Visualising Atmospheres Exhibition London

Visualising Atmospheres Exhibition, Doha Development, Project, Qatar Architecture, Qatari CGI Design

Visualising Atmospheres Exhibition

Msheireb Downtown Project, Doha – OU + Brunel University

14 Aug 2013

Visualising Atmospheres Exhibition in London

Location: The Building Centre, Store Street, London WC1E 7BT, UK

19-31 Aug 2013

New photorealism replacing architects’ floor plans

August 14, 2013 – Computer-generated images of new homes and apartments, and retail and office complexes surround us on our daily journeys through the city. They’re often in newspaper and magazine adverts and on billboards placed by developers to inform the public, articulate ideas about placemaking, and ultimately to sell the space.

Computer-generated visualisation of a future arcaded street in Msheireb, Doha:
The Valley City Qatar
photo : C Melhuish / CGI copyright Gensler

Now, a team of researchers from the Open University and Brunel University, London, has been studying the production of these images known as “architectural visualisations” used by architects, developers and planners for a £3.5 billion development in the centre of Doha, the capital city of Qatar.

Their findings, on show in a public exhibition in London this month, offer an insight into how computer generated images used in the Msheireb Downtown Project are part of a new wave of photorealism influencing the transformation of cities around the world. Digital visualisations of buildings and places once used in Hollywood movies, are now applied as crucial tools in architecture for imagining and designing new urban developments, and projecting what they feel like.

Computer-generated visualisation on billboard at site office, Msheireb, Doha
The Valley City Qatar
photo : C Melhuish

Geographer Prof. Gillian Rose from the OU, Dr Monica Degen, a sociologist from Brunel and research assistant Dr Clare Melhuish, an anthropologist and architectural journalist, have been following the international visualisation team working on the project, for two years.

Professor Rose said that the visualisers had a different skill to the planners and architects and that their aim was to translate the architectural drawings into lively and atmospheric public spaces. “They want it to look glamorous and give it a certain feeling, to have a modern image. The architects and visualisers have different agendas,” she pointed out.

Computer-generated visualisation billboard at offices of Msheireb Properties, Doha
The Valley City Qatar
photo : C Melhuish

“Some architects found the CGIs useful and others felt that because the visualisations were so glossy and photo-realistic that the client would judge their buildings on the basis of the images, and that the CGIs didn’t do their work justice. Some would prefer more emphasis on traditional floor plans and technical blueprints.”

Dr Degen noted that the CGIs were “created by a global network of people from the UK, China and America, a prime example of international architectural production and working practices. There was an advisor in Qatar to make sure the images were culturally relevant and that the sky was painted the correct shade of blue, for example.” The images would be revised depending on the feedback from the Msheireb Downtown Project developers, she said.

Dr Melhuish added that the advisers made sure that the images conveyed a particular Qatari architectural heritage, not a general Arabic one. “It was very precise and pinned down. They were keen to uncover their own local heritage and record it and to use it to revitalise the city,” she said.

Computer-generated visualisation of future development on site hoarding at Msheireb, Doha
The Valley City Qatar
photo : C Melhuish

The project has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. The exhibition Visualising Atmospheres: Digital Placemaking in the 21st Century will form part of a conference to bring together design professionals and urban academics. It is open to all.

From 19-31st August, at The Building Centre, Store Street, London WC1E 7BT

Visualising Atmospheres Exhibition information / images received from MZ Architects

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