Document Type : Research Article
The increasing use of computers in architectural design and engineering is one of the most recent achievements in promotion and enhancement of the efficiency of the various stages of construction design process. The early 1960s saw the advent of computers in various areas. Computers were used in the construction industry and their application has grown in the field of architectural processes. Nowadays, computers have become one of the main tools used by professionals in the area of architecture and construction. In recent years, extensive studies have been done about software used for drawing architectural designs like CAD and CAAD. These studies suggest that the arrival of the computer in architecture design process occurs in three steps: the early stage of architectural design, drawing and designing stages. The present paper studies the use of computers in the early stages of the design process and the effects of CAD compared to traditional and manual design tools. In this paper, architectural sketching and the initial stages of the design process, the use of computers in the early stages of design especially Sketchup software have been carefully studied. In order to investigate the applicability of computers in the design process, Sketchup software was selected because it is considered by experts as the most popular tool in the industry. Accordingly, a comparison is made between architectural design methods by various devices. The methods used for the present study are experimental research and survey. In this research, three methods of architectural schematic drawings (sketching) have been taken into consideration. They are sketching with Sketchup, traditional tools and combination methods (both of sketchup and tradiotional devices). Those methods are compared with each other in later stages of the study. Therefore, an experimental sketching design was held and a jury group that was made up of three experts of architectural design courses judged the sketches and evaluated their scores. The scores by the experts were based on a set of criteria defined during a survey to assess the sketches. For analysis of the data, the scores of the judges were used. Other mechanisms used were factor analysis and multivariate analysis of variance test questionnaire or MANOVA. Statistical studies show that the architectural sketching method is only useful for grading students’ abilities to make architectural sketches. Also, according to the test scores of students in the three groups of participants, the sketching group that used traditional tools (paper and pen and clipboard) achieved the highest scores. Finally, the comparison between computer and traditional design tools show that Sketchup cannot be a substitute for architectural design tools in the early stages of design process and traditional methods which are based on manual tools are still preferred.