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Architectural atmospheres, branding and the social: the role of digital visualizing technologies in contemporary architectural practice

  • Start date: 01 October 2011
  • End date: 30 September 2013

Architecture and urban design have become increasingly concerned with creating recognisable, ‘branded’ products in the form of buildings and public spaces.  Architects today view their buildings as, for example, ‘canvases for expression’, or ‘self-confident visual statements’ in a competitive global market.These types of buildings and associated public spaces are now produced and presented through digital visualisation technologies which are specifically intended to generate certain types of atmosphere, mood or affect.

To date, however, very little attention has been paid to precisely how these digital visualisation technologies are affecting the design process, including how designs are presented to planners, publics and clients.

Through a comparative ethnographic study of several architects’ offices - involving the detailed observation of working practices and of the production and circulation of visual materials amongst the different parties involved in the design process - this study aims to examine how these new digital visualisation technologies are embedded in architects’ working practices and how they are shaping the production of buildings and urban designs.

The project will thus show how the digital economy, through architecture and urban design practices, is shaping the physical design of the built environment.