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In 1960, when the America computer scientist Ivan Sutherland developed Sketchpad, described as the first computer graphical user interface, it changed the course of architecture.
It was the first recorded tool enabling designers to interact with the computer graphically, using a light pen on the monitor.
This laid the foundation for computer aided design (CAD), which, over the next 60 years, replaced the drafting pen and tracing paper with the mouse and monitor in most architectural practices.
But while, for most, computing in architecture is a replacement technology, there are always rebels who want to experiment.
Architects think and draw at the same time, at the design stage as well as detailing the building for construction. And it quickly became apparent that no software can think or design as fast as a doodle on paper (or the infamous napkin). Nor could a program replace the lateral problem solving ability of a human.
All CAD software has limitations. Developers simply cannot program enough tools within the software environment to cater for all the possible applications, let alone to condition creative and lateral thinking.
But why only work within the software written by others when you can write your own? Since the 1970s, a number of pioneering architects and designers have taken it on themselves to be both programmer and designer. In other words, they started to program design. […]