Send me a CD with your Project Folder
One of my dearest memories of life as a student was the day I received a letter from FOA, Foreign Office Architects.
It was an answer to an innocent email I had sent them requesting information about two rather obscure projects. Inside, there was a hand-labelled CD and more information than I could ever have dreamed of.
There before my eyes, classified by file type but with the original names, as if they’d been copied directly from the project folder, were not only specifications in .doc and images in .tiff and .jpg, but also a series of drawings in .eps and .dwg formats and 85 AutoCAD files with their accompanying .ctbs and their individual plot logs. The material covered everything from initial test facades set out in a model space (did you know that the Blue Moon Hotel was going to have a zipper façade before the one with movable vertical fins?) to installation plans and project execution details. There were also location maps, topographical charts, parking manoeuvre schematics and 3D structural models.
Considering how surprised I can be at what I find when I’m browsing through old files of projects I myself was involved in, imagine my delight at receiving such a privileged insight into a project by a well-known studio, something that went far beyond just a couple of choice images touched up with Detail. This was material of the highest quality: “raw”, editable material just asking to be studied or explained to others in my own words.
When talking about “open source architecture”, the first thing you should ask yourself is what exactly is the “source” in question. For me, that CD gave me an inkling of the answer: it’s what lets you study, modify and reproduce architecture without resorting to reverse engineering architecture: namely, the technical specifications. The project itself.
The files I received contained a large part of those specifications, but also something more. They took me on a behind-the-scenes tour of professional practice in the studio’s offices, the types of tools used, the alternatives tried and ruled out, and the project’s progression, including phases and aspects which are not usually visible.
Now imagine if, instead of sending a CD with a (perhaps unintentionally) imprudent selection of files to a scatter-brained student, a studio decided to make all that material accessible to the public online. Imagine the effect that could have on architectural knowledge, on the potential dissemination of the project, on academic studies and on the appearance of related graphic and even architectural works.
I wonder now why I never adopted the habit of requesting original editable files from all the studios I was interested in, but it’s never too late to be a little provocative
Could you please send me a CD a link to download the whole folder for one of your projects?