Graphic excellence is nearly always multivariate”
(Edward Tufte, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, 1983)

The journal’’s seventh issue collects a selection of the contributions received in response to the call entitled “The wide possibilities of data representation.”

The result was a very diverse collection of research and experiences, albeit related to two interesting macro-themes referable to the multiple forms of graphic processing: the infographics of digital models and the development of information models. Some essays describe in detail the expressive potential of new infographic representation tools useful for a synthetic representation, also of a statistical type, to govern new knowledge processes.

An increasingly professional and specialized knowledge described in many contributions that question the resolution of increasingly complex challenges, in the organization of attributes of a heterogeneous type and not only quantitative in nature, broadening the frontiers of the Drawing discipline, as also testified by the success of an important interdisciplinary event on the theme of “graphics” held in Alghero in July 2019, concerning the different meanings of what pertains to the sphere of -graphics, as in description, study, writing, drawing. An open, interdisciplinary knowledge, as evidenced by the various figures who contributed to the achievement of the journal’s new issue.

Some contributions refer more precisely to this first issue, relating to methods and examples of data representation: the essay by Fabio Colonnese critically analyzes the role of architectural design in communications by the architecture firm OMA, to indicate a gradual migration towards the use of quantitative schematic diagrams and visual representations produced by a systematic crossing of statistical data, simplified plans and volumetric diagrams integrated by texts, symbols, and patterns, to illustrate and explain the process and the shape of the project and the functional solutions.

Moreover, concerning the representation of the architectural project, the contribution of Michela Barosio and Rossella Gugliotta is aimed at investigating the relationship between type and diagram, often considered as mere simplifications of reality by analyzing how the diagram is increasingly placed with greater force as a tool for conception and explanation of the design process.

Elena Gigliarelli’s working group’s reflections appear to be of an interdisciplinary nature. There is evidence of the need for a synergy between different fields of knowledge underlying the use of a knowledge-sharing language through cognitive maps and graphic codes for the synthesis of concepts.

The contributions of Enrico Cicalò with Valeria Menchetelli and Maurizio Marco Bocconcino with Mariapaola Vozzola present a more theoretical approach. The first critically analyzes the potential of Data Visualization in the era of Big Data, highlighting how the excellent availability of open data and open tools reinforces the need for a designer-based scientific approach; the second reflects on the classification of data processing methods that helps to select the most effective representation methods by verifying the applications, including the scientific ones, which make it possible to obtain different visualization types. This analysis is critically conducted by commenting on examples of graphic representation that give “information” starting from “data”.

The contributions that deal more specifically with the development of information models focus on data visualization as a tool for the representation of complex data systems, joined with Data Collection activities, illustrated through original and innovative approaches.

In Giulia Pettoello’s contribution, the different ways an architectural asset can be documented and communicated are investigated. Anna Dell’Amico proposes the use of standard protocols for the management of shared models by employing a common language that facilitates the exchange of information. Although referring to the urban scale, the research by Cettina Santagati and Federico Mario La Russa investigates responsive models that increase the quantity and quality of data related to City Information Modeling models.

The other essays provide an opportunity to reflect on the role of the BIM Heritage by understanding and analyzing them, including the difficulties, limits, and the potential that the system can offer in the field of conservation and documentation.

In particular, Carlo Battini and Rita Vecchiatini critically reflect on the possibility of collecting heterogeneous information such as metric surveys and three-dimensional models, documentary, cartographic and iconographic sources, textual information, of both a punctual and spatial nature, which can be aggregated into a single database, for the planning of conservation interventions and the related cost calculation, without neglecting the possibility of extracting data useful for routine maintenance and in general for the building management.

Simona Scandurra’s essay intends to examine a possible approach to the documentation of architectural heritage in the context of HBIM, with particular reference to the storage and management of data relating to wall decorations characterizing the wall surfaces of some historical artifacts.

In the end, the contribution of Elisabetta Caterina Giovannini and Andrea Tomalini reflects on the union between three-dimensional modeling and information modeling, through workflows that include programming approaches with nodal systems and machine learning algorithms for the generation of new components:  starting from data acquisition of a survey and the subsequent data processing, innovative solutions for the classification and semiautomatic creation of degraded elements are proposed. Therefore heterogeneous contributions in their applicative experiences, albeit attributable to similar purposes, aimed at identifying models of representation of information useful for carrying out comparative readings. By developing digital models and data management structures, representation intends to favor more intuitive interpretations to exponentially expand the possibilities of relating complex data sets. The chance of associating heterogeneous data and developing comparisons will result in cultural enrichment, not only in technical and operational skills.

The drawing representation expresses the human value of the sign’s interpretation; therefore, qualifying models and information systems through signs and symbols implies humanizing an information system to benefit a more natural and sensitive relationship with new digital complexity.

Sandro Parrinello, Massimiliano Lo Turco