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AutoCAD? More like autosnap


Sana Paul, Nishtha Singh, Diksha Garg, Architects, Architecting, Architecture, Architectural, Design, Digital, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, AI, Tech, Technology, Algorithmic Thinking, Algorithms, Cybernetics, Computing, Embodiment, Digital Landscape, IOT, Generative Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, AR, VR, Building Information Modelling, Analysis, BIM, Zeyka, Zeyka India

An AutoCAD Google chatroom from July 16, 1998, 12:30:00 P.M., reads as follows:


‘Why can't the leading publisher of CAD software on the planet improve the most basic elements of its interface? There are plenty of examples out there to copy that do a far better job. Why can't AutoCAD do the most basic things correctly? Do they care? They tout their product as “a new standard in productivity”, but I am left shaking my head in miserable disbelief.’ (sic)


Yeah. You read it right.


AutoCAD, the dumbest architecture software ever made, has been reigning supreme since 1998. It is a software used for drafting and it is supremely inefficient, to say the least. Why you ask? Because it just about converts a line drawn on paper, to a line drawn on the screen. The cherry on the top? It is a software that requires learning, besides drafting, as an in-depth skill.

Sana Paul, Nishtha Singh, Diksha Garg, Architects, Architecting, Architecture, Architectural, Design, Digital, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, AI, Tech, Technology, Algorithmic Thinking, Algorithms, Cybernetics, Computing, Embodiment, Digital Landscape, IOT, Generative Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, AR, VR, Building Information Modelling, Analysis, BIM, Zeyka, Zeyka India

Make no mistake, the problem here is not with learning. The problem is that it takes several months, if not years, for one to execute a function on AutoCAD, efficiently — a function, which is rudimentary for architecture and construction and only constitutes 1 per cent of the work.


Indeed, if you spend most of your time on AutoCAD, despite being focused on design thinking, it is very likely that eh, you are very stupid. Do not get us wrong. Very stupid, but very useful. At least in the spring of your career. Useful to? The most easily dispensable part of your business. Think about it. Whichever software you are using currently, will have become a hundred winters old by the end of this decade.


AutoCAD is like TV. A TV can only feed you whatever it can broadcast, that, but on a macroscale. Similarly, AutoCAD only digitises drafting because that is all it is: a drafting tool. In fact, it would not be wrong to call it a tool for drafts-people, rather than a tool for architects.


The sad part is that there is no Netflix among the architectural software that exists today.


Architectural software do not offer ‘comparability’ of information, functionally. Meaning, they cannot be consumed by different people, in different places, with different needs, similarly. Netflix for instance, does the same thing for us all. Our experiences of it? As versatile as can be.


Two video games, ‘The Sims’ and ‘Minecraft,’ are the closest building instruments to this opportunity. If you have played either, any attempt to draw something on an architectural software will be a true test of tolerance.


The chances are that a rookie will build a house-concept model of greater appeal in either of the games, in a shorter time, than the most famous architectural talisman will on a software of their choosing.


Architectural software do not account well for user experience or header optimisation. Because they need a high level of functionality just to be able to create a model, they overlook other requirements of the profession. In this sense, the architecture software concentrates all information in a single source.


AutoCAD eliminates all aspects of the building that it cannot integrate. Since it starts out with the idea of drafting as its only function, the design of space loses meaning along the way.


The need of the hour, on the other hand, is that very design and the arrival at it, from the perspective of the client. What matters for marketing, financial, and even construction purposes is the rush of emotions you feel when you enter a space. The only thing AutoCAD makes you feel is as if you were sitting in a 6th-grade geometry class.

Sana Paul, Nishtha Singh, Diksha Garg, Architects, Architecting, Architecture, Architectural, Design, Digital, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, AI, Tech, Technology, Algorithmic Thinking, Algorithms, Cybernetics, Computing, Embodiment, Digital Landscape, IOT, Generative Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, AR, VR, Building Information Modelling, Analysis, BIM, Zeyka, Zeyka India

According to a United Nations initiative, Minecraft has helped communities design their own public spaces. This is when the idea of co-creation and co-design or ‘design thinking concepts’ takes a leap.


The connection between video games and architecture is not new. Can a game then, alter how architecture is instructed and exercised?


The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, teaches a master’s course called Video Game Urbanism. It uses game engine technologies to conceptualise and realise urban design projects. The goal here is to broaden the field of media through which architecture and urbanism is practised. This involves embracing the interactive nature of game worlds. Their growing popularity among a wide range of people helps.


The studio explores how game technologies can communicate and challenge the future of cities and their regulations to new audiences.


So far, the consensus is that video games benefit the field. Still, there is a distinction to be made between architects and virtual builders. These games can mingle and converse with the discipline, but will likely not overtake it.

Sana Paul, Nishtha Singh, Diksha Garg, Architects, Architecting, Architecture, Architectural, Design, Digital, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, AI, Tech, Technology, Algorithmic Thinking, Algorithms, Cybernetics, Computing, Embodiment, Digital Landscape, IOT, Generative Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, AR, VR, Building Information Modelling, Analysis, BIM, Zeyka, Zeyka India

They do raise many questions for us to think about. Various software and platforms are catering to the industry at large. Can the qualities of one medium be replicated in the others?


Can AutoCAD be less like the gates of hell and more like Minecraft? Can Minecraft involve project management tools? Can project management be integrated into architectural visualisation? Can visualisation be integrated into A.R. and V.R.? Can A.R. and V. R. be integrated into e-commerce? Can e-commerce be integrated to onsite construction and labour monitoring? Can these be integrated into drone technology and remote sensing? Can those be integrated into real estate?


And, can all of this, also be shared to social media to ease the pain of that social media manager questioning their decision of joining an architectural design company? And to create a large-scale real-time repository for public use, of course.

The answer? Drum roll please.


Ahem. Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes!


We could build software to filter, sort, prioritise and manage ‘multimedia’ across all stakeholders and processes of the architecture engineering and construction (AEC) industry. Such a system will work two ways or in two databases.


A parent database that creates the database and a vast library of bits, specifically selected for each stakeholder and subsequently delivered to different device formats. When users are on the platform, they learn by doing. The platform learns to customise as one goes. This is where the gaming sector wins.

Sana Paul, Nishtha Singh, Diksha Garg, Architects, Architecting, Architecture, Architectural, Design, Digital, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, AI, Tech, Technology, Algorithmic Thinking, Algorithms, Cybernetics, Computing, Embodiment, Digital Landscape, IOT, Generative Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, AR, VR, Building Information Modelling, Analysis, BIM, Zeyka, Zeyka India

The other way is to statistically use the same database to achieve standardised design responses and processes involving automated mechanisms that cover many stakeholders. Here, users interact passively with generative cloud options under the illusion that they have a choice. They do not. But they do have a vast array of options. Think of how one would design their Minecraft from the online library.


This generation's architects grew up playing with LEGO. The next generation will at least have played Minecraft. We must stop viewing these platforms as a game. They are computer-aided design (CAD) tools, and the most widely used one in the world at that.


We are thrilled to bridge the gap between design and reality. One thing is certain, neither is exclusive of the other. The future will expand in both directions.



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About the Writer

Sana Paul is an undergraduate architecture student and writer at the Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi, hailing from the cozy streets of Punjab. She has experience working at the India Lost and Found (ILF) by Amit Pasricha, and Rethinking The Future (RTF).


About the Editor

Nishtha Singh is an editor, writer and researcher in the fields of Philosophy of Language, Ethics and Artificial Intelligence (AI). She has trained as an editor at the Seagull School of Publishing, Calcutta and is a graduate of the Department of Philosophy, and the Hansraj College, University of Delhi (DU), India.


About the Illustrator

Diksha Garg is an undergraduate architecture student at the School of Planning and Architecture Bhopal, hailing from Chandigarh. She is an illustrator, graphic designer and writer. She has received a citation for G-Sen Trophy and a Juror's Choice Award for Journalism Trophy by the National Association of Students of Architecture (NASA), India.

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