The Role Of Drawing In Architecture

The Role Of Drawing In Architecture

Though it may seem obvious to argue that drawing plays a significant role in the creation of architecture, the value of the artistry of drawing in the development of architecture is a much more complex argument. Architects like Paul Klee, Daniel Libeskind and even Sim Van der Ryn all demonstrate a distinct focus on the development of architectural artistry and these can be understood through the sketchbooks and drawings of the architects.

The architectural thought process in general is one that is defined by many of the same principles that are used in drawing. Architecture is as much about structure as it is about artistry, and the use of particular elements, including the introduction of light and the use of structural factors that support the introduction of light, are clearly a part of most designs. Elements of drawing, from the use of negative space to the development of grid structures relate to the correlation between architectural design and artistry. Architectural thought or the process of architectural planning and development, is a developed thinking process distinctly linked to the artistry of drawing.

Early 20th century architect Paul Klee can be argued to be one of the easiest representatives of the link between the process of drawing and the development of architecture. Though most consider Klee an artist, his artistic process has been compared to some of the architects of the 20th century, including Daniel Libeskind. Klee’s sketchbooks and artistry demonstrate the integrate of linear elements, linear qualities and bold graphic strokes that are common in the creation of architectural form (Paul Klee, 2002).

Klee’s artistic development and the repeated forms in his sketchbooks represent an architectural ideal, and comparisons can be made between the drawing styles of Klee and those of a number of architects, like Libeskind and Van der Rym. Libeskind’s philosophy of architecture, then, is deeply rooted in the value placed on artistry and the creative process, like that of Paul Klee. Libeskind wrote: “The magic of architecture cannot be appropriated by any singular operation because it is always already floating progressing, rising, flying, breathing. Whatever the problems – political, tectonic, linguistic which architecture exposes, one thing I know is that only the intensity and passion of its call make it fun to engage in its practice” (Daniel Libeskind, 2002).

Libeskind relates the notion of architecture as it relates to the images and ideals of the architect. The process of drawing ad the development of artistryis also linked to these same elements and the conceptual perspectives of Libeskind suggest that artistry or drawing and architecture are linked in themental processes that both utilize. Libeskind goes on to say: “I have found on this very particular path that people, whether here or there or now and then,always expect more of the spaces that they have been given” (Daniel Libeskind, 2002). As a result, the focus on space and the integration of line and form are considerations both in drawing and in rchitecture that is imperative to the success of each.

The link between design and artistry and the process of each may be considered when assessing factors like ecology and the integration of nature into drawing and architecture. In recent years, there has been a shift in the human paradigm away from the notion that man can function external from considerations about nature and towards improvements in architecture that are based in an acknowledgment of natural elements. In fact, the premise of ecological architecture is the notion of sustainability, and is based on the recognition that ecology is a self-designing system that relates natural elements, energy flows and function. Unfortunately, human development and the creation ofarchitectural structures requires more than just a cursory knowledge of the way in which architecture might impact the environment, and man has more oftenfailed in his attempts to direct change. For example, Sim Van der Ryn and Stuart Cowan in Ecological Design argued that mankind has participated in more than its share of ecological disasters, basednot in the intentional misuse of the environment, but instead in the ignoranceof what is required to determine sustainability. Especially in the modern era,since the turn of the century (into the 20th century), mankind’s architecturaldevelopments have reflected the desire or expectation that nature will somehow adapt to man’s presence, rather than affording a concentrated effort towardsadapting man’s own efforts towards maintaining natural surroundings, function

There are some fundamental components of the arguments presented that should be recognized in a comparison with the historical development of ecological architecture since the 1960s. Sim Van der Ryn and Stuart Cowan defended the process of designs based in recognition of the correlation between form and the flow of energy, including the concept of scale linking (Van der Ryn and Cowan,1995). Ecological design and ecological architecture must reflect an acknowledgment of the complex interdependence between features and the way in which form and development must unite in order to determine functionality. The following natural design is one offered by Van der Ryn and Cowan (1995, p. 8) to reflect the natural processes by which function can be determined, including the

Based on this assertion, the researchers argued that architectural development scan be best understood by recognizing the way in which humankind responded to  differences in natural elements and assessed basic properties of nature as a component of architectural design, based on difference in culture, perceptionsand the period in which architectural developments were defined. It was thebasic supposition of Van der Ryn that ecological architecture reflected different cultural and social variations in the pre-1960s, 1960s and 1970s and One of the fundamental changes over the course of the last century was the belief that man used to assess the fundamental changes in nature and utilize natural forms (pre-1960s era) but that there was a slow progression away from this as a part of expansive industrial development and urbanization. In recent years, however, the move back to the assessment of nature and the flow of energy, all dynamic elements in the assessment of both function and form relative to natural progress, has instilled an alternative to what has been perceived as modern architectural development.

The movement from modernism to postmodernism and the development of architectural form is clearly an underlying principle even in the late 20th century structures created by architects like Libeskind. In order to understand the shift and the focus on the minimalist sensibility that defined the use of light, rather than structural complexity, it is imperative to consider the history of the 20th century as a theoretical background. This can be best understood through the assessment of economic and social changes that went along with the industrial development and post-World War II expansion of capitalism (Best and Kellner, 2000). The increasing postmodern sensibilities that also emerged in the later works of Libeskind were linked to an ideological culture and dissatisfaction with modernist forms. This view resulted in the expansion of a cultural perspective distinctly dispelling the former elements of the modernist culture and was reflected in both the architectural designs and link between form and function (Best and Kellner, 2000). Central to this process, then, was the fact that the modern era heralded in significant changesthat resulted in the beneficial view of the mass culture and of capitalism, both of which changed the view of the modernist ideology.

The superseding of modernism in the late 1960s with the postmodernism perspective has been recognized and applied to a number of different cultural elements, including architecture, literature, film, dance and music, all of  which have been influenced by the Western development of the mass culture (Stevens, 2002). The term postmodernism itself is generally utilized to describe the deconstruction of the existing trends, the end of the “avant-garde” and the integration of artistic practices that reject the “purism and the certainty of modernism” (Stevens, 2002). “The culture of post-modernism is `dynamic and decentred’…as apparent opposites overlap. High art, advertising, documentary,history and theory mix together to deny mainstream ideas… By comparison, the ideals of modernism can be rejected as an `elitist, arrogant and mystifying master-code of bourgeois culture …'” (Stevens).

The construction of the postmodernism perspective is based on the integration of elements of popular culture, which determine the focus on a multidisciplinary element to the development of modern architecture. In essence, the shift away from a relatively stable artistic perspective towards a more interpretive and dynamic type of modernism is clearly a part of the progression of architectural sensibilities in the second half of the 20th century. At the same time, critics have argued that the decline of structural and modernist sensibilities inherently determined the focus on the process of deconstruction (Stevens, 2002). This demonstrates a substantive shift from the early developments and traditional architectural forms towards designs that are based on a kind of immediate integration of form and function.

Rosalind Rauss integrated structural elements into the postmodernist perspective. Rauss described the grid, a component of modern architecture, as “schizophrenic,” and further suggested that the grid is a extension of what canbe viewed visually, moving from the immediate and integrating architectural elements into the infinite. Further, Rauss argued that the development of architectural elements along a grid creates both boundaries and a sense of limitlessness, taking what may appear arbitrary and placing into an architectural perspective that suggests a greater degree of order. “Thus the grid operates from the work of art outward, compelling our acknowledgment of a world beyond the frame . . . . [By contrast] the grid is in relation to thisreading a re-presentation of everything that separates the work of art from the world, from ambient space and from other objects” (Rauss, 1978).

Other theorists have also considered the same application of the structural grid in works of art and architecture. Colin Rowe, for example, considered the concept of centralization as it applies to the integration of the grid and its repetitive nature and suggested that the coordination of elements underscores the structural composition, but detracts from the ability to understand the seemingly imperceptible gradations that can establish or separate one part of a building or the entire structure of a building from others. This perspective corresponds with elements of Rauss’ argument and underscores the importance of factors like understanding absolute space, defining a reference system and the integration of a functional grid as components of the architectural design of postmodernism. Architects like Liberskind provide some insight into the use of  grid elements and the three dimensional continuum of the grid as they relate to the architectural vision and perceptions of issues like space, uniformity and volume (Maitland, 1979).

One of the major problems in the development of architecture in the modern era is that it has become inextricably self-referential. In other words, it has been recognized that architecture fits into an artistic classification and that comparisons in form relate to other designs, rather than to an acknowledgment of natural process, natural order, flow and function (Pallasmaa, 1993). Some theorists have argued that the transformation of the modern architecture is a direct result of the ignorance of ecological functionalism and the need to move back to systems that address nature’s natural cycles (Pallasmaa, 1993).

The early American settlements in Jamestown and Plymouth recognized the importance of creating functional civilizations that also reflected an acknowledgment of natural elements. It was not unusual during this era for development to be strictly limited to regions of the new Americas that had water access and that were shaped by topographical components that were beneficial for constructing a community. As a result, many of the early settlers recognized the correlation between natural features and the creation of a new community based on necessity rather than a rejection of the importance of nature.

In the modern era, changes have occurred in the approach to architectural development, with a concentration on the notion of sustainability. It is interesting to note that the early settlers of Plymouth and Jamestown  recognized the limitations of the region, and settlers sought to utilize natural resources in order to create their emerging civilizations. It was not long before many pursued the development of a timber industry, for example, as a component of creating the civilizations that would shape the industrial cities of the 20th century (Fromont, 1994).

Some call this the “new urbanist” movement, the creation of suburban-type communities in natural regions that more often than not negate the premise thatthey can somehow integrate into a sustainable natural population. Though the architectural development clearly demonstrates an acknowledge of natural challenges, there is little in the creation of this utopian community that suggests success in creating natural sustainability. One of the architectural focuses of this region was the hope to maintain some of the natural features ofthe land and keep in place the woods and natural beauty that was there. But one of the issues that has been related through Sim Van der Ryn’s perspective on ecological design and ecological architecture is that the notion that man can simply place manmade structures into an existing an interdependent environment without making assessments of the ecological impact will not end in a positive Critics of the modernist and postmodernism architectural sensibilities have argued that the influence of Western beliefs and ideals is defined by the correlation between assessments of truth and perceptions of mechanisms like function and artistry, all of which create a sense of the temporality of architecture and the need to consider lasting implications of design factors. At the same time, it is valuable to consider the role that artistry plays in the architectural developments of men like Daniel Liberskind. Libeskind (2002)related this in the following statement: “The spirit of architecture wanders


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