Tag Archives: paris

Page updates: Maison Tristan Tzara

I added a photo of the Tristan Tzara House (designed by Adolf Loos in 1926) to my Travel | France page. The building is located on the Avenue Junot in Paris, in Montmartre. I did a series of photos of this house at Christmas time a few years back; one of them was published this summer by Lars Muller in the book Hamsun Holl Hamaroy. My photo appears alongside an essay by Yehuda Emmanuel Safran on the connection between Knut Hamsun and Steven Holl.

Maison Tristan Tzara (1926)

More lost blog posts: Arc de Triomphe

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L’Arc de Triomphe

Re-posted here are some of the images collected this past summer of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. These were made as a sort of demo project following some training sessions in which I was learning how to create rich 3D point clouds from photographs.

Axonometric view of point cloud

Looking at these images now, they don’t seem terribly “rich” as 3D point clouds – I’ve since learned how to do this work  better – but they are a good start. For one thing, they were the successful resolution of an automatic analysis module ( a big time saver).

“RCP” of point cloud

Individual photos with point measurements shown

Screen shot from Elcovision

Point Cloud Scan of L’Arc de Triomphe

L'Arc de Triomphe - Paris

I shot a series of photos around the Etoile at the center of which stands this grand monument.  It is incredible how busy the traffic is here at all hours, both vehicular and pedestrian! Anyway, from this series I was able to generate a point cloud to describe this massive arch at the head of the Champs Elysee. I then scaled the entire affair based on measurements taken from Google Earth.

Point Cloud Scan of Elevation

I also shot the ‘undercarriage’ of the monument to create a point cloud describing the vaulted surfaces there using photogrammetry. The point cloud itself is dense enough to create a sort of drawing. The location of any additional points – or edges etc. – can then be easily (an accurately) queried directly from the photographs.

Photos of the surfaces underneat

Point Cloud of surfaces underneath

Reflected Ceiling Plan of the Arch's central bay (point cloud)

The Roots of Photogrammetry


Stereoscopic View of Worlds Fair Paris 1900

Stereoscopic View of Worlds Fair Paris 1900

The roots of photogrammetry lie in sterescopy, capturing three dimensional views with pairs of images.  This is almost as old as photography itself.  This image I particularly like because it looks like two capital letters “A” – like my last name – and it is in Paris, where I first learned about photogrammetry.

Notre Dame de Paris & the Basilique St. Denis


Southwest Tower Notre Dame de Paris

Southwest Tower Notre Dame de Paris

I was lucky to work on some great projects while employed at Innova in the early 90’s.  We were making measured drawings of the layout of individual construction units for stone structures such as the Notre Dame de Paris and the Basilique St. Denis. It was interesting to see the strange cycle of work that started with stone masons years ago, filtered through our photography and CAD drawings, printed onto paper drawings and then used in the yard adjacent to these structures by contemporary stone masons.  It was a cool mixture of high and low tech.

As an architect, using photogrammetry as a tool to measure and draw buildings was tantamount to learning to see buildings in a unique light. In fact it was the beginning of an education on how to see buildings.  This is probably my favorite part of doing this kind of work… it has provided a way to exercise the “muscle” of observation. I remember how cool it was to first work on a project through using photographs – measuring and drawing a building – and THEN visiting the site in person.  I felt like I already knew the place in some meaningful way.  Nowadays that almost never happens since I do all of the photography work on site myself.


Basilique St. Denis, partial drawing

Discovering Photogrammetry in France

I first encountered the concept of architectural photogrammetry while working as an architect in Paris in 1990 -and was immediately intrigued. So much so that I decided to swap my job with a 45 minute commute into the city for a new job just a short bicycle ride away (in the town of Egly)  in order to learn how to do this work.  Simultaneously I had to learn how to draw with a computer; up until then I had only drafted with pen and pencil (plastic leads for working drawings).  It was a lot to take in, but I think its fair to say that I loved it.

digitizing puck

digitizing puck

Back then, the process was nearly completely analog: We shot film and had it developed into 8″x10″ prints.  These were then taped onto a large format digitizer so that points on the photos could be communicated to software running on a PC.  Then after a photogrammetric analysis of this information was completed, we made drawings that were plotted to scale – and it was these prints that were the “deliverable” product desired by our clients.

I remember seeing a number of photos taped onto a digitizing table and watching my colleague Herve use the digitizing puck to point to the same location on a building as seen from various points of view and then push a button and seeing the point location appear in 3-D coordinates in an CAD drawing on a computer screen.  It seemed magical.

As more and more points were measured in this way, I could start to see the shape of the building.  This became even clearer as points were connected into lines and polylines; the “point cloud” was becoming a “wire frame”.

When I first got out of architecture school and was working for a firm in New York City, the first thing I had to do was to learn how to make measured drawings of existing conditions.  It was messy, confusing work on site and often yielded error-ridden results in the office that required repeated return visits to understand and clarify what was really happening architecturally.  When I saw a dimensionally accurate 3-D model representing an existing structure being created from a handful of photos, I was hooked.  Nobody I knew was doing anything like this in the United States.


Triumphal Arch Jardin de Tuileries

Triumphal Arch Jardin de Tuileries