Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Project activities

On September 2006 we submitted a proposal to the FCT Call for the funding of R&D projects. Our project was named “Computational Implementation of an Extended Perspective System”, since the EPS concept was then newly formulated. Despite the evaluation mark was “Good”, we couldn’t get funding to start on, what disappointed the team but didn’t broke our conviction on the project’s feasibility and relevance. So, we decided to review our global strategy on the project and to gradually build a more mature proposal to the next FCT call. Meanwhile, we kept the sustaining research and provided opportune publicity both to the EPS concept and to the overall purpose of its implementation in graphical representation procedures.

Presentations in scientific events

September 2007 - 25th eCAADe International Conference, Frankfurt

July 2007 - V International Conference of Mathematics & Design, Blumenau

Presentations in institutional events

November 2007 – 3as Jornadas de Inovação da ADI, FIL, Lisboa

November 2007 – 2º Fórum Missão Exportar da AIP, CCL, Lisboa

Confined presentations

January 2008 - Meeting with YDreams’ CEO and staff members, Lisboa

YDreams is a leading company in the area of the emerging digital and computational technologies. This meeting was a valuable opportunity to present our project and to hear their impressions and advices regarding development and strategic options. Moreover, as a result of this approach, the CEO António Câmara became a consultant of our project on the present candidacy to the FCT call.


25th eCAADe International Conference Proceedings

V International Conference of Mathematics & Design Proceedings

2007 UTL/OTIC Catalogue

UTL wellspring inventions database:

Project abstract

The activities and expected results of this research project will respectively address and improve the role of perspective in graphical representation of space. The main area of interest is architectural and urban design drawing, its education as well as its practice, to which we intend to bring a fresh contribution by means of a new didactical approach and an improved computational working tool.

A major concern of this team is the way drawing procedures are influential to spatial reasoning and to the decision-taking along design processes. Drawing, either manual or computational, while a means to turn explicit and visible the architects’ ideas and creations, is strongly sustained by the geometry science of representation. Perspective views, by depending on the viewer location towards the objects, express an identity of them that is variable by definition: their visual configuration. Here, the rules of the graphical representation system are directly challenged to match spatial visual perceptions. Yet, every representation is incomplete compared to the complexity of visual perception, so a set of graphical responses as diverse as possible is desirable to perform complementarily.

Linear perspective is a prevalent system, regarding the production of figurations that intend to simulate the direct visual appearance of things. But, despite its effectiveness, it remains basically a code, a set of conventional rules with several limitations. It cannot deal with large fields of view in which raised distortions will, at the limit, compromise the recognition of the represented objects. Alternative curvilinear systems – cylindrical and spherical perspectives – much less known and hardly used, can overcome this difficulty. These systems can graphically translate the result of a viewer’s sight in motion, conveying a sense of dynamic vision, although at the cost of bending the represented straight lines. The three systems - linear, cylindrical and spherical perspectives - despite being distinct theoretical builds do fulfill complementary roles, in terms of representational capabilities.

Architects’ drawing activities, nowadays, merge manual and computational procedures. Although being necessarily sustained on the geometry science, architects’ freehand drawings often escape from its theoretical corset, by hybridizing the representation systems or spontaneously disrespecting its graphical rules. Especially, the presence of graphic lines’ curving in many architects’ perspective sketches seems to suggest a tendency towards a flexible and dynamical visual thinking over the strict geometric rules of linear perspective, which would imperatively keep lines’ straightness. Computational drawing allows the interactive and dynamical manipulation of parameters that has so much improved the previewing and display of architectural concepts and proposals. Particularly, perspective visualization has been turned into an experimental and real-time interactive experience, where dynamical depictions also counterpoint and feedback the reasoning. But the appropriation of perspective science by current CAAD systems is restricted to linear perspective, dismissing alternatives that could enrich computational drawing.

Previous research work by members of the team, engaged on a critical review and a systemic approach to the issue of perspective, resulted in the formulation of a new representational system, called Extended Perspective System (EPS). It gathers the previous perspective systems in a unified theoretical build, stating them just as boundary states inside a broader dynamical system that contains an unlimited set of new in-between states. The result is a significant increase in the variety of perspectival figurations and, therefore, the enhancement of perspective capability to constitute a graphical response to direct spatial perception. The EPS concept is inherently appropriate to perform in a computational environment, since it is based mainly on the idea of a mutable and parametrical projection surface that is to be manipulated by the user, interactively and with real time feedback display of graphical results. The EPS implementation shall provide kinds of perspective representations that are more inclusive, by visually gathering more spatial information, thus expectedly helping on the conceptual cycles of analysis, evaluation and decision.

At this stage, we can suppose the EPS concept shall create a further involvement of geometry science with the plasticity of freehand drawing and sketching. As a key milestone to achieve, the computational implementation of the EPS will attain the specific tasks related to analysis, evaluation and concluding on the system repercussion in the practice and didactics of conceptual drawing. Strategically, this team is a diversified group of researchers, which knowledge and competences comprehend the areas of Drawing, Geometry, Architecture, Mathematics and Computation, as the objectives require an interdisciplinary approach and scope.

Project presentation

On February 6th this year, a proposal was submitted to the 2008 FCT Call for Research & Technologic Development projects.

It was entitled:
A New Approach on Architectural Drawings Integrating Computer Descriptions

So, NAADIR turned out to be a nice nickname to the project.

NAADIR is a team research project that aims to bring developments to the field of the science and techniques of graphical representation of space. Namely, perspectival drawing is our main subject of interest and regard.

Our team's researchers:
Luís António dos Santos Romão
Ana Paula Boler Cláudio
José Vítor de Almeida Florentino Correia
Manuel Jorge Rodrigues Couceiro da Costa
Maria Beatriz Duarte Pereira do Carmo
Maria Teresa Caeiro Chambel
Susana Maria Gouveia Rosado Ganhão
Susana Martins de Oliveira

Our team’s consultants:
António da Nóbrega de Sousa da Câmara
Carlos Manuel Ribeiro Albuquerque
José Manuel Pinto Duarte

What’s new in our approach?

We will tackle the perspective issue grounding on a previous overall critical review of its common theoretical principles and practical procedures, within geometry science. This review somehow was an exercise which consisted on putting perspective “in perspective” and resulted in the formulation of a broader concept of perspective: the EPS – Extended Perspective System. This is a systemic approach where the restricted set of present perspective systems (linear perspective and curvilinear perspectives) is gathered along with an unlimited set of new in-between perspective systems that coherently link the former ones. The result can be characterized as being a “global perspective system”, where each and every particular perspective system is attainable through the manipulation of the parametrical qualities now assigned to the projection surface.

A specific technical achievement of the EPS is to hybridize the present perspective systems and, therefore, to produce perspectival figurations that reduce the impact of the graphical features of both linear and curvilinear perspectives on visual perception that cause a sense of incongruence or less visual credibility. At a more general level, the EPS turns perspective a more responsive and versatile graphical translation of the direct visual appearance of things, as it becomes more inclusive of different representational codes.

So, the novelty of our approach is that we will start with a redefinition of the subject at the core of our research theme: perspective. Moreover, with this “fresh matter” we will try to sustain that rigorous perspectives, full of geometry science of representation, can come closer to hand drawn perspectives, which have an innate plasticity that matches and expresses an ongoing visual thinking. That’s for NAADIR project to analyze and conclude.

Why the focus on architectural drawings?

Architectural perspective hand drawings are surely the more spontaneous depictions of space envisioning that are simultaneously driven by the knowledge of the geometry science of representation. Therefore, those drawings constitute a major expression of how visual perception clues and acquired graphical representation codes interact in real-time.

One aspect that moves our attention towards these drawings is that they don’t ever loose their figurative role, namely their capability of visually calling the viewer to the depicted scene, but don’t eager to be fully graphically correct, in terms of geometric delineation. Architects apply the fundamental principles of linear perspective that turn their drawings basically effective to any viewer’s eyes: convergence of lines to vanishing points and foreshortening. But then, lines flow at ease, become stretched or bent, in a graphical discourse where genuine visual estimation seems to prevail over the conventional constraints of the rigorous geometric system of representation. Since architects are trained on linear perspective and know its overall geometrical rules, but spontaneously and freely choose to partially disrespect them in practice, those drawings gain a paradoxical condition: they are scientifically “wrong” although strongly fulfill their function, which is to help generate and communicate fundamental ideas and concepts about architecture.
On the other hand, present computer generated perspectives, which are geometrically accurate, generally don’t get the architects’ preference as the primary means to turn visible early ideas on a design process.

When it comes to associate drawing with spatial reasoning and creation, a more visual and flexible condition of perspective is desirable and apparently inevitable. We believe the EPS concept, as geometry science of representation, is a move forward in that direction, so the NAADIR project, within this focus on architectural drawings, has in its goals: to demonstrate the system’s enhancement of rigorous linear perspective usefulness, at an operational level, and to evaluate the efficacy of the system’s theory in the didactics of hand drawing to architecture students.

Which will be the role of the computer descriptions?

The computational implementation of linear perspective, in current 3D vectorial drawing software, greatly simplified and fastened the production of rigorous perspectival depictions and so visibly increased the use of this representational manner in all stages of the design processes.

However, the algorithmic rendition of this particular geometry science became essentially an automation of the operational procedures that have guided perspective drawing for centuries. That is to say, till now and regarding perspective, the synergy between computers and geometry has had simply a quantitative effect in the output: with the use of software, we can do much faster and, consequently, much more of the very same perspectives we could do without it. So, one can be thankful to the computerization of perspective, but not dazzled: it is incomplete.

With NAADIR project, a further expectation is put on computational perspective drawing. Perspective science already was, before now, a knowledge more diversified than just the prevalent linear perspective system, so it should be embraced by present computational systems as a whole. From now on, we believe this mission is even more significant, taking into account the Extended Perspective System’s capabilities. As a major task to achieve in our project, the build of a computational prototype of the EPS will permit evaluation and validation complementary tasks and, expectedly, allow us to bring some light on the issue of the computers’ ability to perform closer to the unaided hand that draws.