Saturday, September 19, 2020



This is actually a couple of weeks old.  Not sure why it didn't get posted before.

I am getting some good responses by sharing progress images on LinkedIn from my work on St Anne’s Limehouse.  Interesting discussions.

First of all a pretty picture.  Current work on the ceiling: tightening up the profiles of the main cornice and the flat-panel edge-mouldings.  Then adding some detail: modillians and roses.  All highly simplified and judged from low-res photos.  I’m learning a huge amount in the process of creating this intelligent digital model.  That’s the embodied learning part.  I am deeply engaged for several hours at a stretch, figuring this building out, and it’s hell of a rush.



One point that comes up repeatedly.  Am I using a point cloud? 

Well I would love to have point cloud data for every project I work on, but most of what I do is based on much more sketchy information.  Way back in the early 2000s I bought a book in London about Nicolas Hawksmoor.  It’s one of those Thames & Hudson art books covering his whole career and well-illustrated.

A decade later I decided to visit his six London churches and take photos along the way.  Then I did that again last year.  The difference was that I had a contact at the Limehouse church who had agreed to show me around. 

But NO.  I don’t have a point cloud.  The plan I have is hand drawn, digitized from that book using a cheap digital camera about 17 years ago, and has no scale bar.  I scaled this up using an estimated length from Google Earth.  So it’s a very rough approximation, but that’s OK.  It’s a digital model so you can adjust the model based on new information and the drawing automatically updates … pretty much.



The photos are very helpful, especially the external ones.  The internal pics are a bit grainy and blurred.  Some areas are not covered at all. So what it means is that I have to do things the old-school way. Hand-Eye-Brain: that amazing interactive feedback loop that we inherited from the great ape line and evolved to new levels with our opposable thumbs and super-social brains. 

Building on traditions from Leonardo to Piranesi to Francis Ching you can learn to judge proportions, to stand back and spot relationships that don’t look right, to keep improving and refining your model.  I love the problem-solving nature of this way of working.  New insights pop up all the time. It may be about ways of using Revit, it may be about the Classical tradition, could be about church design or what churches mean in the development of western culture. 

Learning by doing.



I like to start with a very “broad brush”.  Just get something down that we can reflect on and begin the process of asking questions and forming opinions about what this building means to me.  So the truth is that I took the work I did in 2014 on trust and scaled the plan based on a family I created then. 

Time to cross-check this against current google earth data.

Well it’s not bad.  I estimate it could be up to 5% smaller than real life.  It’s always difficult to tell because, apart from the fact that the scale bar is only approximate, the photograph is never quite from directly above the building.  Here you can see a bit of the west and south sides.  The effect is particularly noticeable on the tower of course.

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