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Lots of birds and lots of kayaks. (Courtesy SCAPE)
In the idealized world of architectural renderings, everything is absolutely perfect. There are no dirty windows, no rust, no clutter, no dead leaves, no mud, no rain. There are crowds, but nothing is crowded. There are cars, but there is no traffic. The scalies dropped into these polished scenes are as happy as can be—why wouldn’t they be? Every day is spent walking hand-in-hand down a boardwalk with a loved-one giggling about a Jeff Koons sculpture over there. Life is good, they think, as fireworks explode behind them. Life is good.
When you spend as much time as we do here at AN sifting through these highly-planned digital worlds, some trends start to appear over and over. Here’s a sample of what we see again and again.
Kayaking in San Francisco. (Courtesy Snohetta and AECOM)
Kayaking on Manhattan’s east side. (Courtesy WXY)
Kayaking in Minneapolis. (Courtesy Tom Leader Studio & KVA)
Kayaking along Chicago’s new riverwalk. (Courtesy Sasaki)
Kayaking in New Jersey. (Courtesy Sasaki)
Kayaking in St. Louis. (Courtesy Weiss / Manfredi)
Subtle, almost ghostly, kayaking in Denmark. (Courtesy Arkitekter)
First up: kayaks! In the real world, there are 10 people who kayak and six of them are former camp counselors named Cameron. “That’s not fair,” you might be thinking. “I kayak and I am not a former camp counselor named Cameron.” Sure, you may have gone kayaking once or twice, but that doesn’t necessarily make you a kayaker. Chances are you don’t even own a kayak. In the rendering world, you would own three and you would be in one of them right now. Renderings have a special affinity with kayaks; everybody is kayaking all the time. It’s, apparently, how these folks get around—paddling between “Market,” “Pharmacy,” and “Residential.”
Fireworks in Taipei. (Courtesy Reiser + Umemoto)
Fireworks over the Vikings Stadium in Minneapolis. (Courtesy HKS)
Fireworks behind 435 North Park in Chicago. (Courtesy Solomon Cordwell Buenz)
Fireworks above Navy Pier in Chicago. (nARCHITECTS)
Next: Fireworks. In the U.S., fireworks happen once, maybe twice, a year—on the Fourth of July and possibly New Years Eve. In the rendering world, fireworks seem to go off every day. It’s Monday, boom! It’s Tuesday, boom! The local little league team won the game, boom! Larry won the kayak regatta, boom! Boom, boom, boom. Naturally, these fireworks only occur at night—which is one of three distinct times seen in renderings. The other two are dawn and dusk—excuse me, twilight. For comparison, the real world has multiple times of day, which are broken into 24 unique hours.
Some cranes probably trying to avoid kayakers in Washington, DC. (OLIN & Weiss Manfredi)
More birds. ( Courtesy WXY and West 8)
Birds fly by one of OMA’s unbuilt works. (Courtesy OMA)
Another crane, or something like it. (Courtesy SHoP Architects)
More birds. (Courtesy BIG)
Birds and kayaks. Kayaks and birds. (Courtesy SCAPE)
Big birds at Governor’s Island. (Courtesy West 8)
Birds. Yes, renderings are crowded with birds. Typically it’s a bunch of seagulls and a crane or two to show attention to natural habitat.
Huge butterflies in Brooklyn. (Courtesy Nelson Byrd Woltz)
There are also butterflies—genetically mutated, gigantic, monster butterflies.
101 Tribeca and an impressively glowing sky. (Courtesy Kohn Pedersen Fox)
This brings us to weather. In the real world, we have something called “rain.” So that means it can “rain” in renderings too, right? Are you serious with that question? Like, are you serious? Of course there is no rain in renderings (unless outlier Bjarke Ingels opts for a thunderstorm). Instead, there are preposterously dramatic sunsets (see above.)
For the birds’ well being, the lack of weather is a very good thing—it helps them better avoid the airborne dangers in the rendered skies. The primary threat is, of course, those constant fireworks, but there is plenty to keep them on edge during dawn and twilight.
Hot air balloons in Tuscany. (Courtesy Asymptote Architecture)
Hot air balloon in St. Petersburg. (Workac)
Hot air balloon cruising by the St. Louis Arch. (Courtesy Weiss Manfredi)
Hot air balloons over the Miami Convention Center. (Courtesy BIG)
Hot Air Balloons. The chief concern for birds during the day are hot air balloons—or, as they’re known in renderings: kayaks of the sky. Scalies just love tooling around in hot air balloons. Can’t get enough of ‘em, really.
Balloons and a crane too. (Courtesy Lateral Office)
Balloons at the St. Petersburg pier. (Courtesy BIG)
Kites at Rockaway. (Courtesy Arkitekter)
A kite over the Miami Convention Center. (Courtesy BIG)
A kite at Brooklyn Bridge Park. (Courtesy Michael Van Valkenburgh)
Hot air balloons at Brooklyn Bridge Park. (Landscape by Michael Van Valkenburgh, pier by BIG)
Second to hot air balloons are regular balloons. Fun Fact: Kids in renderings are always either going to, or leaving, a birthday party where there was at least one clown. In extreme cases, when a little scalie is not invited to one of these parties, they can be found at the park with a kite. Don’t feel bad for the little one, he or she will be just fine. It’s almost twilight again and his or her parents are about to return from the water’s edge with ice cream cones and life-jackets. You know what that means, it’s time to kayak back home.
Drone over Heathrow. (Courtesy Maccreanor Lavington, Hawkins Brown and Rick Mather Architects)
But what does the future hold? Drones. Much like the real world, the rendered world could see plenty of those flying robots. They just better watch out for all of the fireworks, hot air balloons, birds, and kites. It’s a dangerous, glossy world out there.