Representation in Architecture as Idea, Physical Model, 3D Modeling, BIM

Representation in Architecture as Idea, Physical Model, 3D Modeling, BIM

Tommaso Empler (Sapienza University of Rome, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3993-3.ch005


This chapter describes that representation in architecture has over time been evolving, moving from the concept of idea to physical model to digital model and today to BIM. Historically, from the Renaissance onwards, physical models have been used to document the project, in an effort to make the project more comprehensible to clients and more easily interpretable by those who execute it. A step to 3D modeling has been the most recent change, recording data inside a computer, where the model is made up of geometrical entities. With this advancement, each one has a precise position, size and relation to other elements. The evolution of 3D modeling led to a computer-controlled output (CAM). In order to better understand the CAD/CAM procedure, reference is made to the design path followed by Gehry, a forerunner in using this kind of procedure, from the “Barcelona” Fish to the latest work, where we can find BIM solutions. Thanks to 3D modeling and BIM, the project today has acquired a new central role, implicitly entails the need of sharing the information support (model and database) among those involved in processes affecting the whole building life cycle.
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3. The Meaning Attributed To The “Model” Starting From The Renaissance

In the Renaissance, according to De Fiore (De Fiore, 1967) the term “model” indicated a smaller scale of the final design (prepared after the sketch and study) of the work of art to be performed for a client. The “model”, in fact, was attached to the contract between the artist and the client.

Even Vasari, in his “Lives”, emphasized that the use of models was a common practice in architecture; in fact, “men of these arts called or distinguished the drawing in different ways, and according to its quality. Those that are just light touches with a pencil or other means are called sketches, as will be explained elsewhere. Those, then, with the first lines around are called profiles, surroundings or features. And all of them or profiles or otherwise thus serve to architecture and sculpture as well as to painting, but especially to architecture; therefore, drawings in architecture are made of lines. To architects, this is both the beginning and the end of such art; everything else, by means of wooden models resulting from those lines, is nothing but the work of masons and craftsmen” (Vasari, 1568).

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