At a time when digital technologies are fundamentally changing the practices of architecture it is fitting to reflect again on the role of architectural drawings and to question how drawings circumscribe the architectural discipline’s intellectual enterprise. The Architectural Drawing Symposium, held in April 2016 in Somerset and London, investigated this question by looking closely at the drawings themselves. A book is now in development.
Our focus is on drawings, not as historical artefacts related to building production per se but as a prompt to think again about what contemporary creative architectural practice is especially the practice of drawing and the intentions and conventions created by drawings, about the real and imaginary architectures they produce; and, about what drawings might be ‘for’ and what the designer’s hand might be showing, or doing, that the building cannot.
Architectural drawings are expressive of unique attributes in the discipline’s intellectual development. Architects draw, and through drawing they uniquely contribute to the cultural development of our society. It is understood that drawing leads to building. However, the movement from one to the other is neither direct nor determined in advance. It is the presence of this ‘indeterminacy’ that creates a specific locus of research for this investigation. As Robin Evans argued over forty years ago, there is a constitutive ‘gap’ between drawing and building that demands a revision of architectural history. It is because of the continued equation of architecture with building that little has been done to understand the purpose and potentialities of this ‘gap’ recognised so many years ago by Evans.
Collected here are some drawings and introductory texts by participants in the Symposium that demonstrate continuities and discontinuities in how conventions of visual representation function within the practice of architecture. Selected drawings are from four collections in Britain: The Victoria & Albert Museum, the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Courtauld Museum and the Drawing Matters Trust.
– Desley Luscombe, Helen Thomas, Helen Mallinson