COURSE: 403 Research Studio
Heather Roberge, Associate Professor and Interim Vice Chair, UCLA Architecture and Urban Design

Visual perception is rapidly transforming as a consequence of changes in field of view. What is field of view (FOV) and how does it relate to architecture? Field of view is the extent of the observable world that is seen at a given moment. This term applies to a scene captured by any type of lens: the human eye, a camera lens, a microscope eye piece, etc. The scope of FOV changes with focal length, shrinking as distance shrinks. Shaped by emerging lenses, the contemporary scopic regime is at once panoramic and immersive while also fragmented and magnified. Today the camera-outfitted drone, the Go-Pro camera, Google Cardboard, and Oculus Rift are expanding the limits of human perception. FPS (first person shooter) video games, in- vehicle navigation systems, rear-view and 360 cameras, Google Earth, and Google Street View are other agents of change.


These technologies, when considered together, effectively expand the possibilities of perception by redefining, multiplying, and combining fields of view. While our bodies are all too often bound to grounds, our vision, and with it our physical sensations, are increasingly liberated from them. Has the cultivation of architectural experience transformed in response or has our desire to engage these fields of view been satisfied by the camera lens, the screen, the airplane window, and the cursor? Since we now commonly see objects and environments from different vantage points, how might these new vantage points transform how we conceive of architectural constructs? This research studio considers these questions, invents forms of description to engage field of view, and in so doing, speculates on architecture’s possible responses to existing and emerging scopic regimes.


Our fall quarter research centered on the techni- cal and cultural implications of early and emerging optical devices on our culturally constructed ideas about visuality. This research considered the evolution of field of view, subjectivity, and visual perception as afforded by shifts in technology, culture, and creative production. These devices represent environments, simulate depth, motion, and three dimensionality, and construct subjects using a range of optical, mechanical, or computational technologies. Each device signals a shift in notions of the scopic.

During winter quarter, we applied these technologies to the representation of a classical Greek vessel, the askos, revealing technology’s impact on description in two and three dimensions. While the original vessel is a stable geometric abstraction, its representation multiplies when mediated by optical technologies. The resulting twelve reconstructed askos are on view in the exhibit.


In the spring, we cultivated emerging fields of view with the design of a theater complex in Minneapolis, MN on the site of Jean Nouvel’s Guthrie Theater. Students transformed the Guthrie’s two theater types using the optical devices under examination. Field of view trans- forms the organization of the theater interior, replacing monocular perspectivalism with other forms of visuality. In groups of two, students propose a theater complex featuring two scopically distinct theaters. The studio’s work considers the theater as object, as constructed field of view, and as vitally important to our shared and evolving visual perception.

STUDENTS: Peter Boldt, Boyan Chen, Lori Choi, Julia Curtis, Micaela Danko, Aaron Gutierrez, Setareh Hajisaleh, Ryan Hernandez, Yao Huang, Alyssa Koehn, Jeisler Salunga, May Wang