The farmyard at Shatwell sits in a small valley in the West of England. Besides cows, sheep, tractors and a significant group of buildings by contemporary architects, it houses a collection of many thousand architectural drawings and models, ranging from the 16th to the 21st century. The collection has been assembled over the last twenty-five years and focuses particularly on the role of drawing in the process of design.
By offering images and text in conjunction, this website presents new approaches to the study of the material at Shatwell and in many other collections. It is intended as a forum in which the architectural drawing is made more visible and available for discussion, supported by associated events and activities. It is not a substitute for looking at original material; we welcome any visitor to the archive who comes with an articulate curiosity about what they might want to find there.
Our enquiries begin with the drawings themselves and look hardest at the practices of representation: at the intentions with which the drawing was made, the conventions on which it depends, the real and imagined architecture it reproduces, and at what the designer’s hand might show which the building itself cannot. We see drawing as a critical artistic practice in its own right, reflecting both the continuity and the evolution of essential ideas: about space and materials, technology, history, and context. We recognise that drawing has remained central to the conception of architecture, not simply through providing ways to think through design ideas, but also as integral to the way ideas about the built world are interpreted and disseminated.
We are grateful to all in our network of institutions, museums and galleries from around the world: educators, curators, scholars, collectors and archivists; architects, artists, writers and critics, historians and friends who keep the Drawing Matter project alive.
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Subject to demand, the collection itself may be visited, on application, by qualified researchers, teaching studios and seminar groups. For more details see here.