“Should architects code?”, is a question that boggles most architects during their professional careers. It is safe to say, that all architects are adept at least a few architecture and design software. Given the advances in software design, most of them are power-packed with features. Developments in UX and UI ensure that such software are easy to use and give the architect enough window to play around with and come up with creative outputs.
However, code is what makes software, and seasoned architects would agree that learning to code is a smart way to enhance one’s practice. It is about getting down to the nuts & bolts and coming up with designs that are purely yours. When architects code, here are the top benefits they achieve.
Architecture design software can be compared metaphorically to a set of Lego. You create designs with what you have. However, imagine that your Lego set came with a 4D printer with which you could design your own bricks and studs- this would open a whole world of opportunities for you. Similarly, when architects code, they can create their own tools and designs. It might sound daunting but with APIs (application programming interface), scripting functionalities, and easy to learn languages like python, it has become easier. Many popular BIM and CAD software come with an API function integrated and all that is between you and the design you desire, are a few macros and codes.
Using design software or supporting software such as Excel, sometimes involves repetitive tasks. It might need linking certain design elements to their costs or their schedules. Now imagine doing this for a hundred different elements- it only leads to loss of time. When architects code, they work the smarter way and automate the process. This can be done through a few simple macros. As is evident, coding helps you work smart and increase work efficiency.
This applies to architects who are freshly starting out and looking for exposure. Most young architects start their practice at an established firm and branch out a few years later. In a market where there enough and more architecture graduates passing out every year, knowing a skill like coding is one of the ways you can stand out. Architects who code have a ground-up perspective on design and are indispensable resources at the firm they work at. However, senior architects who know code do benefit from being able to guide their teams and get output that is far more thorough.
During regular practice, problems and challenges are commonplace. Architects resolve design challenges on their software before transferring the solution to real-time construction. Coding is another tool in your box, that helps you get through your challenges faster. Instead of being limited by the tools, one has in the software toolkit, expert architects code the tool they want and resolve issues.
Architects driven by design, are usually right-brain thinkers who love a splash of creativity in their construction. They are motivated by the goal of coming up with something new or ‘discovering’ a new technique to build. Most architects love to breaks rules. However, an architect needs to also approach design logically. After all, the safety of their buildings and the need for them to stand the test of time matters. Following the middle path, architects code their way into an algorithmic way of thinking. Coding gives them perspective. Coding can be fun too and it is a good way of jogging one’s brain.
Coding is a skill that sure puts you ahead of your competitors by simply allowing you to come up with designs that are truly innovative. Also, coding makes one thorough in the designing process. It is easier to spot mistakes beforehand and errors can be avoided. That surely give an architect a winning edge.
For those architects interested in learning to code, there is a variety of software they can adopt. Some of the recommended ones are Grasshopper 3D, Dynamo, Python, and Ruby. The good news is that some of these software have a visual interface for coding and this helps architects code in a more comfortable manner. All in all, knowing to code certainly has its plus points. Even for naysayers, one can say, it is a skill that doesn’t harm one to have. So, should architects code? Our verdict is yes!