellence has suffered from efficiencies in technology, or said another way, technology inspires lazy architecture:

When asked by Big Think if he thought technology was dramatically improving design, Yale School of Architecture dean Robert A. M. Stern’s response was mixed.

“It’s made more possibilities, and it has resulted in some buildings of extraordinary beauty,” says Stern.

He proceeds, however, to discuss the drawbacks of focusing on one aspect of modern beauty and architectural greatness that is easy to fall back on using these technologies.

 “(In) producing a bland uniformity in our cities, including our city of New York,  it’s a question of how much glass is appropriate?” says Stern.

While technology has driven this industry into new realms, it is perhaps unwise or even incorrect to suggest it is entirely superior to traditional architecture. Stern notes the greatness of the Pantheon as an example of pre-technology architectural greatness, standing out among numerous other architectural examples that even with our technological foundation have not been recreated or even neared in design excellence.

After much reader response, Architecture Source published a follow up article, taking aim at 3D printing:

The absolute exactness of this architectural development medium means speed and precision are high on the list of positive elements associated with 3D printing. There is no level of human error involved and exact specifications can be tested in miniature form.

It is this lack of the human element, however, that provokes the question: could 3D printing take the artistry out of architecture design?

Herein lies the key point upon which many of our readers have agreed; technology is a tool. Just because writers now use computers instead of pen and paper does not mean that literary greatness is gone. The implementation of modern technology into any of our sectors means elements of tasks presented to us are simpler and can be completed more efficiently. This brings with it the downside that when approached by the lazy or mediocre, results can still be achieved even if they are not particularly groundbreaking.

Our View

Today, 3D printing may be limited in size, scope and precision. However, adoption of this technology and its applications will only accelerate, by consumers, professionals and artisans. And with increased adoption will come improvements over current limitations. Therefore, we fully expect to see 3D printing a legitimate medium for artistry as well as a staple tool for architecture and product design.


Architecture photo by Peter Guthrie used under Creative Commons license.

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