The World in High Def: GigaPans and Architecture

posted Nov 8, 2010, 5:06 PM by Yoni Afek   [ updated Nov 8, 2010, 5:15 PM ]
Leto Karatsolis-Chanikian, CMU Architecture Student.
Daniel Rapoport, CMU Architecture Student.
Pablo Garcia, CMU Architecture Assistant Professor.

This image is the final image of a 60 day journey through Scandinavia.  Having never heard of the GigaPan prior, we began using the equipment in Iceland and attempted to record the unbelievable natural wonders that we encountered.  The more we used the GigaPan through our travels we learned its practical advantages and limitations over standard photography. This led us to think about the images we were taking far more analytically and architecturally.  In our two years of Architecture school we learned the importance of context in regards to architecture; a building cannot be successful unless it is considers its surroundings, both physically and culturally.  We composed this image of Oslo very carefully in order to provide maximum understanding of the city in both the aforementioned ways.  We discovered that GigaPans are architecturally relevant when researching and analyzing a building or a site because they provide a macro-scale understanding in conjunction with micro-scale details. We selected the Oslo image because we feel it demonstrates this concept well; someone who has never been to Oslo can explore the panorama and discover not only extremely important landmarks (such as the Oslo City Hall and the Nobel Peace Center), but also gain an understanding of the context in which these important buildings stand. Any familiar architect can vouch that the Oslo City Hall has a powerful presence on the Oslo fjord coastline.  Anyone can show you a close-up of the building detail.  The GigaPan however, allows the viewer to see these things simultaneously. When zoomed-out, one can see the relationship of the Oslo City Hall to the water and city skyline; when one begins to zoom in, the relationship to the public boardwalk in front of the building and to the pier emerges; these are all extremely important urban elements of the city.  In this image the viewer can zoom in even further to see the massing and materiality (detail of brick work) of the building along with its relationship to its more immediate context; this is usually the kind of image available as a singular entity without the whole context. With the Gigapixel technology, one can zoom in even further to see the time on the large clock on the east tower and the 49-bell carillon on the roof.  These details would be undetectable in images found in even the most advanced architectural books, yet they are available here. This is not the only of the 54 GigaPans we assembled during our journey that is architecturally relevant, but it is the image which most clearly illustrates the academic uses of the GigaPan technology within architecture.