Recovery and Reflection

The sixth week was dedicated to developing a presentation that communicates the lessons learned from the buildings we visited.  

For a bit of background on why Tara and I decided to “leave the laptops at home”, the drawing lessons this semester are in response to witnessing upper-level students espouse that if they do not know how to digitally model their idea, they are unable to move a concept forward.  Through discussions that Tara and I have had with past fifth-year students, it has become clear that a growing number of them are not comfortable selecting a drawing type (sections, details, plans) to communicate and explore the potential of a design idea.  

Reflecting on our professional design experience, we recognized that within each of the programs that we engage (SketchUp, CADD, Rhino, Grasshopper, Revit), there is a lack of abstraction inherent in the abyss model space. The lack of ambiguity in the completely quantifiable digital space acts as a governor to early design exploration.  In effect, continually stunting the potential of one nascent concept against another.

Whereas, in early design phases where disparate drawings (specifically, with distinctly different scales) are nurtured independently (regardless if they are created digitally or by hand), multiple conceptual approaches can be investigated concurrently.  

Not only does this type of diverse early exploration help nurture the architectural resolution of design concepts, but the act of coordinating the matured ideas leads to critical self-assessment.

With this in mind, Tara and I are interested in developing the student’s ability to select a Drawing Type for the specific effectiveness the drawing has in the communication of their intent.

Moving away from familiar drawing types like floorplans and building sections, this semester we are focusing on Two Analytical drawings (Architectural Details drawn in Axonometric and Spatial Axons of interior volumes), one purely experiential (the vignette), and one hybrid drawing (an expressive Site Section).

Monday we took class time to draw Mies van der Rohe’s column detail at the Barcelona Pavillion.  Discussions of structural integrity and the use of standardized materials were added to the day’s lesson.  Each student hand drew the architectural detail, then re-drew it in a skewed axonometric plane.  Lineweights and line types were practices to bring legibility and additional information to the drawings.

Tuesday we began class with a tour of the Musee d’Orsay and were quickly overwhelmed by the collection of sculptures, paintings, and art nouveau furniture.   The afternoon was dedicated to the Site-Section drawing with discussions of figure-ground and incorporating the juxtaposition of drawing styles in one composition.

Wednesday, we wandered through the “Tribute to Notre-Dame de Paris” at the Cite L’architecture de Patrimoine–a collection of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc’s explorations at full-scale for his mid-19th-century remodel of Notre-Dame.  A wonderful surprise was experiencing the immense architecture Library at the museum (free and open for all students). 

We returned to the studio after the site visit to introduce the charrette prompt. Titled “Lessons Learned”, the charrette asked the students to reflect on at least three of the structures that we visited, and through a critique of what interested them personally, develop a presentation that visually communicated the lessons they learned.

With the intent of strengthing the student’s vignette field sketching, the week ended with Thursday spent in the studio walking through the fundamentals of 1 and 2-point perspectives.