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A shining sun, playful children, overwhelming greenery and new neighborhoods with a richer wildlife than a Zoo. We have all seen them, the vision images that promise an idyll but result in a visual nightmare. Here‘s a few examples.
Renderings are a visual representation of a future scene or product. These images are used as a selling tool in architecture, allowing architects to present their ideas to clients and investors. Through the use of computer programs like Photoshop or AI, these images can be created with great detail and realism. However, this ability to manipulate the rendered image has led to some controversy. What we call fake views, are a common way for architects to sell their projects to decision-makers and residents.
In his essay “Digital Deception,” architect Belmont Freeman criticizes the tendency of architects to use technology to embellish renderings to the extent that they become outright misleading. He argues that this obsession with the perfect image has resulted in a detachment from reality in architecture, with the idea itself, the image of architecture, taking precedence over the realism or feasibility of the vision in reality.
Freeman’s argument is echoed by journalist Vanessa Quirk, who argues in her article “Rendering/CLOG” that unreal renderings are a way for architects not only to persuade skeptics but also to deceive themselves. She highlights the fact that studies show people are drawn not to buildings but to the atmosphere of the image, and that it is people and life that should sell a project, not the design of the buildings.
The Tricks That Architectural Firms Use to Sell Ugly Projects
After looking into the subject for years, I have identified a of recurring patterns, or tricks, that are used to embellish renderings and thus sell projects on false premises.
- Eternal summer. Nice and sunny weather with blue skies.
- Exaggerated, and constant, greenery.
- The facades, or the images as a whole, are brighter than in reality.
- No, or very few, cars.
- Exaggerated number of pedestrians and cyclists.
- Exaggerated number of playing children.
- An exaggerated number of wild animals.
- Other rare phenomena, such as hot air balloons and zeppelins, are overrepresented.
Creating Unrealistic Expectations That Will Never Be Fulfilled
It is a democratic dilemma when the public is led into ambitions that evidently cannot be fulfilled by the urban planning apparatus. If the focus is on making the renderings as realistic as possible, citizens interested in urban planning issues will have a greater opportunity to feel more involved and be more involved.
While vision images can be a valuable tool for architects, their use must be tempered with a degree of realism. Architects must not use them to create unrealistic expectations that will never be fulfilled, and they must focus on conveying the true essence of their vision to their clients and the public.
A Few Examples From My Last Article on Fake Views
In 2018, I wrote an article on this subject in Swedish that went viral. Here’s a few examples from the Swedish article. Do you have any more examples? Please comment!