A Critique of Contemporary Architectural Drawing Practices

One of the premises this research cluster works with is that there is a relationship between the form, framework and method of drawing used for spatial imagination and spatiality that gets produced through such drawing - the imagination of space is shaped by the mechanics of drawings through which it gets produced. Based on this premise, this section of the research cluster focuses  on the ways in which contemporary practices of drawing perpetuate a hegemony of certain specific ideas of space and certain kinds of building making processes. The study will aim at laying bare the characteristics of spatiality that gets produced through these drawing practices.

Cartographic, orthographic and perspective drawings have long held sway as the dominant mode and method for thinking of space and built form. Through aggressive colonial and post-colonial institutionalisation these forms have become a universal language to speak of space. On the other hand, several forms of drawing and the ways in which they challenge orthographic imagination, and are curious and inventive about the production of space lie dormant and do not enter either mainstream discourse in education, nor are they considered relevant by architectural studios that produce built form. Another section of this research cluster, Survey of Spatial Drawings aims at identifying such drawings.

In this section, we shall aim at establishing the relationship between the cartographic, orthographic and perspective forms of drawings with the kind of spatality they produce. We work with a hypothesis here that while orthographies limit the idea of space into measurable physical entities, they are also instrumental in making such physicalities exeteremly deterministic producing the idea of standards.
In his essay, Models and Drawings, The Invisible Nature of Architecture (2017) the Italian architectural theorist Marco Frascari argues:” ...current architectural graphic productions have reached an unchangeable and highly sterile phase of inert classifications and taxonomies, based on a pseudo-transparency of scope and a pseudo-scientific justification of the functions and roles carried out by the different kinds of architectural representations.” ( Frascari’s critique emerges from an assessment of the deluge of drawings that come from architectural practices that are shaped by market forces that dictate a language that centres a “client understanding” to ensure the continuity of projects. Here, Frascari also points at the validations from building-making industries that the contemporary drawings have received legitimising them as the form of drawings for spatial imagination, Along with developing a sharp critique of the centrality of orthographic drawing, as well as the overproduced, infinitely reproduced 3-d visualisations. This research will extend itself into looking closely at how the companion forms of the Bill of Quantities, the Working Drawings, the specifications, etc, have shaped the thinking and making of space.

The critique of presiding practices of drawing and the simultaneous analysis of non orthographic modes of the imagination of space (undertaken more thoroughly in the survey of drawing space) hopes to set up a framework through which possibilities for the making of new kinds of experiences and inhabitations of space are thrown open for serious consideration in architectural pedagogy and discourse.