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On Visualization

Be warned: Lots of writting ahead. At least compared with to my usual posts.

This is just something that has been runing around my head for some time and I wanted to try to write it down. Hope it makes sense to youIn her book ‘On Photography‘, Susan Sontag takes us through a journey on the meaning of photography in society, reflectiong on  how be view ‘Visualization’.

Why do we visualice things?

In general, Visualization is understood as a mental practice, it’s the process of imagining something that you want to happen… with the intention of making it happen.

And that is something that everybody does, in one way or another. Sometimes is just daydreaming, like thinking about your next Holiday when you are riding a packed train on your way to work (mental scape some would call it). Other times is giving serious though on how to propose to your significan other (and run it by your coworkers every now and then)

For me, architectural visualization is like daydreaming about projects. From interior designs to futuristic cities. You can design anything on paper. Or, you know, a screen.

lilypads vicent calebaut architects

But some people might say that Visualization is a lie. Specially in the world of architectural contests, as they say it decives the public about the reality of what would be built.

And now that we are talking about it, the same can be said about Photography ( How many times have we experienced the ‘it looked bigger in the picture‘ moment?

Well, I could get technical and start talking about how taking something that has 3 dimensions and flattening it to only 2 dimensions affects the feeling of depth (and I am not even going into the different lenses effects).

But the truth is that Photography (capital P) is about capturing a moment and taking it out of time. Is about documenting. Is about interpretation. And the truth is that buildings should not be judged by their images, they should be experienced. The representation of a building should be considered on its own.

And you know what? Good architecture can (most of the time) stand bad photos. Even the ones from google streetview (see below).


What does visualization want to tell us?

Has it photorealistic cualities? Has the maker opted for a more artistic approach? Is there a story to be told?

Architectural visualizations has been around for a few yeas now. In fact, it has been long enough for it to develop diferen stiles: The Mad Max, The Whodunit, The Gondry… are some of the few named on this article. Is not an official denomination or anything, but it really reflects the main archviz styles out there

And then there is also the fact thay before computers architects relied on architectural models to visualize their creations.


Gaudi´s Sagrada Familia inverted model

Wooden model showing a 'geometrical solution for the ... shells', Sydney Opera House, Sydney

Wooden model showing a ‘geometrical solution for the … shells’, Sydney Opera House, Sydney

What does visualization mean for the designers?

Visualization is a tool. And an end product on itself.

For me, Vizualization is about finding tha balence between design & techinical skills. Becauseit is not only about how much ‘in depth’ knowledge you have about this or that software, but about how you use that knowledge.

It is the means to an end… most of the time. There is a part of me that really enjoys the process itself. It is not about getting to the destination, but enjoying the journey. Obviouslly everyone wants to create images of the highest quality. Or maybe not, there is always the matter of your personal aesthetics.

Victor Enrich - Stitched Panorama

Victor Enrich – Stitched Panorama

(And I know that that is the most difficult part for any artist. Because a project is never finished. You just run out of time to keep working on it)
According to this, we could interpretate Architecture Visualizations as architectures that we want to see built. Or how we would like the future to look like.

And, sometimes, we even get it right.



(A lot of Architizer entries. This are the most directly refered here)

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