Architectural Representation and the Perspective Hinge | Alberto Perez-Gomez

The relationship between the architectural representation and its intended product — a building — has undergone a profound transformation over the centuries.

Architectural Representation and the Perspective Hinge by Alberto Perez-Gomez | MIT Press, 2000

Before the age of modern technology, the systematically predictive role of architectural drawing so taken for granted today was less dominant in the evolution from architectural idea to built work. The age of computer-aided design has brought with it a stricter standard of fidelity. However, contemporary architecture need not simply accept the inevitability of a technological imperative.

This book demonstrates that representation is never a neutral tool or mere picture of a future building. Writing from inside the discipline of architecture, rather than from the more common extrapolations from the history of painting and philosophy, Alberto Perez-Gomez and Louise Pelletier focus on the implications of the tool of perspective (and the hegemony of vision) for architectural representation. Their primary thesis is that tools of representation have a direct influence on the conceptual development of projects and generation of forms, and that there are alternatives to the reductive working methods of most contemporary practice.

The book examines textual evidence across a broad historical period, concentrating on the relationship between drawing and architectural space in the period from the seventh to the twentieth century. To understand and evaluate the place of vision in the Western architectural tradition, the book includes a general introduction to optics in antiquity and the Middle Ages and addresses the question of the evolution of linear perspective. This is not, however, a general history of perspective. The book discusses such issues as optical correction and the nature of architectural drawing in selected treatises, revealing the complexity and potential contradiction inherent in any linear history of representation. The authors’ ultimate aim is to probe the possibilities of the constructed world–that is, architecture–as a poetic translation, rather than prosaic transcription, of its representations.

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