Lecture 9. Architecture and Mapping

This lecture examines the interrelationship between mapmaking technologies and architecture through the lens of three themes: 1. Pictographic vs. chorographic representations of architecture, 2. The measurement and locative functions of architecture, 3. Architecture and its relationship to topography. The first theme explores how pictographic mapping of architecture tended to represent its symbolic function and likened architecture to writing and thus the built environment as a language of its own, capable of expressing meaning. The chorographic mapping of architecture tended to represent its geographical position and united the manmade world with the natural world, highlighting the connection between man and nature. In the second theme, the lecture explores how architecture has harnessed ways of creating hierarchies, orders, and orientations of Cartesian space, a locative importance that maps and drawings often represent. Although this is often connected to religion, it can also apply to aspects of agriculture, politics, security, and commerce. In the third theme, the lecture explores how mapping land and the natural world has been an age-old activity across cultures with many purposes. Although the practice of studying topography is typically associated with charting the contours of the earth’s surface and determining the natural relationships between different places, architecture has often been deployed as an indexical element of those natural environments, creating a series of unique relationships between buildings, their surroundings, and their global relationships, in both natural and psychological terms. Case studies deployed to explore these themes include the mural paintings at the Mogao caves in China, the architectural iconography of the Ottoman explorer Piri Reis, 19th century geographic science and cartography in Germany, the relationship between aerial photography and architecture, as well as the evolving relationship between GIS and the built environment.

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