Military commanders and architects are, in one key respect, on the opposite ends of the same spectrum.
Some have said that warfare is all about creating and destroying infrastructure: all the systems that make the opponent’s civilization function. This means bridges, power plants, airports, communications, etc. An army may destroy a bridge over a river only to see its opponents rapidly construct a pontoon bridge replacement.
While this is a very narrow way of looking at war, it certainly holds some truth. Where do architects fit in? Architecture is the final link of the infrastructure chain: buildings plug into all the all the water, electricity, transportation, food, and communications systems we operate. While an architect figures out how a building will fulfill social, economic, and cultural functions, a general will figure out how to most rapidly destroy or protect the infrastructure underneath it.
I’m always reminded of this dichotomy whenever I see a military tool with immediate architectural applications. Both architects and generals benefit from rapidly understanding a landscape, whether its for battles or buildings. The U.S. Army recently revealed its ARES prototype, an augmented reality tool that can rapidly digitize and visualize a miniature landscape. Read on to see what architects could do with this tool and how it highlights the difference between an architect and a general.
Top Image: The ARES, via youtube.