Drawing in Architecture
By: Adulsak "Otto" Chanyakorn
Since computer aided software is playing an important role in architectural profession, architecture students tend to rely on those tools in any stages of the design process such as initial study, preparatory study, and definitive drawing. The computer is a useful tool for architecture students and architectural firms for providing drawings to present ideas to professors and clients and visualize complicated designs for study purposes. However, drawing and sketching skills are still important for architects and architecture students.
When I finished my undergraduate degree, I worked with a few architectural firms in Thailand. I experienced the design process firsthand. During in-house design process, we always communicated with team members via sketching and drawing because it was so easy and fast to draw simple diagrams, plans, sections, perspectives, detail drawings, study models, and so on before we simulated our design with computer aided software. From that point of my experience, I realized how drawing skills are useful and efficient manners for architects to archive their design.
Furthermore, when I started to travel through different places, I found that drawing skills are magnificent tools for me to study or record my points of interest in architecture. Those sketches that I made became my visual diary. While I was traveling, I spent my time looking carefully at architecture and places that I wanted to draw. I felt that I gained more understanding and captured essential ideas from those architectural styles in many aspects such as spirit, spaces, light, proportion, atmosphere, etc. While I was sketching, I felt I was part of those places, integrating myself and being in the moment with those places rather than photographing them. A lot of my drawings became part of my inspiration for my projects in both school and professional projects.
Recently, I have applied drawing and painting skills to my graduate program, Regional Architecture and Comprehensive Design Studio. These skills have become an efficient way to communicate with my professors and colleagues
Glenn Murcutt believes that drawing is the key of discovering our architectural understanding through lines. Drawing reveals our thinking through comprehension and examination. If we start our project with the computer, we arrive at the end of the design process without understanding the meaning of that end. “I’m suggesting that any work of architecture — as opposed to merchandise — has the potential to be discovered, and drawing is the key. The verb to draw means “to bring out,” and to bring out is to reveal, and to reveal is to understand. With the computer, you arrive at the end before you comprehend the meaning of that end.” (Architectural Record, May 2009)
Drawing skills are not too old-fashioned or antiquated for the architectural profession. In contrast, they represent a significant skill set that architecture schools should encourage students to learn and practice. Le Corbusier, who has always inspired me to draw and search for creativity, explains, “To draw one self, to trace the line, handle the volumes; organize the surface…all this means first to look and then to observe and finally perhaps to discover…and it is then inspiration may come.”