Architectural epistemology, existing buildings, and single-image modeling

digital modeling single image existing buildings architectural epistemology architectural representation photography


June 25, 2024


This paper examines an alternative approach to creating a 3D digital model of an existing building on the basis of a single photograph. Rather than prioritizing comprehensive coverage or geometric accuracy, the method aims to highlight how the modelmaking process itself can generate architecturally specific knowledge. The paper describes modeling the Nishiki Market in Kyoto using principles of projective geometry and reverse perspective. By problematizing the construction process, the method discloses how a model may embody subjective interpretations and choices. The paper argues that this approach legitimizes producing models counter to prevailing conventions, as the process itself constitutes a form of situational architectural understanding, registered through traces of the modelmaker and the photograph’s perspective. Rather than foregrounding usefulness, this method values uncovering hidden assumptions and exposing the contingencies involved in constructing architectural knowledge.