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The principles of hyperreal archviz: the strive for visual harmony
The principles of hyperreal archviz: the strive for visual harmony
Hyperreal visualization principle 2: the image should strive for visual harmony

Hyperreal renderings tend to have a pronouncedly well-balanced and often striking composition. Hyperreal visualization is structured by the hierarchy of primary and secondary elements, expressive spots of color, and strong contrast between light and dark areas. The strict linear perspective may be abandoned for the sake of a more elegant interplay of shapes and colors. Accentuated image composition is another bridge that unites hyperrealism with the tradition of painting, collage, or analog renderings. At the same time, staged composition is also one of the clear markers that distinguish hyperreal architectural visualization from the less-structured photorealism.


The color palette in the hyperreal archviz is generally more intricate than either in real life or in photorealist rendering. In this hyperreal archviz also pays homage to visual arts.

Harmonious composition creates the ‘aura’ of a visualization

Strikingly beautiful but distant hyperreal visualizations radiate an ethereal ‘unearthly’ atmosphere. This effect is similar to the ‘aura’ that manifests in the works of art. The concept of ‘aura’ originally comes from the famous essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction " (1936) by Walter Benjamin.


‘Aura’ is a quality of an original analog artwork that differentiates it from its copies: “its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be”. Aura is the spiritual experience we get upon looking at a work of art. Any reproduction is therefore always inferior as it lacks the aura and authenticity of the original. To Benjamin, the aura of the original diminishes when the image gets mass-reproduced. The most obvious example of the diminished aura would be the most famous artistic masterpieces like Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” or Michelangelo’s “David” which we are now unable to perceive as works of art rather than cultural memes.


Since digital artwork has neither original nor copy, the question of whether it may radiate an aura is one of the most controversial in contemporary art criticism. NFT is hardly a real substitute, as it has more to do with provenance and the money value than with the life of an artwork. However, we may define the aura not only through the existence of work in time and space but through our interaction with this existence. If we are able to recreate the feeling of this interaction in a digital work, it might constitute an aura.

The quest for beauty in hyperreal archviz is utilitarian

Digital visualization is not a pure art form, it is a pragmatic approach to making technical illustrations. However, the outstanding historical examples of visualization – the works of Étienne-Louis Boullée, Hugh Ferriss, Yakov Chernikhov, and countless others – have transcended into the realm of art. Striking images made their architectural vision truly convincing and timeless. Due to the power of artistic representation, their architectural statements inspire young architects decades and centuries after their creation.


Illustration: "Cénotaphe à Newton" by Étienne-Louis Boullée (1784). Archviz with an 'aura'.


The strive for artistry in hyperreal archviz refers to the tradition of hand-drawn architecture rendering. Harmony of color and composition in hyperrealism is not a self-indulgent aesthetic or an artistic quest for beauty.  It is always done with a practical purpose: to empathize with the architect’s vision and convey the atmosphere of the design proposal. Every artistic choice from the color palette to the compositional scheme has a logical explanation. 


Structured and staged hyperreal visualizations are also more readable in comparison with photorealist renderings. It is easier to gather information about the project from an image that highlights the most important details.

Harmony fosters the 'distancing effect'

Beauty and harmony erect ‘the fourth wall’ – the screen that divides the viewer from the obviously unreal scene. They work as Bertold Brecht’s ‘estrangement’ that we have discussed in the essay about the distinction between vision and reality. Subconscious tells us that no scene so well-balanced can be natural or real. As a result, hyperreal visualization avoids the ‘uncanny valley’ effect, when extremely realistic renders, which are not completely indistinguishable from photographs, become eery and repulsive.


The ‘aura’ that radiates from well-executed hyperreal visualizations makes the image more engaging and livelier. It fosters emotional interactions with the depicted space and transcends the qualities of the architecture proposal. Visual harmony serves the mission of hyperreal archviz: it creates an unforgettable experience and helps to approach the architect’s vision with a clear head and a critical eye.


Header illustration: "Dazzling" by iddqd Studio.