A Selection of Sketches by World Famous Architects Through History

Architects’Drawings A Selection of Sketches by World Famous Architects Through History

Through history, architects have manipulated visual imagery to assist the design process. Such imagery has assumed the form of construction documents, design drawings, analysisand details, various forms of sketches, and images conceived in the mind’s eye. The philosopher Richard Wollheim writes that representational seeing involves ‘seeing as’ (1971). Itrequires foresight and imagination to comprehend a two-dimensional visual image as athree-dimensional inhabitable structure. Since it is economically unfeasible to test a construction full scale, architects depend on substitute media to assist in their visual thinking.

Humans are seldom able to imagine a fully formed impression of a complex configuration,such as a building, entirely in the mind. Through visual artifacts, architects can transform,manipulate, and develop architectural concepts in anticipation of future construction. It may,in fact, be through this alteration that architectural ideas find form.
Architects’Drawings A Selection of Sketches by World Famous Architects Through History

The architectural theoretician Marco Frascari suggests that drawing can guide architects to an understanding of architecture as both constructed and construed, because drawings intrinsically convey theory: ‘Real architectural drawings are not illustrations, but pure expression ofarchitectural thinking.’1 Wolfgang Meisenheimer also explored the role of drawing to examine architectural thinking when he wrote: ‘And the question arises of whether a new, different understanding of architectural drawing, alludes to a new and different understanding of architecture!?’ (1987, p. 119). Meisenheimer’s assertion asks if media and method affect design thinking and, therefore, the structures architects create. It is important to consider the inherent potential of representational media to surpass mere communication. This is a vital issue forthe study of architectural sketches, and will be contemplated throughout this book.

Images are ever present. Visual stimulus in the commercial realm eliminates the possibility of an ‘innocent eye’ in a contemporary phenomenon the philosopher Richard Kearney callsthe ‘culture of the image’ (1988). This overindulgence of imagery suggests the continuousmirror play between imagination and reality in postmodern culture; the image is always inprocess, subjected to constant reinterpretation. The ambiguous and unfinished qualities ofsketches epitomize this notion. Additionally, current interest in architectural design processstems from a belief that process, or sketches as indicative of process, can be viewed as a direct link to inspiration. Although research into Genetic Criticism finds that process may not be altogether linear, it is expressive of design thinking. Appropriately, the discussion of image, itstext, and context can be investigated for its influence on the imagination and design processof architects.

In this age of extensive computer use and the proliferation of visual stimulus, itis essential that architects question and interpret the media they utilize. By exploring the historical role of sketches as instruments of thinking, commonalities and differences will surface. From these, one may ascertain a definition of architectural sketches and expose their importance in the production of architecture.

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