what does it communicate?

04 sketch.jpg

Architects communicate through drawings, sketches, models, images and any other visual media we can find. It has moved towards digital methods, but the output is less important than the purpose.

Throughout the design process, one can expect a multitude of images and sketches in a variety of methods chosen. Each image, each drawing or each sketch has a purpose, in other words, the author has an intention for each mark on a surface – that is to communicate to someone. People often get these images mixed up where a sketch is called a drawing, a rendering is called a sketch, or a drawing is assumed to be a construction document. The most frequent mistake that I observe is a drawing called a sketch, but my pedantic nature to differentiate will cause someone to call me out to define. To understand the purpose is to understand the image.

Yesterday I visited a site of a current project under construction. I cannot show you the result yet, but it inspired me late last night for this post. We’ll scroll through a series of images for this project, but I’ve culled through them and curated them for a single part of the house – a corner window in the kitchen to elucidate my point. Let’s explain each image and its purpose.

The image below is a very early scribble from almost two years ago. The intent had nothing to do with the kitchen or windows, but merely gestures to explore the overall one story massing and how the internal spaces could inform the outward composition.

01 sketch.jpg

This next sketch is a loose study exploring a thought about updated massing and the minimal fenestration on the street now that the plan had been fixed. The corner window gesture appears again – a bit more deliberate than before.

02 sketch.jpg

The sketch below is from another sketchbook made a year ago when we were moving through design development. Despite that phase being more detailed and precise, I never stop sketching. I can’t say my purpose had anything to do with the kitchen, but the corner window is still there, and I believe I knew it was in the kitchen between the cabinets.

03 sketch.jpg

This drawing appears above, but I’ve included it again.  At this point, I’m sketching not to debate the overall gesture, but to understand how this window should turn the corner. I’ve embraced the components and have grappled with making a heavy corner appear lighter. It’s a search to understand using flashing components as part of the ornament.

04 sketch.jpg

For clarification, below is a rendering, not a drawing. It was generated some time during the construction documents with the BIM model, but it shows the corner window in context (in the background) and how it might appear in the final design. The corner window is carefully inserted between.

05 interior test.JPG

This is an architectural floor plan drawing (excerpt) from the construction drawings. It shows the location and size of the window opening horizontally. Since it’s at a scale that cannot provide detail,  the reference marker shows the reader where to get that information. You’ll see that detail below.

06 kitchen window plan.jpg

This is part of an elevation drawing cropped to focus on the corner kitchen window. This overall image serves as a road map to details and a schedule as numbers and other graphic symbols point the reader to places to get more information. The window’s relationship to other parts is evident.

07 kitchen window elevation.jpg

This is an isometric view drawing annotating the corner trim that occurs above, below and at the corner. It’s not a measurable drawing like the previous examples, but the 3D illusion of it can more easily explain our intentions.

08 kitchen window isometric.jpg

Now we’ll move to detailed drawings from the construction set. It’s a section that explains the position of the window vertically and its relationship to the kitchen cabinetry. Other components in the wall and floor are also illustrated as they relate to one anotherl

09 kitchen window wall section.jpg

I love to work on construction details at this scale as they are merely  a refined version of the above earlier sketch. This illustrates the assembly of elements that come together to achieve the desired result studied early (in the above sketch). It communicates the layers to get there and the precise model numbers or characteristics of the intended materials.

10 kitchen window detail.jpg

This is a portion of a structural framing plan below that tells those framing the house what horizontal structural members are required for the roof (in this case) and the structural headers above the windows to hold up the wall framing and deliver the roof loads to either side of the window opening. The vertical stud columns are also noted as well as the connector that allows two headers to come together at a corner.

11 kitchen window framing plan.jpg

This is the house as it looked yesterday. It’s far from complete, but one can easily view the corner kitchen window. A good imagination is still required at this point.

12 site visit ext 20180305.jpg

Here is an interior view that clearly shows the wall framing, horizontal structural headers above the windows and the opening is evident. All of this will be hidden at some point, but one can imagine looking out through the kitchen windows with the cabinets above appear to be floating as no evident material exists between the base and wall cabinets.

13 site visit int 20180305.jpg

Hopefully I’ll post more images of the final result.

Each image, sketch and drawing has a purpose – to lead to the final result or to test what should not be in the final result. Each one has a purpose, not to simply tell a constructor what to build, but to allow us as designers to confirm our ideas as well as to engage our clients to understand and embrace it. What is most important is understanding and appreciating the many methods and tools architects use to design, which ultimately is what we use to communicate.

Please read my friends’ post and their approach to the topic of communication. #Architalks

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
Communication and the Question of Relevance

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Types of communication in architecture

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Talk, Write, Draw — A Com Hat Trick

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Architalks #36: Project Amplify

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Communication – What, How, Why?

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Tips for Communicating with Your Architect, Interior Designer, or Landscape Architect

Samantha R. Markham – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
Why Communication Skills are a Must for Aspiring Architects

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Who’s Bad!

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
Communication in a Yada Yada World

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)

Jane Vorbrodt – Kuno Architecture (@janevorbrodt)
Explain Yourself…


what does it communicate?

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