Cullen

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Gordon Cullen’s Serial Vision and Picturesque Urban Design Representations Ray Lucas Mar 2009 Gordon Cullen’s work on urban design, Townscapes, employs a method of representation called ‘SerialVision’ and comes with certain theoretical implications. Cullen’s Serial Vision is fairly simple as a proposition, and consists of a series of sketch perspectives arranged in a sequence, as one wouldwander along a given route. The sequence is accompanied by a plan, indicating the points along the path where the perspectives are taken from.

Cullen uses these drawings in an analytical fashion to showsome features of the space, the degree of variation, pattern, and so on. This is closely attuned to his debatable push for a more picturesque approach to urban design, predicated on the way thingslook and what can be inferred from such representations.

Cullen’s work is informative in that the deployment of familiar forms of perspective and sketch are clearly contextualised by a specifictheory. This connection of theory and representation is often less clearly visible, but always present. Inscriptive practices have an intention. The act of making an inscription demands that the inscriberleave some details out, choose to omit some things and find ways to represent others. This decision making is essential, an act of editing, even of montage. What these decisions tell us is something ofthe focus of the inscriber, what aspects they wish to show, and how they relate to one another on a common ground. Cullen’s theory is grounded in the picturesque, and a direct response to thefailings of post-war urban development in Britain. Similar inscriptions could be deployed to make different points, of course. The visual agenda pursued by Cullen is drawn from his experience of small townlife in Britain. This model offers certain concepts as important and desirable. This normative approach is called into question by contemporary urban design, while recognising the utility of the...
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