If there are two things that architects like to talk about they would have to be CAD packages and Project Homes. CAD because we use it day after day. We discuss which ones we use, why Microstation is better than ArchiCAD, why ArchiCAD is easier than Microstation, why Vectorworks is akin to finger painting. Project homes, because the sprawl is like some hideous disease that we feel powerless to stop. Why don’t the masses see the lovely renders we produce in Microstation and want an architect on board? What are they thinking? How could they possibly think that they need a four car garage and a media room? Have they not seen the house of the future? Been on a white tour?
How could the drawings we architects produce be so divorced from the five bedroom behemoth of suburbia?
Enter the Sims 2. This is the CAD package of the masses and is responsible in a large degree for the mayhem. If you think this is a long bow to draw, consider that the Sims is the largest selling computer game of all time. The first Sims game sold 24 000 000 units in three years and the Sims 2 sold 1 000 000 copies in its first ten days on sale. How many people went on the AAA white tours this year? I could be wrong, but my guess is it was about 14.
Due to the sheer weight of numbers using the Sims and the probability that we will all be using it ourselves to draw up our dream homes in the near future, we here feel it is appropriate to look at it in some further detail.
It is clear that this CAD program can be used for Evil Hip Roofed purposes but what if I wanted to design a modern masterpiece? Surely this is a reasonable request. Someone has made a Mood House using the Sims so could it, for example, be used to create the Farnsworth House?
The Sims 2 Experiment
To begin, the Sims offers a clean, neat interface for designing your site of domestic bliss. There are tools for creating footings, walls, floors, windows, doors, roofs – all things a house needs. Mies, if confronted with such an interface would have felt right at home. Constructing the Farnsworth House was relatively easy using the Sims 2 and as you can see from the screenshot below, an uncanny facsimile of the house was produced within hours.
Granted there were a few difficulties in making Mies’ dream in glass and steel a reality but these were overcome without too great a compromise and if if you squint a little could even be seen as an improvement on the original.
The first setback was that there is no column tool in the Sims 2 so we had to make do with short blade walls. I think you will agree that lightness of the structure has been maintained and that the roof still seems to float on a wall of glass. Of course it is also not possible to construct glass walls so they had to be made out of a series of sliding glass patio doors. The effect is the identical and it is well documented that had Mies not been such a tightass he would have done the same.
The major hurdle lay in constructing the flat roof. The Sims 2 comes with a wide variety of hipped and gable roofs but flat roofs are fare more difficult. It is possible to make a flat roof but it seems that there is some kind of software engineer that won’t let you cantilever AT ALL. So if you want a flat roof it has to sit on top of the exterior wall with no overhang at all. Obviously this a problem. It was overcome by constructing a set of walls as a kind of formwork, laying the roof over the top and then deleting the walls. The roof seemed to stay up and seemed to be flat.
Where the Sims 2 comes into its own as a CAD program is in the ability to simulate how the client will live their lives in their new abode. As such a group of six hot blonde lesbians were sent to live in the finished Farnsworth House.
They were a little confused about there being only one bed but they seemed to like it at first. but they did seem to like hanging out on the deck and juggling bottles.
After a while they tired of living a simple modern life and they craved the new electronic medias.
Then they began sleeping on the floor. I guess this is because there is only one bed, an oversight on behalf of Mies as I am sure that pleasing six hot blondes would have been high on his Things To Do list.
Overall I would be happy to use the Sims 2 as a CAD program, its easy to use interface and limited options would make life as an architect far more streamlined. Modelling the Farnsworth House has proven that Modernist Masterpieces are not the sole domain of the drawing board and the ability of The Sims to accurately simulate how six blonde babes would occupy the Farnsworth House takes it a step beyond regular CAD programs.