Axonometries: Figurations of the Digital in Architecture
Zirkulationsgraph mit vorgegeben Plan. Studenten: Karel Links, Robert Couch, Jürgen Böttcher; in: Ulm. Zeitschrift der Hochschule für Gestaltung, Heft Nr. 19/20 1967, S.43.

Subproject C1

Axonometries: Figurations of the Digital in Architecture

Linear graphs connect numbered hubs to form a geometric shape. In the illustration, three students from the Ulm School of Design have schematically depicted the circulation network of the building. The moment the drawing is enriched with information about traffic flow, the planar representation changes to a perspectival one: the statistically-determined figures are made vivid as a three-dimensional mathematical data field, using the projection method of axonometry. Spatial and topological relationships of architecture disappear in favor of the visualization of hidden structures.

Does the axonometry of the school building drawn in the 1960s already hint at the dissolution of the spatial in the digital? What influence does digitality, with methods such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, have on the thinking and visualization of space? How has axonometry, as an artistic medium and scientific representation, transformed the idea and practice of architecture since the 19th century?

The three students’ drawing exercise illustrates an attempt to describe complex processes graphically. To do this, they have broken down mathematical sequences and links into an abstract structure of alphanumeric signs and reassembled them in a coordinate system. What becomes visible is a new order of architecture in which data become the building material and generate something new. What is this new thing that “traces” the logic and interaction of machines, programs and algorithms with the traditional projection process and appears as an abstract figuration? This study aims to find answers to this question by understanding axonometry as a research tool and artifact of the connections between humans and machine processes.