Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Perspective - One Point Perspective - Exterior Elevations

The simplest way to create a one point perspective is to imagine an extruded shape. The modern world is full of extrusions, from a simple brick to an office tower.

The illustration above is of a single story house with flat roofs on either side of a gabled entry hall. If the front elevation is on the same plane the perspective layout is finished. If there are setbacks in the elevation, then more extruding will be necessary to move parts forward or backward.

This technique is elaborated in this view of St. Marylebone Church in London from 1816. The church itself is little more than an elevation, while the surrounding buildings extrude back to the vanishing point behind the church. The windows and ornament on the sides of these buildings were probably worked out by eye.

The above Bridge over Railway by C.G. Hullard (1852) is a simple elevation with minimal tweaks to suggest depth. Since the Beaux Arts design has little depth seen from this angle, minor extrusions and strategic shadows are enough to introduce three dimensional reality.

 Suur Merijoki by Eliel Saarinen (1903) takes an elevation of a church door, and by pulling the flanking stones and steps forward, puts the viewer in the space. It is more complicated than simple extrusion, but the basics of one point are there.

This view of Workers Housing by Henri Sauvage & Charles Sarazin (1909)shows how powerful a one point perspective layout can be.

Antonio Sant'Elia’s 1913 Cite Nuova utilizes the driving force of a symmetrical one point. The Futurist architect was playing with industrial forms, and the linear thrust of modern transportation. I always found it amazing that he made the mark he did before dying at age 28.

Durham Cathedral as sketched by Kenneth Conant, the architect, archaeologist and historian, is an example of receding planes. The front elevation of the cathedral is given life by shallow rendered shadows. The rest of the building recedes and shifts off center to suggest distance. I don’t know if this drawing was worked from a layout, but it is too nice to ignore.

I have always thought Corbusier’s drawings were cartoonish at best, but this perspective of Une Ville Contempraine is a perfect example of one point extrusion. The depth of the towers might be off, and the pilot of that plane should be arrested, but the project is illustrated simply and effectively.

This view of Chateau Blerancourt by Samuel Chamberlain is a site sketch, and so not an example of a layout. However, it has all the elements of a successful one point exterior perspective. Although the shadows provide the major sense of depth, the receding side of the left pavilion and the repeating gate silhouette in the distance are necessary to the effect.

This rendering of Bush House in London is unusual for HughFerriss. He generally utilized the more dynamic two point perspective, but in this case he squeezes plenty of drama out of an otherwise static layout.

Whereas Ferriss’s work is loose and dramatic, Paul Rudolph’s renderings tend to be crisp and clean. His Callahan House is almost an iconic example of one point extrusion. Each of the boxes is a rectangle stretched back to the same vanishing point. Sterility is avoided by surrounding the house with abstracted trees.

One point perspective can be a near cousin to isometric drawings. Matthaikirch Plaza Berlin by O.M. Ungers plays a game of “confuse the viewer”, contrasting an oversimplified church elevation with the perspective of the surrounding arcade. Isometric shadows give an extra twist to our perceptual consternation. 

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