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home back Drawing and The Material Conditions of SpaceDavid Dernie The visualization of architectural experience is complex and resists description in a single drawing or indeed a set of drawings. As analytical tools, architectural drawings convey information but fall short of representing architectural experience because our perception of a place can only be partially communicated through conventional drawing types. Our experience of architecture is always situated and mediated through our bodies, and so our memories, associations and the broader physical and cultural context of a setting affect how we eventually interpret space. We understand places through movement and physical engagement and so it is not surprising that the richness and subtleties of architectural experience cannot be easily articulated through traditional drawing types. These tend to reduce experience to annotation as a means of conveying information.
In contrast this paper will focus on drawing as a way of thinking, at the initial stages of the design process. It will explore issues of creativity and spontaneity in architectural design in order to engage the material imagination through drawing, for architecture is always a material thing1. As such, reading architectural drawings involves the material imagination, as linear relationships are interpreted in terms of physical space. This approach will contribute to our understanding of the continuity of the architectural design process between the realm of ideas and their material embodiment. Currently we tend to take an uncertain leap when crossing between theory and material articulation. Material effects, fashionable surfaces, novelty or material codification (glass=teransparency=democracy for example) all too often substitute deeper questions of content. As the Italian architect Vittorio Gregotti observed, such superficial approaches to materials can result in \"an unpleasant sense of an enlarged model, a lack of articulation of the parts at different scales: walls which seem to be made of cardboard, unfinished windows and openings: in sum a general relaxing of tension from the drawing to thebuilding.\"
This book celebrates the wide range of drawing techniques nowavailable to architects. It looks at conventional and lessconventional drawings and the methods used to make them in anattempt to open up creative approaches to architecturalvisualization. At a time when buildings and components can bewholly manufactured digitally, this book attempts to readdress thewhole question of drawing as a way of thinking, a notion that iscommon in other visual arts. Drawings are extraordinaryconcentrations of visual and creative experience, synthesizedthrough the disciplined mastery of both traditional and digitaltechniques. They
In recent years interest in architectural drawing has re-emergedas an ever more complex theoretical discourse has floundered.Architectural drawing processes are now acknowledged as key toexperimentation and the creative development of a discipline thathas absorbed a radical digital revolution over the past twodecades. There is a new realization of the potential ofarchitectural drawing today, as rooted in the ancient tradition ofdisegno, which means drawing and design, a way of thinking thatbelongs to human experience.
Digital and AnalogueAcross the visual arts, drawing and markmaking are recognized in terms of the expression and spontaneity ofcreative thinking, but it is not surprising given the nature ofarchitecture that until recently the immediacy of handmade drawinghad been all but replaced by the plotted, or indeed calculatedimage, while the physical act of drawing had been reduced to amediation with a screen and its peripherals. But in this so-calledage of digital building, it is timely to recognize and explore theinterdependence of analogue and digital in architecturalrepresentation.
Digital media now offers unprecedented opportunities forarchitectural drawing and has adapted to a modern constructionindustry that has, on the whole, moved away from traditionalcrafts. In so doing, drawings have necessarily become dimensionallymore precise. Where once artisanal experience and craft traditionwould underpin the translation of a hand drawing into carefullycrafted building elements, digital drawings now determine everydetail of production, with little room for creative developmentduring manufacture or construction. Input at full scale, digitaldrawings can describe a whole building in precise detail like neverbefore. The new medium not only offers a liberation to imagine newforms, but also the means to deliver complex forms on site, bycascading precise information to fabricators and constructors.
At the same time, however, architectural drawing is broader thanjust digital drawing, and there is an important dialogue to bemaintained with other kinds of drawings and techniques that mayreflect different kinds of architecture, imaginations and designprocesses. This book is intended to inspire as well as to instruct,exploring a diverse range of drawing types that emphasize drawingsas vehicles for thinking about rather than simply illustratingarchitecture. Using examples from fine art, photography and stagedesign, the text explores the interdisciplinary nature of
the drawing is personal. In this way drawings act as vehiclesfor thought, as touchstones for imagining the real places that theypartially describe or allude to. No matter how detailed thedrawing, we will each interpret it as individuals, building animaginary picture of the place it describes from our own experienceof the spaces or materials illustrated. It is not surprising thatin the end the built work is always a revelation, asmulti-sensorial experience of architectural spaces cannot be fullydescribed by drawings. Drawings are like bridges for ourimaginations, leading us towards the buildings final materialresolution.
The approach here is to demonstrate the complementaryrelationship between traditional techniques and computer-generatedimages. After decades of ubiquitous digital renderings, we now seemore diverse drawings emerging and the value of architecturaldrawing is up for review. Long sidelined in favour of digitaldrawings, the creative potential of analogue, mixed-media andcomposite techniques is increasingly recognized as a vital means tosynthesize new ideas and understand ever more complex environments.Drawing is an individual expression, and digital media combinedwith analogue techniques, or hybrid drawing, makes for morediversity of interpretation and allows us to explore the drawing asartefact. Drawings are the first steps in the process of making,and combining hand and digital drawings will contribute to thesynthesis of craft with digital fabrications: three-dimensional orconstructed drawings which are part drawing, part model can bridgeto ideas about making buildings.
Drawing and ThinkingAt all stages of the architectural designprocess, drawing reflects how we think about a project. Thetechniques we use and the kind of drawings we make speak of thecharacter of our ideas and approach to the brief and its context,and they will change through the design process. For instance, theways in which we make drawings to explore strategic themes, siteand context will necessarily be different to techniques we use tocommunicate details of the project to, say, contractors. Thechallenge is to use appropriate techniques at each stage of theproject, which engage with individual design directions, and alsoto make the right types of drawings, which take intentions forwardand communicate them clearly. Drawings are the fundamental driversthrough the course of a project that help us to think frominception to technical resolution.
Any one drawing inevitably only deals with a part of a project,or idea. Although buildings can sometimes be captured by a singleiconic sketch, architectural experience is complex and drawingsneed to be read into: compare, for instance, a street plan orsection with the experience of street life. The street plan is onlyan approximation of the richness of the life of the street. When weread such a drawing, we bring our understanding of what a street isto bear on our interpretation of the plan: our engagement with
To some extent the computer can be used to simulate this processof scale drawing, but drafting software tends to require full-scaledimensions from the outset. So the training of the eye andimagination to read drawings at different scales is diminished ifwe use digital drawing alone for all work stages. We return to theimportance of keeping alive a variety of techniques, both analogueand digital. By working between the two, we can groundarchitectural training on an understanding of both the disciplineof hand drawing and also the potential of new media. We shouldremember that neither a pencil nor a computer can teach us to draw;but drawing will emerge from our ideas, and its quality will reston our experience of appropriate techniques for theirexpression.
number of aspects of that project into focus. Analyticaldrawings may follow conventions, such as the use of plans andsections, or be developed as new forms of drawing or diagrams.Diagrams can helpfully reduce complex design problems to theirconstituent parts, and be used together with other drawings on thejourney towards a synthetic design solution. As analytical tools,conventional architectural drawings convey information but fallshort of representing architectural experience because ourperception of a place is only partially composed of visualdata.
model, then extract the view, texture map surfaces, simulatenatural or artificial lighting and finally inhabit the space. Nearphotorealistic images have become the norm, and while they canimpress at the level of detail and resolution, they are often lesscompelling than the image that plays down some of the effects inorder to convey the essential character of the proposal moreeffectively. Full-blown renderings, with their evenness and accenton drama and atmosphere, can have less impact than drawings thatare more selective in what they show, partly because of thepredictability of the visual effects that some software produces,and partly because any one illustration cannot show everythingwell. As a rule of thumb, an architectural drawing can show only afew things effectively as few as three. For instance, a drawing ofa room that is about light, colour and material should focus onlyon doing that well. 153554b96e