Friday, October 30, 2009

Wobble

The 18th century buildings along the Loire river in the Île Feydeau neighborhood of Nantes, France, have tilted rather alarmingly because their foundations were laid on sandy ground.

They dramatically illustrate a point that you can observe more subtly in almost any group of buildings or structures: Things settle a bit and get out of alignment over time. Or they weren’t built perfectly in the first place, especially before the laser-beam era.

When it comes to drawing a row of buildings, it is usually preferable to give them a little wobble. To do that, you can construct a whole set of slightly varying vanishing points.

When it's done very subtly, it gives architectural forms a certain naturalness and believability that beats the kind of cold rendering that comes from aligning an entire parallel facade with a single vanishing point.

(And yes! We saw the machines...more on that in a future post.)

9 comments:

Tyler J said...

My French is a little rusty, so after looking at some of the photos from the Île de Nantes I looked at the Nantes article on the English side of Wikipedia instead.

I loved this line from the article about Nantes after being repeatedly sacked and then laid to waste by the Normans in 843:

"The city of Nantes remained for many years deserted, devastated and overgrown with briars and thorns."

Now tell me that doesn't conjure some fun images?


Nantes article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nantes

Mary Bullock said...

Jim - how can those buildings be safe? And can you imagine trying to bake a cake in one of those buildings? It would be all lopsided!

Solamh said...

Sorry if I make some mistakes, I'm not fluent in English...

I was born in Nantes, and I know very well the "Ile Feydeau". Most of these buildings have been renovated and are straight indoors. But I agree that it's quite impressive ! :)

cegebe said...

Reminds me of the appartement in Paris where I lived for two months this spring. The floor was practically a slope. Not a single right angle in there.

Maria said...

I agree; little imperfections, subtly as you say, are a source of naturalness and hence of great beauty!

Denis said...

It was a pleasure to listen to your conference at the Utopiales, and I was very impressed to see your paintings for real!
And then I live in the black building on the picture, it's worst inside :D! There're no walls or windows at right angles, but Mary don't worry it hasn't move since 2 centuries and I can bake cakes like everyone else ^^!
And Mr Gurney, thank you for your beautiful work!

James Gurney said...

Thank you, Denis! That is amazing to hear from someone living in those houses. It must give you a different sense of gravity and balance.

Denis said...

Yes! The first weeks were strange. Inside the living-room, it's just like if there were a big windstorm and now everything's tilting to the left!
Sometimes, when you look at the unparallel racks, you feel like you're drunk :D! But it's funny, if you put an apple on the floor, it rolls to the other side of the flat... Might your pencils not fall down :D!

FriedMilk said...

I had a Brooklyn poster project for my Illustration class a few weeks ago, and I naively designed the buildings to be out of alignment with each other. When you're walking around a city, the tall buildings around you feel like a jumble, so that is what I drew. They aren't like walls, more like a forest of tree trunks, and of course trees do not grow in perfect parallel. However, I was less than subtle with my buildings...