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Architectural drawing – an art in its own right

Even though the technological progress makes it possible to create architectural plans by means of a myriad of applications, architects still tend to start their work with hand-made drawings. The drawings are not merely tools, soulless technical drafts, products of a scientific mind, a cold action plan that is but a seed of subsequent creation. They in fact fulfil all the criteria to be deemed an art they really are. The play with perspective, the interplay of light and dark, painterly quality, minimalism or flamboyance, firm or delicate strokes, colours or lack of colour – this is all fascinating as an artistic composition.

An architectural drawing is the fastest method to give body to ideas before they escape memory. This is also the most personal moment of creation. It is here, on paper, that everything is born. Building starts with a piece of paper and a pencil. Thanks to the drawing we can look at the creative process from the very beginning and see an artist in the architect.

The work De architectura written by Vitruvius in the 1st century BC, emphasises the huge significance of architectural drawings, which the author calls scenography.  Vitruvius points to the need for creating designs as floor plans and sections with a clear perspective. Many centuries thereafter, the issue of creating architectural plans was looked at by the builders of late middle ages. It was at the time when Gothic prevailed in architecture that the art of planning by means of hand-made drawings became ennobling as it required not only talent and creativity, but also a huge technical knowledge. After all, it was in the Gothic period that sky-reaching, seemingly impossible cathedrals were built.

However, architectural drawings have always eluded the stylistic methodology of the given era as the rules of physics and the rudimentary principles of construction are timeless. On the other hand, styles vary from one artist to another. Making an architectural drawing is like a most intimate act, the first embodiment of a fleeting thought whereby a pen or pencil, in the first creative reflex, transforms it from a mere impression into the foundation of a future work. The architect’s stroke is their trademark, but put in a plain, understandable language of architecture.

For this reason, among the many existing drawings it is so easy to find those made by Zaha Hadid, Le Corbusier or Daniel Libeskind, the architect of ZŁOTA 44. An analysis of these drawings facilitates our understanding of the underlying concepts, and takes us through the individual phases of constructing a building. Drawings per se, detached from their utility context, are also an art, as they appeal to the aesthetic sense of the audience, capture attention by their composition, choice of colours, power of expression, the technique of structuring layers and using the light. Simply speaking, they are pleasing to the eye and impress with their artistic quality. The great architect Le Corbusier believed that the purpose of architectural drawing is to serve as a foundation for an aesthetic effect and a feeling of enchantment. And the drawings of some architects can truly invoke the deepest of enchantments.

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