Computer euphoria?

By Peter Harradine

Iam sure that all architects' offices are now fully computerised and produce incredible images with the help of the latest computer aided design systems. We create realistic images just by moving a mouse, and add, change or remove greens, fairways, tees, trees, lakes, bridges, streams, access roads, real estate, rocks, club houses, pathways – even golfers – at a flick of a key. We can develop and visualise three dimensional images of any situation and calculate volumes, quantities and surfaces while generating profiles, gradients, contours and sections.

There is an incredible selection and proliferation of software in the market that can produce anything, even claiming to design the golf course! Those incredible machines actually make you think that one can really save time! More time to play golf! Get one of these wonderful contraptions and they will do everything! Sack all your architects, engineers, draughtsman, estimators and secretaries: the computer will take care of everything.

They are upgraded monthly and you will always require the latest models of plasma screens, scanners, digitisers, plotters, printers and all related software so that you are constantly in tune with the latest technology. You must also not forget that every computer in the office must have its own software! But you quickly realise that the computer is just a dumb machine that only reproduces what you feed it. So you hastily recall your architects, engineers, draughtsman and estimators and apologise profusely, saying you didn't really mean to sack them but were just experimenting on a new form of lateral thinking.

By the time you have learnt how to use that stupendous apparatus, your knowledge will be outdated and you will require further training and when you are familiar with the new technology, your equipment is outdated and the whole cycle starts all over again. Everything is Mega and Giga – and gives a completely new meaning to megabucks! These incredible machines are quite unbelievable and even mythical and I am sure that most offices only use about 20 per cent of their potential while the staff diligently spend hours 'surfing' – despite the fact most of them can't even swim! The boss is so wrapped up in his new toy, that he is not playing golf any more, let alone seeing his wife, children or friends.

Those contraptions were supposed to save paper but they are in fact responsible for multiplying the amount of paper that is now used for any document as it is so easy to flick a key and produce all the paper you want in all sorts of colours and pleasing presentations. When computers are not ill with some incredible and incurable virus they even CRASH but fortunately there never seems to be any damage to the bodywork – although a wipe out could be a lot more serious.

I am happy to note, however, that these stupid machines will never replace human creativity, flair, talent and touch.

They cannot feel, sense or perceive the natural assets of a site, which is a basic requirement needed to design a good course. It is however essential to be computer literate, especially with today's great possibilities offered by sophisticated and instantaneous transmissions of images and information. I do, however, sincerely regret the good old days when plans were drafted by pens that were always drying up and corrected by scratching mistakes out with a razor blade. Drafting good plans was a very skilful art and the time needed for each drawing ensured that you did not produce more than were absolutely necessary. This meant that you did not end up with a lot of superfluous, useless and voluminous designs which are now mostly only slight variations of previous drawings which will hopefully impress the client by their sheer volume! The world now seems to prefer quantity over quality. It is so much easier to produce! I hope that humans will never be replaced by dumb machines but I regretfully appreciate the precious help those contraptions provide. I am however, extremely lucky that up to now I didn't have to try to understand how to operate or manipulate one. After all, I have some great operators and I do want to have a little time left to enjoy life!

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