what is the drawing’s purpose :: part 2 – preparatory

IMG_20131009_103805Architects draw.

It is that simple and we enjoy it. However, what I want to make clear is the pleasure part of it isn’t what drives it.

We do it to think and for a purpose much like one drinks water when they’re thirsty or uses a calculator to balance their checkbook. It just so happens that many of us, dare I say most of us got into this profession because on some level drawing was part of our life.

01 modern farmhouse sketch 01
massing studies

In our last post we explored the reasons for drawings more so than why architects draw. I find that more relevant. The sketch (or referential sketch) is a unique marking made by the author. When most think of drawings, what they are most likely perceiving are either preparatory or definitive drawings which take on scale and ultimately measurements. These drawings are endeavoring to illustrate more precise relationships and more precise components; however the degree of information can still vary. A floor plan can exist simply to show relationships of spaces to one another and how one would get from one space to the other. The room sizes or any other dimensional data could still be immaterial.

01a marasco concept sketch 01
note all aspects considered :: 3d | section | elevation | detail | narrative

According to Michael Graves in his 1977 essay “The Necessity for Drawing: Tangible Speculation” he states that the preparation study “documents the process of inquiry, examining questions raised by a given intention in a manner which provides the basis for later, more definitive work.” He goes on to add “these drawings are by nature deliberately experimental. They produce variations on theme, and are clearly exercises towards more concrete architectural ends.”

02 artist studio sketch 01
multiple massing and window studies

For a brief digression, let me risk addressing one issue of digital versus analog. In today’s culture we are seeing a shift from paper and pencil to digital tools. Young designers find themselves native to electronics and uncomfortable with paper and pencil. They’ll disguise that notion with angry rhetoric or comments about us dinosaurs being “out of touch.” I found an interesting blog rant online in response to Mr. Grave’s article. I think the author’s argument is convoluted and his credibility diluted with his vulgar language, but I get his point. Where we agree is when he states “but come on, the other two are only the purview of hand drawing? This is not a failing of computers, but a failing of architects, a tragedy that needs to be fixed.” I choose to use pencils and markers, in my humble but strong opinion it’s the mark of an architect. However, I really don’t think the tool matters. Go ahead and use an iPad, stylus, mouse or whatever. It doesn’t contradict my thesis. Architects draw and we must understand the purpose of the drawing or it will be useless. (See digital studies below).

03 house6 study images
digital modeling studies – quick and effective

Above and below are some examples that begin to fall into this second category. They start to take on more specific proportion or dimension. However, they’re still developing and I know many of you have better examples. You can see the nature of exploration, iteration and questioning.

04 lynn sketch 04
floor plan study of space and relationships
05 a+b sketch 01
elevation study for proportion, color, concept
06 a+b sketch 02
axonometric study of parts wrapping building

The intent of these drawings is to begin to describe the experience of the space or the process of “making.” The particulars are either excluded for clarity or their excluded because that information was not considered yet. These drawings are largely intended to show the client options or perhaps the designer is simply studying and comparing solutions. Either way they appear incomplete or they ought to appear that way on purpose.

07 awning sketch 01
study of parts to whole
08 ceiling panel sketch
study of how detail reinforces an architectural theme

Hang on and we’ll get to definitive drawings and my opinions about construction documents

what is the drawing’s purpose :: part 1 – the sketch

what is the drawing’s purpose :: part 2 – preparatory

4 thoughts on “what is the drawing’s purpose :: part 2 – preparatory

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