Sketching Structure

Rogers PA Tech DonI thought Don’s post on the PAT building by Rogers was a wonderful example of travel summary AND an example of how to look at a building with respect to structure and space, as I am asking you to do for the summer building analysis.  Don’s post included a few well-chosen photos: an overview, two different sides, and an attempt to get the structure.  He did a bit of research, got the date, some of the facts about the building, and wrote up an informative post. His sketch was key: it pulled the structure out of the building to make it clear: the central towers holding up the cantilevered arms with cables, which in turn hold up the roof.

Murcutt LOW bAs you visit architecture this summer, work on these kinds of sketches: fewer “views” or exciting perspectives, more “analysis” drawings, things you can’t fully see, but think you understand about the building (sections and plans are almost by definition of this kind, a drawing you can’t actually see… one of the reasons they are so valuable to architects).

Calatrava com-1-32Structure and space are particularly interesting to try and sketch, to be sure they are “spatial” as Gerard would say. Here just a few random examples:

SANTIAGO CALATRAVA is a wonderful sketch-artist, here his own rendering for the structure and spatial flow of a skyscraper, based on his understanding of a spine-ribcage in torsion.

Piano Beyeler 6aRENZO PIANO also does lots of sketches to design and present his work, particularly the relationship of structure, space and light. They can be quite “crude”, but are always very insightful. Here for the Beyeler Museum in Basel.

Zumthor Kunsthaus 1PETER ZUMTHOR’s buildings are powerful statements with minimal means, an approach even reflected in his sketches.  Here sketches for the Bregenz Museum, a floor plan with light flooding in, and a simple section.

CORB, KAHN, and MIES all sketched a great deal by hand as part of their design process, and these sketches always provide invaluable insights into the thoughts and intent of the architect as they struggled to realize an idea.  It pays to try and find these sketches of your buildings (all three architects have a multi-volume series of books published that attempts to include a huge number of sketches for each building).

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