The Decreasing Fortune of the Drawing in the Architectural Processes: From Control and Development to Verification

The Decreasing Fortune of the Drawing in the Architectural Processes: From Control and Development to Verification

Marco Carpiceci (Sapienza University of Rome, Italy) and Fabio Colonnese (Sapienza, University of Rome, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0680-5.ch007
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The architecture survey and the architecture design are both processes that move along the line that links a building to an exhaustive system of its representations but in the two opposite senses. The survey is concerning the knowledge of an existing architecture while the design is defining a whole building from a single original mental image. Both the processes historically adopted the drawing as the main instrument to control and develop the key actions and transmit the final product. The introduction of innovative technologies such as laser scanner and BIM has broken this practice and drawing seems today relegated to a secondary posthumous verification role while assemblage and data-base logics are threatening the continuous flow between mind, eyes and hand the drawing had been assuring for centuries. This chapter analyzes current practices of both survey and design to highlight their limits, equivoques, and risks.
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In all of processes of comprehension and creation, the physical flow of data transmission between the brain and the tabula is fundamental: such a flow must be performed by maintaining as much as possible the contact between the elements that compose it. Think about the relationship between thinking and writing on a sheet of paper: writing is to trace signs that do not represent directly mental images but analogic constructs of words belonging to a language of signs referred to a shared code. This type of procedural connection formed on the experience of writing with sticks in the wax as well a quill pen on paper, and has been guaranteed in the recent past by both old typewriters and WYSIWIG word processing software. Although after school experiences, the intensive use of word processors gradually make the body forget the memory of fingers movement required for writing every single character, endorsing all of them to the same “push-the-button” either on the keyboard or the monitor icon, the process of development and translation of thought into words keeps its tenets and ensures a continuous flow.

One often does not realize how a drawing is able to describe what the “third eye”, the eye of the mind, “sees”. While drawing, retinal images from the outside world constantly mingle together images coming from one’s brain. The stimuli of photons between 400 and 700 nm that are perceived by cones and rods in the retina, are composed and confused through neuronal contacts. Along the optic nerves such “messages” partially cross in the chiasm, come to the lateral geniculate nuclei after the decussation and from there they spread on the cerebral cortex. An army of electrical discharges that constantly affects our brain: that is the process of view (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

The brain and the eyes

Source: M. Carpiceci, 2014

But the perceived images are literally “built” by the observers with the unaware contribution of their “third eye”. What does a woman see as she is reading a novel? Does she see the rows of Times Roman or Garamond characters, or rather she sees the scene the protagonist is performing, with specific light, environment, people and feelings? Does she see the color of the book pages as time passes, shading from a cool white to gray, pink, blue, and up to midnight blue. No, she does not, because she sees and feels with her mind’s eye. And when she is reading a text she is not interested in, her mind tears away from the flow of impressions suggested by the text and follows other thoughts and images. As her mind gets back to reality, she realizes she does not remember a word for her mind has built no image from those “boring” sentences.

Similarly, when someone who’s drawing something simple, is told a story by a close person, she literally “sees” the characters described, their movements, the atmosphere, and the environment in which they are immersed, but she does not see the repetitive lines she is simultaneously tracing. She is not affected by a sudden “blindness”, like in Saramago’s homonyms novel, but her mind prefers to “see” other than the retinal input.

The man who observes an object for the first time in his life is brought to overlap its “meaningless” image with something “meaningful” taken from the archive of forms and labels pigeonholed into his memory. This process promotes a quick understanding and the resolution of doubts raised by watching and is another consequence of the observer’s attitude to see with the mind’s eye. Otherwise, why should he look at a red ball of light as it moves across an area ranging in color from blue-turquoise to orange until it hides behind a blue zone? Because the “third eye” calls it a “sunset” and a sunset evokes images, stories, smells, sounds, feelings, and meanings that the simple retinal image does not convey.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Third Eye: (Or Mind’s Eye) refers to one’s ability to visualize things within the mind often beyond what the eyes can actually see.

Architecture Survey: An open system of both visual and textual documents recording a built environment as well as the historical processes that produced it.

WYSIWYG: “What You See Is What You Get” acronym qualifies editor in which the visual content shown onscreen is strictly corresponding to its either printed or displayed final form.

Interface: A device allowing the univocal interaction between an operator and a system of production.

Architecture Design: A system of prescriptive visual and textual documents able to orchestrate and guide the construction of a building.

BIM: Building Information Modeling is a shared knowledge resource using digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a building to control all of its life.

IT Management: The discipline whereby all of the information technology resources of a firm like machines and operators are managed in accordance with its needs and priorities.

LiDAR: This combination of words “light” and “radar” – commonly supposed to be an acronym of Light Detection And Ranging – is for a remote sensing technology that measures distance by illuminating a target with a laser and analyzing its reflectance emissions.

Drawing: As an integral part of thinking, drawing is a critical selection of elements and the visualization of their both formal and relational values through signs and symbols.

GUI: Opposed to text-based interfaces, a GUI or Graphical User Interface allows operators to interact with devices through graphical icons and visual indicators.

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