Marleau-Ponty
proposed ‘vision is the brain’s way of touching’. It is the most compelling sense
possessed by architects, and is essential to turn abstract concepts into
reality.

An illusion is ‘something that deceives or misleads
intellectually; an instance of a wrong or misinterpreted perception of a
sensory experience. Man has been practicing illusions in architecture since
antiquity. Sense of space can be modulated by altering ‘proportions and appearance’
of building elements. For years architects and designers have achieved this by
creating illusions of symmetry, scale, distance, ‘weightlessness’, and even
‘dematerialisation’ of the visual planes.

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Vitruvius mentions
Agatharcus of Samos, in Ancient Greece, to be the first to realise that
parallel lines converge to a single ‘vanishing point’. The early history of
perspective begins ‘after the end of the Greco- Roman’ period. The technique
was developed during the Italian Renaissance, a time of ‘rebirth’ and explosion
of artistic growth and discovery.

Most famously, the
ancient Greeks used it in the construction of the Parthenon. The floor of the
building is on a slight slope so the centre is higher-up than the edges, the
columns bulge and the roof is at a slant.

In the modern
world, the use of illusionism in architecture can play a significant role to
control the appearance of spaces and structures. By the use of the ‘diminishing
course’, facades can be created to seem much larger from the ground than in
reality, by decreasing the relative size of the replicated sections towards the
top, as well as in interior surfaces by diminishing and increasing the size of
tiles, or even through the use of multi-patterned carpets. Illusions could also
be used in rooms where satisfactory space could not be attained, thus giving
the impression of expansion or connection to the exterior, especially in
underground areas.

By reintroducing
these techniques of the past as standard practice in suitable situations, they
can become very advantageous to clients and members of the public alike, to
create pleasant environments, designed with mathematical precision, and thus
establish architecture’s firm link between art and science.

 

 

 

 

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