Advice to Design Reviewers: Beware of False Renderings!

Unreal transparency, happy people, and lots of trees and shrubs are among the sins of “Photoshopping”

From our friends at the “Architecture Uprising” (Arkitekturupproret) in Sweden, here is a timely warning to design review boards, to clients and to citizens: what you see is too often not what you get.  Sexy renderings that look like glowing crystal layer-cakes, smiling crowds of people and bikes everywhere, nice soft trees and shrubs, might translate into… something different.  Objects may be uglier than they appear…

First up is the “crystal box” (above, top).  This is a common trick: the building is going to be a luminous jewel, an absolutely lovely sight to behold.  It won’t be an ugly strip of panels and glass, festooned with even uglier signage.   But that’s what residents of Gothenburg, Sweden actually got (above, lower).

Next up is the “throng of pedestrians” trick.  It’s easy to make a dead space look lively by Photoshopping in happy people and bikes everywhere, like this example from Copenhagen.  But as the photo shows, these projects often deliver rather more dismal results:

We think of Copenhagen as a very human-scaled, bike-friendly place — but in its car-dominated modernist outskirts, not so much.

Lastly, the oldest trick in the book, “shrubbing it up.” Just throw in a bunch of trees and landscaping elements, whether or not they accurately depict what is built — as this example from Piteå, Sweden illustrates:

We are reminded of Frank Lloyd Wright’s quip at a cocktail party, “you doctors are lucky that you can bury your mistakes.  We architects have to plant vines.”

To see more “fake views” from Arkitekturupproret — or to learn more about this remarkable group, 30,000 strong and growing — visit the links below.  Thanks to our friend Yulia Kryazheva in Amsterdam for passing on this item!

Fake views – Kontrasten mellan visionsbilder och verklighet

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