Architectural Software Timeline

A series of five animations for the Architekturmuseum der TUM (Museum of Architecture at Technical University of Munich) within the framework of the exhibition The Architecture Machine and the accompanying catalogue. The chapter Architectural Software Timeline explains the historical development of software within an architectural context and is divided into six consecutive categories – drawing, modeling, rendering, animation, scripting and analysis. Each of the five short animations builds on the respective previous category and illustrates the specific advancements that came with new capabilities of software related to architecture.


The information below was taken from the exhibition catalogue’s chapter Architectural Software Timeline by Philip Schneider and Teresa Fankhänel that was published in: Fankhänel T., Lepik A. (2020). The Architecture Machine. Basel: Birkäuser Verlag.

#2 - Modeling

The second animation demonstrates the generating of a mesh and a simple extrusion – functionalities that were part of early 3D-modeling programs. came with the development of modeling capabilities of different programs. Those programs mostly developed within the context of the aerospace, automotive or film industries. Synthavision by MAGI (Mathematical Applications Group, Inc.) was the first program to use Constructive Solid Geometry (commonly known as the execution of Boolean operations) as early as 1967.


Watch the whole episode on Youtube (in German).

#3 - Rendering

The third animation showcases functionalities that came with the development of rendering capabilities of different programs. UV maps (commonly represented by a pattern of grey/black and white squares) were introduced by Jim Blinn and Martin Newell in 1976 and allowed animators and producers to project photographic images onto three-dimensional objects.


Watch the whole episode on Youtube (in German).

#4 - Animation

#4 shows three-dimensional objects being animated. Instead of the objects only reacting on sources of light, they now change shape and position within the three-dimensional space of the respective software. This meant an increase in data to be stored digitally and was made possible by the emergence of new data storage media during the 1980s. Only rarely, a program was conceptualised solely for the purpose of animation. More commonly, software that already existed and was capable of 3D-modeling was built upon to accomodate functinalities for animation.


Watch the whole episode on Youtube (in German).

#5 - Scripting

Watch the whole episode on Youtube (in German).

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