Arckit at the AIA Convention 2014 in Chicago

We recently launched Arckit, our award-winning architectural model system, at the AIA Convention 2014 in Chicago last month. This was our official US launch, so it was a huge achievement for Arckit. It was also our first time in Chicago and the city certainly made a lasting impression on us – especially when we returned home to Ireland.

Let’s take a look at London

Let’s take a look at London. Economic growth and cultural diversity has made the UK’s capital one of the most popular cities in the world. There is a pressing need for more efficient use of land, increasing the demand for taller structures as a popular housing solution. As a rapidly growing and constantly changing city, carefully considered urban design is now essential.

Chris Brett, Partner at planning and design consultancy Barton Willmore, said in Knight Frank’s Tall Towers report that, “The only way is up for London, but tall towers pose unique challenges for planners.” New architectural design in densely populated cities such as Chicago and London is literally changing the landscape for urban architecture.

So what was it about Chicago?

So what was it about Chicago that made such an impression on us? What was most remarkable was the sense of space and light in a city of towering structures. Although Chicago has a lower population than London, it is still the third biggest city in America and boasts an impressive landscape of city structures and public spaces.

The urban architecture is well considered, and many of the tall structures feature floor to ceiling glass panels that allow plenty of natural light to enter the buildings. There is a spatial awareness to their urban planning that maximises natural light, even around and between tall structures. This is something that is definitely lacking in London.

“Today, cities are growing at a rate never seen before. We should be striving to develop architecturally innovative buildings – and the potentially striking, refreshing and beautiful spaces around and between them.” Martha Schwartz, Martha Schwartz Partners

Several architects we met in Chicago suggested that Arckit could be used for designing residential and commercial structures in context with their surroundings. Arckit’s unique components, which are based on modern building techniques, allow architects to build precision-scaled working models to physically explore and communicate their designs. And this could prove invaluable for urban design in Europe.

Imagine being able to quickly and affordably build sections of urban landscape in miniature form and apply realistic material textures. Imagine being able to endlessly modify a working model to experiment with urban planning. Imagine being able to virtually explore these ideas by snapping Arckit Digital components together within SketchUp’s 3D Warehouse and making an exact reality scaled model.

Arckit allows you to do all this and more. Learn more about how Arckit can be used to bring architectural designs to life.

If you are planning to use Arckit for urban design then you can change its 1:48 true scale to better suit your building design project. For example, if you changed the scale to 1:100 then the wall panels would be 5m high x 2.5m long, and if you changed the scale to 1:200 then the wall panels would be 10m high x 5m long.

Do you think that Europeans are good at urban design? Can physical models help us to better plan and design our urban environments and public spaces? We would be interested to hear your thoughts …