Diploma Unit Two. Architectural Association School of Architecture

Tools for Architecture is a research unit based at the Architectural Association in London formed by a team of MArch AA Diploma students and lead by Space Popular directors Lara Lesmes and Fredrik Hellberg.

An Oblique Point of View I


“Perspective betrays with its dichotomy: train tracks always meet, not here, but only in the impossible mind’s eye: horizons beat a retreat as we embark on sophist seas to overtake that mark where wave pretends to drench the real sky.” Interestingly children, or generally people not taught how to draw, have a tendency to draw the ground as a green line on the bottom of the page and the sky as a blue line on the top of the page. They do not draw what they see, but they draw an idea. The idea obviously being that the sky is above and the ground is below, and at no point do they ever touch.

We see the world through a series of two-dimensional perspectival images. From these images we start building a three dimensional understanding of space. In our language, we speak about the space, not the perspectival images as Sylvia Plath’s poem illustrates. Similarly, it is the space children draw, not the images they once saw.




Plato condemned the perspective in its modest beginnings because it distorted the “true proportions” of things, and replaced reality with a subjective appearance. In other words, how we see the world does not correspond to what the world actually is like. Descartes put it like this: “If following the rules of perspective, we represent circles better with ovals that with other circles or square with rhomboids instead of squares… in that be more perfect in images or to better represent an object, they lose their semblance completely.” There is a division between our perception and our definition which is problematic.

A circle is defined a shape where every point on the line has an equal distance to the centre. This definition does not apply to an oval, which is what we see in perspective.