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  • Writer's pictureRadomir Kobryn-Coletti

Experiments with AI Architecture

Updated: Jan 17

Right now as of early 2023, AI is all the talk of the town, from Twitter and Linkedin an ever growing flurry of excited posts about ChatGPT (OpenAI) and how it can save time coding and writing, even writing poems and short stories, to Instagram with every other person using AI generated images for their new profile pictures, created from apps such as Lensa.AI

But today I wanted to look at the Midjourney AI project which specialises in generating images, similar to that of OpenAI's DALLE 2, but in my opinion, superior.

Without going into the moral or ethical aspects of AI, I've been experimenting with the tech to imagine new futuristic visions of classical and traditional vernacular architecture and other variations on interior design that I hope will inspire.

Designers and architects alike have no excuse now not to think and visualise big and bold once again as was done in many previous eras of great building (Classical Greece/Rome, Ancient Egypt, Renaissance, 17th-20th century) but now with unlimited reign and zero requirements for producing intense, expensive renders by hand or specialist software. Not to discount the art and practice of architectural drawing by hand or hiring specialist artists for interior and exterior renders, but that the sheer fluidity from ideas to images and the democratization of the design process should now give hope to us who long for a renewal of awe inspiring architecture and design with unlimited possibilities for imagined spaces of beauty and hopefully inspiration for a future polis!

It must be said the Midjourney programme is still in its infancy, having only opened it's beta in July 2022. But to me, given the near instant creation times (less than 15 seconds) the results are extraordinary.

Finally, please note I do not endorse all of these specific aesthetics as ideals but did try to focus on the more interesting, captivating and beautiful designs. By creating these images I hope to refine my AI skills in prompting the software with the precise trigger keywords, sequences and architectural terms, creating inspiring imagined spaces.

In no particular order:

unicorn statue in a town square using Midjourney AI

classical roman city remake modern futuristic ancient roman architecture render made using Midjourney AI

statue of a deer in town square, statue of a reindeer, statue of a stag made using Midjourney AI

This design seems so iconic and perfect, a reindeer or stag atop a triumphal arch. This really needs to be done somewhere in the Alps. One fun thing about the AI here was the inclusion of green hanging beds on the balconies during winter, but we could also imagine that as mistletoe!

This is almost exactly like Bath and it would be easy to skip past, but what I loved here which was unique and extraordinary, was the monument as base to a tree, a planned decision that just blends seamlessly.

A Monegasque party worthy of Gatsbyesque envy! The lighting on this render is fabulous.

Some of the next few renders aren't particularly bold or new, but show just how perfect traditional vernacular architecture can be, untouched by modernity.

More town squares with fountains are needed in our towns and cities. Such simplicity never fails to delight, in all civilisations across the world.

Of course, many examples exist like these in Europe, but why can't the New World countries such as America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand copy this? The funds, resources and know-how are there, but the willpower and decision making process has been corrupted towards ugliness and postmodern treachery. How badly the everyday person would long for such splendour in their own suburbs. Of course the proof of this, is the costly and lengthy travel all new world citizens make back to the beautiful piazzas/plazas/place/stadtplatz's of Europe.

statue of a Moose in an american town square, made using Midjourney AI

This feels so real, and it makes one wonder, why this hasn't been done already. Vernacular North American architecture with a moose would be an absolute crowd pleaser! Not to mention rooted in identity and place.

French style (Mansard roof) port, giving a real Caribbean feel. It goes to show, even a working port or dock can be beautiful!

midjourney AI classical architecture render

A giant quasi-temple like structure high in the Alps.

render of a hotel classical architecture gothic in the mountains made using midjourney AI

This is a truly fantastic render for me, the lighting, the exaggerated yet classically based architecture. The building here has such character. Even chips in the stone. I can imagine this as a Grand Hotel at the centre of a great book/film.

futuristic gothic, neo-gothic render using AI art fantasy midjourney

Obviously we are now walking into the "futuristic" genre of fantasy architecture, but still the fundamentals are based in traditional architecture, a fusion of Gothic and Romanesque.

statue of a ship using midjourney AI software

The closest statue I have seen to this with a giant ship, is the Peter the Great in Moscow, (perhaps the AI inspiration to create this) which to be honest, is a lot more impressive than this one, but none the less a fantastic and awe inspiring idea for any town near the sea to have in their town square.

Art Deco meets futuristic Mayfair.

English Manor in the American wilderness. Does it fit? Due to the natural materials of construction, I think surprisingly so.

The use of polychrome (multiple and differing bright colours here) is a fantastic example of the style of architecture you will see on the French and Italian Riviera.

A great temple in the Pagan Classical tradition, I can imagine this as a homage to Ancient Arcadia. Knowing now that ancient temples were indeed colourful and painted, we can only begin to imagine the architectural beauty of Antiquity.

A truly majestic mountain civilisation. The remarkable backdrop gives me ideas for a few places in the world where it would be possible to build it. In Europe, the Picos de Europa come to mind, as well as the Matterhorn, Dolomites, Grindewald, Mount Ushba or Mount Koshtan Tau.

Meteora is the closest place in the real world that comes to mind when analysing this render. There's great composition with the two characters looking out and I can't imagine one would ever get tired of the views living in a city like this.

Coming back to a more 'normal' world, I asked the AI software to churn out 10 storey high city renders with Dutch/Amsterdam architecture and it's one of those styles that scales really well. We can only imagine what 'New York' would have looked like if the Dutch hadn't sold it and instead kept it as 'New Amsterdam'.

More on the Dutch theme. Now we are getting a little too modern for my liking, but mostly due to the surrounding buildings, the central building in focus is extremely tall, but without the subtle use of differing roof heights, traditional vernacular and stepping towards the peak which help to break up and soften, it would otherwise have been an overwhelmingly imposing building. In fact it's a fantastic example of how a single structure can stop being monolithic if on a theoretical level it's broken down into multiple smaller buildings, as we see from the front angle at least 5 separate parts (3 at the base layer) and 2 on top, instead of viewing one giant block. If all 20-30 storey buildings stuck to these principles, I think the megapolises of the world would be a lot more charming and liveable.

I feel we might have added a new capital to the classical language! Inspired by the owl, I can see what might be described as two owl eyes amongst a series of intricate mouldings on a fluted column.

Once again the owl perches in majesty. I thought the building to the right was a fantastic mix of Venetian and Art Nouveau on the bel étage.

Another Stag/Reindeer statue which I think just fits majestically into the setting. Again, I'm surprised why we don't see more monuments like this. Plenty of lions in Europe but not enough of other great animals!

Some interiors exist like this facing the ocean and still exist in the world, but they are rare.

Tropical French. This urbanism of wrought iron, terraces and balconies is seen to a lesser extent in Paddington and inner Sydney, a perfectly suited vernacular to warmer weather.

If this strikes you as somewhat Middle Eastern with the many Domes, just remember that it was the Romans who invented them!

I find the winding path to the house filled with intrigue and mystery. This illustration would fit perfectly amongst A Series of Unfortunate Events. There is a slight eeriness to the property, an indeed dark yet magical Second Empire style cliffside mansion.

In the next series of renders I'm playing with the turn of the century styles, Art Nouveau, Queen Anne, Victorian, Second Empire and Beaux-Arts.

Though not quite a fantasy compared to the rest, I had to include this Hampton's render for how simple yet elegant the contrast of white and dark teal/turquoise painted timber, flowerbeds, steep pitched roofs, decorative awnings, ample and generous fenestration and of course, walkable streets with outdoor shaded seating.

A rich and deeply romantic imagination of a Spanish/French Art Nouveau city corner. The iron latticework and painted façade really says it all.

The future should still include the use of natural materials!

Paris-Revival is never a bad idea.

I really enjoyed all of this redo of an Ancient Roman city, except for the giant blocks at the top. Not sure why the AI placed them there. Something out of 2001 a Space Odyssey.

Giant monumental futuristic city, elements of Ancient Egypt and Rome in here.

A canal city with more Spanish style architecture.

More futuristic mountain top architecture.

Hilariously gargantuan Parisian corner block, reminded me of the warping Paris scenes in the film Inception. It feels like something out of Dahli painting. A slight surrealist twist to say the least.

Finally, an ornate more Classical Roman take on a canal based city.

Article by Radomir Kobryn-Coletti

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