Topic for Debate
Hand or computer?
Dear all,

I am curious to find out how many of you fellow students of architecture (or future fellow architects) still draw plans of your projects in an old fashioned way, with hand, pencil, ink, ruler, etc. Though I am fairly well equiped with computer and know how to use a bunch of programs for 3d modeling, I myself still prefer drawing with hand, since I feel this is an art for itself which is, sadly, dying out these days!
Luka Trkanjec
Hand or computer?
In my opinion, the drawing board and pencil should never be replaced completely.

As you mentioned, drawing by hand is an art. I believe some of your own personality comes through in a drawing. This brings character to a design. It also allows you to interact with the design on a more personal level.

Computer drawings do have their advantages and we shall use them. I like to add familiar lines to my drawings that I normally draw by hand to create a deeper sense of meaning in the prints. This can be better explained by saying that I draw lines that often 'soften' the overall drawing.

I consider myself 'pathetic' with 3D drawing on computer. Any suggestions in terms of improvement and what do you think is the best program to start/work with?

Happy 'drawing'....
Yumna Moosa
Hand or computer?
Dear Yumna,

I would suggest starting with Rhino; it is very simple, yet very powerful modeling program. However, you can never get realy good pictures or models on computer if you work only in a single program. If you do that, you will get renders which show only very apstract cubical forms painted in unrealistic colors which mostly 'float' in empty void of cyberspace; unfrotunately, renders of most people I've seen working on computer look like this, totaly unrealistic and hardly an art equal to hand-drawn perspectives or plans. You need to combine modeling programs, such as Rhino or 3dstudio or various CADs with programs which create terains and vegetation, such as Bryce or Tergen, together with programs for final picture editing like Photoshop or Corel Draw. Only then you'll get realistic renders, which look like photographs of a done building in a real enviroment, and which can compete with an art of a hand-drawn blueprint.

I wonder if the real problem betwen hand-drawn and computer-drawn is acctualy the lack of any serious effort? People tend to switch to computers because they find it easier than to draw with hand, so they perhaps stop trying?

Happy drawing to you too.
Luka Trkanjec
Hand or computer?
True, there are alot of times when using the computer is far easier than doing the drawing by hand. Like for example, adapting drawings are done much faster on computer.

BUT... drawing by hand is an absolute pleasure. Why destroy the satisfaction of shading feeling into your design.

I do not deny human ability to create feeling in a computer design. I will refer you to 'Neil Spiller' a master of computer generated designs. His drawings describe an Architecture deeper than any other CAD I've ever seen. It speaks to you, can you relate? You will notice that there exist lines similar to abstract hand-drawn lines. This is enough to pacify me and appreciate the genius of his work.

Have a look and let me know what you think.

Thanks for the advice about the 3D...
Yumna Moosa
Hand or computer?
As someone who is fluent in both the hand and computer languages of drawing, I have observed the following disadvantages to drawing on computers, especially for students of architecture:

- Most often, students who work primarily on the computer will never learn the appropriate amount of detail that needs to be present for a drawing that will be printed at a certain scale. You may see, CAD plans printed, say, at 1/32" (~1:400) scale with door swings and wall details. One never falls into this trap while drawing by hand, because you simply cannot zoom and zoom into your drawing indefinitely like you can on the computer.

- Computers exacerbate the anal traits of architects and hence, make them lose time correcting stupid things like two lines that do not intersect exactly at a corner, which, on a hand-drawn plan, would not make a difference. I agree that clean drawings are necessary for the construction stage of a building but for architectural students, this is simply unnecessary.

- Drawing by hand is a learning experience that, for me, is not equal to drawing on the computer. I often work with landscapes and have learnt tons from just hand-copying topo lines from a map than just using photoshop to separate them from the map.

And, I agree with all that's been said about drawings showing your own personality/style etc. and the pleasures of hand-drawing (although, we've know the pains too, right? like that time when you spilled coffee on your best watercolor or when your hand and back ached for dates from bending onto the drawing board)

As for 3D modeling, same applies for me. I learn a lot from sketching in perspective, which I believe to be an extremely valuable design tool for architects.

Ozgur Basak Alkan
Hand or computer?
hello all
this is a very interesting subject to discuss since it is important to all of us i found it easier to draw by hand than using computer it was really faster to me though i know how to use modeling and cad softwares ,but if you are talking about the time you'll save by using a computer thats a different issue then ,i really think that architects should draw there plans ,perspective ,elevations,...etc by hand it gives life to you drawing it makes you aware of every detail on the sheet it is also soo tiring espicially but it gives you a real pleasure of self satisfaction when you finish ...its also cheaper than printing out all your drawing there have been some cases in our university that it costs more than 1000-2000 dollars for printing out all your sheets
Marwa Yousef
Hand or computer?
Hello all..
A very commonly disccused topic-the argument or hand.
I definitely feel computer helps in increasing speed and accuracy..But this is the time when softwares are developed which are trying to replace architects.No matter how perfect a computer made drawing can look or be,the passion of each line that you draw can never be over ridden by computers.
I believe computers should just be used as a tool to express ones design and remain so.It shouldnt be let to totally take the place of an architect.It is true that walk through models and 3d drawings and lot more can be done with computers but the same old hand drawn perspective drawings have more meaning.
A hand drawn line drawn definitely has a phsycological impact.Handdrawings speak more enormously in both visual and verbal ways..
Todays students try designing straight in autocad or any software..its the filleting , chamfering and offsetting etc..which decides their end product...No matter how much technology can be brought in, design has to evolve from lead and papers..Thats where u can really put in ur real self and ur wildest thoughts.
The message here is not to rule off computers ..But to use it only after the design forming has happened on paper or all the possibilities are tried on paper.Definitely making corrections and copies of hand made drawings are time consuming when compared to computers..Thus it can just be used as a drawing aid and less as designing aid.
Merylene Thomas
Hand or computer?
Both are equally interesting. Like message of Frank o Gehry i gave in topic of architectyral books, we become obsessed with whatever we do and we suddemly stick to it. otherwise evrything is interesting. When I work on cad, i just do that, and when writing then only writing , and when drawing then fors days i do that only. This is the common pattern set. Both have limitations and advantages, only thing is we should not become too much obssesive which subconsciously and always tends to happen.
Manish Desai
Hand or computer?
Drawing with hand is creation and art, but drawing by computer is not creation but a modern technology. There are merits and disadvantages in both types. It is up to the individual's aptitude and choice. Art and technology go parallel. If we go deep into this subject, we will come to the conclusion that modern technology is the child of art, which still needs the caring and guidance of art.
Alamzeb Akhund
Hand or computer?
I would say that using a computer has its advantage like time saving, but drawing on board has a certain high and a sense of pride. Whenever I feel that using a board will take more time I go for CAD but I don't feel happy with it.
Andaleeb Rizvi
Hand or computer?
Hello, There have been wonderful contributions to this thread of discussion with almost every one agreeing to the different advantages of both computer and hand drawings. Though the computer has greatly improved the quality and speed of drawing but i think it can hardly rerplace it, because ideas which form the basis for any architectural drawing are mostly if not always drawn by hand in form of skecthes which will be rendered for presentation by computers or manually.......... Well i will also say, Happy Drawing!!!!!!
Abulqasim Elgazwi
Hand or computer?
Drawing (Or designing by computer), I can't create a ethnic detail. However, it always can create by hand. Some architecture must consist of beautifuly detailing. So how..?
By computer, it can make easy modulling design. In some cases, it really important to use computer. But freehand' is main (or first) step to do something and anything in architecture design.
Robertus Piet
Hand or computer?
I have used pencil from my days of learning, and it is a pleasure to do so. Computers are a great help, no doubt, but I would like to be a student life long, a learner and therefore would always advocate for the pencil.
Jayant Misra
Hand or computer?
Oh... it's THE subject...

I am greatly in favor of the computer. First of all, we need to draw a line between artistic drawings rendered by hand and technical plans drawn by ink and pen.

While I agree that hand drawn perspectives, watercolors, aquarells, and all that are still highly regarded and allow you to leave a personal mark, I honestly do not forsee a bright future for this "traditional" technique, or, in fact, the traditional tools.

Today we have graphic tablets, like the ones that Wacom produces. The cintiq series are quite expensive, and there is probably no student out there who could afford them, but as technology advances, I think there will be much cheaper models in the near future with the same capabilities as todays high-end products (it's been like that with every type of product in the computer industry). Sceptics will say that it can be compared to a real brush and paper in no way, but I think that they just haven't given it a try. With an lcd tablet you can actually see what you are drawing rather than drawing in one place and looking at another, like with the regular tablets. You have the ability to change the feel of your "canvas" by simply replacing the pen nib. Every single drawing and painting tool is at your disposal with a simple click. I even consider contemporary software like Corel Painter to be highly advanced, but I can't even imagine what future holds for them as computers get more and more powerful.

The pencils, ink, rulers are a whole different story. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO ADVANTAGE, AND NO UPSIDE IN DRAWING TECH PLANS BY HAND. Face it.

The "paranormal" theory which has yet to be proven, makes my stomach turn. Technical drawings DO NOT CONTAIN A SOUL, its basically just a dead tree and some graphite or ink.

This applies to the render story as well - I don't think that architecture has to be linked to drawing at all, if you want to make great watercolor renderings you should've studied fine art, if you want to make stunning 3d renderings, you should've studied something in the field of CG, and most importantly, if you want to make sculptures, then again, you should've studied fine art.

Your primary field should be architecture, and architecture, in my opinion, is molding space. You can mold space by folding and cutting paper, by using clay, by drawing perspectives, by building 3d models... in fact any number of ways, but these are just tools, ways of achieving something else, and you should move to that something else and not stick with the tool.

I never saw art in a technical plan. It is simply there to serve its purpose. To give you a licence, to tell that construction worker where to lay a brick or put a pipe... The art is in the end product, a real life, architectural object, that was given birth in your head, and through a number irrelevant means, was actually born in real life too.

The story about modern tools is far more relevant in this case. If you feel passionate about every single auxiliary line and every single dimension in your technical drawing you will end up designing five buildings in your life time. Like I already said, paper can't contain soul, and even if it was able to, it would've probably contained a soul BEFORE it was brutally cut down from a forest and processed. A plan has only one purpose, to be precise, and to be clear. If you can't connect two corners perfectly, then you should've spent less time watercoloring and more time studying your construction details, then you could realize that you're about to make a mistake along the way which is going to cost the investor a great deal of time and a lot of money.

So, unlike a water color rendering, where you can be passionate about your every brush stroke, and where you can develop a style which might be impossible to be reproduced on a computer (this is why it won't die out so easily, if ever), you CAN'T be passionate about your every line and every mark on your technical plan. Sure, you can always say that a CAD drafted plan looks too sterile (even though it's purpose is to look like that), but ask yourself, is drawing by hand really the way to overcome this... I don't even know how to call it, since I don't see it as an obstacle.

Does anyone know a program called Piranesi? With it you can make a simple, soft-looking, aquarell-like render in a matter of minutes.

Why doesn't someone develop something like that for CAD software, if you so badly need it. If I knew a thing or two about programming, I would've done it myself. I hope that you all agree with me that you can't put much effort into every single line in a technical plan, but you can develop some sort of style, ie. the corners wouldn't be straight, the lines would intersect, the line wouldn't be constant it would "pulse" a little, or something like that. You can easily reproduce all these effects on a computer, and still have all the advantages.

The risk of spilling ink over a completly drafted plan is just too much.

The pain of drawing every window and every detail from scratch rather than just copying them is just too much.

The effort needed to maintain your tools, clean your rulers and your pens, is just not worth it...

Whoever speaks in favor of this, probably never had to draft by hand with a strict and short deadline hanging above his head.

Dusan Bosnjak
Hand or computer?
I am a second year student, Faculty of Architecture, University of Belgrade. Before getting admitted to the faculty, I was a certified architectural draftsman, having finished an architectural technical school.

Even though I was in something called "the experimental, computer class", I'd hardly ever used a computer. The reason wasn't even some narrow-minded conservatism, it actually had to do with the state of my country, the school system, the lack of finance, lack of computers, lack of means...

Even though we received no computer training, we were allowed to use computers in later years (the school lasted 4 years), but we started with all the traditional subjects like "technical drawing" "freehand drawing". I've passed through my "why don't we use a computer, it's so much easier" phase when I was 16, or at least I thought so. I saw it then as a nuisance, as something that simply needs to be done in order to pass along. I figured that it probably has something to do with some pedagogical methods, or something, I've never really seen a point to it. I finished my school, I gained some routine in hand drafting, I learned something basic about cad drafting, got my diploma and applied for the university.

After passing a very tough admission exam, and proving my abilities to free hand draw (we had 4 hours to draw a huge and very complex composition, in a round theater hall, on a 50cm by 70cm paper), and to orient in space, I was back to where I started, a blank page, which needs to be filled by sweat, nerves, blisters and scalpel cuts.

I am not really sure if you can relate to my story without seeing some examples, and I promise, I will take some photos of my assigments from the most dreaded class and I will post them.

Is it enough to say that I've spent a minimum of 10 hours a week for the entire duration of the first two semesters making drawings for this subject. We don't have a campus, we don't have an internet center, our library was being renovated for months, so during the week, where we had lectures in the morning, 2 hour pauses, practice in the evening, there really wasn't any time to do anything productive, and after somehow making it through the week, we've had a nice relaxing weekend, partying with our huge rulers, scalpels, ink and pen, and 48cm by 48cm paper. This single subject, which was absurd by its very nature, left no time for the other subjects, far more important subjects like the pivotal design class. Forget 3d renders, watercolors, you were lucky if you had enough time to work through your design idea and present the minimum of required plans.

I saw absolutely no educational value in this subject. It actually didn't train anyone to properly draft. It was some bizarre mix of abstract thought, limited by the sheer amount of physical work, and ancient techniques.

Our first semester consisted of copying given patterns. There wasn't a single measurement to be made, only endless subdivisions using diagonals, connecting points and so on. The agony began when we started filling large surfaces using thousands of parallel lines. Using a 0.5mm pen, and a ruler, we had to draw thousands of close parallel lines in order to fill a surface black. Then, the very last circle of hell was when we had to fill the transparent paper in the same manner, and then glue together countless layers of it in order to get different shades... What does this have to do with architecture?! All the while this was happening, my fellow colleagues have no idea how to draw dimensions, where and how to mark their elements on their technical plans or how to write in a technical manner.

Our second semester with this subject actually tended to be more interesting. We've moved from copying those patterns like mindless drones, and actually had something which seemed like a creative assignment.

One assigment was to design a monogram from our initials, and eventually turn it into someting 3-dimensional. The other assignment was to create a architectonical-like sculpture in a given raster and the final was to redesign an object from our faculty bulding, like a lamp for example. Wow, finally, something fun and creative, I thought. But I soon realized that again we have to do everything by hand. I found this much too limiting. The second assigment ended up with boring, boring, boring cubical compositions, all of them could be made in a 3d software in less than two minutes, or by 2 year old children with lego duplos. I wanted to make some curved deformed surfaces, in the manner of F.O.Gehry, but when I realized that I will have to draw it all by hand, and that I might even have to make a physical model, I figured that it would be as same as signing a death sentence since I probably wouldn't pass any other subjects because of this.

This is a draft I created, I wanted to do so much more with the final model, but gave it up, and so it ended up being no less boring than any other model out there.

This is just like giving you a chance to race in a formula 1 race, but conditioning you to use a tractor instead of a formula.

So let's sum this up. The only thing I might've gained from this subject is some routine in drafting. I can't be selfish, since I've been a draftsman before the subject and a lot of my collegues had their first experience with a ruler and a pen on that subject.

But then again, we would've gained much more routine if we had spent more time drawing real technical drawings, with real numbers, real text, real dimensions instead of these semi-abstract ones.

We had to make a lot of physical models, but this was unsupervised, done as homework, I could've done the same thing without the subject.

I've learned nothing about designing my posters, and I still end up submitting a white paper with a single render on it, no page design whatsoever. Even though I learned nothing (no lecture, and no practice covered it), I did get a lousy grade because of the lack of design.

I won't be able to apply this knowledge in real life, ever.

Like everything in my country, we now have subjects THAT REQUIRE computer generated models and drawings, even though this semester is our first meeting point with a computer (this is why I am on this site in the first place), but we still haven't touched any serious CAD or modeling application.

I feel I had to share my experience, and even though it's a long post, this is as summed up as I could write it. I feel it is important because I want to ask a few questions.

I would like to know the experience of students all over the world about the knowledge they gained on their universities. Did you learn CAD, when have you started, how much training did you receive on making physical models, and how many fingers do you have :)

Do you have access to computers, do you have access to CNC machines or something like that.

Do you have rulers attached to your desks in your classrooms(we had to pin the string to the table with edges like Emmenthaler cheese, and mount our rulers before every class).

Do you have lockers where you can put your tools? (we have none, I've broken many rulers in a crowded bus and a couple of times it almost got me into a fight)

And another question, which has been plaguing me since I've started my studies.

Who exactly proclaimed a technical pencil, a rapidograph, and a ruler as the pinnacle of drafting technology?

If anything is achieved through sweat, tears, nerves, blood, patience, blisters, why use something as advanced as a rapidograph and a technical pencil then? Wouldn't it be much more effective to use a wooden pencil which has to be sharpened after every line? Instead of a pretty sophisticated rapidograph, why not use that small thing where you have to pour ink before every line you draw? Instead of nylon string and a ruler, why not use rope and splinter, or whatever the predecessor to a ruler was...

Who exactly said "ok, we've invented a rapidograph, a plastic technical pencil, this is it, there is no need to advance our tools any further"? Why do people detest computers so much. Why isn't it regarded as just another simple step, or, since it's nature, by a fairly larger step - a leap across five steps. I am sure we are not on the second floor yet. Have you seen the multi touch screen which recognizes different fingers at the same time? 3d scanners might get more compact, cheap, you might be able to model digitally with your hands instead of a mouse and a keyboard. I am sure the second floor is in fact unreachable, but we can climb those stairs further and further...

But the conservative thought, and narrow mindness can make you stop your climb, it may even push you off those stairs and make you break your neck. I've almost given up on architecture after I've felt that there is nothing more to architecture than drawing thousands of parallel lines next to eachother...

Dusan Bosnjak
Hand or computer?
There is also a whole other subject here, but I feel that I am too inferior at this time to make a meaningful contribution, but I can start it.

The part of me being too young, and not informed enough is saying this: I don't really understand architects like Zaha Hadid - paper architects, designing something that can never be built, and something which looks good on a webpage or on exhibitions.

To me, architecture is practical merged with beautiful, art and science. I see no point in designing something which can't be put to use.

This is why I am a strong advocate of hyper realistic renderings. I think the whole point of a render is to show people how their neghbourhood, how their city is going to look like after my object is built there. A regular Joe Citizen can't understand my concept drawing, but he's the one who has to live inside that object, or pass near it every day. I'd present everyone with the final picture, rather than leaving them to their imagination, eventually they'll get disappointed if it ends up being something completely different.

Dusan Bosnjak
Hand or computer?
Dear all,

What I see is right is to design with hand then presenting on computer.
J.J. Khalid
Hand or computer?
I'm not an architect, but I use blueprints in my paintings. I say you should use both.
Nilsen Turan-Kennedy
Hand or computer?
PLEASE comment, it took a lot of effort to write the text above.
Dusan Bosnjak
Hand or computer?

Thank you for all the blood, sweat and tears that you poured into your response.

On the one hand a perfectly valid argument can be made that the pencil is as good a choice as the most sophisticated 3D modeling/rendering software on a Ferrari of a computer workstation - for sketching, that is.

If on the otherhand one intends to make a final rendering, there is now and will never again be a valid comparison between the hand rendering and that of the computer.

The computer allows complete flexibility with the model, the lighting, the point of view, the resolution, the field of view, the environment and the materials of the model.

For any of these changes a completely new final hand render would be necessary. With the computer a few changes could be saved to the digital model and a new render could be launched. Multiple renders can be made from the same digital source files.

I sympathize with the pains you've taken with your manual renders. As someone with a fine arts background I was first attracted to 3D graphics in the mid 1980's. At that time the only decent output was a small pen plotter. It has been a pleasure to see the capabilities of graphics computers and 2D and 3D software advance so quickly into photorealistic realms. The real value, however, to me is the graphics computer as an aid to visualization.

I'm looking currently at 3D printers as a means of 'casting' my 3D digital models.

Best of luck in your efforts,

Daniel Owen
Hand or computer?
Hand or computer?
Drawing with hand is creation and art, but drawing by computer is not creation but a modern technology.....
-- Alamzeb Akhund,

I somewhat disagree with your point - believing that all technologies derive (or over time & use  arrive ) from or into 'tools'.
Case in point is the beloved pencil - invented if I remember correctly about 500 years ago.  First noted for use in illustrations in Switzerland for documents of botanicals.  It was a technology - now because of widespread and creative artistic, aesthetic & purely functional applications as a tool.  There was an article I read in a publication on inventions that covered the topic in a lively fashion, which is why it comes to mind.

Paper was a technological product more valuable in the era of its invention than gold, thousands of years ago. Inks, pigments, paints, hammers & other items accepted by many as tools because they are

  • of now lower cost,
  • widely dispersed
  • and readily available
and as an unconscious result are cherished for their hands on creativity & artistic potential...
and because of that have influenced art and architecture and architecture and art.

At the heart of this debate that Luka posted is the belief that one process is more rewarding (greater value) or the inverse based on a precedent of liking new things - embracing change or liking things the way they are - the familiar.

Personally, I work in depth with both old tools and new technology depending on the timeliness of the process for the vision that I have in mind. I stumbled into exploring computerized drawing and fabrication as an artist. It appeared to be a more practical approach - time, design potential (vision), and ultimately cost for materials that conventional tools like hammer and forge were a bit too physical for myself.

The basic history of what it grew from and into make it very fascinating-
The use of computer drawing is in its infancy for about 30 years. It is the creation of engineers who in the beginning did not want to crunch g-code (NC of CNC) for early automated manufacturing processes. CNC grew directly out of the .dxf - data exchange format developed originally by AutoCad. That has been an inherent bias that has influenced its ongoing application and expansion into flexible application without lots of outside technical assistance (cost), and abandonment of final execution/product look and feel. Computer-designed things are generally rectilinear (gears, brackets, flanges ;-( - and so are the buildings created by architects using 'modern' technology. This is a departure from how technology devolves into tools. The new process lacks the experience of organic or natural form that is a normal benchmark of adaptation into tools.

Just like learning the craft of hand drawing does not make a creative artist, but forms the foundation for creative expression - the process takes dedication and devotion. It takes architects and artists to change the accepted model and it takes several years to experiment with what is better, the compatibilities of software, hardware and machine processes. My sort of rule of thumb is hold a vision in one's mind's eye for what represents excellence, and then figure to easily accomplish it in a timely/acceptable fashion it might take three years of constant practice. One gets better with practice. It becomes rewarding and enjoyable at the same time. It can engender a similar creative feel over time.

There are no rules - only guidelines and lots of unseen obstacles (strengths and weaknesses) created by well intentioned engineers. It is only another pencil and paper (and hammer or chisel if you make things), with the potential beyond the older established set of technologies - ie. pencil and paper. Generally, and technology can be succintly described because techologies make some observers fearful of transitions into the unfamiliar, and tools one looks at, and understands their potential both creative and functional without much thinking. So if you have a vision in mind, and disregard the people who tell you that things are not possible to make a fine art, flexible craft, or natural document with computers, and persist. It has its own magic just like twirling a pencil to keep a lead sharp or vary line weight on a variety of papers. What you see (draw) is exactly what you can make (get) - or as drawn is as built. I consider it a choice of labor saving approaches. Pick the path of least resistance and your life will be more enjoyable and more creative dreams will be realized.

Eileen Webb
Hand or computer?

It's the same project, whether it's drawn by hand or by computer.
The project can't be more or less lively, judging by its renderings, static calculations, cost analysis, or plans, it can be more or less lively judging by its form, it's materialisation, the order of rooms and so on...

The plan, on the other hand can be more or less "lively"... but at what cost. With today's technology, I can create two exactly the same drawings, one by hand, and one by computer and you couldn't tell the difference, same paper, same ink, same lead, same colors, same variation, doesn't matter.

One thing I could never justify, though, is the cost of creating a CNC-like machine that would mimic an artist's brush, or an experienced 19th century architectural draftsman, but I believe it is possible.

Daniel and Eileen,

Thank you for your feedback, now I know my text was not in vain :).

The only thing I would like to share with you are my drawings for the aforementioned class, I can stick my head in the guillotine if anyone of you had a remotely similiar class.
But unfortunately, in my most recent cleanup, they passed away to the eternal junkyard where they belonged anyway, for too long they were gathering dust behind my back and I felt a strong aura of the Dark Side emitting from them.
Fortunately, I've started using a plotter halfway through the class, so I have most of them in .dwg format.
The bane and agony of reproducing those drawings and schemes by a rapidograph, I will leave for your imagination.

The class that you've mentioned, conceptual drawing, I think I had something similar. It's a class whose name I still can't translate into English. Literally it would be "drawn geometry", there we dealt with the issue of axonometry, projections, intersections between planes and objects, complex mathematical forms like "parabolic hiberboloid" (if this is the right name).[Ed.: the English term is "hyperbolic parabola"].

This was probably one of the toughest subjects in the history of our faculty, I've known some of my mom's collegues who left this exam until their final year (it's a 1st year subject). A lot of my collegues hated it, saying that they saw no use for it whatsoever, but I couldn't imagine building a 3d model, or in some lesser degree even producing plans without some basic knowledge of it.

I will post some of my assigments for this subject too, I would really like to know if it is the same thing.

Dusan Bosnjak
Hand or computer?
For me, I love the old way. In fact I feel that drawing with pencil, ink and ruler is the real taste of architecture. I also feel that the projects which were drawn by pencil are more lively than the other computerized projects.
Hend Ismail
Hand or computer?
Hi Dusan,

It is always nice to see a concerned and passionate architect. A lot of points that you made in your postings are entirely valid. The use of CAD in technical drawings is very logical and indeed saves a lot of time. These tools should be used extensively at the right places. Your point about paper architecture in the other post is also valid. I personally don��t see anything interesting in some of these flashy lines, great graphics, amazing perspectives done by some architects that never get built. In fact I have seen a couple of built projects by these architects, and you will be surprised to see how commonplace and ugly they look.

Architecture is all about the building, and not its representation in the form of words or drawings. In this context, it doesn't matter how one draws up a building; all that matters is the quality of the space that is drawn up. I would prefer a badly drawn beautiful space to a graphically pleasing monotonous space.

However, I think you are mixing up two things here. Drawing is just one tiny aspect of architecture. Architectural education encompasses many other things as well. I am surprised that your professors didn't let you in on the full import of the exercises they were getting done. Believe me, we did fill up pages and pages with equally spaced 3 mm lines, and our professor would ask us to repeat the whole sheet if he found even a single line drawn with a different intensity or spacing. We were using 2mm lead pencils and not .5mm leads, making the job really difficult. In the first year, we were also made to draw many patterns on blank papers and newspapers. We also had to draw cubes, spheres, cones etc. and render them. We also drew endless amounts of brickwork showing bonding patterns, complete with 10mm mortar joints! All this was not an exercise in drafting techniques. Indeed, drafting is just one tiny bit of architecture. All this was intended to make us aware of scale and proportions. Even today in most cases I am able to see a line or a space and accurately judge its dimensions with 95% accuracy; and I was not the best student in class! More importantly, we are able to look at spaces and forms and appreciate scale and proportion. We are also able to look at other spaces and wonder whether a tiny increase in height or width of the space would have made the space much better. There is method in the madness.

One could start a 4-5 year architecture course by asking you to design a small house on the first day. Or one could start by tuning your mind to the intricacies of space and its composition.

Recently we had a thread topic here debating the question 'why we need architects?'. To me, this is one of the primary reasons we need an architect. A layman, or even an engineer to some extent, would not know the difference between a 3 X 4 meter space and a 3 X 4.2 meter space, whereas an architect should be well aware of what difference it will make not only visually, but also in terms of internal dimensioning of smaller elements like doors and windows.

I am afraid to say that you have taken all these exercises in the wrong spirit. I am sure you would have learnt a lot about dimension, proportion and weight in these exercises. They are not designed to torture you on your drafting skills. They are architectural exercises. At the same time, I am not justifying all the exercises given by your faculty. Of course, some of them might have missed the mark or been too cumbersome.

After reading your comments, I think the faculty should also have talked to you about the meaning and importance of these exercises at the end of the semester.

All is not lost. The hard work that you put in will eventually help you in designing better, rather than just becoming a paper architect!
Vishwanath Kashikar


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