Gigapan: Justin Guess

used with permission of Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

This issue focuses on using the Gigapan as a tool to document, explore and annotate architectural buildings and sites. We wanted to explore the value of including the Gigapan in the arsenal of tools that people working on architecture can use to gain a better understanding of both sites and buildings. We took a broad approach in this exploration thinking that potentially many professions besides architects could be interested in employing this technology for example: archaeologists, city planners, landscape architects and educators in art history. It is to appeal to this broad spectrum that we focused on three types of architectural Gigapans: buildings, site surveys and archaeological surveys.

Buildings: A typical study of architecture would not be complete without a study of prominent architectural buildings. In this issue we have showcased work by Calatrava, Gaudi, I.M. Pei and Frank Lloyd Wright. The concept behind using the Gigapan to explore their work is that one can see how details coexist with the whole and provide contextual understanding on how various shapes, forms, structures and medium fit together. Often when studying buildings by photographs or books it is difficult to gain an accurate indication of the details vs the overview because such images don't allow one to zoom from the general to the detailed. We can only see the information that is conveyed to us through the photograph or text, whereas the Gigapan gives one the possibility to virtually explore more. This could be of use particularly to architects or to professors or students of the field.

Town Squares: A detailed site plan and understanding the site is a key component of planning space, public movement, understanding how existing and potential future buildings could integrate in the area. Traditionally the information gathered in such studies is an overview at best. The Gigapan allows one to collect additional information providing a 360 degree view of the surrounding buildings, use of space, pedestrian patterns, lifestyle and cultural activities. Such information could be useful to many outside of architecture, for instance, city planners, landscape architects, sociologists, cultural and historical studies and to highlight events and animations for local populations and tourists.

Archaeological Sites: The Gigapan again can provide interesting insights into an archaeological site. It allows the user to explore and understand how various buildings in an area are related to each other in space and design. The tool can provide archaeologists a new interactive way to annotate sites they are working on but also provide educators and students a new way to discover historical sites.

Our goal was to show how the Gigapan can be used to examine architecture in its broadest sense. We hope that this spurs further investigation, research, use and understanding as to how the Gigapan may be further employed to delve deeper into each of these areas. This investigation provides convincing results that the Gigapan is an effective means to document, annotate and explore buildings and sites. It should be a tool that professionals consider adding to their toolbox.

Guest Editors

Christopher Strebel was Project Lead (2008-2009) for the Gigapan Dialogues Project, a joint venture between the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Carnegie Mellon University. As part of the project he trained students, teachers and school administrators on using the Gigapan technology and integrating it into classroom projects and the school curriculum. At UNESCO/IBE he was in charge of web communications and working on projects promoting information and communications technology (ICTs) in education (2004-2010). Currently, he is the Web Editor-in-Chief at the World Health Organization.

Carolina Guerrero is a Pratt trained international architect who has worked on numerous residential construction and renovation projects in France, Switzerland and the United States. She has also worked on a module of the Gigapan School Dialogues facilitating student discussion on architecture.

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