Wednesday, March 25, 2009

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.

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