Trajectories of Axonometry through Distances and Disciplines

Beth George, Sally Farrah

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookConference contributionpeer-review


Unique in its power to interrelate multiple planes with minimal distortion, the axonometric negotiates, as Alan Colquhoun notes, between the archaic and the modern. In this paper, we evidence this notion, as well as positing other spectra
that the drawing type spans: from the strategic to the poetic, the primitive to the acutely detailed, from urban to conceptual space, from the bird’s eye to the mind’s eye. There are numerous trajectories possible in a reading of history through the lens of the axonometric, but the path herein collects instances from the medieval, via Massimo Scolari, to Le Corbusier, Kazimir Malevich, and Ivan Leonidov. Each drawer is situated in a vastly different context, but their divergence is key: they are bound by the drawing type, and its ability to transcend and translate is testament to its versatility as a drawn language. By studying different types of axonometrics and the motives for their employment, as well as their nature as operative, we uncover connections that are driven by warfare, politics, and theoretical shifts. We observe how qualities such as points of view, orientation, and promiscuity of the rules of projection can be inextricably bound to the author’s conceptual and critical locale. We explore Le Corbusier’s oeuvre, uncovering how a launch into the aerial vantage through a roof-centric axonometric view may have been instrumental to the development of his “five points” of architecture. We pursue a connection that sees the axonometric extend from figural to cognitive space in the hands of Leonidov. Where others identify the post-modern era as the critical locus for the axonometric, these explorations indicate an earlier genesis. Lastly, we suggest that inheritances from Le Corbusier and Leonidov can be traced into the last pre-digital moment of architectural drawing in the 1970s and 80s.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDistance Looks Back
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 36th Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand
Place of PublicationSydney NSW
PublisherSociety of Architectural Historians of Australia and New Zealand (SAHANZ)
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes
EventDistance Looks Back: The 36th SAHANZ Conference, 10-13 July 2019: Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand - Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 10 Jul 201913 Jul 2019


ConferenceDistance Looks Back: The 36th SAHANZ Conference, 10-13 July 2019
Abbreviated titleSAHANZ 2019
Internet address


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