ME HERE, THEM THERE, ME THERE, WE HERE.

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Subtitle: SOME APPLICATIONS FOR CONVENTIONS OF ARCHITECTURAL REPRESENTATION IN THE RECOGNITION OF INFORMAL VALUES.

Contributor list: Patel S, Steyn S

Publication year: 2019

Start page: 120

End page: 128

Number of pages: 9


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Abstract

Axonometric drawings combine many of the qualities and potentials of the most powerful conventional architectural representations — plan, section, and perspective. After a brief unpacking of the ways in which those conventions are wielded by critics, students and practitioners of architecture in order to represent and understand sites and their content, some potentials particular to the axonometric drawing is explored through analysis of studio-based projects undertaken in the first year of a two-year post-graduate programme in architecture at the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria, South Africa.

The Department of Architecture at the Tshwane University of Technology is a department on the periphery of a campus, on the periphery of a city, on the periphery of the international political imagination. The project through which some of the potentials of axonometric drawing will be described is a student project focused on a ‘creative mapping’ of Boom Street in Pretoria. This street, only a few hundred metres from the university entrance, is in places very poor, often informal, and highly complex. The students, researchers and tutors tasked with studying this street are almost invariably members of the relatively generic international bourgeoisie who are identified by their presence and participation in global (English) media environments. When we engage with our immediate geographical surroundings, in other words, we are engaging with the radically different. It is therefore necessary to look critically and with substantial rigour at the lenses through which we approach such politically sensitive sites.

In this paper it is argued that the visual complexity of axonometric drawings allows students to access new knowledge about the complex urban environment within which they are working. These drawings serve as mechanisms in the production of empathy since they combine the ‘other’ of the architectural section with the self of the architectural plan. And while perspectives produce points of view, axonometric projections can be constructed from combinations of visual documentation and interviews. As such, axonometric techniques effectively produce interviews as a means to access values present, but often invisible, in complex informal sites. In doing so, they create opportunities for new bonds to form between the haves and the have-nots — “us” and “them” — within urban contexts, particularly within informal settings in the Global South.


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