Book of Fortresses

Ed Triplett
2017-present | Project Website

The aim of the Book of Fortresses project is to spatially reconstruct an exceptional architectural source from early modern Portugal called the Livro das Fortalezas (Book of Fortresses). The book contains 120 perspective drawings and architectural plans of more than 55 fortresses and fortified towns along the border between Portugal and Spain. It also contains a brief but clear itinerary followed by the book’s author (a Portuguese Squire named Duarte de Armas) when he traveled to each site in 1509.The digital project takes a multi-scale approach to the book. At the architectural scale, the group is constructing parametric 3D models of the fortifications according to Duarte de Armas’ measured plans and perspective drawings in order to better understand d’Armas’ visualizations. 3D “billboards” of d’Armas’ perspective drawings are also oriented to the landscape within a 3D GIS and in the Unity game engine. Finally, at the national / peninsula scale, Duarte de Armas’ itinerary is plotted with viewshed analyses from each site in order to analyze whether it is appropriate to refer to the string of fortresses as a “chain” or “borderline.”

In January 2020, the Office of Digital Humanities at the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) awarded Ed Triplett and Phil Stern (Duke, History) a level II grant to develop the methodologies implemented by the Book of Fortresses project into an applicable workflow for visualizing non-cartesian maps and views using a combination of GIS, CAD and game engine software.


Daniel Castro

Cyan DeVeaux

Hillman Han

Audrey Magnusen


Former Collaborators:

Rory Dierman

Cameron Esses

Stone Mathers



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Video: Ed Triplett on Unreal Spaces and Real Places