Axonometric projection (like the one I drew of an area in Lisbon’s Intendente neighborhood) are a quick tool I like to use to analyze neighborhoods or whole cities. Geometric accuracy is not 100% necessary, it’s more about understanding underlying structures and the general morphology. Single areas can be enlarged and analyzed in detail. I usually also add sensual impressions such as impressions in perspective, sources of smells, sounds, haptics, moods, or feelings.
Since the reinvention of the perspective projection in Renaissance it dominates the way we depict architecture while axonometric images have become less important (according to information graphics expert Michael Stoll in this interview). There is no vanishing point and thus no center, everything seems equally important, and at the same time “clearer, cleaner, and more beautiful” (Stoll). One could say it’s the objective versus the subjective (or as Stoll put it, communistic versus democratic – I doubt that).
I would like to show more examples which might allow to view the issue in a different light. In the Chinese government’s Baidu service, large parts of Chinese landscapes were digitalized and illustrated on probably the largest scale for axonometric pictures.
In an addition to 1) axonometric depictions and all its subtypes there are 2) maps or plans which only give two dimensional information and are unable to convey information about heights and 3) foreshortened (perspectival) illustrations which usually show a smaller area.
Below, David Hockney on perspective and looking, as exemplified in a very old Chinese painting:
Starting from thoughts like Alfred Wainwright’s pictorial guides that operate somewhere in between these dimensions, BERG came up with a new way of depicting cities in their “Here & There” project. In those rolled-up maps you seem to be in a perspecitival streetview and a top down view simultaniously, with a highly interesting transition in between. To me, this looks like they put the whole city into the drum of a washing machine and let it rotate. Here‘s a more detailed and probably more profound description of how they came up with their concept.