Love, Hate, Love, Hate, Love, Hate, out of petals…
It was a Saturday morning, I was sitting in the studio, holding my hot water bottle. Smoke gently rises, mixing with the dusty scene illuminated by the sun. There was no one there, dead quiet, just like the streets in UK after 6pm.
I looked at my table, sitting on it was my nearly-finished drawings. They were suppose to be the inspirational drawing that would then inform my design. But I just hated it. Don’t get me wrong, I can draw, dare I say quite well too, but sometimes I feel like I am doing an art course rather than an architecture course.
As my water starts to cool down, I started flashing back to the previous years in university. Since first year I have been doing these drawings for the sake of doing it. I don’t see the meaning, nor its influences on my design. My designs always came from my head, and I know what I am doing on the first site visit. I told myself that that was first year and it was meant to be an introduction year, that second year would be better, without all these artsy crap.
But noooooo! In second year, the tutors decided to hold our hands like we were children and “guide” our way through the semester. Instead of releasing the brief early on, they did weekly sheets. On them were art requirements, make a large A1 drawing, a composite drawing, a collage and so on. It is only until halfway into the semester would they release the final brief for a building. 10 out of 10 times the drawings would just get scanned and went straight to the bin. They would just show up in the final submission book as an “early concept” . There were no links between these drawings and the final product. “F*****g hell”, I cursed in silence.
I still don’t like the second year tutors and this opinion would probably stay the same forever, I thought to myself.
I only started to understand these A1 drawings until third year. Rather than the same tutors, a Shaun Young showed up to lead the final year architecture course. He was originally a student from the same university as well, who also won the RIBA President medal in 2008.
Since I wasn’t doing anything, I decided to give it a search on google. The first result on images was this:
“I think this is amazing!” I laughed in his accent. I might not look like it but I do a pretty good impression of him, specially his catch phrases.
Oh right, back to topic.
I looked at my large A1 drawing, admiring amount of detail in the drawing, and the days that I pour my hard work into.
It was all about capturing the themes and the things that are interesting in the site. In this particular drawing, my idea was to show the river, the essence of life, with trees flooded along the valley and using the small drawing (the drawings above) to show sneak peeks into people’s lives.
Unlike the second year tutors, who doesn’t tell us anything, he released the brief early on. Even before the brief, instructions were given, and everything would automatically link up once the brief is released.
It is the simple difference between “choose a theme from the site that you like and record it” and “draw this”.
Tutors! Information. Is. The. Most. Important. Thing. I shouted in my head. Nobody would know what to do if no one tells us what we are doing. How long does the tutors need to understand this.
I sipped some water from the cup and continued my unfinished drawing.
So, if you are a first student just starting your architecture journey, I am here to tell you with my 3 years of undergraduate experience what exactly these drawings are about.
Wait a minute, what if everyone knows that and I am the only one who have just realised? I put down my pen and took another sip. But it doesn’t matter does it? Everyone progress at a different pace. Oh well, at least I know now? Isn’t that all it matters? I picked up my Copic 0.3 and continued.
They are big and white. The whole idea of these pre-design drawings are to encourage students to record. In my project, the A1 drawing was a way for students to express the specific interest point that they found in the site and to record it. They allow the interest to flow into an idea and then a design. They might not be extremely useful, but they serve as a base for everything that is developed in later stages. Sometimes they include bits and pieces that one might want to develop and research deeper into. Simply put, they are the origins of all possible design.
Finally, after a whole night yesterday and a full morning today, I finished my drawing, ready to show it in its full glory.
But honestly, even after understanding it, I still don’t like doing it.
We’re architects, not artists.