John Cooper

Graduate Fellow

Soane office, Comparative elevation of St. Peter’s, Rome, section of the Pantheon, Rome, the Radcliffe Library, Oxford, and the Rotunda, Bank of England. Sir John Soane’s Museum, SM 23/2/2.

Seeing through walls: Soane’s comparative sectional drawings and the apparatus of the Royal Academy lectures

John’s research project proposed that Soane’s Royal Academy lectures provided an ideal scene in which to investigate his deployment of a perceptual apparatus to unfold the book of world architectural history to a public audience.

“‘Perception’ means to seize, to grasp, to take hold of a conception of a thing in the mind. ‘Per-perception’ means ‘seeing through one thing in order to grasp another thing.’ This is the name I gave to a particular kind of comparative superimposition drawing which Soane introduced into his Royal Academy lectures as a new way of visualizing world architectural history. For example, as seen here in the Soane library: St. Paul’s inside of a pyramid, the York Assembly Rooms inside the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine, or the Bank of England inside the Radcliffe Camera inside the Pantheon inside of St. Paul’s. After showing some of these perperceptive superimpositions I presented measured and speculative drawings of the display apparatus used by Soane in his lectures in the Great Room of Somerset House to display upwards of one hundred 3ft long drawings per lecture.” – John Cooper, August 2019


John is a graduate student in Architecture at Princeton University.

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