By Keshiv Sudera

Gift Ideas for Architects

Whether you can’t wait for Christmas or you’re a modern day Ebeneezer Scrooge, the time of year has arrived for you to dedicate much of your time – and more often than not, hard earned cash – on deciphering Christmas lists and buying presents for the closest people in your life. In the unfortunate circumstance that one of these people happens to be an architect (or architectural student for that matter!) you know how much of a nightmare this process can be!

Architects are seen as elusive, mysterious people; up all hours, talking in technical jargon and with an –bordering on obsessive- eye for detail and quality, which makes buying presents for these characters even harder to buy for. Below, the staff here at Design Studio Architects have put together a list of some of the most interesting and inventive gifts to make Santa that little bit less stressed this Christmas:


  1. Wacom Inkling

wacom inkling – £94.22


The Wacom Inkling is an amazing little device that you can clip onto a notebook to capture your notes or drawings. This gadget comes with a ballpoint pen (although a very fancy one) that incorperates a digital transmitter which interacts with the base receiver  on the paper to record all of your penstrokes. These penstrokes are then converted into a digital linework that can be edited in most editing suites.

  1. Portabee GO

Portabee GO – $595


Introducing the new Portabee digital printer!

This 3d printer comes in a small form with an outer of milled aluminium. The most amazing part about this little machine is that it’s completely portable, self – containing and self – levelling! To use, you simply remove it from its cover, twist the arm into position, hand tighten it into place and let it work out the horizontal for itself! No more altering the bed angle and awkward changing and tightening of multiple parts. Its limits are your own creativity!

  1. Leap Motion

leap motion€89.99


Ever wanted to feel like tony stark? Be able to pick up digital objects in the virtual world with your own physical hands? Or do you just fancy playing virtual tetris?

Leap motion has entered V2; with better programming and more fluid application, the Leap Motion tracks your hand and converts the movement of external objects into digital movement on your computer, this can be used for flying around in google maps or real work implications like handling 3d objects in Autodesk programmes such as Maya.

  1. Magicplan App

magic plan 1magic plan 2

Android & Apple Appstore – free!


Magicplan is developing quickly and the idea behind it is a sound one. By standing in the centre of a room and taking photos of the corners and door openings your phone can draw a rough plan of a room in a few minutes. Combined with a laser measurer you can produce incredibly accurate plans in exceptionally quick times.


  1. 5.       Ostrichpillow

ostrich pillow  £65


You know the scenario: Huge project, no time. The makers of the Ostrichpillow have decided to make your nights in the studio somewhat more comfortable. At the point at which you need to –metaphorically- stick your head in the ground and wish the world away, this gift will be a godsend. With openings for your head and hands, the pillow gives you a place to catch up with some sleep when you don’t have a bed around.

  1. XS – Big ideas, Small Buildings

XS  £15 The world needs to read more books. This book is one of a series by Phyllis Richardson and Lucas Dietrich on – you guessed it – small buildings. This books explains the theories and concepts behind some these beautifully designed spaces from Thomas Heatherwicks sitooterie to a cantilevered pod in the Alps.


  1. Black Turtle Neck

black turtleneck  – £14


The black turtleneck is synonymous with the designer. No one knows why. Rem Koolhaas wore a black turtle neck, Steve Jobs wore a Black turtleneck. I want a black turtleneck. To complete the look grab yourself some circular or keyhole glasses and you’re in business.


  1. 5x5x5 rubics cube

rubiks 5x5  – £19.99×5

So you think you’re good at solving puzzles? Maybe you’re a Rubik’s cube king? You should try the 5x5x5 Rubik’s cube for that extra mental test.  Like the original, only harder.

  1. Steep  – TBA

steep coffemug


This handy little mug is as beautiful in aesthetics as its purpose: to keep your hot drink of choice warm. An all ceramic mug with a hand dipped glaze, the Steep won’t make your tea taste strange like other metallic flasks. And with a screw on top, even when you get called out on a survey, you can take your drink in a container as classy as unique as you feel.

  1. Senz Smart Umbrella

senz umbrella – £24.95


Whether you’re out on a survey or just walking to work; when it starts raining the worst thing that can happen is the wind picking up and breaking your barrier to the elements. The slick Senz umbrella is windproof up to 70mph, will never go in-side out and with strengthened, silver ABS and Evafoam grip, the handle will be as sturdy and the canopy.

Joe Jeacock,

On behalf of Design Studio Architects.

Contact telephone number:

0116 2510 606

The Impact Of 3D Printing On The Architectural Industry (Part II)

What Impact Could 3D Printing Have On The Architect?

The job of Architect has remained a popular, albeit underpaid profession over the years whilst skilled tradesmen such as carpenters and stonemasons have dwindled in numbers. A study of over 300,000 small businesses by Simply Business indicate that, the number of joiners has dropped by around 17 percent in the last three years and “Numerous other trades such as builders, carpenters and painter/decorators, have also seen their numbers decrease”, (Simply Business, 2013).

This depreciation is largely due to the increased speed and mass scale at which items, such as furniture, can be produced using automated machinery. Large companies, such as Ikea are able to afford large scale manufacturing equipment allowing them to mass produce flat pack furniture which is easy to assemble and a fraction of the cost of what a carpenter might charge for his work.

Architect, NeriOxman argues that 3D printing could give power back to the trades people providing them with the ability to compete with the mass production capabilities of large companies, “craft meets the machine in rapid fabrication…we can generate craft with the help of technology”(Oxman, 2013).

As noble as Oxman’s views are if we consider her argument in relation to the development of 3D printing within architecture, rather than, ‘generating craft with … technology’, she is actually striving for a technological takeover which could see the destruction of architectural ‘craft’.

Unfortunately, rather than giving any form of craft back to the architect, there is a risk that automation may cause the job of the architect to go much the same way of the carpenter. When machines like Bertram’s are common place within the architectural industry, they will be able to mass produce buildings in much the same way Ikea mass produces furniture.

There is already a demand for cheap efficient housing. If construction firms like Mansell bought enough of Sebastian Bertram’s Contour Crafter’s (CC), and started their own housing construction companies, this could put the role of the architect under threat. In theory, a company could hire its own small team of architects or designers who could then produce 3D models of housing designs which could be sent to the companies CC machines for printing on site. Taking advantage of the massively reduced labour costs and rapid fabrication attributed to the use of Contour Crafters, companies could drive the price of houses down so low that an architect could simply not afford to compete. This is the antithesis of what Oxman was trying to argue in the first place.

Despite its many limitations, the rapid nature of this new construction process does create numerous opportunities for architects, especially in attempting to solve the global problem of a lack of social housing. It has already been identified that CC’s like Bertram’s can mass produce housing very quickly, and due to the lack of labour involved, at a cost which is affordable to be used as social housing.

Being able to produce structural, efficient houses in days rather than months or years would hugely benefit those without homes. This could be as simple as helping the social housing problem faced by those in the UK or it could be the answer to more complex issues such as, providing quick accommodation to victims of natural disasters.

Throughout history, every manufacturing industry to date has seen automated machinery revolutionise their trade. Now, thanks to pioneers like Sebastian Bertram, it’s the architectural industries turn to face the revolution.

The Impact Of 3D Printing On The Architectural Industry (Part I)

Introduction To 3D Printing Within The Industry.

Since the industrial revolution the world’s industry has been racing toward a future of complete automation from the creation of the conveyor belt system through to the introduction of robotics into vehicle manufacture.


With automated machinery dominating almost every modern manufacturing process, pioneers in automated design have spent the last 3 decades developing and refining the “3D Printer”, a device which would allow any object to be printed from whatever material is inputted in the machine.


Until recently, the construction industry has been dominated by tooling machines that drill or cut away material to create standardised elements such as PVC windows and doors. This is a subtractive process rather like a sculptor might carve a statue out a solid piece of marble. Building construction should be a more human process of building up blocks to create a space designed by an architect. Whilst using standardised elements may have sped up the construction industry, it has limited architect’s scope for design, creating catalogues of elements which are easier and cheaper to choose from than to design bespoke.

3D printing is a form of ‘additive manufacturing’, adding materials together in a layer system, which differs greatly from traditional ‘subtractive’ manufacturing techniques allowing architects to be far more creative in their design whilst still achieving the same cheap build cost, and even quicker construction time than if they had used standardised materials.

How Could 3D Printers Be Used Within Architecture?

In the future, 3D printing technologies could allow architects to “bypass time consuming pre-production stages by fabricating physical models from the data within a ‘solid-model’ CAD file” (Callicott, 2001). Rather than spending hours reproducing models of building designs, 3D printers would allow quick fabrication of scaled down models, precise to the specification of the technical drawings. Having been translated from architectural drawings, the level of detail within the physical models would make it far easier for the architects to identify what worked within the building’s design and what did not. Furthermore, since a 3D printed model would be a purely scaled down fabrication of 3D CAD drawings the same drawings could potentially be printed at 1:1 scale to construct an entire building.


The ability to print buildings at 1:1 may sound fraught with difficulties but German designer, Sebastian Bertram, believes he has managed to design a 3D printer, combined with robotics, which has the ability to print buildings out of concrete. “The robot “prints” contours of a building shell layer by layer using fast-drying concrete. Within just a couple of weeks, an entire estate could be produced” (Turner, 2012). Bertram’s machines have been dubbed ‘contour crafters’ as they ‘print contours’ of buildings as opposed to layers of objects. The project itself is named “One house a day” (Dehue, 2012), The diagram below displays stills taken from a video created by Mr Bertram outlining the way his Contour Crafters will eventually work.