Engaging with Drawing Pedagogy

  • Architects and their relationship to drawing has been central to our discussions at SEA regarding a new spatial pedagogy. Considering that architects do not go on to build the forms and spaces that they imagine, the drawing is very often the closest they get to realising these imaginations. This is especially true for them as students. All that they go on to perpetuate as their understanding of built form in the spaces beyond the university comes from a deep and laborious engagement with the drawing throughout their experiments as students. The capacity of drawing in architecture is to be the channel for the desire to build. It is the language that mobilises form and thought and experience, and is rooted in the practice of the image, itself stemming from our interactions with our available visual cultures.

  • At SEA, the idea of drawing is opened up to include all manner of expressions, including ones that are not limited to two dimensional forms, such as sculpture; or those that constitute making an entirely different kind of mark, such as writing.

  • Since the architect is tasked with imagining new form, their role is essentially about making a meaningful spatial encounter for the “client”, where the client is, to the exclusion of all other understandings (like that of the patron), the inhabitant of that space. This would mean that they must develop a sensitivity, criticality and a humanism in their approach to built form, and simultaneously think of form phenomenologically, and use aesthetics to create meaning and experience in this encounter.

  • In order to do both, a study of our historical spaces, a study of the self and the other through the different visual cultures that we populate becomes crucial to understanding the images that we inherit and the politics of our aesthetic positions. Since all of this is rooted in the environments we grow up in, the visual language / aesthetics of these environments, unless they are examined, are what we continue to send out into the world.

  • This is what we consider to be the examination of visual culture. Where VC, beyond a study of large works of art that are produced by a people in a particular context, or even beyond the study of popular works of art and the societies that they emerged from, in the context of the spatial pedagogy that we are interested in building, is about, (Eilean Hooper-Greenhill, Museums and the Interpretation of Visual Culture), focusing on questions of what is made visible, who sees what, how seeing, knowing and power are interrelated.
  • To explain that further, the examination of our specific visual cultures is an examination of our selves and the positions we occupy in the world, the two are inextricably linked. The study of this visual culture is a political study and unravelling this would mean uncovering many many aspects of our lives. Beyond the obvious, popular ones of our myths and other iconic imagery, it would mean reflecting on our homes and our furniture, the posters on our walls, what we see everyday on our routes to work, the films we grew up with and posts we save on Instagram.

  • What this allows is the setting up of a drawing ecology or a drawing culture, where one is able to develop form of thinking that lets you be critical of the world through the visuals that we receive. Here the pedagogue is less concerned with teaching “how to draw”, because this leads us back to solutionised ways of thinking about form and space, but makes explicit the relationship between seeing and knowing, and in doing so, builds a thinking capacity, sets up processes of interpretation, thereby shaping aesthetics and creating a new consciousness towards the visual. This pedagogue therefore makes the case that it is essential to surround ourselves with images, make collections, and build an archive  in order to be evaluative of space making.

  • In order to set up this drawing culture, this drawing ecology, along with the examination of our environments, we must also broaden this repository of images that we may come to understand how visual cultures reach across time and cultures and generations to make accessible and visible a commonality that underlies the ways in which we think and produce images.

  • Through this process of critical reflection and projections that emerge from a wider archive of drawing practices, it is hoped that institutional ways of learning may be challenged and new knowledge towards the production and representation of space may emerge.