Drawing and the material conditions of space

Dernie, D. 2013. Drawing and the material conditions of space. TRACEY.

TitleDrawing and the material conditions of space
AuthorsDernie, D.

The visualization of architectural experience is complex and resists description in a single drawing or indeed a set of drawings. As analytical tools, architectural drawings convey information but fall short of representing architectural experience because our perception of a place can only be partially communicated through conventional drawing types. Our experience of architecture is always situated and mediated through our bodies, and so our memories, associations and the broader physical and cultural context of a setting affect how we eventually interpret space. We understand places through movement and physical engagement and so it is not surprising that the richness and subtleties of architectural experience cannot be easily articulated through traditional drawing types. These tend to reduce experience to annotation as a means of conveying information.

In contrast this paper will focus on drawing as a way of thinking, at the initial stages of the design process. It will explore issues of creativity and spontaneity in architectural design in order to engage the material imagination through drawing, for architecture is always a material thing1. As such, reading architectural drawings involves the material imagination, as linear relationships are interpreted in terms of physical space. This approach will contribute to our understanding of the continuity of the architectural design process between the realm of ideas and their material embodiment. Currently we tend to take an uncertain leap when crossing between theory and material articulation. Material effects, fashionable surfaces, novelty or material codification (glass=teransparency=democracy for example) all too often substitute deeper questions of content. As the Italian architect Vittorio Gregotti observed, such superficial approaches to materials can result in "an unpleasant sense of an enlarged model, a lack of articulation of the parts at different scales: walls which seem to be made of cardboard, unfinished windows and openings: in sum a general relaxing of tension from the drawing to the building."

YearAug 2013
PublisherLoughborough University
Web address (URL)http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/sota/tracey/journal/edu/2013/PDF/David_Dernie-TRACEY-Journal-DK-2013.pdf
Publication dates
PublishedAug 2013
Page range1-11

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