Architecture Taken Over By Machines



Is this the end of the art of drawing in architecture?

Computers and technology are invading our lives. Architecture is also affected by them. Today the profession is almost entirely transformed by the widespread use of computer-aided design software like AutoCAD and Revit. These tools are able to do a great number of things. They can easily organize and share data, sketch designs or generate a complete construction. However, they seem to be replacing one important aspect of the architecture – the process of drawing.

Until recently, architecture was seen as an artistic profession. That was due to the fact that architects had to use their minds and hands. Today, however, their hands are often replaced by machines.

Everything is Good When Used in Moderation

Don’t get us wrong! There is nothing bad in using computer technology in architecture. As it was already mentioned – computer software is quite helpful. Nevertheless, architects should not completely wipe drawing off their work. Now, that would be wrong.

The explanation is simple – drawings represent the process of the thought. Moreover, they are not just a process. Drawings are also a network of relations. They are a result of the relation between the architect’s mind, eyes and hands. Therefore, drawing will always remain part of that profession. Not even the most advanced technology can fully replace this creative process.

Just a Picture on the Wall?

In fact, many people today have an immense respect for architectural drawings. A lot of reputable architects exhibit their works in famous galleries and museums like the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the cooper-Hewitt. There is even an entire market for that art.

But drawings should not be merely seen as a pretty sketch or a collector’s item. They have a higher purpose. Through them the architect can remember or study something. Moreover, the designer of the drawing is engaged in every phase of the process and not only in its final result.

Types of Architectural Drawing

We can divide architectural drawing into three different types:

1. Definitive sketch – this is the final drawing and, as such, it is the most developed one. Today, many architects use computers to produce it. There’s nothing wrong in that because this final drawing requires more precision and work.

2. Referential sketch – this type of drawing is not like the definitive sketch. It doesn’t require any precision. The architect makes it to describe, sketch and develop his/her ideas. This is the creative drawing.

3. Preparatory study – with this type we have a number of different drawings that illustrate the process of the design. Some architects use yellow tracing paper for their preparatory study, because it allows the designer to develop his/her work step by step. Similar to the referential sketch, the preparatory study doesn’t require the level of precision of the definitive sketch. Here drawing is again more creative.

So, as you can see some with some drawings it is better to use a computer. However, with others, like the referential sketch and the preparatory study, there is no need to use special software. In fact, it is only when they are made by hand, that the architect can establish a metal and physical relation and connection with his drawings.

In addition, the process of drawing a design is a language shared only by architects. Only they can appreciate and see its purpose. Furthermore, when, for example, two architects are working on the same project, they establish a dialogue through the drawings.

Computers do make our lives easier and they do come handy in many cases. However, they can never replace drawings or, at least, they shouldn’t. Hand drawing can engage our imagination. In that way we can come up with many new ideas. With computers we don’t have that! They make the process more artificial and less creative.


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